Julian Paul Assange is an Australian computer programmer, publisher and journalist. He is editor-in-chief of the organisation WikiLeaks, which he founded in 2006.
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I am Julian Assange, founder, publisher and editor of WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has been publishing now for ten years. We have had many battles. In February the UN ruled that I had been unlawfully detained, without charge. for the last six years. We are entirely funded by our readers. During the US election Reddit users found scoop after scoop in our publications, making WikiLeaks publications the most referened political topic on social media in the five weeks prior to the election. We have a huge publishing year ahead and you can help!
LIVE STREAM ENDED. HERE IS THE VIDEO OF ANSWERS https://www.twitch.tv/reddit/v/113771480?t=54m45s
I will post the easiest to read transcriptions (which you can put in the comments) of the my answers. Thanks!
People frequently group you together with Edward Snowden because you've both released classified American documents. But your motivations and philospophies couldn't be more different.
Snowden claims to fight for privacy. He's called privacy the bedrock of freedom, that one cannot be free without privacy.
You have called privacy obsolete and unsustainable. You've said that privacy has no inherent value. You appear to believe privacy and freedom are incompatible, that you cannot be free if others can keep secrets from you. You've published the credit card numbers, social security numbers, medical information, and sexual preferences of individuals of zero public interest. Two of your most recent publications are the personal Gmail inboxes of civilians, exactly the sort of thing Snowden has tried to protect.
Can you convince me that you're right and Snowden's wrong?
Edward Snowden is a whistleblower. He committed an important and brave act, which we supported. I worked with our legal team to get him out of Hong Kong and to a place of asylum. No other media organization did that. Not the Guardian, which had been publishing his material. Nor did Amnesty, human Rights Watch, not even any institution from a government. It was WikiLeaks that acted. A small, investigative publisher, which understands computer security, cryptography, the National Security Agency, which I have been publishing about for more than ten years, and asylum law, because of my situation.
We couldn't have a situation where Edward Snowden ends up in a position like Chelsea Manning and is used as a general deterrent to other whistleblowers stepping forward. Edward would have been imprisoned at any moment in Hong Kong and would have then been turned into the propaganda that if you’re trying to do something important as a whistleblower, your voice will stopped and you’ll be placed in prison in very adverse conditions.
We wanted the opposite. We wanted a general incentive for others to step forward. That’s for philosophical reasons, because we understand the threat of mass surveillance, but it’s also understandable for institutional reasons. WikiLeaks specializes in publishing what whistleblowers reveal and if there’s a chill on sources stepping forward, that’s not good for us as an institution. On the other hand, if people see yes, it’s good for sources to step forward, then there will be more of them.
On full publication versus the sadly limited publication of Snowden files--Edward Snowden hasn’t really had a choice. He has had various views that have shifted over time, but he is in a position where we made sure he had given the documents on him to journalists before he left Hong Kong. Both Edward Snowden and I assessed that it would be a dangerous bait for him to be carrying laptops with NSA material on it, as he transited through Russia to Latin America. That might be something that would cause the Russians to hold him. So he and we made sure he had nothing. Since the point of those initial disclosures, Edward Snowden hasn’t been able to control how his publications have been used.
Edward has been a very important voice in talking about the importance of different aspects of them, but he has had no control. The result is that more than 97% of the Snowden documents have been censored. Enormously important material censored and while there have been some good journalists working on them, and I think Glenn Greenwald is one of the best journalists publishing in the United States, you have to have hundreds of people and engineers working on material like this to understand what is going on.
We have a different position to those media organizations that have effectively privatized and limited that material. You can’t say that the initial publications had all the important docs. There have been more publications slowly as time goes by. Even some within the past two months. Those publications, for example, include ways to find interception sites in the United States used by the NSA. There are covert procedures to visiting those sites. Now, if those had been released in 2013, investigative journalists and individuals could have gone to those sites before there was a physical cover-up. That’s true in the United States and it’s true in Europe and elsewhere. I am sad about how the impact of the Snowden archive has been minimized, as a result of privatizing and censoring nearly all of it.
Hello Julian Assange,
In recent months, there has been some concern to your well-being following the events of the October 17th blackout. Would you please reply with a signed message that includes the contents below?
1) State that you are alive and well, and in no serious harm.
2) The current date and time.
3) Something unique that happened in the news yesterday, January 9th, 2017.
4) This nonce value: 8059e91804efbe266c8e324b52de605f829eca993d4c7020bc8a34db337fabd5
I ask that all Redditors take screenshots and SHA256 sums of this post and Julian's reply, in the perhaps likely event that either of these posts are modified by Reddit admins.
Edit: Julian has officially skipped my question, claiming along the lines that "the scores are changing too fast". However, this post has remained at the top of this AMA throughout the entire duration. If no signature is created by the end of this AMA, it will be my opinion that Wikileaks is compromised.
Edit 2: Julian is answering a different question (not mine) regarding proof of life. He claims that "setting a precedent is better proof of life than a digital signature" and that it's "quite hard to protect keys". I am starting to suspect that Julian is no longer in control of the Wikileaks private key. Note that he did not provide a signed message.
Edit 3: Julian read off a recent hash of the bitcoin blockchain: https://blockchain.info/block/00000000000000000178374f687728789caa92ecb49b4d850dfc173a7c0351e6
It is likely that Julian is alive. However, failing to digitally sign a message with the Wikileaks private key is of great concern. It is possible that Julian is no longer in control of Wikileaks, provided that he cannot sign a message with the private key.
Edit 4: Julian responded to a child comment on this thread, in which I asked a follow up question: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/5n58sm/i_am_julian_assange_founder_of_wikileaks_ask_me/dc8ycd4?context=1
This is the whole proof of life topic. We saw that evolve. It’s both gratifying and alarming. I will explain why.
I the rest of the team at WikiLeaks were very pleased there was such an expression of concern about how we were doing. We expected attacks against me. If you looked at my public statements and some of the statements tweeted by WikiLeaks in the lead up to my Internet being cut off and to that difficult diplomatic situation, we were saying that the attacks are going to come in and we will need people to defend us, we’re going to need an army to get through this. And then the concern for how I was doing and why I wasn’t being seen arose.
Many were calling for "proof of life" but we are interested in something quite different. Anything that we did that claimed to be some kind of proof of life would be to set the precedent on what mechanism could be used to reduce concern about how we were faring. The calls, for example, that I issue a PGP signed message.
That's fine if you can understand that it’s me issuing the PGP signed message, but a PGP signed message doesn’t tell you who has issued it at all. It’s just a plain message. So, let’s look at what kind of precedent we would be setting. We would be setting the precedent that when there’s a concern about whether one of our staff has been kidnapped or me, that concern can be destroyed simply by someone issuing of a message of text, which is coupled to a particular cryptographic key.
But if WikiLeaks is under a threat so serious that its people have been kidnapped then it is possible that it might lose control over its keys. The reality is that it’s quite hard to protect keys from that kind of interference. The way WikiLeaks manages its keys, its submission keys, for example, they are not used to sign messages, but even if WikiLeaks did sign a message in this case, what would it be saying? It would be setting a precedent that could be very dangerous in the future.
If you produce the person and show that they are not under duress, you can either hack a WikiLeaks key or take control of infrastructure or take control of a person and then claim that they had produced some signed message.
We are much more interested in creating a precedent for proof of freedom from duress. Or making it hard for our people to be under duress. The best way to do that is live video. Because even if you were under duress (there’s various forms of duress that could be applied) if you have live video then you’ve got a few seconds to put things out. You can slip in code words into what you’re saying. (I’m not, by the way. I’m not!) But you can slip in code words into what you’re saying that your people could then see. So, yes, I’m alive and free from duress, but I am in a very difficult situation.
I have been for six years. Let’s not think that I’m not in a difficult situation just because I am alive. As I explained, this embassy is surrounded by high tech police and intelligence operation. It is a difficult situation. I haven’t seen the sunlight in the last four and half years. It’s a tough situation. I’m tough, but you should be concerned about the situation.
What we had hoped is those people concerned with my safety would direct their attention to those people who are responsible for the situation. That’s the UK government, the US government, and the Ecuadorian government. Some of you did and that’s quite possibly why my Internet has been restored--because of the expression of concern.
But, when the concern became very prominent, a black PR campaign infested the concern and tried take it off somewhere else and largely succeeded.
What happened? Fabricated messages, claiming to be from our staff were posted on 4Chan on Reddit. Fabricated videos claiming to be from Anonymous [posted on YouTube]. Completely fabricated. Dozens of them. And what was their intent? What were they calling for? They were calling for people to not trust WikiLeaks, to not give it leaks, and to not give it funds!
It’s obvious who benefits from the production of such a black PR campaign and it should be obvious in hindsight to all those people who were trying to support me that those types of messages were deliberately intended to undermine WikiLeaks and, in fact, undermine my support.
If this sort of thing happens in the future, think to yourselves, is what is claimed undermining the ability for WikiLeaks to operate, the ability for it to get new information, and the ability for it to financially support itself? And if the answer is yes then you should be extremely skeptical about what the claim is.
Having seen how concern for us can be manipulated and misled, but also the degree of concern, we now have a game plan for if this kind of thing happens again and I am confident about the kind of worldwide support we can get, if we get a similar type of attack again in the future.
You can see that I am speaking and maybe, apparently, sane, but don’t reduce your concern. I am in a difficult situation. That’s a reality. But the difficulty of the situation [has long been] expressed on Justice4Assange.com, UN findings, etc.
WikiLeaks itself are also in a difficult situation. Constantly spied upon, harassed, etc. So, support us now. Don’t wait until we are in a situation that might be difficult to get out of. Make sure we are strong now, going into difficult situations, as a result of what we publish!
I have to say that it is a little bit silly. Not in relation to us being under pressure. We have been under a lot of pressure, but we’re very good at resisting pressure. But, in relation to whether I’m alive or kidnapped. If you look at people like John Pilger, for example, long-term friend of mine, runs my defense fund, is a famously brave investigative reporter, my lawyers, close friends, people like Lauri Love, the Ecuadorian government. If you think about the number of people who would actually have to conspire and the amount of work that would have to be done to produce these false images is too many. That’s a social proof. And to understand that, one needs to look at the costs and understand the costs involved in trying to pull together all those people and trying to keep a lid on them and engage in all this kind of fabrication technology, which does not yet exist, as far as anyone can tell, in a capacity to do what is done. To do all that, that’s the cost. And then, but for what benefit? That’s an interesting question.
In thinking about real-time proof of life, intellectually, the most interesting [method] is to take the most recent block in the blockchain, in the bitcoin blockchain, give the number and at least eight digits or something of the hash and then maybe to spell out this hash by sign language. That’s intellectually entertaining, but what is the problem with it?
Well, let’s see if I can get a recent hash. While it’s intellectually entertaining, the problem with it is this — it’s very complicated, the underlying technology, so it has the same flaw that sophisticated voting machines have, cryptographic voting machines, which is the average person can’t understand whether the security claims are in fact born out. Now experts might be able to, but the average person can’t and so then you’re back to a social proof. Does the average person trust the expert? And then how do they know that those experts are really experts that haven’t been compromised?
So, in fact, while it’s intellectually entertaining, it’s not at all a good type of proof of currency. But, I’ll give one anyway, so this is block 445706 and the hash is 178374F687728789CAA92ECB49. Ok, I think I made a mistake in the block number, which is going to drive everyone crazy! So, the block number 447506. This is how you can tell it’s real time because of mistakes! Hash 178374F687728789CAA92ECB49. OK, intellectually entertaining.
You don’t actually have to read out the whole hash number, maybe eight digits or so combined with a block number would be enough to show currency within a ten minute, hour, period, something like that. But the better way to show currency is news that can be widely checked, is widely spread, and is unpredictable before it happens. The best would be a few different natural disasters, maybe a lot of weather measurements, and otherwise need something that’s not easily predicted and which can be widely checked or widely seen at the time. And a good example of that is sports scores.
For example, the New Orlean Pelicans versus the NY Knicks won 110-96, Oklahoma 109 versus 94 Chicago, Dallas 92 versus 101 for Minnesota. So, that can give you currency.
In terms of any future precedent, if I disappear or someone else disappears, the answer to if we are OK or under duress should be given by two things in future: Number one by lawyers, publicly associated close friends, people who fund my defense campaign. So, let’s look at those. John Pilger, The Courage Foundation, people associated with it, my lawyers, such as Jennifer Robinson, Margaret Ratner in the United States, Melinda Taylor.
And [number two] the ability to do live interactive video, where someone, even though theoretically they could be under duress, can interject in the stream quickly to say such a thing or to give a variety of messages in a live way, which each one is not comprehensible at the time that is said, but the last one, if you like, provides the conceptual key to decrypt them. (I am not doing this now! I am not doing this now!).
I very much appreciate the support. It had some good effects. I think it probably contributed significantly to restoring my Internet.
But a lot of that well-intentioned support was waylaid by a black PR campaign, so don’t let that happen again. And, that’s it. Thank you, Reddit. Thank you, Redditors, for spending so much time on our material. We are really, really happy with it. Thanks.
Please address the allegations that WikiLeaks has a friendly relationship with Russia and cannot be considered objective with their leaks and their agenda. The timeline that makes these allegations seem plausible:
1/20/11 - Julian Assange gets Russian Visa
1/25/12 - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's TV show to be aired on Russian channel
4/6/16 - WikiLeaks: US Gov't Behind Panama Leaks to Attack Putin
8/8/16 - http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/opinion/can-we-trust-julian-assange-and-wikileaks.html
Since you are so adamant that Russia was not involved in the recent leaks that played a major role in the US presidential election, it would be helpful if you can make a compelling case for why Americans should trust you over their own intelligence agencies whose reason for existence is to defend the US against foreign threats and who are saying the opposite about Russian involvement.
I have seen this rubbish again and again and again. Let’s pull back and understand what’s going on.
WikiLeaks has published more than ten million documents over ten years. We have a 100% accuracy rate on authenticating our publications. Everyone in the media knows that we have a 100% accuracy rate. Despite our publications affecting powerful groups, which are by definition are connected to the establishment media, this media is in a difficult position. Due to the perfect credibility of our content, ad hominem attacks are used to color perception or create displacement because no direct attack is possible. So, we get all sorts of ad hominem attacks about WikiLeaks, about our sources and about me - i’ve been called a cat torturer, A Mossad agent, CIA agent, a Russian agent now, and a pedophile twice recently on CNN (by the former CIA 2IC).
WikiLeaks has published more than 800,000 documents that relate to Russia or Vladimir Putin. Most of those are critical. More than 2 million are from Syria. We have material from China, we’ve been banned in China, etc. Each country’s establishment tends to perceive WikiLeaks as something that is difficult for them and that erodes the authority of state institutions and that’s true in the United States.
WikiLeaks said it was ready to drop a bombshell on Russia? Not quite, we said we had important document pertaining to Russian corruption and yes, the FSB was apparently quoted as saying that they can electronically attack WikiLeaks. We published regardless. Those were the Russian-related documents in the our diplomatic cables series and they are extremely strong on Chechnya and Russian crime. A number of books were written from that, some calling Russia a mafia state. A number of successful lawsuits against the Russian State have made use of those documents and other documents.
Another common untruth is the claim that I worked for RT, the Russian State TV. It’s absolutely false. In 2012, we setup a production company and our production company worked with Dartmouth Films, a UK production company and a distributor, Journeyman Pitches, and twelve episodes were filmed of me interviewing people. It was called The World Tomorrow. It was my first TV production. We licensed that to a dozen different outfits and RT was one of them. RT aggressively promoted it internationally and then people tried to twist this story into having a "job" at RT because they have no arguments about content.
In 2010 you thanked people for donating money to help decrypt the "Collateral Murder" video after having sollicited donations for "supercomputer time."
PFC Manning claims that the video was "was never really encrypted." Her court martial proceedings confirm that.
I know you can't confirm or deny anything regarding Manning, but do you stand by your claim that the video you received was encrypted and that you depended on donations to decript it? Secondly, how importantly do you value honesty when it comes to fundraising?
I can’t confirm or deny anything relating to our sources there. However, yes, there is a disappeared video and that video is on the Garani massacre. Over 80 children killed in a US airstrike in Afghanistan and more than 100 people. Quite a serious video and if you search for ‘Assange Affidavit’, you read an affidavit about how Sweden conducted an intelligence operation on September 27, 2010 to seize three laptops, not the high security laptops, but backup laptops, that were encrypted that ended up being the only copy we had of that video. We had other copies and they were also attacked. So, that’s a great sadness from us that this terrible proof of a war crime has been possibly lost to history, as a result of very difficult attacks on us. It’s something that we’re a lot less susceptible to now because we have a big infrastructure.
Can you clear this up please? In August, you said:
> We do have some information about the Republican campaign. I mean, it’s from a point of view of an investigative journalist organization like WikiLeaks, the problem with the Trump campaign is it’s actually hard for us to publish much more controversial material than what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth every second day, I mean, that’s a very strange reality for most of the media to be in.
It sounds like you had some documents, but they didn't seem to be noteworthy enough to release.
Your interview with Sean Hannity the other day contained:
> HANNITY: If the information you had was about Donald Trump and his campaign, would you have equally released that?
> ASSANGE: Yes, absolutely. It's -- it would be -- once again, just think about it from our perspective. We have a lot -- we've won a lot of media awards. We have the trust of our sources. We have the trust of our readers, having never got it wrong.
We received a couple of company registration extracts then our team looked at them and they were already public. So, it was already public information and WikiLeaks specializes in the publication of information that is not yet public.
Shortly after your internet access was cut, the head moderator of /r/Wikileaks added 6 new users to the moderation team who he stated were the first to send him a him private messages volunteering their help. Outside of a single sanctioned thread, the new team banned anyone who questioned the sensibility of this action given reddit's long history of having its moderation teams infiltrated by certain interest groups. Censorship of this, and any topic relating to your safety or wellbeing forced the creation of alternative subreddits such as /r/WhereIsAssange and /r/BannedFromWikileaks.
A little over a month ago, the newly added moderator 'Here4Popcorn' began claiming that he was in direct contact with you / your organization. We learned from a discussion with another of the moderators that that he was apparently the only one in the team who had been contacted. When asked if he was confident of the authenticity of the claims, we were told that it was 'probably' actually you.
Are these claims true? If so, why was perhaps the most controversial member of the new moderation team selected as your only point of contact?
I have not been in contact with any Reddit moderators nor am I aware of our people having being in contact, but it is theoretically possible that someone in WikiLeaks has but did not think it significant enough to bring to my attention.
Transcript: I don’t know anything about who is moderating Reddit. Reddit has, as most of you will know, censored things from time to time. It’s owned by CondeNast. It is perhaps the place owned by a traditional media holding, which has the greatest freedom of expression, but Reddit is not free from censorship. We have seen that many times. On the other hand, it’s fairly easy for people to constantly repost things that are being censored.
As someone who's followed WikiLeaks for a long time, what's most remarkable to me about the US election publications is that this is the only time (with the possible exception of Aaron Swartz) that you've ever confirmed or denied a source. You'd been asked previously on multiple occasions to deny a state party was the source for these releases but refused, saying it would be "dangerous" and "irresponsible" to do so.
I found it very suspicious that, just weeks later, the first time you ever denied a source was in a heavily-edited interview aired on RT, an organization that obviously benefits from you denying they're the source, regardless of whether they are. You've reaffirmed the other day that you're uncomfortable having so.
Your denial, in particular, seems to be spliced together from three separate responses (masked by cuts to reaction shots), in response to a question removed in the cutting room (though the cut happens a few frames after he starts to open his mouth to ask it). With zero follow-up from you or Pilger.
My question is twofold. Do you think the edited interview accurately reflects the answers you gave? If so, did your previous business arrangement with RT in any waeny influence your decision to break WikiLeaks's most sacred rule in an interview exclusivley aired on their network?
We have never confirmed or denied a source. We have occasionally stated broad properties about who a source is or is not where we felt it was crucial to do so (to prevent the risk of war or the undermining of the publication). The interview was not with RT it was for Dartmouth and a UK broadcaster. It was then sold, somewhat irritatingly, to RT.
Hi Julian. Why did you, and Wikileaks, send a cryptic tweet about your internet being cut off by a state party? Why did you not just name Ecuador from the outset instead of triggering conspiracy theories?
The latest insurance files posted by Wikileaks do not match the pre-commitment hashes tweeted in October. Why?
sha256sum 2016-11-07_WL-Insurance_US.aes256 ab786b76a195cacde2d94506ca512ee950340f1404244312778144f67d4c8002 sha256sum 2016-11-07_WL-Insurance_UK.aes256 655821253135f8eabff54ec62c7f243a27d1d0b7037dc210f59267c43279a340 sha256sum 2016-11-07_WL-Insurance_EC.aes256 b231ccef70338a857e48984f0fd73ea920eff70ab6b593548b0adcbd1423b995
All previous insurance files match:
This is an obvious confusion promoted by the black-PR campaign against WikiLeaks and those it has manipulated. Pre-commitment hashes are not the same as download hashes. The pre-commmit hashes were issued in a completely different manner and are applied on decryption not before. So the "usual" argument is an obvious falsehood.
It also makes no motivational sense. Why would anyone publish obviously bogus hashes? The whole point is that they can be easily checked.
This one needs more attention. Too many people in the overall general public have the mindset that "If I have nothing to hide, then I have nothing to fear" in regards to their privacy. This is absolutely 100% false.
I wish I could remember where I read it, but I once read an article that pointed out that there were literally hundreds of laws on the books that people don't know about and are daily violating because they're so small and trivial, and nobody thinks about them as a result. What it boiled down to is that if privacy was lost, then all it would take is some menial excuse to detain, and then ultimately, incarcerate someone based on the accumulation these tiny laws. Granted, there was a lot of tinfoil hat stuff in there, but the idea is pertinent I think.
Edit: I should probably put this in here since I'm blowing up a bit as well. (congrats to /u/DirectlyDisturbed on blowing up and getting gold). I agree with most everybody who has replied or messaged me about this - I think that there are limits to how far privacy should go. Nobody should have absolute, 100% opaque privacy. However, where those limits are, I do not know. I personally believe and am of the opinion that those limits are up to us, as a society to determine. If everybody is okay with, as one person suggested, having cameras in every bedroom to verify that consensual sex happened, then so be it. I was more trying to generate discussion and get people to think about this than I was trying to prove a point or make a statement (seems like it worked). The doomsday examples were just that - doomsday examples. A bit of thought exercising with a tinfoil hat on. I know bits and pieces of history and know sort of how societies and governments have gone from good to bad. Again - mostly my opinion from what I know of history, but the role of privacy has been key in those transitions.
Also, it was pretty cool to hear him read this comment almost verbatim. Anyways, I should probably get back to doing work instead of geeking out. Great comments and replies everybody, honest. I wasn't trying to pick fights with anybody, and if it seems like I did...my bad. Thank you for keeping things civil all! Great discussion and comments from everybody.
It’s a statement, really. An extremely irritating statement. It’s so 21st century, so Generation Z, so millennial. It’s not about you. It’s not about whether you have something to hide. It’s about whether society can function and what sort of society it is. The key actors in society who influence its political process: publishers, journalists, dissidents, MPs, civil society foundations, if they can’t operate then you have an increasingly authoritarian and conformist society. Do not think that this will not affect you. Even if you think that you are of absolutely no interest, the result this attitude is that you have to suffer the consequences of the society your apathetic conformism helps to produce.
You’re not an island. When you don’t protect your own communications, it’s not just about you. You’re not communicating with yourself, you’re communicating with other people. You’re exposing all of those other people. If you assess that they’re not at risk, are you sure your assessment is correct? Are you sure they’re not at risk going into the future? Perhaps the biggest problem with mass surveillance is that the knowledge of mass surveillance. Fear about it produces intense conformity, so people start censoring their own conversations and eventually they start censoring their own thoughts.
It’s not enough to create fears about mass surveillance. At the same time, one has to create an understanding of how to avoid mass surveillance or an understanding that at the moment, most of the mass surveillance authorities, like the NSA and the organs it feeds are pretty incompetent. But that will change as artificial intelligence merges with mass surveillance, when the data streams from the NSA and PRISM program are fed into artificial intelligence.
this one is important. A PGP signed message only shows that someone has that key, but the INABILITY to sign a PGP message shows that he does not have that key.
If anyone bad was in control of WikiLeaks submission key and I was under duress they could produce such a message providing fake assurance. So useless.
But we also do not use our submission key like that and nor would it be appropriate to change how we secure such keys.
And why release the e-mails in a constant trickle near the end of the campaign? If the truth is your goal, surely releasing them in a couple batches would work just as well? The constant drip drip drip over the last months of the campaign (even when most of the drips contained nothing of note), reek of WikiLeaks hoping to have maximum political impact in the campaign.
Edit: /u/GaynalPleasures has provided me with a cut from the Livestream of Julian "answering" my question here.
That’s an interesting question, but why the irritation? Why the irritation compared to publishing all at once? Critics would say, if we published all at once, that we deliberately made a giant bomb. You deliberately published all at once, in order to have maximum impact.
In WikiLeaks publications over the last ten years, we have used a variety of publication strategies depending on the amount of material, how readily engaged the audience is, and what the timeframe is for publication. What we have found is that we should closely match the demand curve with the supply curve. Humans can read a limited amount of words each day.
There is a finite number of people. There’s a finite amount of time. There is a finite reading speed. So, the demand for words, even if an audience is 100% interested in that subject, is finite. It is optimal to match the demand for a particular type of information with the supply of that information. If there’s oversupply of information, above the demand for it, then the oversupplied part is not read and of course, we want our publications to have maximum possible readership understanding. Our sources, of all kinds, want maximum possible impact. They don’t want to go through these risks for their material to not be read.
We are proud of our election publication strategy. We had limited time and limited resources. Yes, we could have done things slightly differently if we had had more time more staff, etc, but within our resource constraints, we put together I think a pretty kick-ass publishing schedule designed to maximize uptake, readership, engagement, and knowledge extraction from our publications.
The strategy was designed to be hard to attack. What do I mean by that? Well, in this particular case, we have the Democratic campaign of Hillary Clinton and her associated media allies doing everything they could to spin what we were publishing. I know how this works. If there’s knowledge that WikiLeaks is going to be publishing, say over a month-long period, then a crisis team is set up. We have had a number of these WikiLeaks war rooms and crisis teams setup against us by different governments and companies. From Bank of America to the Pentagon and State Department. They get ready each morning, wait for our publication, and then try to spin it. Insofar as our publications are at all predictable, that spin can be lined up ahead of time and those war rooms can be perfectly resourced. So, we made sure that what we were going to publish was unpredictable, when we were going to publish was unpredictable, how much we were going to publish each day was unpredictable, that we had both a human element looking closely at what was happening on the news and on social media and an algorithm, which also introduced cryptographically secure noise into publication decisions in relation to amounts and timings and making that decision on the fly, not a month ahead of time with a schedule all planned out. Why? Because if we were hacked, we didn’t want, in this case our algorithm, the Stochastic Terminator, its programmatic output to be known in advance because that would permit the Clinton campaign and others to attempt to counter-spin our publications at each moment and we want our publications to be as unspun as possible.
Don't forget this criticism of the Panama Papers coalition:
"DC based @ICIJorg is setting a very dangerous &amp; short-sighted international standard where everything is censored by default. #PanamaPapers"
This was a comment made because ICIJ and SZ didn't release everything all at once.
So other groups are suspect when they act as arbiter of what's releasable and not releasable, but Wikileaks can avoid publishing RNC/Trump information because they don't deem it newsworthy.
Edit: Just in case...
Edit 2: Incorrectly abbreviated Süddeutsche Zeitung
Already published elsewhere. We only publish original content unless the archive is so large that (e.g Sony Files) or in such an obscure format that our search system adds so much valuable that it is effectively an original publication.
Can you explain your whole October?
Most of it was extremely busy, so just try and conceptualize.
I have been in an embassy siege for the last four and a half years. It’s a small embassy. The embassy is surrounded by a police and intelligence operation, of which there are numerous pictures and admissions by the British state. They admit to spending 4 million pounds a year, just on the covert and overt police surveillance, not including MI5, etc. They have sophisticated robot cameras installed in different buildings, plainclothes police operating on the street and they’ve done deals, of which we have the paperwork, with some of the opposing buildings owned by Harrods, which is a big department store here. Harrods is owned by the sovereign fund of Qatar.
So, it’s not an easy environment to work in. Spying on the outside, some spying on the inside, informers, robot cameras, etc.
Then during October, there was pressure applied by John Kerry and the US administration and other forms of pressure domestically within Ecuador, that resulted in my Internet connection being cut off and an increase in the security environment here, in terms of people getting in and out of the building easily, etc. It was wrong for John Kerry to politicize the office of the Secretary of State and try to use that for domestic political advantage by pressuring me through my political asylum. WikiLeaks does not publish from the embassy. It doesn’t work from the embassy. I am political refugee stuck in this embassy because the UK refuses to obey international law and respect my asylum rights and let me leave the country. We publish from France, Germany, the Netherlands, and so on, a wide range of countries. But not Ecuador.
Ecuador is purely pressured because they are responsible for my physical security as a political refugee. Which is disgraceful. To be fair to Ecuador, they have denied that they were pressured, but that’s not what our sources say. It’s a small country, 16 million people, an innovative, tough Latin American country which has stood up to enormous pressure from the US and UK, but it has it’s own election on February 17th and you can see it wouldn’t want an allegation that it had interfered, which it hasn’t, with the US election, being used as an excuse by Hillary Clinton, who was the predicted president, to interfere with the election in Ecuador.
An intense security and diplomatic situation.
During this recent pressure conspicuously and heavily armed British police arrived, which I took a photo of and which we published, parking their vans right next to the embassy, which they haven’t done, since back in 2012 when the first kind of stand-off was in the embassy. It is a of show of force, presumably to make some kind of pressure for WikiLeaks to stop publishing, but we are setup to continue on regardless of what happens to me.
No one person in WikiLeaks can become a single point of failure. Why? Because we don’t want to fail, number one. Number two because if that person is perceived to be a single point of failure, it places that person in danger.
It didn't. The hashes are pre-commits of plain text archives that validate the decryption. Since keys have not yet been released there can be no validation at this point.
And have you seen the WikiLeaks post on Twitter, saying they're thinking about making a list of every verified Twitter user, complete with full names, addresses, phone numbers. Seems a bit, silly to me.
Edit: This isn't officially WikiLeaks with that plan, just someone they work with and link on their own website. Read comments below.
No, of course, we didn’t. It is a false story. WikiLeaks never posted any such thing on Twitter. The primary WikiLeaks support group, WikiLeaks Task Force, said it was "thinking" about creating what data points are needed to create a map of predictors to understand the influence relationships between people who are involved in influencing on Twitter.
Verified users are influential, who influences those users? But that’s a discussion question by a support group who explicitly stated that it’s not about publishing addresses.
But why is that story spreading? It’s spreading because of two reasons. Number one, as a result of the efficacy of our publications and their perceived damage to the US ruling class, there’s a desire to reduce our reputation in the establishment press, so such Tweets are grabbed onto, re-assigned, taken out of context, and promoted. I also see a second reason, which is interesting. Is there exists a two-level class hierarchy on Twitter. People with blue ticks and people without blue ticks. There’s about 230,000 users with blue ticks and they correspond with something like about 30% of people who would consider themselves members of the establishment in English speaking countries. Those are MPs, journalists, CEOs, etc. People who are representatives in some way and therefore have a need to interface with the public. About a third of those types, in particular, the upcoming ones, are on Twitter and they have blue ticks. So you have here both an identity phenomenon (where someone is branded with an identity of a blue tick and so an identity politics is emerging within this group) and also a class phenomenon. The recontextualization of the WikiLeaks Task Force discussion point into a threat against this identity group was then widely spread by self same identity group which also lined up fairly neatly with the "liberal" establishment politics of something like 80% of that identity group.
Think about this new emerging identity class. It has a quality. Within the blue tick class that is you have a blue tick or you don’t. So metrics looking at what the relationships are between people in the blue tick identity class and exterior (of Twitter) class dynamics, relationships to power of various kinds, removes some part of the equalitarian nature within the blue tick identity class, which can be seen a a threat to those people who have gained the blue tick, but are otherwise not in power in the exterior class. It’s interesting.
Hi Julian. Can you explain why you asserted that the leaks of the Panama Papers was an attempt by the West to discredit Putin? Is leaking documents that are in the public interest not what you purport to stand for?
There’s a claim repeated by the usual idiots in the ruling class press that WikiLeaks said the Panama Papers had been produced by the CIA US intelligence to attack Vladimir Putin. Absolutely not. In fact, we explicitly stated that we did not believe that was so. The key journalist and newspapers who collected the Panama Papers in Germany are our publishing partners, so we knew about the story. We aggressively promoted it. However, the particular story that came out on Vladimir Putin, which was pushed as the leading story in the Western press, rather than issues relating to say David Cameron or Western figures coming out of the Panama Papers, was funded by USAID and Soros Foundation. They funded an organization called OOCPR, which does sometimes good work, but is based in Maryland and focusses exclusively on negative stories about Russia and the former Soviet states. So, you have a story on Vladimir Putin produced by an organization, which exclusively focuses on Russia and the former Soviet states that is based in Maryland and is funded, the only funders listed, by USAID and the Soros Foundation. That is no model for integrity. And that’s what we said. Some good journalism, but this is a difficulty when you have negative stories about Putin being pushed forward and funded by the US government. We are trying to distinguish WikiLeaks' model of publication, where we are funded by our readers and not by dodgy foundations or the US government. We don’t like it when we are in competition with an organization based in Washington, DC and funded by the US government. Readers should be able to distinguish which sources are more reliable to give you the truth. One that is funded by a government attacking a figure in another government or one that is funded by its readers and has a track record of publishing everything with time limited redactions.