Wikileaks under DDOS attack on eve of new revelations [Comment]

Tomorrow WikiLeaks is set to reveal a new series of classified US documents that have been sent by United States Embassies around the world.  The revelations set to shed new light on the country's relations with friendly and unfriendly states alike, and now the site itself has come under a distributed denial of service attack.

Despite reports that hackers are responsible for the attack there's no actual evidence one way or another, but it's raised important and pertinent questions about the information that's in the public domain and if there really is such a thing as "too much information".

Most people will agree that sometimes it's just better not to know a fact, and to live in ignorance of it.  The Human brain and conscience is only capable of processing so much which is why we choose to blank out certain events.

This was the case with the previous WikiLeaks revelations of documents from the Iraq war.  Most people chose to ignore the event and, as such, it went away.

Revelations about private discussions and thoughts from US Ambassadors and envoys from around the world though could have a much more serious impact.  This time it won't matter if the public choose to ignore the documents, other countries, friendly or otherwise will be pouring over them and you can be certain that there will be ammunition in there for everyone.

Extracts from the revelations, to add fuel to the fire, are also set to be published in tomorrow's papers  including El Pais in Spain, Le Monde in France, Speigel in Germany, The Guardian in the UK and the New York Times.

The latest round of leaks covers diplomats confidential views on countries including Australia, Britain, Canada, Israel, Russia and Turkey and, according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange "covers every major issue in every country in the world".

Most heads of state will be sensible enough to take such matters on the chin, but it's the responses of fringe elemants in both friendly and unfriendly countries, and the roll on effects for years to come of the revelations that should cause the people of the world concern.

WikiLeaks has made its point, that the freedom of the Internet cannot be removed.  Now Julian Assange needs to stop, and stop quickly before his actions, and the actions of his staff cause an incident that will cost even so much as a single life.

It's all too easy for those of us who sit behind a screen making a living from the Internet to think only of ourselves, cocooned in our own safe little world.  It's harder to think that anything we say or do, or write, can have consequences for other people and perhaps even cause bloodshed... or worse.

This situation comes about because we've had the longest period of western peace in history and every day we see more and more countries working together towards common goals.  People like Assange have never witnessed first hand the horrors of war or suffering.  Consequently [we] they have no way to properly relate to it or understand it.

Some of the documents from Iraq exposed corruption and aided democracy.  That's great and I'm sure some of these documents will too, which is also great but you need to be careful. The information about the Saudi's wanting the US to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities neither exposes corruption nor aids democracy.  It's just salatious information that can only have the effect of making any such move to disarm Iran less likely.

This is why people like Assange are dangerous.  Power without responsibility is always dangerous and it is us, the people of the world, who will have to accept responsibility for this one man's actions.

I don't care tonight whether it is hackers or the US government that is trying to bring down this website.  I can only hope that they succeed.  Our freedoms, and the freedom of the Internet, do not need to come at such high a price as a person's life.


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  1. Rick said on November 28, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    “Power without responsibility is always dangerous and it is us, the people of the world, who will have to accept responsibility for this one man’s actions.”

    I agree.

    This is exactly what the US Government has, or thought it had. Lies, deceit, all from the comfort of nearly 4,000 miles of physical separation from those that they attempt to control for their own sovereign purposes.

    It is impossible to believe that the US, through their actions, have not been responsible for 10’s of thousands of destroyed lives to advance their own agenda with appalling disregard for the repercussions.

    Is Wikileaks the best way to enforce accountability? Perhaps not; but by what other means would be acceptable? To the US, none I would imagine.

    And for the impact? None I would think. If the information could be obtained by Wikileaks, don’t you think that those who wanted it already have it? So really, all that is at stake is the reputation of the government(s) by revealing to the public embarrassing information.

    In the end, the leaked information will be read by those to confirm their beliefs in how the government operates, and will undoubtedly ignored by most.

  2. Webfork said on November 28, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Agreed. Releasing secrets just to release them doesn’t make much sense to me. When we’re talking nations of people, thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars, it seems that you’d want to be careful about that sort of thing.

    I’m pretty sure I understand the reasons behind the leaks to the media behind “deep throat” as Nixon was abusing power. From Wikileaks, I can see leaking of video showing the deaths of AP reporters by an American attack helicopter. Ostensibly both of these are to shine light on a possible abuse of power. I’m really glad Nixon is not in power and I’m really glad he was disgraced. History has not been kind to him (apart from his progress with the Chinese) and I’m glad it didn’t take 10 years to figure that out.

    Most of Wikileaks has been about releasing thousands and thousands of documents that don’t seem to have anything to do with anything. One or two damaging documents for people who have done something illegal and who have no other recourse is one thing. Just putting stuff out just to put it out seems more like harassment or embarrassment, not seeking justice.

    Wikileaks or any other group or person who makes an information leak needs to make exceedingly clear why making secrets public is ethical and necessary. Its a policy that hopefully would have kept Valerie Plame out of the news (

  3. Andysnat said on November 28, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    This post is a perfect example of why you guys should stick to blogging about technology, and keep away from wider issues.

  4. geminorum said on November 28, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    “Our freedoms”

  5. Simon B. said on November 29, 2010 at 12:44 am

    “This situation comes about because”
    NO, it’s incorrect. Actually wikileaks have been talking quite a lot about making the world safer. Basically, governments who can commit crimes and get away with it by silencing the critics, are not nice governments to live with. Is the author of this blog for or against transparency in general? Maybe the problem is with the level of detail released by wikileaks that is the problem?

    ” we’ve had the longest period of western peace in history”
    NO, we’re actually involved in several wars, risking to add Korea on top. We’re in far too many wars. Westerners are in war zones, and it could probably all be solved by raising the living standards in the war zone instead. But our *western* war material producers prefer it this way.

    ” and every day we see more and more countries working together towards common goals.”
    YES, and thank you. This one’s supposedly true, and it said that is primarily because of increased trade and travel, such that attacking is out of the question for economical reasons as well as because of worries for personal friends around the world.

    Mr Brinkmann, I like your tech writing, but I think you could enjoy the surprise of reading some more different angles on world events. There are many angles and levels of truth of every situation :)
    Thanks for reading.

    1. Mike Halsey said on November 29, 2010 at 12:50 am

      @Simon B.

      I’m all for exposing corrupt and despotic regimes whenever possible, but how can a man, who has never been involved with global politics and is sat in an office somewhere in the world, possibly claim to know the best way to achieve a safer world for everyone? Surely this would be the height of presumption.

      1. Joseph said on November 29, 2010 at 1:49 am

        @ Mike Halsey

        You are either for knowledge, and the sharing of it, or you are not. You cannot sit upon some lofty perch (in your mind) and dictate which knowledge is acceptable for sharing, and which is not. You should follow the advice of Andysnat, and lay off the political rhetoric; Or at the very least, make it factual.

        “This situation comes about because we’ve had the longest period of western peace in history and every day we see more and more countries working together towards common goals.”

        Ask an Isreal / Pakistani / Afghani / etc how this peaceable period has treated them. By way of the last wikileak release, the civilian causalities of our “peaceful occupation” of Iraq would most certainly disagree.

  6. nixdagibts said on November 29, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Das ist eine der gefährlichsten Ansichten, die ich seit langem gelesen habe. Du schaust also ab einer gewissen Größenordnung lieber weg und resignierst. Im eigenem kleinem Leben leben, ändern kann man ja eh nichts. Immerhin haben wir ja den längsten Frieden, den die westliche Welt je hatte.

    Ich verurteile dich nicht, aber deine Ansicht hier schon. Mach dir gefälligst mehr Gedanken, bevor du so einen gefährlichen Artikel verfasst. Mach dir zum Beispiel folgenden Sachverhalt klar: Durch die frühzeitige Offenlegung sieht die Welt, dass der Krieg mit dem Iran bereits geplant ist und alle Vorbereitungen getroffen wurden. Möglicherweise aber kann dies nun abgewendet werden, da die öffentliche (manipulierbare) Meinung heutzutage gewichtiger denn je ist.

    PS: Ich schreibe mit voller Absicht in deutsch. Unfassbar dieser Artikel. Echt.

  7. Nate River said on November 29, 2010 at 1:23 am

    I, as an exterior viewer of this concern, think it is a very good thing to have it published to the public however, however we have no idea of the accuracy of the information, it could have been written by anyone.

    Politics shouldn’t take it as truth, nor media.

    If I were a terrorist/an evil person that is against the USA, this is exactly what I would do : control the public opinion.

    The fact is that it is very dangerous to think that even a word is true.

    However as I said in the beginning, if they have hard proof, and if it is “important” I am truly for it. As in any country, there are deficiencies in the system, any having them known can only improve democracy.


    Furthermore I think is to blame for taking position in this.
    If I read ghacks it is not to have the point of view of the random guy who thinks every change in the world’s gonna end up in apocalypse.


  8. Mounir said on November 29, 2010 at 1:26 am

    What a bizarre way of analysing Wikileaks revelations !!!!

    Instead of blaming wikileaks, why don’t you blame the US for behaving in a certain way ???

    This kind of revelation will, I hope, push the US to reexamine the way it deals with other countries. People need to know that the way the USA makes diplomacy is definitlt not the best way to make diplomacy !!!

    It is in the interest of all US citizens that their country behave differently towards others.

  9. SomeGuy said on November 29, 2010 at 1:49 am

    I’d back a whistleblower till the day i die. They should be considered a protected asset to the masses.
    The Government work for the people, and the people deserve to know what is going on. Regardless of what it is.
    Systems like wikileaks forces the big players to shape up, and behave in a more appropriate manner, and be more transparent with their actions and decisions.

    And seriously…
    “Most people will agree that sometimes it’s just better not to know a fact, and to live in ignorance of it.”
    Are you for real? do you like you head always buried in the sand? That mush be one of the most naive statements this century. To live ignorant of your surroundings is a selfish, hollow life.

    Information is power, the more we ‘the people’ know, the less we can be manipulated and deceived.
    Where are those WMDs now eh?

  10. Simon B. said on November 29, 2010 at 1:55 am

    @Mike, thanks for taking time to answer. I’ve read some on the public news and it seems that WikiLeaks has several “spokespersons”, where the ever-hairstyle-changing Assange often behaves as its leader. Their German spokesperson left, and (a rumour) may have started a complementary organisation with much the same goals, but perhaps with a less “despotic” internal process. There’s lots of juicy gossip (albeit perhaps less truth) to be had at the cryptome website, if you’re into getting a better understanding. The stupefying evening “news” papers/channels are skipping the fact that WikiLeaks is not equal to its most public person, probably aiming for maximum controversy rather than reporting the truth (i.e. business as usual)

  11. Slothman said on November 29, 2010 at 2:20 am

    War was my profession. I disagree on your point that Wikileaks has gone too far. IMHO, everything other than ongoing operational matters should get a public airing.

    Too often the first response of governments is war. And too often the circumstances leading up to this is governments telling their people one thing and doing the opposite behind the scenes. Information is the best defence.

  12. Aaron said on November 29, 2010 at 3:12 am


    I’m removing ghacks from my feed list

  13. JD said on November 29, 2010 at 4:58 am

    Very well said Mike.

  14. Timmy said on November 29, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Writing about the DOS attacks is one thing, but then providing your opinion of the whole matter is another. Terrible all around

    1. Ollie said on November 29, 2010 at 7:12 am

      Agreed Timmy. Governments today rely on the apathy of the people they govern, and because of this, they think they can get away with murder, literally, and they think they can say anything they like behind closed doors. Good on Wikileaks for revealing the real truth of our corrupt politicians the world over. At the bottom of this page ‘About Ghacks’ says this is a technology blog, so reporting the DOS fits into that description, however Mike’s opinion about what Wikileaks has done does not, though he is welcome to his opinion as are we all, though another forum would have been more appropriate.

  15. SubgeniusD said on November 29, 2010 at 7:14 am

    “Most people will agree that sometimes it’s just better not to know a fact, and to live in ignorance of it.”

    Wow – that’s a wonderful example of the Blue Pill mentality.

  16. Willy said on November 29, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Well said Mike.

  17. Rarst said on November 29, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I incline to agree that this post is out of line for ghacks. I would understand such (in manner, not content) post coming from Martin, as this is his site to do as he sees fit.

    But from contributing author this reads like “I need to write about some random tech trivia of the day, could just as well educate Martin’s readers on what I think they should think”.

  18. Will said on November 29, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Mehahah most dont give a rip and will never know about this!

  19. Thilo said on November 29, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Ist ja nett das Du eine Meinung zu diesem Thema hast und diese öffentlich vertrittst, aber was hat das mit der Zielrichtung Deines Blogs zu tun?! Wird aus Ghacks jetzt Gpolitics…

  20. Noimporta said on November 29, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I wonder how not knowing is setter than knowing. We know now that war on Irak was wrong, that lies ere told by us and uk government to attack the country they wanted to control.

    Wikileaks is only providing documment regarding matter like tris. You accuse wikileaks leader of being sat in hin confortable chaira and judge when western world is at peace basically suggesting that you don’t care about the rest of it. Afghans and Iraqis and people in Africa should die because you are ok in your country.

    If you’re gong to express political opinions in a tech blog at least get your facts right.

  21. Torrie :'] said on November 29, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Sounds … nice? ¬¬
    Its a leak.
    Someone will get in trouble or sacked. [:
    Aslong as its not me?
    I’m cool with it o:

  22. Crodol said on November 29, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Please don’t post any more of those ridiculous political comments! I want read Martin’s tech news and nothing else!

  23. vincent said on November 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Andysnat ++
    Noimporta ++
    Crodol ++
    Thilo ++

    “This post is a perfect example of why you guys should stick to blogging about technology, and keep away from wider issues.”

  24. RadicalChristian said on November 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    You talk about freedom when you are being systematically lied to. Without access to information that Wikileaks provides then you don’t know that you are being brainwashed and that your government is doing evil in the world.

    They can say what they like and the media parrots it and people like you believe it. It is a package deal, media and government are owned by the same people. There is no freedom. You live in a cage and only think that you are free.

  25. roger said on November 29, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I think my opinion has been adequately covered in many of the above posts. I just want to add one thing: your desire to live in ignorant bliss is fine, for you. Do not presume that,because you don’t want to know the truth, nobody should be allowed to.