stuff i said elsewhere already

I wish I had time to put together a well-crafted post on Wikileaks, but I don't. RW's is quite good, though, and I don't find much there with which I disagree.

So I'll just get to the point. I think Julian Assange is a badass, and in my more optimistic visions of the future, his name is mentioned in the same breath as Gutenberg's. I'm probably overstating the importance of Wikileaks qua Wikileaks, here...but I do think we are seeing the beginning of a fundamental shift in the ability of institutions to maintain their hold on power by controlling information.

Whether or not you think this is a good thing...it's hard to avoid the notion that the future belongs to those who can adapt to this reality.


RW said...

don't know what became of my first comment but I'll say it better this time...

you said in a couple hundred words what took me a couple thousand to say and came nearer to the point of it than me.

Then I said "damn you!" but since you're an atheist that was purely rhetorical.

Gino said...

i've seen pics of julian. 'badass' just never came to my mind.

seems everybody else with a outlet/blog has an opinion on this.

i'm feeling left out. :(

Gino said...

"you said in a couple hundred words what took me a couple thousand to say and came nearer to the point of it than me."

you have no idea how many times i wish i had this gift of his.

chris said...

I'm just glad our government is finally getting a taste of their own medicine.

Dave said...

I have had a sense for awhile that security clearances are being given out too freely; I suspect that this case illustrates that. The two principles of information security are clearance and need-to-know; however, the post-911 desire to promote information exchange between federal agencies has resulted in the need-to-know restrictions being significantly watered-down. In this case, the leaked documents are at the Secret and Confidential level of classification ... which are actually relatively low levels of classification. But the open nature of the SIPRNET (basically a separate classified internet) allows anyone with a secret clearance to access most everything.
Some consequences of this event:
1. I suspect that there might be more thought put into granting SECRET security clearances. In my case, I was granted one during my sophomore year of college for 10 years.
2. There has been some movement towards what I suspect is "rubber stamping" security clearance based on career requirements. For example, security investigations no longer are allowed to ask about mental health treatment because people were scared to avail themselves to mental health treatment for fear of triggering a security clearance problem. Well, that's good for mental health, but there was a reason in the past that security investigators asked about mental health issues. Since the loss of a security clearance means the de facto end of a career (especially for intel specialists and all officers) their issuance was generally taken for granted and very hard to remove, except in the event of criminal charges such as domestic violence or DUI, which I tend to view as having nothing actually to do with the person's security credibility.
3. Increasing the classification of much information. All of the wikileaks documents are SECRET or CONFIDENTIAL. Really important stuff is TOP SECRET and access to that data is strictly limited. TS info isn't carried on SIPRNET so I am guessing a lot of previously SECRET documents will end up being classified as TS. To put TS in context, while I have held a TS/SCI clearance since 2006 I have never actually accessed any TS information ... because I have never had a need to know. So I would guess that the easiest way given the current classification process to limit access would be to increase its classification level. Increased classification will make working with classified info increasingly painful. What keeps the number of TS clearances in check now is the cost of doing individual background checks that include credit checks and in-person interviews of candidates and people they might know. My TS/SCI clearance took over 18 months to process.
4. Finally, this event will likely result in the removal of all data transportation devices on SIPRNET computers. Thumb drive/USB devices are already banned ... writable CD drives will likely be banned soon.
Bottom line ... SECRET clearances are really easy to get, and that might need to change. Because security clearances can kill careers, the government essentially needs to prove someone as being untrustworthy instead of the person verifying their trustworthiness and that makes the clearance less significant than it might otherwise appear.

Brian said...

It would seem to me a simpler (and more cost effective) approach, from the government's perspective, would be to put more thought into what information becomes classified in the first place. The impression I get from the State dump (and I realize that Defense is a very different animal) is that the overwhelming majority of "revelations" are of the "it's embarrassing because someone actually wrote it down in an official capacity" type, rather than the "this is a really big important secret" type.