FBI Paid Off Wikileaks Insider To Be An Informant: Imagine If It Was The NY Times

from the that's-insane dept

People like to debate whether or not Wikileaks is or is not a "media property," but I can't see any definition of a media property under which Wikileaks would not fall. Yes, it publishes leaked documents, but so do many other media properties. Yes, it has a strong ideological viewpoint, but so do many other media properties. So it's rather stunning to read about the fact that a Wikileaks insider apparently spent some time as a paid informant for the FBI, handing over a variety of internet information on things happening within Wikileaks. Imagine if this was the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal, and it came out that an employee was getting paid by the FBI to reveal what those newspapers were working on. People would be up in arms, just like they were over the DOJ's spying on AP reporters and a Fox News reporter. Except, this wasn't just spying on a reporter, this was flat out paying off an insider to share internal information. That's incredible.

The entire story from Kevin Poulsen at Wired is worth reading, about how Icelandic teen Sigurdur Thordarson was taken under Julian Assange's wing and given a fair amount of autonomy within Wikileaks. The details suggest that Thordarson abused that position in many ways, including setting up a t-shirt sales site, supposedly to benefit Wikileaks, but where all the money went directly to his own bank account. But, that's really minor considering the key point: that the FBI actively worked with and continued to push Thordarson to get more info from Wikileaks, even after he'd left the organization. The DOJ is supposed to have rules about investigations of media properties for a variety of reasons, and paying off an insider seems like it goes way, way beyond what's appropriate.


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    Ninja (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 11:21am

    You kidding me, that Wikileaks shop is a fraud?

    Other than that it's just more rotten garbage from a completely broken and lunatic Government. Where are the Americans protesting?

     

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      weneedhelp (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

      Re:

      "Where are the Americans protesting?" - Ha! Too busy shopping at Walmart, and saying "I dont care if the NSA hears my conversations." - They dont understand its not about MY... conversations, or YOUR... conversations. It about the Journalists, lawyers, Judges, etc, etc. For some reason my fellow citizens are asleep at the wheel. They just dont get it. its bizarre really.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re:

        The thing to take away from all this is that protesting is worthless. Let's go through the steps that happen to make a protest:

        1) Have to organize people in a way that doesn't draw the ire of local law enforcement. Considering the NSA is sucking up all information regarding this, that means that private face-to-face conversations are the only way for this to happen. Which is far too difficult to do on a large scale

        2) Organize the RIGHT people who the media can't slander into oblivion. Which means no minorities, no LGBT, no one wearing the wrong kind of shirt, and make sure every person who attends brings signs with proper spelling and punctuation and say the right things that can't be spun as being "Communist"

        3) Find a place to do it where it is "legal". Which means literally any place that is not an "obstruction" (Not on public property) or "trespassing" (Not anywhere near private property)

        4) Get the proper paperwork from city hall, who controls local law enforcement, who is under the thumb of the people you're protesting

        5) If you do all this, and manage to even get this far while having more than maybe a dozen protestors total, you must then face the inevitability of plants and bad elements. Law enforcement WILL plant instigators inside of your protest movement if there are more than several dozen people in attendance, this is a proven fact of protests. They do this because the second they want to shut it down, it only takes one of those instigators throwing a water bottle to do so.

        So in short, after you do all this, you:

        -Have little to no impact
        -Can be ignored easily
        -And if you're not ignored, you will be demonized

        So why do people say that Americans need to be marching in the streets again?

         

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      jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

      Re:

      Because all those years of protesting the Iraq and Afghanistan war put a quick stop to it, and Occupy Wall Street brought swift justice to bank execs.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 11:43am

    nothing is inappropriate when it's law enforcement agencies or entertainment industries doing it. it matters not that there are lies spread, that cheating is done, that stealing is committed, anything is fine. as soon as any person or organisation even thinks about doing something that could be construed as being a bit off the track, all hell breaks loose! i suppose that's where the 'dont do what i do, do what i tell you' comes in

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 11:43am

    Only big media corporations have rights Mike!

    Silly Mike, it's only a major civil rights violation if the 'Professional' US media is harmed. Us little people, and little 'unprofessional' media groups like Wikileaks don't have any civil rights.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 11:44am

    Correction. Tax payers Paid Off Wikileaks Insider To Be An Informant:

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 11:51am

    I guess Julian...

    Sunglasses

    ... has no Thordar.

    YEAAAAAAH!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Imagining...

    "Imagine if this was the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal, and it came out that an employee was getting paid by the FBI to reveal what those newspapers were working on."

    Given recent events, I'm imagining that it hasn't come out. Yet.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

      Re: Imagining...

      If I'm not mistaken, one of the people in Guantanamo is a cameraman or some other person who worked in the Al Jazeera studios, nabbed solely for information on how the studios operated and has been kept there for years.

       

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      Daniel, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

      Re: Imagining...

      Eh, a virus is so much easier/cheaper for regular media outlets. Wikileaks is just harder to do that for because they're more paranoid, and obviously they have a reason to be.

       

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    MacCruiskeen, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Given the revelations in the Whitey Bulger trial of how some FBI agents have handled informants, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that _Assange_ was on the payroll. At least Thordarson didn't kill anyone. That we know of.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    No, imagine if it's Assange hisself!

    There's NO reason to assume that Assange is independent, that's just thinking inside the desired box, and surely just what's admitted these days demands asking how far spying and running agents or patsies goes. While Wikileaks getting out the gunship massacre video was good, hanging on to more, or allegedly hanging onto, is suspicious, as is the group's income, besides that we've seen nothing from it of late. Same goes for Greenwald / Snowden: no public purpose is served by their holding back yet more.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

      Re: No, imagine if it's Assange hisself!

      "no public purpose is served by their holding back yet more."

      That's funny, I remember dozens of comments from you going on about how Assange and Manning were bad for just dumping thousands of cables.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    People would be up in arms


    No they wouldn't, if the last week has taught us anything: we are complicit to the crimes committed by our government. Nothing they can do at this point will cause us to lift a finger from our sofas and computer chairs.

    Learning our media and government are in bed together would be just another "Oh, I knew that all along" moment.

     

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    lucidrenegade (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:31pm

    That would be Sigurdur "Piggy" Thordarson.

     

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    Jon Renaut (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:45pm

    Making assumptions

    Isn't it only "way, way beyond what's appropriate" if you assume the opposite of the position that the FBI/DOJ have taken?

    That is, if you don't treat Wikileaks as a media organization (and I agree with your reasoning that it is, but that's not the point), then paying an informant to get insider information is just something that the FBI does.

     

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    Alan, Jun 28th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    OTOH...

    Isn't sauce for the goose also sauce for the gander? If wikileaks is all about destroying secrecy on the theory that transparency is ultimately always better, what's actually wrong with destroying wikileaks' secrecy? Or, are power & hypocrisy Assange's real values?

     

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    John Moore, Jun 28th, 2013 @ 11:11am

    Journalist? Foreigner

    I doubt the journalist prohibition applies to foreigners operating outside the US. It shouldn't.

     

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