Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Julian Assange's 2011 Warning to the Department of State

Project Veritas has released an audio recording from 2011 of a telephone conversation between Jullian Assange and Department of State attorney Cliff Johnson.  In this recording, Assange informed the government lawyer that the archive of 250,000 classified and declassified Department of State cables will be released in the next few days to a week.  At that point in time, WikiLeaks had released 100,000 unclassified and redacted State cables.  Apparently, a former WikiLeaks employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg who was suspended by WikiLeaks in August 2010 intended to release both the unclassified and classified cables with no redactions whatsoever.

Here is the 75 minute exchange which was initiated by Julian Assange in its entirety.


Assange opens by warning Cliff Johnson that it is extremely easy to spread this information because the encryption key needed to unlock the encrypted materials was being held on the internet and that WikiLeaks did not control the encrypted version of the Department of State cable as he states here:


The material, there is an encrypted version of the materials on the web somewhere, that we do not control.  One doesn't actually need to convey the material itself, one only needs to convey the location of the material, and its encryption key.


He states that the motive for the rogue release was to "embarrass us and destroy our exclusivity as severely as possible", likely as retribution for being fired.  He goes on to state that "the best way to do that is to make the information completely public en masse as opposed to in an ordered way and that is what is being done."


When asked if WikiLeaks had done anything to stop the release, he states that WikiLeaks had "written legal demands through our German lawyer" and asked the German publication that the information had been passed along to "not to commit to their spread."  He also informs Johnson that he suspected that within 24 hours, a major media outlet like Reuters will reveal the story.


He then asks that the State Department step up its warning procedures it was engaged in earlier in the year to the State Department resources that are mentioned in the cables (i.e. those State Department assets that might be at risk in "despotic regimes").


Assange goes on to note that WikiLeaks was informed about this issue by minor media outlets in both Germany and Denmark who contacted WikiLeaks and also learned from their own inside resources about where the individual was spreading the materials and has invited over 111 people on a mailing list to contact him to receive the details (encryption key and the location of the State Department cables) which would allow them access to the unreacted materials.  He also notes that WikiLeaks is not in control of the encrypted materials but that it likely resides in several places on the internet and that it has the potential to spread well beyond investigative journalists.


Assange states that WikiLeaks can only slow down the release of the material but that it is highly unlikely that the release can be stopped because it is at "a critical mass".  If the release can be slowed, Assange tells Johnson that State has an opportunity to inform its assets (he gives the example of human rights workers) so that they can protect themselves.


Throughout the conversation, Assange repeatedly states that he is concerned about the impact of an uncontrolled leak of unreacted (WikiLeaks was redacted source information from the cables) and classified Department of State cables on potentially vulnerable State staff.  He also notes that WikiLeaks had spent 11 months negotiating with Daniel Domscheit-Berg through a mediator to no avail.


As you can see from this posting, Julian Assange made a significant, proactive intervention to inform and warn the Hillary Clinton Department of State that the uncontrolled release of their unreacted, classified cables could threaten the lives of its employees.  Meanwhile, Assange remains imprisoned in the top-security Belmarsh prison where he has been since he was arrested on April 11, 2019.

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