Obama 'Considering Legal Action' Against Wikileaks

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Following the latest Wikileaks leak, apparently the Obama White House is exploring “the possibility of taking legal action” against the site. That’s amusing. Of course, with Homeland Security expanding its mandate to seize domain names it doesn’t like, you could see an attempt to seize the Wikileaks domain. However, while I’m sure there are some in the federal government who would favor such an action, I would think there are at least a few knowledgeable people in the administration who would note that the backlash to such a move would be overwhelming. The government may be able to fool some people by pretending that seizing websites without a trial isn’t censorship when it comes to copyright issues, but it would be a much more difficult claim when the site is a whistleblowing site.

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I am not sure yet if they will actually do anything about WikiLeaks, but I do think there is going to be a very big American backlash against WikiLeaks over the coming months.

You already have some “freedom loving” Repubs labeling them a terrorist organization.

All bets are off when it comes to stealing and exposing government secrets. It’s foreign espionage. Even if Assange hasn’t really had anything all that significant so far. He’s not going to be a hero to most voting Americans.



“So why have they waited. Wikileak is not new, had already released thousands of documents. So if what they did now is so bad, why wasnt it the last time the did it….”

From what I understand if they do go after WikiLeaks the password for the unredacted stuff gets released. WikiLeaks is also holding back a sizable chunk of unreleased stuff.



The same thing that they said last time “This will endanger people in the field” and then they had to admit, well no, it didn’t actually do that.
Now with “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that WikiLeaks acted illegally in posting the material.” Um, he’s not a US citizen, so exactly how did he break any laws? Assuming he hasn’t been to the US, didn’t receive the data while on US soil, how exactly has he broken any US laws? We can make it illegal to do so in our country, but our laws don’t extend past our borders (treaties not withstanding obviously).
And if he’s broken our laws, quite a few of us have broken Germany’s ‘no NAZI info’ laws. We call it free speech, they call it illegal.

Matt Bennettsays:

They just released 250,000 pages about diplomatic negotiations. How is that “whislteblowing?” As far as I can tell, it’s only effect has been to get people pissed at us. Not about anything done wrong, mind you, but just about normal, gossipy bullshit.

The man needs to be in jail. His only interest is to hurt the US reputation and make it harder to operate, using classified documents.



His only interest is to hurt the US reputation and make it harder to operate, using classified documents.

And I am 100% sure that the US Government has never, ever tried to hurt another country’s reputation using their classified documents in any way, shape or form.


The man needs to be in jail.

For what? Assange is not a US citizen.

Rose M. Welchsays:


The man needs to be in jail.

‘The man’ doesn’t own Wikileaks. ‘The man’ isn’t the CEO (although he is the ‘editor-in-chief’). ‘The man’ doesn’t actually upload the documents himself. ‘The man’ isn’t even in charge, although he is on the board. Putting ‘the man’ in jail wouldn’t actually stop anything from happening.

So, lolwhut?

His only interest is to hurt the US reputation and make it harder to operate, using classified documents.

America-bashing is a world-wide past time. Please explain why it’s suddenly illegal.

South America called and they have a warrant for ysays:


The only person here hurting reputation of the US is the US. If we really towed the line like we say we do then these releases wouldn’t be a problem, rather they would be a validation of all the good we have done.

What is the real problem here is that the majority our perceptions of US policy and organization are grossly inaccurate. Simply put we have a belief our government is often doing the right thing. Well it is not IMHO.

We cannot continue to pretend having a military presence in almost every part of the world, spending more than several industrialized nations combined on the military budget, and fighting two separate endless wars is anything but a form of Imperialism.

We have to accept who we are before we can become who we want to be. In a lot of ways the US is operating as an addict unwilling to accept that he/she has a problem. This denial and the mechanisms that keep it in place is at the core of why we can’t change.

I personally think that the US citizens are ready for the truth to be told about our government. I know I am.



You don’t seem to know much about wikileaks.

For one, they received an award from Amnesty International for revelations of conspiracy and mass murder by the Kenyan government. Their history abounds with shocking revelations and awards from different groups. They release whatever comes their way that they think has merit. They have no particular vendetta against the U.S. or anyone else.

Also, wikileaks is not a 1-man operation. Julian Assange is not wikileaks. If he were vaporized by a government laser from space, wikileaks can and would continue to operate.

If you think what wikileaks is doing is “gossip”, then why do you think gossip is something people need to be in jail for? It can’t be both important enough to go to jail for, and also “gossipy bullshit”. You can’t have it both ways.

You don’t seem to really know much about wikileaks at all.


They cant shut down wikileaks because its not US based guys. Its run by an aussie, but last i checked, it was hosted somewhere else.

Also as Mike notes, some of us are mirroring the Wikileaks site, if it go’s down, were going to put it back up somewhere else. (on a side note, im going to need a new HD soon if they release much more roflol).

Hephaestus, do you mean this one?


Re: Re:

If only Regan were still in office…

Apparently you are too young to remember that Reagan said himself that he was not aware nor has he authorized any of the “black ops” stuff you are pining for.

And as far as showing ignorance, you might read up about the black ops happening under current administration in countries like Pakistan. Oh wait, you can only divide things into black and white. Pun intended.


Re: Re:

I don’t think you experienced Regan’s government in person, because what made him so popular was his comments about how bad the government actually is, although he lied most of the time and did exactly the contrary of what he preached.

note: I do believe he was a good man, but he also was a politician and nobody should trust their lives in the hands of those.


Re: Re: Because assassination proves your the good guys

On the offhand chance that you weren’t joking, I don’t think this is the way to handle the situation. It would be horrible public relations and a lot of irony if the truth got leaked ­čÖé

and Regan…. you mean the actor who was bought and payed for by the rich to be a puppet president?

Not to sound bitter but he took the steady flow of money going to the middle class and clamped it down ensuring those with the most got even more and kept it. He even said it was “trickle down” which meant you turn down that steady stream to the middle class to just a trickle.

Gotta love the US citizens that still idolize this guy. Ignorance must truly be bliss.


To those who say this [Wikileaks] is a terrorist organization I say this: Proof or STFU. Just because you publish information about a government does not make you a terrorist. Logically, you’d have to take an active hand in undermining the government through the use of violence or fear to gain this moniker. Publishing secret communiques between diplomats does not fall under these auspices.

This is a slippery slope for the US to start travelling. If we start tagging people or organizations as terrorists when clearly they are not in fact, it turns into the proverbial abuse of power and witch hunt that we have all seen occur throughout history via authoritarian regimes.

To me, this is a bigger issue than what information was released in those documents. As far as that is concerned the US needs to determine the source of the leak and deal with it and stop saber-rattling about wikileaks.



>This is a slippery slope for the US to start travelling. If we start tagging people or organizations as terrorists when clearly they are not in fact, it turns into the proverbial abuse of power and witch hunt that we have all seen occur throughout history via authoritarian regimes.

I think last weekend’s action clearly demonstrated that we are already way, way down down that slope and gaining speed by the second.

What is next? Will the Obama administration declare the Tea Party a terrorist organization and start seizing their assets? Or will the Tea Party gain control after the next election and declare liberals to be terrorists? The race is on.



“This is a slippery slope for the US to start travelling. If we start tagging people or organizations as terrorists when clearly they are not in fact, it turns into the proverbial abuse of power and witch hunt that we have all seen occur throughout history via authoritarian regimes.”

Don’t the words “national security” ring a bell? We all hear them way too often in recent years.



That’s a really good point. I think if the governments embarrassed by leaked material really turned up the heat, this would be a crucial element in their campaign.

They know they can’t really shut down something like wikileaks merely via infrastructure. Rather they would have to pursue and prosecute any citizens in possession of the offending information.

Pressing the ‘terrorist’ hotbutton is just the first step of that process.


Re: Re:

Pressing the terrorist hot button is just missing the rapist, file sharer, or child pornographer button. They’re all red, and when they’re pressed, the government expects you to behave like Pavlov’s dogs.. and sadly, you do.
Nothing wikileaks has done is any way terrorist-like behaviour. I am sure you’d be more upset if the government decided the huffington post was a terrorist organisation (though they publish far fewer facts).


Secret Govt. Docs...

I think we used to shoot people for that. Or, if you ask the Rosenberg?s, electrocute them.

Leaking classified material and publishing it puts American as well as our ‘friends’ lives at risk.

It is also information on how the US Government operates behind ?closed doors? and can be used to find and exploit weaknesses in our security systems. It could be used, depending on the information, to find an exploit during time of war that could put millions of American lives at risk.

This should in no way be tolerated. The guy that owns the Wiki site is Australian I believe. I think we should bring the full power of the federal government to bear on Australia and have them extradite him for trial in the US on grounds of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations, among other charges.

When he is found guilty and he is guilty, put him in ADMAX with the rest of the terrorist, forever!

Send a message…


Re: Secret Govt. Docs...

I think we used to shoot people for that

Are you a Soviet? ‘Cause that’s what you must be referring to, Soviet Union.

The guy that owns the Wiki site is Australian I believe. I think we should bring the full power of the federal government to bear on Australia and have them extradite him for trial in the US on grounds of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations, among other charges.

It is hilarious that with the power of the internet (or Google, specifically) at your fingertips, you cannot figure out where the guy is.


Re: Secret Govt. Docs...

The full power of the federal government.

So let me get this straight, you want to ruin your ties with my country, because someone posted something leaked by your own countryman?

Over-reacting much? Did you stop to think of what those consequences would be, if you started making ill-thought out demands of your allies?

Richard Kulawiecsays:

Re: Secret Govt. Docs...

It is also information on how the US Government operates behind ?closed doors? and can be used to find and exploit weaknesses in our security systems.

There is a persistent mythos that if security information isn’t disclosed publicly, that it isn’t available to adversaries. We see this all the time in IT, where some vendors — always those who are embarrassed by the latest gaping security hole in their products — rant about “responsible disclosure” and paint those who don’t do their jobs for them as irresponsible.

But this is nonsense. Any adversary worth the title had the diplomatic cables of interest to them a long time ago. Given that an estimated 3 million people had access to varying subsets of these, it’s farsical to presume that none of them leaked them, sold them, or accidentally disclosed them when they lost a laptop or a briefcase or whatnot. Everyone spies on everyone constantly, and low-hanging fruit like this is plucked at will.

What endangers people isn’t the disclosure of this material: it’s its existence. And responsible for that lies with those who have created it.


Re: Secret Govt. Docs...

You are right that any information, of that type can and WILL be used against you. Including the diplomatic messages that have just been posted.

You dont expect diplomats to discuss within themselves things regarding the personalities of those they have to deal with.

How is publishing that a diplomat said some president travelled with a volupious nurse, is ‘whisleblowing’.

Its gossop, its things that will make the job of those diplomats far more difficult. or impossible.

No one at wikileaks is skilled, qualified or experienced in intelligence, and what the consequences of any information can be used for.

Dont forget in World War 2, german spies would look at the number of lights on in Government and defense buildings and use that information to determine if there was an attack being planned.

(the people planning the attack work late at night, with the lights on). if all the lights are off, they can use that information to determine the chance of an attack.

So, just the information about lights on in a building is intelligence.

The amount of food allocated to a group is a good indication of the number of people and the duration of their activity.

Therefore all military food transportation, and munitions and equipment is kept secert, because any information, by itself might be meaningless, but put together by the right people can and IS very damaging.

Geez, the US Government even do it, they released the name of that CIA double agent, destroyed her career. With just the releasing of name.

And that guy is from australia, but he is not in australia, he is basically on the run from the law, and have a child molestation charge against him.

We (Australia) could not send him to you even if we could, he’s not here..

I work with the military in the middle easy all the time, they are my friends. Any information that makes their job harder is not helping the US.

He should be in prison, I would not be too surprised if at some point he just disappeared..

Imagine if he was in russia, how long would he last there?


Re: Re: Secret Govt. Docs...

I like how on one line, you describe it as trite, inconsequential gossip, and then a few lines down, describe it as vastly sensitive political information for which Julian Assange should be put in jail. Which is it?

God your incoherent rant is all over the map. I’m surprised you didn’t throw space aliens in there along with all the world war IIs and russians and child molesters.


Re: Re: Secret Govt. Docs...

oh ok.. what is it making it harder for the US to do?

continue the onslaught of murder of innocent civilians? or directly being involved in the deaths of American troops?

THEY can spin it however they want:


But what about the lives of the already killed 10’s of thousands innocent civilians? Well, according to THEM, I suppose, these aren’t “countless” as they’ve been counted.



Re: Secret Govt. Docs...

Yes, just bring all those lovely US laws to Australia.. where they’re actually not enforceable.
I find it highly amusing that so many people are so upset about a bunch of documents. Nothing Wikileaks has published is demonstrably false, is it ?
So if I tell you the sky is blue, you’ll want to put me in jail too ? Wikileaks is providing a service that the traditional media should be, but is not.
(To politics.co.uk : http://tinyurl.com/2w8sevg)


Re: Secret Govt. Docs...

Yes, just bring all those lovely US laws to Australia.. where they’re actually not enforceable.
I find it highly amusing that so many people are so upset about a bunch of documents. Nothing Wikileaks has published is demonstrably false, is it ?
So if I tell you the sky is blue, you’ll want to put me in jail too ? Wikileaks is providing a service that the traditional media should be, but is not.
(To politics.co.uk : http://tinyurl.com/2w8sevg)


OBummer can blow all the smoke he wants about legal action against wikileaks but reality is there is nothing he nor his snot nosed whiny administration can do… seize the domain name? ya right like thats gonna work!!
this administration needs a serious dose of reality.
Change? i’ll take my guns and my free speech, you can have your change



The site may be the primary host of the documents, but it also links to a bit torrent where you can download the files yourself. Also, there is a dead man’s switch in place in case the site is compromised/the site runners are jailed, which would release the rest of the documents immediately.

So what’s the point of legal action, aside from impotent chest beating?

Edan Aharonysays:


Julian Assagne is wanted in Sweden for rape. Apparently the case against him reopened mysteriously after it was initially dropped. The bottom line is don?t mess with the US because they will come to get you. His life is ruined for good and for what? For something that we all new but never had the proof? I don?t think any of the material Wikileak released is any revelation, the most it does is embarrass the US. Edan Aharony


Re: Wikileak

Despite the risks, some people will continue to release these documents as they are found.

Its not like he didnt know the risks going into this, and while i think it was foolish of him to use his name freely, its his decision at the end of the day.

Back to the subject though, your president cannot bring legal action against this site, not without everything blowing out of proportion, and just a large game of wack-a-mole.


Re: Wikileak

and the charges are clearly trumped.
The REAL bottom line is don’t let governments push you around when they threaten you.

The wikileaks team is a group of people who’s lives involved constant movement, paranoia, and secret agent shit long before this leak happened. So don’t worry about Assange – this is just another day at the office for him.

simon shepardsays:

over all

I think the real purpose of releasing documents such as these cables is being missed. WikiLeaks I don’t believe, is focusing on a particular offense but rather in general pointing out the fact that governments, U.S. or otherwise, have lost focus of what their primary concern should be. Super powers such as the U.S. should lead by example. If a countries economic stability is stellar, its citizens are taken care of, and we can confidently say this is the way it should be done, then we can strongly suggest how others could benefit. Just remember, we elected the people that are now creating controversy.


I have no doubt that the collective minds of the entire US government are sufficiently lacking in forethought. Some sort of ill-fated action against Wikileaks is undoubtedly being prepared as we speak.
So, desperate attempts will be made to hide documents, which will be all the more publicized as a result. The Streisand Effect hitting an entire government. This should be amusing.


Everyone take a deeeep, deeep breath

You may argue that the release of this information harms US diplomatic efforts around the world and, to one extent of another you’d be correct. Then again, I’d argue that it doesn’t damage things as much as some people seem to think as they look for punishment and worse of Wikileaks.

The reality is that someone on the inside, that is to say American officials, have been leaking this stuff to Wikileaks and who knows where else with Wikileaks down on the bottom of the list. To be cynical the media pays more for a good leak, don’t you know. Then again, having your leak mixed in with hundreds of others is a hell of a good way to stay in a position to be able to leak other communications if that’s what this person wants to do.

For all of the fuss and furor doesn’t it strike anyone as curious that, for example, the Canadian government knew which documents were about to be leaked before they hit Wikileaks? What I’m saying, to those who don’t get it, is that everyone affected seemed to know about what would be up on the site before it got there.

That makes it extremely unlikely that Wikileaks is the only place getting this information and others are acting on it sooner rather than Wikileaks is.

Also keep in mind that government secrets, any government’s secrets, are fleeting at best so I’m not all that convinced that anything is actually compromised here.

If the United States government and others, including the bunch of semi-competent lots we Canadians suffer with, want to get angry then that anger is better targeted at those doing the leaking and the seemingly easy route(s) they have to get those leaks out.

Of course that would be hard to do and it deflects attention from that problem to have a convenient scapegoat like Wikileaks to whips for governments to raise all holy hell about that rather than fix the problem.

Anonymous Cowardsays:

I don’t see how everyone is blaming Wikileaks or even the people that leaked the documents. If the government doesn’t want their dirty laundry everywhere then maybe they shouldn’t have any in the first place? These documents are making people more aware of the crap that’s really going on. Oh, and as a bonus, it’s making the US Gov crack down on security, which is in no way a bad thing.


If you look at what was released this time, some could wonder if Wikileaks was doing this to help out the US Govt. Russian is an alpha dog? Saudi Arabia is worried about Iran? China admitted to hacking Google? Isreal bombed Syrias nuke site?

This is news?

That being said, it does highlight the dangers of communications, will other countries really want to work with the US knowing that their conversations might become public?

Wikileaks has a right to publish what is received but the US Govt. should punish those that release information to the full extent of the law.


What drives me nuts about the news broadcasts and the overall conversation about this incident is that no one has uttered the word “accountability”. Yes these were only offhand comments made my diplomats in most cases but last time I checked we were a democratic society. We have a right to know whats going on when our nations our interacting and making decisions that affect us all. If these sorts of documents are a problem for the US Government then perhaps they shouldn’t have put people in key positions that are going to mouth off foreign internationals when they are on record. And as far as tension with allies is concerned, maybe these other nations should be more concerned with cleaning up their own policies then criticizing diplomat Joe for what he said about ambassador Mary’s ass. I applaud wikileaks for being a true force for democracy. People should not be afraid of their Governments; Governments should be afraid of their people.


Iranian nuclear scientists assassinated

Anyone else find the timing of this curious ?

Like “Tomorrow there will be a huge leak and our moles in iran might be outed/arrested/tortured. Lets neutralise them today just in case”.

I find it staggering that so many docs (inc supposed quotes from the Saudi king, UN bugging, etc) were at such a low level of confidentiality and available to so many people to see. How could one person make off with so much ?

Sounds like fairly poor information management to me.

If there’s an upside, it’s watching Iran try to dispute the revelation that they have no friends in the region…

But overall, this doesn’t sound like dirty secrets being revealed (like the helicopter shooting video was). This is just pissing a lot of people off when noone serious is learning anything they didn’t know.

This time I feel like saying to Wikileaks “and your point is ?”.


re: Secret Govt. Docs...

Governments routinely leak secret information when it’s to their advantage. During the last Bush administration they leaked the name of an active CIA agent to Robert Novak. While this was a treasonable offense no one except Scooter Libby (and he only got his hand slapped) was punished.

We Americans live in a Democracy and that only works when the government is transparent. Before anyone gets carried away, I know that there is some information that needs to be kept secret. However; it’s a lot harder to keep the important stuff secret when you try to make everything secret.


It’s not like Wikileaks really released anything that we didn’t already know. U.S. might attack Iran (I’ve been saying that we will since we’ve attacked Iraq, though partly for different reasons), China behind Google hack attacks (big surprise there, who would have guessed), oh, and the biggest completely novel crime of all, name calling (I’m sure that’s never happened in the past).

Seriously, I don’t see what the big deal is here.



It’s not like any of it is extraordinary, unexpected, or unbelievable. Most of what is being released is what most already knew or suspected.

One reason I’ve been saying we will attack Iran since before we’ve even attacked Iraq (though I’ve been saying we will attack Iraq a few months before we did, when the media and Bush started to suggest that he wanted to) is because we attacked Afghanistan and Iraq and both just so happen to be surrounding Iran. Coincidence or by design? It looks like we want to sandwich attack Iran from both sides. There are a couple of other reasons I’ve been saying it though they’re too off topic to discuss here.

The point is that nothing in that leak is surprising one bit and so it’s nothing hard to believe. Heck, the government isn’t even denying any of it, they’re trying to suppress the leaks which is almost an admission of its veracity.

Josef Anvilsays:


WTF is wrong with the politicians in this country????? During the Bush administration someone figure out the magic word “terrorism” leads to the equally magical phrase “national security” and when the two are combined, all laws can be ignored and you can do anything you want to do. New formula for TechDirt T+NS = FtitC (Freedom to ignore the Constitution)

Obama may have run on a platform of change, but Pandora’s box is already open and no one in Washington DC wants to give up the power of “terrorism” + “national security”. It’s amazing the way the sheep accept that Wikileaks is suddenly a terrorist organization. Why? Because it publishes dirty secrets that embarrass people. There is very little threat to national security, if any, from the stuff published by Wikileaks.


While this round of documents isn’t all that big a deal, the fact that a 20 something, demoted private had access to this information shows the sad state of affairs of our government.

What was released this time (because last time was actually much more serious) is listed as gossip, the fact that it was released is a serious violation of trust. The kid that released it is in for some hard time, and rightly so.

Not everything the government considers should be made public. Do we have plans to attack China and Russia? Of course we do, we probably have plans to attack Canada. You plan for all options, that doesn’t mean that they will be put into place or should be made public.

Spaceman Spiffsays:

Going Green

I campaigned for, and voted for Obama in 2008, but I am increasingly dismayed by his activities in office. So much so that I will probably not vote for him in 2012, and will probably change my life-long affiliation with the Democratic Party to the Green Party. IMO, he has betrayed the largest constituency of his supporters, that he WOULD “make a change”!

Katrina Herringsays:

Hypocrisy much?

Ha ha. All you folks thinking it is fine to out non-public communications of diplomats post here anonymously. I think this website should post your names and jobs. Oh, I bet then you’d get upset wouldn’t you. These communications were not intended to be public and never should have been. How can we expect diplomats to be candid in their assessments of foreign nations and leaders when they are outed like this? Wikileaks, a terrorist organization? No…but irresponsible assholes, yes.

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