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Re: <nettime> Jay Rosen: Wikileaks, the World's First Stateless News Org
James Wallbank on Mon, 2 Aug 2010 02:47:40 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Jay Rosen: Wikileaks, the World's First Stateless News Organization

Hello Patrice,

I would suggest that the most significant issue around the Wikileaks 
situation is the question "How could Wikileaks get hold of so many 
classified documents?"

The answer is simple: the US military have begun to adopt a doctrine of 
"Network Centric Operations" which suggests a command and control 
structure which devolves power downwards and outwards as far as is 
feasible, maximising the initiative which can be taken by 
self-synchronising actors in the field. This is the US Military's 
attempt to become more agile by becoming more like a richly connected, 
distributed network, rather than a rigid, top-down command and control 

Intelligence data and resources used to be kept as secret as possible. 
Information was centralised and passed up the hierarchy, towards 
decision-makers well away from the situation on the ground. Those 
decisions were then passed downwards, and the actors in the field 
weren't necessarily aware of why decisions had been made, and what the 
full situation was, or might be.

This led to time delays, communication network bottlenecks, ineffective 
decision making, friendly fire incidents, and many other examples of 
"the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing."

Network Centric Operations suggests making intelligence and situational 
data available as widely as possible, empowering lower levels of command 
to request it, analyse it and respond to it appropriately. Central 
command's job then becomes to set over-arching objectives and to 
moderate or referee the approaches taken by field commanders to ensure 
that their actions are properly and quickly documented (preferably in 
real time) and broadly heading in a consistent direction.

(Sounds like software development, eh?)

The idea is that local commanders, agents and even non-military 
contractors (who, I understand, did have access to this data) could make 
much cleverer and more appropriate tactical decisions than could more 
senior commanders, because, even in this information rich network, 
they'd have a much better picture of the specific situation in their 
area of operations. Tactics, synchronisation and synergy are taken care 
of locally, not centrally.

In this model all you really need to be sure of is that everyone that 
has access to the data is also producing data, has the same objectives 
and is broadly on the same side.

What this leak brings up is a possible (and, from the outside, very 
obvious) weakness of this doctrine!

But perhaps this leaking episode itself is part of an orchestrated grand 
strategy. By making such intelligence data available to all networked 
global citizens, are we ALL co-opted into the intelligence gathering and 
war-waging effort? By being given the data, do each of us demonstrate, 
through our response, or lack thereof, whether we are, "With them or 
against them"?

In the world of information warfare, even expressing an opinion may be 
significant. In leaky, unbounded Network Centric Operations, does 
everyone with a net connection become an agent on the battlefield - 
whether they want to be or not?

Best Regards,


Patrice Riemens wrote:

> I am still brooding on a reaction to John Young's acerbic comments on
> WKLKs (though he took the defense of the same on CNN), but just like Jay
> rosen, I am still vastly confused about the issue. Julian Assange's smart
> talking on:
> http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_assange_why_the_world_needs_wikileaks.html
> heightened the confusiuon - yet is quite enlightening (and anyway very
> informative).
> Cheers, p+3D!
> ............................................................

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