back to article Feds defend Twitter dragnet on WikiLeaks supporters

Federal prosecutors on Friday defended their attempts to access the Twitter records of three WikiLeaks supporters, arguing their claims that the dragnet violates their constitutional rights should be rejected. In a 19-page filing in federal court, prosecutors said a ruling issued last month should be upheld despite the claims …


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  1. alain williams Silver badge

    There is no greater crime ...

    than to expose the wrong doings and hippocrasy of the powerful; thus the persecution of Bradley and Assange.

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: There is no greater crime ...

      There is no greater crime than to risk the lives of informants who live under a medieval theocratic regime:

      "Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.

      Several WikiLeaks colleagues say he alone decided to release the Afghan documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for NATO troops. “We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards,” said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a core WikiLeaks volunteer and a member of Iceland’s Parliament. “If he could just focus on the important things he does, it would be better.” "

      "After the NYT published articles based on classified documents WikiLeaks provided on the US-led war in Afghanistan, Assange was “angry that we declined to link our online coverage of the War Logs to the WikiLeaks Web site, a decision we made because we feared – rightly, as it turned out – that its trove would contain the names of low-level informants and make them Taliban targets,” Keller writes."

      "Assange's apparent gung-ho attitude in an early meeting to naming U.S. informants stunned his media collaborators, the new book claimed.

      The title said he told international reporters: 'Well, they're informants so, if they get killed, they've got it coming to them. They deserve it.' The book continues: 'There was, for a moment, silence around the table.'"

      For placing the lives of these informants in such dire risk Assange ought to be accountable.

      There are other things to add to this pile. Assange's paywall scheme, his exorbitant salary, the money he intends to make from his autobiography, his arrogance... ...the dirt is not by any means clearly articulated yet, but it will soon be. For one thing the behaviour of his attorney, who was complicit in Assange's fleeing Sweden to avoid the rape investigation, this is consistent with his itinerant lifestyle and attitude to any government, particularly his claim that Sweden has banana republic style justice.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge


        "There is no greater crime than to risk the lives of informants who live under a medieval theocratic regime"

        And that is porbably why these Twitters are asking for their details to be kept from a medieval theocratic neocon regime.

        As for the release of information that has allowed the voters to see what has been done in their names, with their money and putting them at risk of revenge attacks; I think that is a very good idea. If you honestly think that the release of this information has put anyone at more risk that the risk they are in just for living in their own country which has been invaded, you need to think again.

        1. Scorchio!!

          Re: Indeed

          Evidently it has escaped your attention the Taliban theocratic rulers of Afghanistan were given every opportunity to turn over the murderers of some 3,000 people of many nationalities (some 10 years ago), killers responsible for the attack on the USS Cole, on US embassies in Africa, the first attempt on the WTC in 1993, and a variety of other vicious killings and acts of destruction including the subjects of many other countries, supposedly in furthering their desire to establish a world Emirate.

          Perhaps you were at that time only 10 years old, or perhaps you now suffer from an age related memory impairment, or perhaps you simply do not understand the issues at stake here. I certainly do, having a grasp of politics and defence, derived from my military service and subsequent education in philosophy and politics. Moreover, I understand very clearly that NATO responded to the attack on buildings in Manhattan (out of which hundreds threw themselves, to spare themselves from the horror of being fried alive by incandescent avgas and building materials set alight by said avgas), citing the self defence clause. Indeed, as we have come to see, Al-Qa'ida had even by the time of the WTC attack on the 11th of September 2001 sent shoots across the world, sponsoring and organising 'like minded' individuals.

          As for your weak argumentum ad hominem, in which you apparently attempt to daub tar on the Obama and Bush 'regimes' (and this is *very* weak indeed) as medieval and neocon, a classic "he's right wing and nasty, he's left wing and nice" smear, it is very clear that Birgitta Jonsdottir herself saw Assange's attitude to the lives and well being of informants (as someone else pointed out, these are leakers or whistle blowers in fact, and likely to die for their pains, such is the contrast between the 'regimes' in question, had you not noticed), and it is very clear from Assange's very own words that 'Well, they're informants so, if they get killed, they've got it coming to them. They deserve it.'

          If you honestly think that your response is either mature or reasoned, then perhaps I am wasting my time with you, but I do feel it necessary to respond, if only because such intellectual misapprehensions as I see in your text ought never to go unchallenged, if only to prevent them from assuming the status 'veridical', and thereby infect debate with this in the form of assumption.

          In case my judicious and reasoned words above don't appeal to you, you might like to take a look at what happens when the Afghan theocracy administer justice:

          [Still, it was over quickly, huh?]

          When I used the term 'theocracy' I did so with pointed deliberation and accuracy:

          There's very little point in adding any more is there? You appear to have tried to defend the indefensible for Assange's sake, the man whose attitude to informants, sick of a cruel and genuinely medieval theocratic regime, the product of an unreformed religion (I suggest you read very carefully about reformation if you want to understand my point) is at best unthinking, at worst unreasonable, cruel, unempathic and brutal.

          There again, this is Julian Assange, the paywall loving, autobibiographically inclined, well salaried, name-as-trademark, convicted in or around 1991 for 25 counts, including; 1) stealing passwords from US Air force 7th Command Group in the Pentagon; 2) for hacking computers at two universities; 3) hacking computers at two telecommunications companies; 4) hacking computers to monitor the Australian Federal Police investigation into *his* criminal activities.

          You expect me to take your words seriously? You're 'avin' a larff, intchya? (Pat, pat)

          Yes, you porbably [sic] better had put your coat on.

        2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          @BBre: Indeed...

          "And that is porbably why these Twitters are asking for their details to be kept from a medieval theocratic neocon regime."

          I didn't realize that these Twitters were being threatened by Iranians. (Oops! Wrong Theocratic regime)

          Or the Taliban. But then again the Taliban hate anyone who doesn't think like they do and wouldn't hesitate to kill you just for breathing.

          Nope, The Twitters finally have realized that their actions have consequences. You thumb your nose at a Super power, you might just get hit back.

          Clearly you're not a voter, however I am. Nothing released from anything put out by Wikileaks is either a surprise or anything that remotely shows the US Government involved in an illegal act. No smoking gun, nothing. In fact the only illegal thing in all of this was allegedly committed by Manning when he stole the information. What's not known is how the data got to Wikileaks and who assisted Manning (Allegedly).

          So as a voter. Wikileaks has done nothing to change my mind concerning my elected officials. I already knew that they were corrupt and incompetent. That's the beauty of a Democracy, yet somehow things get done and we end up doing the right thing most of the time.

          Mine's the jacket with the Kevlar lining.

  2. ratfox Silver badge

    wrongdoings, hypocrisy

    Leave Hippocrates alone, he had nothing to do with it.

    ...If they had not thought this objectionable, they would not have made the filing confidential.

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: wrongdoings, hypocrisy

      "Leave Hippocrates alone, he had nothing to do with it."

      Indeed, nor in the sense that you evidently intend does he. Hippocrates does not appear in the philology for 'hypocrisy', as the spelling indicates, or should indicate to you. It is in fact derived from "hupokrisis", meaning the professing of beliefs or virtues that one does not possess. Hippocrates was supposedly the originator of the Hippocratic oath but this is disputed, not merely on the question of origination, but also because the content has been altered to suit subsequent cultures. Probably the best reduction would be "first do no harm!" rather than the far longer modern tracts.

      So, minus 3 for that. Next:

      "...If they had not thought this objectionable, they would not have made the filing confidential."

      This is Bravo Sierra of the most egregious kind. During my service lots of material was kept secret, both from those within the services who did not need to know, and those without who did not need to know. Releasing classified material can result in dead armed forces personnel.

      So for that non sequitur argument andother minus 3. See the material on Afghan informants whose ID data were released by Assange and thus, it is alleged, one Private Bradley Manning. Their data were kept classified in order that they might live. However, since Assange released the data into the public domain they may die, unless we can accommodate them (or defeat the Taliban) to make up for this breach of their confidentiality.

      Do rate this down to sign your disapproval of and disaffection with reality. I like to see people bang their heads against the wall of facts.

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Learn to read

        I was commenting on the creative spelling of the OP, not on the correct one. This is precisely why I said Hippocrates had nothing to do with it, because as you said, his name is very different from the *correct* spelling.

        Next: The subject of the article is not an internal military memo, so your experience in the service is irrelevant. It is a legal filing. I fail to see how the disclosure of a request for Twitter records of WikiLeaks supporters can result in dead armed force personnel; but maybe you can imagine a contrived scenario for this?

      2. 42


        You could name 1 person who has been harmed? Of course you cant, because no-one has reality is the truth that Assange and Manning are heroes to the general public. The comments of a supposed former armed forces member are not surprising, as many war crimes by such as yourself may be exposed.

        Not surprising you want it all covered up!

        Realitys a bitch eh?

  3. Oninoshiko

    Why them emphisis on the first amendment argument?

    The fourth amendment argument seems much stronger then a first.

  4. Dennis Wilson

    Leave the USA

    A prime example why anyone who uses the USA as a hub for any social network is a moron. Over and over again we get prime examples like this that shouts out one word from the rooftops..........


  5. JC 2

    @ There is no greater crime

    Nonsense. If Bradley wanted a career doing *good deeds* then there are plenty of professions in which a man can do so but instead he feigned allegiance to a military and then double crossed them and his country.

    If the release of documents was only about prosecutable offenses by particular people it would be a different story, but we all know it wasn't. Assange is a jet setting dork who plays the media for attention all the while furthering his agenda to stir up hate for the US. Hate for real reasons, not for shrouds of idealism and vagueness. Once again it becomes a matter of considering facts, individual offenses should be handled one at a time, if he felt he had evidence it should be given to authorities so those guilty of anything can be prosecuted. What has happened instead? Nothing useful. In the end that's what you have to consider, will the action have a positive outcome.

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: @ There is no greater crime

      It also merits the observation that war dehumanises all soldiers. The myth that only Nazis perpetrated war crimes is demonstrated here to be just that, myth:,1518,755385,00.html#ref=nlint

      It is probable that all armed forces engaged in war commit these sorts of crimes. The point is perhaps not to stop the crimes, but to stop the wars whence these crimes originate, though more than 75% of males are forensic (if pushed I can pony up the data), and the recent UK glut of knifings, shootings and 'happy slappings' is nothing new; in the 1950s the 'Teds' regularly used razors to carve people up, and so on throughout history.

      So, what to do about humanity, and when are we going to stop pretending that only the military do these things? Probably a focus on pre-existing psychopathology in the recruiting process will help to reduce the frequency of war crimes, but psychopathology in the existing civilian population is another matter. Illegally breaking into voice mail, email, bank accounts, knifing and shooting people, it's all there. This is not rocket science, nor do people in the armed forces come from Mars; they are no better and no worse than the civilisation which recruits and pays them.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge

        @ Scorchio

        Mr. Scorchio, this is the first time I've upvoted one of your posts, as it includes some of the biggest truths I've read in a long long time.

        "they are no better and no worse than the civilisation which recruits and pays them"

        Perhaps we should go to the heart of the problem, which IMHO is the way our society promotes sociopathic characters into positions of power. If you want to find a sociopath you probably don't need to go further than your local city council or the nearest big company, not to speak about national governments. Our society -and most other human societies- is full of 'perverse incentives' that either attract the wrong type of individuals to positions of power, or corrupt normal individuals who happen to be in said positions.

        There are many things we could -or should- be doing about that problem. And one of the most obvious is to expose the lies 'The System' is based on, and make public all the data the big fish don't want us to know. Actually Wikileaks is doing exactly that.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Black Helicopters


        "It is probable that all armed forces engaged in war commit these sorts of crimes. The point is perhaps not to stop the crimes, but to stop the wars whence these crimes originate, though more than 75% of males are forensic (if pushed I can pony up the data), and the recent UK glut of knifings, shootings and 'happy slappings' is nothing new; in the 1950s the 'Teds' regularly used razors to carve people up, and so on throughout history."

        This is true. We can go back to pretty much any conflict and find evidence of War crimes.

        With respect to the US, once a War Crime allegation is made, it is investigated and if true, those that perpetrated the crime are charged and tried.

        Note that none of this has happened in light of the Wikileaks dumping of information.

        No crimes have been exposed and the only criminals involved are Assange (as you pointed out he's a convicted felon back in Australia and allegedly Manning.)

      3. 42

        Typical justification

        Of the unjustifiable-epic fail

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well of course.

    The subjects are not American[tm] Citizens[tm] and not even on American[tm] Soil[tm] so rights and all that don't apply. Doesn't stop them from trying to prosecute non-Americans[tm] for things done not on American[tm] Soil[tm] but possibly involving American[tm] Citizens[tm] under American[tm] Law[tm], though. Elsewhere and possibly here. Just what laws do apply here, and why?

    On another note, dragnets are very popular with law enforcement the world over right now. Seems a bit like "because we can" behaviour. We really should tell our lawmakers what's acceptable for policing us and what's not. I say dragnets are not.

  7. silver fox


    don't think the feds are saying they can't speak freely are they? And surely, free speech comes hand in hand with free reading what people have said..?

  8. Jimbo in Thailand

    The US Federal Government is nuts

    Of course they can justify any and all attacks against Wikileaks staff. While I certainly don't agree with everything Wikileaks released, or even the manner in which they did some of it, I admit it needed to be done. Why? To show Americans how secretive the US government has become so hopefully positive change can happen through revelation. Here's a quote from: that lists the US intelligence agencies, although it admits the huge list is not complete:

    "In addition to the sixteen agencies which formally comprise the U.S. Intelligence Community, it also includes selected tactical military intelligence and security organizations, as well as those responsible for security responses to transnational threats, to include terrorism, cyber warfare and computer security, covert employment of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics trafficking, and international organized crime.It is not complete!"

    Does any nation really need 20+ intelligence agencies??!! It seems to me the CIA and NSA must not be doing their jobs. With bureacracy the way it is, I can only imagine how inefficient 20+ separate intelligence agencies must be and the total hidden costs to taxpayers. And they certainly were clueless on Sept 11th, 2001, weren't they? And why were none of the 20+ agencies talking to Israel's Mossad? It's been proven Mossad knew in advance of the impending attack on the World Trade Center towers, but that's another story. One only has to ask himself/herself: What are 20+ US intelligence agencies really up to? With so many agencies available monitoring everything and everybody under the sun, why didn't they know that Wikileaks had the info in time to prevent the releases of said documents?

    Obviously all 20+ intelligence agencies were caught with their pants down and the Feds have been trying everything possible, including the 'dragnet' approach, to locate and punish Wikileaks staff using every possible excuse they can dream up to cover their own incompetence. And I'm not an Assange fanboi because the one country he refuses to release documents on is Israel. It's already been reported that he has over a 100 Israel related documents. The fact that he continues to protect the Zionist state from most certainly unflattering or embarrassing revelations speaks volumes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Share and Enjoy!

      Seeing how American[tm] overly large self-righteous "intelligence" agencies have managed to plunge many a country into despotism and other nastyness, often enough claiming to "save the world" from harm they themselves instigated or outright caused, I'd say even one can be more trouble than it's worth.

      The DHS already is a conglomerate of agencies and all it does appears to be getting bigger and gobbling up more agencies. So reducing the number of agencies isn't really going to help much of anything at all.

      But it does provide good monies for many a thug, TSA or otherwise, so it'll remain a growth industry for the foreseeable future. I wouldn't be surprised if that pants down situation wasn't entirely fueled by incompetence.

      This then of course means the situation is indeed one of the two new terror states instead of the many-colours-of-poop everyone liked to ridicule: bad or worse. Not in terms of terrorist threat, but in terms of security agencies breaking down the fabric of a free world.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are headed for prison

    They can run but they can't hide. The not so anonymous dipsticks are headed for prison. Have a nice life.

  10. EvilJason

    What do you call....

    If espionage is the spying of a foreign person against a government institution what do you call the spying of a government institution against foreign people?

    We need new words.

  11. Winkypop Silver badge


    Give me your logs, your files,. Your secret encryptions yearning to breathe free,

  12. Neoc

    Splitting hairs

    No, of *course* we're not trolling for what you said - that would be unconstitutional. And curtail free speech. As opposed to what we are doing, which is finding out all we can about you because of what you said in a public forum. *That* shouldn't curtail free speech at all, right?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Let Me Google It For You, Jimbo

    Jimbo in Thailand wrote: "And I'm not an Assange fanboi because the one country he refuses to release documents on is Israel"

    Sod Google, here is the source.

    Big Tip: If you want the reality of Israel, go directly to the Israeli media, do not consult US, UK or other western media. The Israeli media don't pussyfoot around when it comes to Israel.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps Anonymous should be careful where and what they post?

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