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<nettime> Wikileaks: Tough Love from Cryptome (Wall Street Journal)
Patrice Riemens on Thu, 28 Oct 2010 17:30:29 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Wikileaks: Tough Love from Cryptome (Wall Street Journal)

original at:

Website for Leaked Data Shines Spotlight on WikiLeaks


WikiLeaks publishes top-secret documents about government and corporate

Then there is John Young, who publishes documents about WikiLeaks.

>From his apartment on New York City's Upper West Side, the 70-something
architect, computer buff and self-described "cypherpunk" runs a website,
http://cryptome.org, that seeks to hold accountable the site that boasts
of holding others to account.

Mr. Young said his scrutiny is meant not to undermine WikiLeaks, but to
harden it for battle. "Doing what they're doing," he said in a telephone
interview, "they have to be just as tough as nails. And they can't get
tough by having people praise them. They can only get tough by having
people attack them."

WikiLeaks has posted hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. military
documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the most recent
trove released last weekend. Among the posts on Mr. Young's site?which
covers a broad range of subjects?are internal WikiLeaks emails showing the
group debating strategy for attracting funds and supporters. The Cryptome
posts have provocative labels such as "wikileaks-fear," "wikileaks-snitch"
and "WL Hate."

In a July item titled "wikileaks-buck," Cryptome published an anonymous
letter from someone claiming to be a WikiLeaks insider, who complained
that WikiLeaks provides "absolutely no accounting" of funds it receives
and spends. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange disputes that claim, and says
all the alleged "insider" posts on Cryptome are fakes.

In an email, Mr. Assange called the "insider" posts on Cryptome
"fabricated from top to bottom." He declined to elaborate, or to comment
further on Cryptome.

Mr. Young said he receives some documents anonymously, through an
encrypted submission system. Asked whether some might be fake, Mr. Young
said he was "agnostic on issues of fakeness."

"There's no way to tell the difference between a real one and a fake in
general," Mr. Young said. "So let people decide for themselves."

After WikiLeaks' weekend publication of 400,000 documents about the Iraq
war, Cryptome has been busy. In an Oct. 23 item, Mr. Young posted a
variety of barbs about WikiLeaks, including an accusation that it holds
"dramatic, rigged, press shindigs" to announce its leaks.

Cryptome isn't the only one watching the watchers. A cottage industry
based on scrutinizing WikiLeaks has sprung up in recent years.
Wikileak.org?singular, no "s"?opines on WikiLeaks' tactics and links to
articles about WikiLeaks. Wikileads.net offered "WikiLeaks buzz, news and
analysis" before petering out in 2008. Media blog Gawker also posts
information about Mr. Assange and company on the site wikileakileaks.org.

Mr. Young founded Cryptome in 1996 as one of the Web's first repositories
of leaked documents and top-secret information, publishing documents such
as lists of alleged British spies and the alleged site of former Vice
President Dick Cheney's famed "undisclosed location" following the Sept.
11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington.

Like WikiLeaks founder Mr. Assange, Mr. Young crusades for full disclosure
but is stingy with details about his own life. He grew up in Texas but
won't say exactly where, and declines to give his age.

Mr. Young said he generates some material for Cryptome by filing Freedom
of Information requests about WikiLeaks. On Aug. 9, he posted on the site
a letter he said he sent to the Central Intelligence Agency "requesting
information or records on Wikileaks.org, Julian Assange and others unknown
associated with Wikileaks and its affiliates." The CIA couldn't
immediately confirm receipt of the FOIA request.

In the mid-1990s, Mr. Young said, he became acquainted with Mr. Assange
through the "cypherpunks" movement, which united programmers, hackers and
others interested in Internet privacy. The movement draws its name from
the word "cipher," which means, among other things, a system of writing in
secret code.

Mr. Young said in 2006 Mr. Assange asked him to become the public face of
WikiLeaks in the U.S., where he was supposed to register the wikileaks.org
domain in his name. But a few months later Mr. Young fell out with the
group, alleging that its goal of raising $5 million was excessive and that
such sums "could not be needed so soon except for suspect purposes."

Mr. Young sent a heated farewell message to a WikiLeaks Internet mailing
list: "Wikileaks is a fraud: F? your cute hustle and disinformation
campaign against legitimate dissent. Same old s?, working for the enemy,"
he wrote. Then he posted the message?and a stream of WikiLeaks insider
emails?to Cryptome as a leak.

It was the first of dozens of WikiLeaks items he has posted, their number
intensifying in recent months as WikiLeaks has attracted more attention.

Write to Jeanne Whalen at jeanne.whalen {AT} wsj.com

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