Wired to be Shut Down by Feds in One, Two…

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Wired magazine has published written testimony by the whistleblower who's attacking AT&T's role in the NSA's domestic wiretapping operation. The documents are here (PDF link); the mag's explanation for the decision to publish is here.

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  1. And strange as it may sound, Wired may be indeed shut down. That is, if this article at Slashdot is any indication: Gonzales Says Publishing Leaks Is A Crime

  2. Someone in San Fransico should post signs that read “This is where your government is spying on you” in front of that building. Maybe arrows point out directions on the way too.

  3. I’m looking forward to the inevitable spin that claims that prosecuting journalists for publishing leaks, and whistleblowers for leaking doesn’t give the government a blank check for illegal behavior, and that believing otherwise is pro-terrorist. Will it be “You can trust us”, an appeal to patriotism, or something more creative?

  4. Here’s something I’ve never really understood: if there is no transparent standard for classifying documents (I’ve seen none, other than “It’s in the interest of national security” boilerplate statements), then the government can just hide whatever it wants – even if it’s the Wendy’s value menu – and prosecute anyone who “publishes” or “leaks” it. Shouldn’t the question as to whether it really is vital to national security actually be asked, rather than just assuming that if the government says it is, then it must be so?

  5. There’s also the further problem in the context of the AT&T case that the federal government is effectively seeking to classify documents prepared by a private third party which weren’t necessarily prepared at the direction of the government.

  6. Various security experts (such as Bruce Schneier) have pointed out that the Constitution is a security policy (it protects our security against abuse by our own government). One of the ways it protects us is by requiring that the government prove to us (i.e. publicly) when it needs to do something bad that it is necessary. That’s why we have trials–if the government wants to punish someone they have to prove to the nation at large that they are justified in doing so. That’s why what’s going on at GITMO is a threat to our security–they have decided they have no obligation to justify to the people who employ them that what they’re doing is legitimate beyond just saying ‘trust us’. And the same is true about vacuuming up Internet traffic. How the hell do we know what they’re doing with it? Looking for dissidents who downloaded porn? (Hoover did the pre-Internet equivalent to Martin Luther King). Without an open and transparent justification (not just ‘national security’) my presumption is that they’re not doing it for legitimate reasons. If their reasons were legitimate they’d not be shy about telling us what they were.

    Geoff

  7. And when nothing happens to Wired (and it won’t), that will show what, exactly?

  8. Evan-there are standards stating what must be classified, and at what level (and some of those standards are themselves classfied), but so far as I know, there are no binding rules limited what can be classified.

  9. It was Wired News, not Wired Magazine that published the docs.

    While they have a complicated relationsip, the daily online site and the mag are different entities and are owned by different companies.

    Also the government looked at the full documents under seal and said those were not classified.

  10. Thoguht: How does the Pentagon Papers case relate?

  11. Wired may not have been officially shut down, but the site has definitely gone screwy. It’s hanging forever on very simple tasks.

  12. I don’t really understand why this is controversial. The case of the NYT v. Sullivan should have resolved this situation. Essentially Sullivan ruled that unless the classified information presented an imminent danger to the national security, then the information is protected under the First amendment.

    The key legal reasoning behind the Sullivan ruling is that for prior restraint to be permissible the lives of Americans must be threatened by the disclosure. The court used the analogy of a newsspaper printing the information of a troop ship sailing. Clearly this would imperil the lives of the passengers and crew in time of war. Thus, it would be permissible for the government to restrain the printing of this information.

    In this ATT case there is no troop ship. Essentially no danger to the U.S. or U.S. assetts. It was a contract for crying out loud. Wired is merely telling the American public how corporations are willing to sell out their customers confidential data.

    All this posturing by the Bush administration is just that. Posturing, I predict that there will be no charges filed against anyone at Wired.com.

    Regards

    Joe

  13. SR,

    Hopefully that’s due to an increased number of hits or some such, and not the actions of those who fear the dissemination of the truth in this matter.

  14. I wonder if they collected info on all the calls placed to and from the World Trade Center Sept 1-10, 2001. It would be fun to look for patterns in those call registers. With the overseas ones we should be able to hear the audio, too, if they kept it. Ms. Young: now that you are done with the rainbow parties story — we got yer next FOIA assignment!

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