from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 17
February 19, 2008
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
- COURT ISSUES INJUNCTION AGAINST WIKILEAKS.ORG
- OVERSIGHT OF A US-IRAQ SECURITY AGREEMENT, AND MORE FROM CRS
- JASON ON SHOCKS TO SHIPS
COURT ISSUES INJUNCTION AGAINST WIKILEAKS.ORG
A federal court on Friday issued an injunction disabling the internet domain name of Wikileaks.org, the anti-censorship web site devoted to publication of leaks and other unauthorized disclosures of information.
The move followed a complaint by Bank Julius Baer, a Swiss bank, that Wikileaks had published confidential bank records that are protected by law. The offending documents were itemized in a temporary restraining order also issued by the court on February 15.
Those documents are whistleblower records that reveal "trust structures allegedly used for tax evasion, asset hiding and money laundering by the ultra rich," according to Wikileak's Julian Assange, who protested what he said was an "unconstitutional" blockage of the wikileaks domain name.
Wikileaks is intended to provide "an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis," according to the web site, and its often controversial contents have been mirrored by dozens of other sites around the world, which remain operational.
"Anti-censorship servers operating in foreign jurisdictions have kicked in successfully," wrote Mr. Assange after the court issued its order, "but 'wikileaks.org' has been forcibly deleted from the domain name system."
Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California scheduled a hearing on the matter for February 29.
It is too early to say who has won or lost more in this confrontation. Wikileaks has demonstrated the willingness and the ability to sustain a robust publication capability in defiance of legal authority, though it may have lost its domain name for the foreseeable future. Bank Julius Baer, whom most people would have never heard of, will now be permanently linked in many minds with vague allegations of financial misconduct.
But the disclosure restrictions that wikileaks managed to defeat were not exactly those of a tyrannical government bent on censorship. They were banking secrecy laws that protect ordinary people as well as corporate malefactors. And by providing the occasion for the court's extraordinary action, Wikileaks has helped set an unfortunate precedent that may make the next court injunction against a public web site that much easier to obtain.
Additional details on the case are available from cryptome.org and wikileak.org (without the "s").
OVERSIGHT OF A US-IRAQ SECURITY AGREEMENT, AND MORE FROM CRS
Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
"Congressional Oversight and Related Issues Concerning the Prospective Security Agreement Between the United States and Iraq," February 7, 2008:
"How Large is China's Economy? Does it Matter?," February 13, 2008:
"FY2009 Appropriations for State and Local Homeland Security," February 7, 2008:
"The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and All-Hazard Warnings," updated January 28, 2008:
JASON ON SHOCKS TO SHIPS
A new report from the JASON defense science advisory panel examines the feasibility of modeling explosive shocks to naval vessels to assess their vulnerability.
"Underwater mines have long been a major threat to ships. The most probable threats are non-contact explosions, where a high pressure wave is launched towards the ship."
"During World War II, it was discovered that although such 'near miss' explosions do not cause serious hull or superstructure damage, the shock and vibrations associated with the blast nonetheless incapacitate the ship, by knocking out critical components and systems. This discovery led the Navy to implement a rigorous shock hardening test procedure. The shock hardening testing culminates in a Full Ship Shock Trial (FSST), in which an underwater explosive charge is set off near an operational ship, and system and component failures are documented."
"JASON was asked by the Navy to examine the potential role of Modeling and Simulation for certifying ship hardness, with the potential goal of FSST replacement."
A copy of the unclassified JASON report was obtained by Secrecy News.
See "Navy Ship Underwater Shock Prediction and Testing Capability Study," JSR-07-200, October 2007:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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