US Gov't Funded Julian Assange's Crypto Research... Then Pulled The Plug

from the it-all-comes-back-around dept

PandoDaily has a fascinating story from Peiter Zatko who had known Julian Assange way back in the day, and last ran into him at Chaos Congress in 2009 (Wikileaks was going strong at this point, but it was well before the release of the "Collateral Murder" video, the accusations of rape, the Ecuadorian embassy asylum and all that). They caught up over dinner and Assange revealed to Zatko how the US government had funded and then shut down his research into a crypto-file system which would allow you to reveal a way to decrypt it that just showed innocuous files, so you could be "forced" to decrypt something without actually revealing anything. Of course, as we pointed out not that long ago, the NSA has a bit of a history of trying to stifle crypto research if it fears that the crypto might be too good, and it sounds like Assange was a victim of that, despite not being American nor working at an American university:
Julian told me his graduate work had been funded by a US government grant, specifically NSA and DARPA money, which was supposed to be used for fundamental security research. It was a time when the Bush Administration and Department of Defense were seen to be classifying a great deal of fundamental research and pulling back on university funds. These universities were getting the message that they could no longer work on the research they had been conducting, and what they had already done was classified. In a Joseph Heller-like twist, they weren’t even allowed to know what it was they had already discovered.

According to Julian, the US government cast such a wide net that even general scientific research, whose output had always been published openly, was swept up in America’s secrecy nets. As you can imagine this did not sit well with Julian, because his work had also been funded by one of these fundamental research funding lines and yanked.
Zatko notes that this experience is a big part of what drove Assange to dedicate his life to openness and helping to expose organizations that tried to keep the public ignorant of important things. While the crux of the article is that the US government inadvertently "created" Wikileaks, that seems like a bit of an exaggeration. However, it is somewhat interesting to know that Assange's work was, at one point, funded by the US government.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:25pm

    Cue someone saying that the CIA funded bin Laden back in the day...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    AzureSky (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    thought it was common knowledge that our govt armed and supported the before cutting and running....typical US policy, get what you want, then get the fuck out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    nearsighted

    They should have just bribed him and installed a backdoor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:54pm

    i seem to remember reading somewhere that a certain person who was exterminated by a US task force or something, somewhere in the area of Pakistan i believe, was funded by a US government agency that then rejected him. a hell of a lot of people payed the price for that. if it was true, of course.

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    Just more reason to suspect Assange or anyone who's been near NSA.

    To save time, I'll just quote me from last week:

    the WHOLE system is corrupt in every place and every way that human ingenuity can devise. Even those who study it are surprised at the audacity and breadth of the corruption: basically everything brainstormed that looked at all to bring wanted results (more surveillance, more centralized power) has been implemented, because NSA is not constrained by budget limits.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130912/17070624503/james-clapper-admits-that-debate-snow den-created-needed-to-happen.shtml#c63

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    More than can be silenced by DoJ harrassment, I hope.

    I'm glad I'm the only one who didn't imagine false-bottom cryptography as a means to circumvent (illegal or at least unethical) orders by courts and law enforcement to force someone to decrypt a file or a drive.

    I really hope there are plenty of other efforts to develop this technology.

    As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
    Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
    Monday, September 16, 2013 3:07:06 PM
    laundry ladder safe loft champaigne ice cream headline flood

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:19pm

    Response to: Rikuo on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:25pm

    Only 29min!!

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

    "a crypto-file system which would allow you to reveal a way to decrypt it that just showed innocuous files, so you could be "forced" to decrypt something without actually revealing anything."

    TrueCrypt already does exactly that! http://www.truecrypt.org/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:34pm

    Julian told me his graduate work had been funded by a US government grant, specifically NSA and DARPA money

    BULLSHIT!!

    He was doing a B.SC (Bachelor of Science) Degree that he never completed at Uni of Melbourne, and then attempted another course in Programming (Computer Science Degree strain) at CQU (Central Queensland Uni)... DARPA were not funding anything within Australia, though the CSIRO and our Dept of Defence (Signals) "might" of been at the time it was specifically NOT the USA.

    Julian likes to over exaggerate things and thats an understatement.

     

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  10.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:43pm

    Re: More than can be silenced by DoJ harrassment, I hope.

    Far as I know that feature is built in with TrueCrypt, where it has two passwords, the 'public' one and 'private' one, where the public unlocks what the user wants to be seen, a decoy if you will, while it takes the private one to unlock what's actually encrypted.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:52pm

    Re:

    How the fuck would you know ?

    >inb4 wikipedia article told you

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:55pm

    The video were Mudge talks about Julian Assange

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSR-b9yuTbM

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:02pm

    Re:

    Forgot the obligatory calling.... BULLSHIT. (On you calling bullshit)

    Who the fuck said he was in Australia at the time anyway ?
    Oh you did.

    IF "Julian likes to over exaggerate things and thats an understatement."
    You like to pull stuff out of your ass and present it as facts, and that's the truth stated adequately.


    FFS Mudge was part of the DOJ... even talking to them about that exact issue. But he knows nothing.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Just more reason to suspect Assange or anyone who's been near NSA.

    Drive-by DMCA! Have a report vote, you little bitch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 9:14pm

    Re: nearsighted

    "They should have just bribed him and installed a backdoor"

    Typical US, install them and then "backdoor" them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    DS, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:01am

    Re: Just more reason to suspect Assange or anyone who's been near NSA.

    Nobody likes you Charles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    techflaws (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:20am

    Re: Just more reason to suspect Assange or anyone who's been near NSA.

    To save some time, I simply opened the censored (*chuckles*) comment, saw it was you (of course) and clicked on report after having read the first line only. Next time, I won't be even reading this line but simply check for your nick to save time.

    You're welcome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:22am

    The fact that the US funded Assange (along with Bin Laden and other sworn enemies) is irrelevant. What caught my eye and made me very worried is the fact that the US threw a net wide enough to stifle even general research. The secrecy ramp up is so aggressive that's shocking. Could it be that the US is actively driving us towards new Dark Ages?

    Sure Bush wasn't the sole responsible for this shit, it's been being built for a while now but he is one of the worst things that could have happened to the US and to the world. Obama is just following inertially the momentum that was built by Bush.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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