WikiLeaks Takes Out An Insurance Policy

Last week, WikiLeaks released the Afghan War Diary, a collection of 77,000 classified U.S. military documents regarding the campaigns in Iraq in Afghanistan. Pfc. Bradley E. Manning is the primary suspect in the leak, and has been accused of providing WikiLeaks with State Department diplomatic cables as well as a video of a U.S. army helicopter attack in which unarmed civilians.

A few days ago, WikiLeaks quietly added up a new file to its page, 1.4GB, heavily encrypted, and given the mysterious and intriguing title of “Insurance file.” Speculation has run rampant as to what exactly it contained in the file, when or if it will be decrypted, and what the purpose behind it is. It’s hard to tell, though, if this is all a high tech cloak-and-daggers kind of move, or if it’s just smoke and mirrors being used to simply keep the DoD and DoJ on their toes:

The file, “insurance.aes256,” is ten times the size of the seven other files combined. Appears to be encrypted with AES Crypt. Wonder if it includes the 15,000 Afghan files withheld, or the original raw files, or perhaps much more, pre-positioned for public release (“insurance”) against an attack expected to come from DoD and Justice or parties unknown. A passphrase to be distributed or published widely in case of a takedown.

The “15,000 Afghan files withheld” are the files that Julian Assange alleges were withheld in order to protect extra-sensitive information.

The best guess I have seen is that the Insurance file is a mirror of the whole of WikiLeaks. It’s a more boring explanation, but it does make a certain amount of sense — this way, no matter what government officials do, WikiLeaks will continue to exist in the form of thousands or even millions of mirror copies spread out on computers all around the world.

As for Assange, there’s been a manhunt on for him for months now, but Assange has avoided making any appearances in the United States. It’s pretty clear that if they ever do find him, the DoJ intends to take legal action against him — prosecution for various security violations does not seem unlikely.

-Susan

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