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General News    H3'ed 7/31/10

WikiLeaks Posts Mysterious "Insurance' File

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Message Kim Zetter

In the wake of strong U.S. government statements condemning WikiLeaks' recent publishing of 77,000 Afghan War documents, the secret-spilling site has posted a mysterious encrypted file labeled "insurance."

The huge file, posted on the Afghan War page at the WikiLeaks site, is 1.4 GB and is encrypted with AES256. The file's size dwarfs the size of all the other files on the page combined. The file has also been posted on a torrent download site.

WikiLeaks, on Sunday, posted several files containing the 77,000 Afghan war documents in a single "dump" file and in several other files containing versions of the documents in various searchable formats.

Cryptome, a separate secret-spilling site, has speculated that the new file added days later may have been posted as insurance in case something happens to the WikiLeaks website or to the organization's founder, Julian Assange. In either scenario, WikiLeaks volunteers, under a prearranged agreement with Assange, could send out a password or passphrase to allow anyone who has downloaded the file to open it.

It's not known what the file contains but it could include the balance of data that U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning claimed to have leaked to Assange before he was arrested in May.

In chats with former hacker Adrian Lamo, Manning disclosed that he had provided Assange with a different war log cache than the one that WikiLeaks already published. This one was said to contain 500,000 events from the Iraq War between 2004 and 2009. WikiLeaks has never commented on whether it received that cache.

Additionally, Manning said he sent Assange video showing a deadly 2009 U.S. firefight near the Garani village in Afghanistan that local authorities say killed 100 civilians, most of them children, as well as 260,000 U.S. State Department cables.

Manning never mentioned leaking the Afghan War log to WikiLeaks in his chats with Lamo, but Defense Department officials told The Wall Street Journal that investigators had found evidence on Manning's Army computer that tied him to that leak.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen strongly condemned WikiLeaks' publication of the Afghan War log at a Pentagon press briefing on Thursday.

Gates said the leak was "potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and our Afghan partners" and said that "tactics, techniques and procedures will become known to our adversaries" as a result.

Mullen was even more direct and said that WikiLeaks "might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier" or an Afghan informant who aided the United States.

Several media outlets have found the names of Afghan informants in the documents WikiLeaks published, as well as information identifying their location in some instances. A Taliban spokesman told Britain's Channel 4 news that the group was sifting through the WikiLeaks documents to get the names of suspected informants and would punish anyone found to have collaborated with the United States and its allies. has sent a message to WikiLeaks inquiring about the file.

Read more about the insurance file here
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Kim Zetter is an American freelance journalist in Oakland, California. She has written on a wide variety of subjects from the Kabbalah to dining out in San Francisco to Israel to cryptography and electronic voting, and her work has been published in (more...)
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WikiLeaks Posts Mysterious "Insurance' File

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