“A Man’s got to know his limitations” Harry Callahan
Julian Assange has sparked a cyber insurgency of the highest degree. Over the past few months the brilliant yet arrogant and paranoid head of Wiki-Leaks has acted as if no one can stop him and in a technical sense for the moment it appears that he is correct. Despite the fact that he is sitting in a British jail awaiting extradition hearings regarding charges of rape and sexual assault in Sweden his minions and supporters have launched a cyber war on governments, corporations and individuals that oppose them. They have attacked government sites in a number of nations, major financial sites such as Visa, Mastercard and Pay-Pal as well as individuals. At the same time they continue to release documents in a shotgun blast manner hitting targets far and wide in a very indiscriminate way while holding back the 256bit encrypted 1.4 gigabyte “insurance file” in case they feel their operation too threatened. Hundreds of mirror sites have popped up around the world to ensure if the main Wiki-Leaks site is taken down that the leaked information will still be available.
It seems for the moment that Assange and his minions have the upper hand. They claim that in order to stop them the internet would have to be shut down. Many experts say that the encryption on the insurance file is impossible to break. Their attacks become more widespread by the hour and they appear to be filled with a confidence that no-one can stop them. It is as if they think that nothing can happen to them and that their actions will somehow by creating chaos bring about some kind of new Utopia. Their Utopia supposedly puts “openness” among people and nations as the highest ideal. They presume of course that total openness is something that is good. If people were totally good this might be a wonderful proposition. Unfortunately as anyone slightly acquainted with human nature knows, there are very few real saints walking the earth. That is why most people secure their property, insist on privacy and use things like passwords and pin numbers. It’s why governments, corporations and individuals have secrets. You see secrets are not simply evil but serve a purpose for law abiding peoples in protecting them from others that wish to do them harm. Anyone that has every had their identity stolen can testify to this.
The mistake that the Wiki-Leakers make is that they don’t realize their limitations. They believe that their knowledge of the internet and technological savvy will give them an edge against those that they want to punish, governments, corporations or individuals. While they seem to be unstoppable for the moment they forget that any kind of military operation eventually hits what Clausewitz called its “culminating point.” This is the place and time where its energy of the offense is spent and the attacker becomes vulnerable to counterattack. Despite the fact that this is a cyber-war the principle remains sound.
In this case it is quite probable that it will not be the technology that is the Wiki-Leaker’s Achilles’ heel. What will be their downfall will be their overreach which will lead to a real human backlash from governments whose citizens demand action. The problem for the Wiki-Leakers is that they are human and have friends, families and associates that have human intelligence regarding them. The Wiki-Leakers are arrogant and quite boastful as I have found out and while technologically savvy are not very wise. They forget that as the information that they leak and the attacks that they make will affect regular people, many of whom would support them until their lives and livelihoods are threatened. Once this happens the leakers will find that they can no longer hide as pressure is put on their loved ones who do not approve of their methods. It is much like when Al Qaeda’s foreign fighters started attacking important Sunni leaders and turning the population of Al Anbar Province against them.
The Wiki-Leakers are playing with fire and in their smugness they have no earthy idea of the world that they are about to spawn and the terrible consequences that they will bring to the earth. Unfortunately like all revolutionaries they do not care about the effect that their work will have on the world. That is the beauty of being very technologically savvy and arrogant while ignorant at the same time. They behave as pseudo-religious crusaders convinced of their righteousness and belief that the end justifies the means.
The more gentle nations such as the United States will simply prosecute those that they catch while the brutal nations will hunt them down torture and kill them. They will find that the chaos that they create will turn against them and that they will have to spend more time defending than attacking or leaking. From that moment their days will be numbered.
Unfortunately the chaos that they create will cause people to accept draconian measures which will severely limit liberty and the freedom of speech around the world. The openness that they desire is illusory and they will find that they should have known their limitations. Those that sow the wind reap the whirlwind.
They should watch more Clint Eastwood movies after all “a man’s got to know his limitations” as they are rapidly approaching the point of no return.