by Lila Rajiva / December 27th, 2010
In my previous articles I pointed out the most obvious problems I have with WikiLeaks — the fact that its leaks seem to leave larger Zionist imperial goals untouched; its antagonistic stance to 9-11 truth; it frantic validation and promotion by major media; the falsity of many of its claims of confidentiality for leakers; the implausibility of its achievements absent intelligence or government connections; the contradictions between its public advocacy of transparency and its own secrecy; and the authoritarian tendencies in the writing and personality of its co-founder, Julian Assange, tendencies that contradict the anarchist persona presented for public consumption.
In brief, to the question what is WikiLeaks?
My answer is whatever it is, it has become a vehicle for disinformation.
Next, the companion question. Who is behind WikiLeaks?
Here, the answers are less clear.
According to several sources, WL is “run” by a non-profit called the Sunshine Press. Assange is reported to be director and co-founder. According to the WikiLeaks website, the Sunshine Press is an “international non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists, lawyers and the general public.”
This doesn’t make it clear if Sunshine Press and WikiLeaks are the same thing or two separate outfits. A little googling gives me three Sunshine presses. None of them is our guy.
At a site called World News that seems to be devoted to WikiLeaks news, I also find a video titled Sunshine Press announcement that refers to Sunshine realty management, a recipient of $250,0000 in grant money from Mayor Bloomberg. However, the URL for Sunshine Suites, sunshiney.com, doesn’t show any relationship to Wikileaks, so the appearance of the company next to WikiLeaks news and videos seems to be the result of mistaken identity.
The web site we want turns out to be Sunshine press.org (dot org, not dot com).
The Facebook page for Sunshine Press.org lists three URLshttp://www.sunshinepress.org http://www.wikileaks.org and http://www.collateralmurder.com and clicking on the sunshine press.org link takes you back to WikiLeaks.
According to Sunshine Press’s Facebook page, the two organizations, WikiLeaks and Sunshine press, are the same. This seems to be borne out by the fact that the Sunshine Press Youtube channel consists of only WikiLeaks videos.
Some more googling about sunshinepress.org yields several IP addresses; various domain names; its server, everydns.net; the location of the host in Sweden; the page rank (7); links (37); and other information.
www.sunshinepress.org (“http://www.sunshinepress.org/. Wikileaks. Sunshinepress”) has one IP number (22.214.171.124) , which is the same as for sunshinepress.org, but the reverse is host-88-80-2-32.cust.prq.se. Apple-memory.org, leaks.be,wikileaks.to, sunshinepress.org, apple-memory.de and at least three other hosts point to the same IP.
All four of them are on different IP networks. The primary name server is ns1.everydns.net.
The Google Pagerank™ of sunshinepress.org is 7. backorder sunshinepress.org for 49.95 USD.
Trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety of this site is excellent. (more on reputation).
It is not listed in any blacklists.
I still couldn’t find a web page devoted to Sunshine Press itself, although, according to the WikiLeaks site, SP has been in existence since 1996.
Emails referencing WL at Cryptome goes back to October 2006. Sunshine Press (which doesn’t appear in the Cryptome emails) seems to have come into being at the same time and seems to be identical with WL. We can tentatively conclude that there is no separate Sunshine Press.
Nonetheless, the latest development is a new limited liability company formed on behalf of WikiLeaks called Sunshine Press Productions, which is registered in Iceland:
The brand new company registered on behalf of Wikileaks is called Sunshine Press Production – the same as the formal international name of Wikileaks, RUV reports. The chairman of the company is Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and he shares the board of directors with filmmaker Ingi Ragnar Ingason and journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson. The deputy board member is Gavin MacFadyen, a professor of journalism in London. The company is registered at the home address of one of the board members at Klapparhlid in Mosfellsbaer.
Researching the names mentioned in this paragraph give us some interesting tidbits.
Hrafnsson, an Icelandic investigative journalist formerly with national broadcaster RUV and a staff member of WL since April 2010, is now the public face of WL. Hrafnsson is also an outside advisor to the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), started by Birgitta Jonsdottir, an anarchist and member of the Icelandic parliament. IMMI seeks to make Iceland a kind of Switzerland for journalistic freedom. Investigative reporter, Wayne Madsen, has argued that IMMI is a stalking horse for currency speculator George Soros’ interests.
Jonsdottir’s inspiration for IMMI was reportedly a presentation by Assange and WL’s German staffer Daniel Domscheit-Berg in Iceland, just prior to WL’s outing of Iceland’s corrupt Kaupthing bank, which collapsed in August 2009. Other accounts describe IMMI as having been initiated by Soros spokesman, Mark Thompson, even earlier, in May 2009. (Domscheit-Berg has since fallen out with Assange and left to form his own company, OpenLeaks).
Birgitta Jonsdottir is also, and significantly, a member of International Network of Parliamentarians for Tibet, which “brings together 133 Parliamentarians from 30 Parliaments to advance the Tibet issue in governments worldwide.” according to the activist website Savetibet.org.
Now Tibetan autonomy, as championed by the Anglo-American elite, is reported to be a pretext for encroachment on Chinese sovereignty. Tibet, itself, is central to ecosystems and desertification in the region, as it provides water for several countries. Its grasslands also act as a carbon sink. Recall that a recent WL leak, trumpeted by the major media, was the reported assertion of the Dalai Lama that climate change trumps political issues in Tibet.
Meanwhile, while Westerners consider the Dalai Lama a benign spiritual guru, not everyone else finds him so warm and fuzzy. Many in Asia consider him an ethnic grievance-monger, who wants to segregate Tibetans from Han Chinese. His political positions also fit nicely with Anglo-American imperial ambitions in that region, for which human rights and climate-change are cover for surveillance and control.
Tibet, after all, is a highly strategic and sensitive area. The Dalai Lama is reported to be financially supported by the National Endowment for Democracy and NED, itself, receives CIA funding.
Jonsdottir is not the only interesting figure in this group.
Gavin MacFadyen, with whom Julian Assange is now staying, is also someone with strong connections to the financial elites. MacFadyan is a senior producer-director at corporate mainstream outlets, BBC and PBS, and adirector of the NY conference of financial and business journalists at the Columbia Journalism School. He is also the director of the Center for Investigative Journalism, where Assange is listed as a teacher, along with such well-known names as leftist author-activists, Mike Davis, John Pilger, and Vandana Shiva. Sponsors of the CIJ are George Soros’ Open Society Institute (which, notably, sponsors a number of pro-Tibet projects), the David and Elaine Potter Foundation, the Ford Foundation (another foundation with ties to the CIA), Park Foundation, City University London and several smaller private trusts.
There’s a third connection to the Anglo-American elites. Assange is staying at the 600 acre Suffolk manor of Vaughan Smith, a former British army captain, who owns a popular journalists’ club in Paddington in London, called The Frontline Club (along with the related Frontline TV News).
Frontline, it is reported, has sponsored a documentary that “casts doubt on allegations of a massacre at Jenin on the West Bank by the Israel Defense Forces in 2002″ and has received funding from George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
On a side note, notice the company Assange keeps. If Assange is a “libertarian,” then, he travels a lot in very government-friendly circles. He is most certainly not the anarchist he’s often portrayed to be and which hackers and computer geeks often really are.
To return to the question of WL’s origins, the first part of this series pointed out that many of WL’s earliest staffers were Chinese dissidents and pro-Tibet activists.
To sum up, the Soros connection turns up in six separate WL relationships:
- In this regard, it’s relevant that the Open Society Institute had no critical comment about Wikileaks until recently, when it suddenly joined the chorus of voices suggesting that WL’s actions could have jeopardized the lives of Afghan informants (WSJ, August 9, 2010).
This happened about a week after border security detained WL’s Jacob Applebaum for several hours. (Applebaum is a security researcher and hacker who works for the Tor privacy protection project as well as for WL).
Next question. Who specifically set up WikiLeaks?
A little research into the first appearance of WikiLeaks on the web shows that Assange is not the only name associated with it from its inception. On the Internet archive (the Wayback machine) the earliest archived pages for WikiLeaks go back to January 14, 2007. There are 60 pages in 2007 for the outfit, 19 for 2008, 0 for 2009, and 87 for 2010.
A click on January 14, 2007, gives us mostly dead links, but the contact page produces two web addresses: w i k i l e a k s @ w i k i l e a k s . o r g & p r e s s @ w i k i l e a k s . o r g, a phone number (a cell number) in Washington DC, +1 (202) 657-6222, and a skype address, wikileaks.
The DC cell number turns out to be registered in Adelphi, Virginia, and it traces back 20 miles to Reston Virginia, which seems a bit odd, considering that WL’s professed interests originally were in Asia and Africa and its volunteers were supposedly mostly from the Pacific and Europe.
Reston is a center for outfits working on US cybersecurity, information technology, and defense, as indeed is the whole DC-MD-Va metropolitan area. Among many similar companies HQ’d there, one finds NCI, whose website announces that it is “an industry leader and provider of full-spectrum IO (Information Operations) enabling technologies and services to promote and protect our US federal government customers’ information and information systems.”
IO, electronic warfare (EW) and Cyberwar are its specialties.
Wondering why I hadn’t come across the Reston cell phone in articles about Wikileaks, I did another search and found that, in fact, in March, 2007 a Columbia Journalism Review intern, Dan Goldberg, had published something about it, only the piece had been removed from the web.
This is one angle for further research.
Next, double-checking the domain information, I did a whois search for WikiLeaks.org which pulled up the following information:
Domain ID: D130035267-LROR
Domain Name: WIKILEAKS.ORG
Created On: 04-Oct-2006 05:54:19 UTC
Last Updated On: 17-Dec-2010 01:57:59
UTC Expiration Date: 04-Oct-2018 05:54:19
UTC Sponsoring Registrar: Dynadot, LLC (R1266-LROR)
Status: CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registrant ID: CP-13000
Registrant Name: John Shipton c/o Dynadot Privacy
Registrant Street1: PO Box 701
Registrant City: San Mateo
Registrant State/Province: CA
Registrant Postal Code: 94401
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.6505854708
The address of the registrar, Dynadot, as it appears at page insider is PO Box 1072, Belmont, CA 94002, the email is email@example.com and the phone number is 1-866-652-2039.
I called, and Dynadot confirmed that it is the current registrar for Wikileaks.
A Cnet blog article and documents from the Julius Baer court case also confirm that the registrar in 2008 was California LLC, Dynadot, and that the registrant/owner was John Shipton, an Australian citizen resident in Nairobi. This is also confirmed by the Notice of Intent to Appear filed by Shipton and his California law firm, Chadwick, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton. Shipton has a Nairobi address in the notice and Dynadot has its usual San Mateo CA address. 1-650-585-1961.
Now who is John Shipton? Does he exist in his own right or is he simply anom-de-plume of Julian Assange? Most likely the second, since it would be grotesquely coincidental to have two Australian nationals resident in Kenya, both involved in human rights activism at the same outfit. Again, more research is in order.
The original whois information for WikiLeaks appears at Cryptome.org, where the registrant’s name is given as John Young, the owner of Cryptome and a co-founder of Wikileaks. The Cryptome site carries the email correspondence between Young and Wikileaks from a restricted mailing list housed at the collective, rise-up.net, in 2006-07.
The letters show Young to be first enthusiastic about WL and then increasingly frustrated and annoyed by its methods. He calls the claim of over a million documents exaggerated and the repeated assertions of superior ethics and confidentiality deeply suspect, in the absence of a track-record.
The final straw comes when WL says it needs $5 million in funding by the summer of 2007 to stay alive. Young erupts with accusations that WL is a CIA “hustle.”
On the plus side for WL, the Young correspondence suggests how WL might have got hold of names of activists. Members seem to have been regular readers of Counterpunch, Z Mag, and Mother Jones. I’d written several pieces for Counterpunch in 2005-06, and it’s possible that’s how they got hold of names that way.
So that is an explanation that does not undermine WL.
However, the Cryptome emails note another problem that the review site, Wikileak.com (no S) describes in great detail:
Wikileaks.org (with an S) makes extraordinary claims about confidentiality and anonymity that are just that — claims. They’re not justified by an examination of the actual procedures involved in uploading documents to the site. These procedures are often shoddy, incompetent, uncoordinated, or even deliberately misleading, as Wikileak.com (no S) notes pointedly.
Anyway, taking all this into account, WL seems to have been founded and registered in 2006 by Julian Paul Assange/John Shipton and John Young OR by a group of activists who, for whatever reason, let Assange and Young wear the public face of the company.
Who were these activists?
The original web entry on the subject (since changed) said WL was the creation of Chinese dissidents and other activists. This is also the claim of an article by Cass Sunstein, Obama’s Information Czar, in The Washington Postin February 2007, “A Brave New Wikiworld.”
John Young says that the Sunstein article was the first public introduction of WikiLeaks and that WikiLeaks might well be the cointelpro operation to infiltrate conspiracy groups that Sunstein seemed to be arguing for in a later (2008) white paper.
But this isn’t accurate. WikiLeaks had already been introduced to the public by a Time Magazine story, “A Wiki for whistle-blowers” a month earlier than the Sunstein piece, in January 2007. Time, Washington Post – this is pretty high-profile coverage for an outfit that had just begun three months earlier. What’s even more interesting is that the Time piece, like the Post piece, both point out the concurrent start of Intellipedia, the intelligence-sharing project started by US intelligence in October 2006, the month when WikiLeaks began.
Both articles also explicitly mention rumors about WikiLeaks possibly being a CIA front. This is quite curious. Were these papers simply reporting all the information available to them? Were they going on Young’s statement at the time, or did they have other sources for this suspicion? If the suspicions were credible, if WL was plausibly an intel operation, why the full-court press? If the suspicions were not credible, why mention them so pointedly?
Again, it’s impossible to say for sure without first-hand information.
One explanation of how activists created WL, comes, once more, from John Young.
In his latest Cryptome posts on the subject, Young talks about Assange as acraven spokesman for WL, seduced by money and the promise of fame to betray the original ideals of the outfit. Those ideals, says Young, grew out of acypherpunk mailing list going back to 1992 that debated issues around cryptography and privacy. Wikipedia has the list with individual descriptions.
It’s a distinguished group.
Besides Assange, who is described as WL’s founder, the inventor of deniable cyptography and the co-author of “Underground,” there are three Bell lab researchers; two elite university professors; the Chief Technical Officer of PGP corporation; the creators of Bit Torrent and other software/technologies; the founders of Anonymizer.Inc., Interhack Corp., HavenCo., C2Net and of Cypherpunk itself; a researcher at Lawrence Livermore labs; the founder and lawyer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; a former Chief Scientist from Intel; authors of several books – “Assassination Politics,” “A Cypher Punk’s Manifesto,” “God Wants You Dead,” and “A Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto”; Sun Microsystems employees; and a noted blogger and author on computer security issues.
These are accomplished activists, no question. And if they were at some point involved with the creation of WikiLeaks, or were aware of it, or promoted it, then it’s no wonder that the project quickly got such a high level of media attention. On the other hand, the involvement of the high-profile cypherpunks lends weight to the notion that intelligence played a hand in the creation of WikiLeaks. It is well-known by now that important American businesses have often been co-opted by the intelligence community.
Given that, it’s impossible that companies in the vanguard of technological development in encryption, security, privacy, and espionage, especially as it relates to nuclear energy (Lawrence Livermore labs), could have operated without some monitoring or input from the CIA. Ergo, if WikiLeaks were, in fact, the creation of the cypherpunks, I believe intelligence would have been aware of it and involved in it, as private contractors are deeply involved in Homeland security at every level.
Of course, it’s not only US intelligence that is involved in Homeland Security. Many have seen the hand of the Israeli intelligence and security business in it too.
Whether WikiLeaks grew out of the cypherpunk list or not, it’s not in dispute that Assange was quickly WL’s public face. In fact, he’s repeatedly and abrasively insisted that he was the “the heart and soul” of the outfit, angering colleagues and eventually leading to public fall-outs with some of them (Young, Domscheit-Berg).
Besides the cypherpunk list, another group of activists have been treated as the creators of WL — the Chinese dissidents originally named on WL’s website.
Who were these activists?
Here are the ones mentioned on the web page originally: “Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa”
But there is another list mentioned in an email dated December 9, 2006 from Cryptome.org’s exchanges with Wikileaks which refers to WL’ activists by their work (I have guessed at three of them in brackets).
1) Retired New York architect and notorious intelligence leak facilitator (John Young of Cryptome.org?)
2) Euro cryptographer/programmer
3) Pacific physicist and illustrator
4) A pacific author and economic policy lecturer
5) Euro, Ex-Cambridge mathematician/cryptographer/programmer
6) Euro businessman and security specialist/activist
7) Author of software than runs 40% of the world’s web sites (Phil Zimmerman?)
8) US pure mathematician with criminal law background
9) An infamous US ex-hacker
10) Pacific cryptographer/physicist and activist (Julian Assange?)
11) US/euro cryptographer and activist/programmer
12) Pacific programmer
13) Pacific architect / foreign policy wonk
This doesn’t sound quite like “Chinese dissidents, journalists etc.,” but both lists do refer to technologists. That fact makes it plausible that some, or all, of the original WL material came from hacking, and not whistle-blowing, a theory that fits with a WL letter to John Young on January 7, 2007 suggesting that hackers were involved with some of the material, and that WL was gathering so much material it didn’t know where 90% of the material came from or what was in it:
We are going to fuck them all. Chinese mostly, but not entirely a feint. Invention abounds. Lies, twists and distorts everywhere needed for protection. Hackers monitor chinese and other intel as they burrow into their targets, when they pull, so do we. Inexhaustible supply of material. Near 100,000 documents/emails a day. We’re going to crack the world open and let it flower into something new. If fleecing the CIA will assist us, then fleece we will. We have pullbacks from NED, CFR, Freedomhouse and other CIA teats. We have all of pre 2005 afghanistan. Almost all of india fed. Half a dozen foreign ministries. Dozens of political parties and consulates, world bank, apec, UN sections, trade groups, tibet and fulan dafa associations and… russian phishing mafia who pull data everywhere. We’re drowning. We don’t even know a tenth of what we have or who it belongs to. We stopped storing it at 1Tb.”
However you interpret this, one thing is clear, right from the start, Wikileaks was a conduit for a lot of material that the WL staff themselves could not identify or source. If an intelligence agency wanted to plant its own slanted “disclosures” in the welter of documents being dumped on the site, it would be only too easy to do.
Lila Rajiva is a freelance journalist and the author of The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the US Media (Monthly Review Press, 2005) and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets (with Bill Bonner-Wiley, September 2007). She has also contributed chapters to One of the Guys (Ed., Tara McKelvey and Barbara Ehrenreich, Seal Press, 2007), an anthology of writing on women as torturers, and to The Third World: Opposing Viewpoints (Ed., David Haugen, Greenhaven, 2006). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read other articles by Lila, or visit Lila’s website.