Russians targeting Wikileaks to stop new data dump

posted at 1:35 pm on November 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Until now, Julian Assange has selected his adversaries rather well.  Despite humiliating the Obama administration three times, the White House has done little except announce a preliminary probe into potential criminal charges against Assange and his team at Wikileaks.  The Daily Beast reports that when it came to Assange’s next adversary, he may have chosen … poorly:

American intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, outraged by their inability to stop WikiLeaks and its release this week of hundreds of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables, are convinced that the whistle-blowing website is about to come up against an adversary that will stop at nothing to shut it down: The Russian government.

National security officials say that the National Security Agency, the U.S. government’s eavesdropping agency, has already picked up tell-tale electronic evidence that WikiLeaks is under close surveillance by the Russian FSB, that country’s domestic spy network, out of fear in Moscow that WikiLeaks is prepared to release damaging personal information about Kremlin leaders.

“We may not have been able to stop WikiLeaks so far, and it’s been frustrating,” a U.S. law-enforcement official tells The Daily Beast. “The Russians play by different rules.” He said that if WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, follow through on threats to post highly embarrassing information about the Russian government and what is assumed to be massive corruption among its leaders, “the Russians will be ruthless in stopping WikiLeaks.”

The Russians, under the leadership of former KGB officer Vladimir Putin, have not blanched at, well, much of anything.  The death of Alexander Litvinenko from a slow-acting poison is widely believed to have been an assassination conducted by the FSB.  The poisoning of Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko in the Orange Revolution was similarly suspicious, and dissident Boris Berezovsky survived at least one attempt on his life as well.

That problem may be more acute for the people who supplied Assange with the data rather than Assange himself.  The FSB has restrained itself mainly to attacking Russian expatriates rather than Westerners, but as the DB reports, Wikileaks almost certainly got whatever they have through that route, especially from the super-rich Russian industrialists that had to flee after Putin took power.  Given Assange’s predilection for releasing information in its raw form, the FSB will likely have little problem finding the sources of the data and making sure that they won’t give Assange anything else ever.

Russia will most likely contain itself to cyberwarfare on a massive scale to shut down Assange rather than violence.  If they succeed, they may wind up doing Barack Obama a huge favor, since the continuing exposure of communications data has the White House continually on the defensive.  But if someone winds up grabbing Assange, he may want to pray that it’s the Americans rather than the FSB.

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Should something happen to assange with the russians being the primary suspect, I’ll be looking forward to the lefty media silence we haven’t seen since the mohammed cartoons.

booter on November 30, 2010 at 4:17 PM

The rest of the Liberal Media Complex should be forever shamed that they are associated with the Asshats of the world.

pedestrian on November 30, 2010 at 2:50 PM

When I get home tonight I’m tipping a cold Summit Pale Ale to that sentiment.

Bruno Strozek on November 30, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Dark-Star on November 30, 2010 at 4:02 PM

“It wasn’t rape, she was asking for it by the way she dressed.”
That’s all I hear out of you.

angelwing34215 on November 30, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Apparently Assange has forgotten that “snitches get stitches” . . .

tpitman on November 30, 2010 at 4:40 PM

What would happen to Assange?

He might get tracked down like the small time crook from Kenya, Baktash Akasha did… mind you that winds up with a couple of Mafioso leading a police raid on a newspaper in Kenya… fun stuff! He might end up like the newspaper did, or at least their presses.

Or like Stephen Curtiss in the Yukos, Menatap, MegaFON scandal: having a sudden private plane failure. Most unfortunate, that! And after playing both ends of the snake so very well… and did that Malevskiy fellow actually die in a skydiving accident in S. Africa or was that just a way to throw people off his trail as part of a larger operation?

You don’t even have to get to polonium or some fun poison! The shift of industrial facilities in Russia… or sending hitmen to the US to get rid of the unreliable… the ever ready bullet does just as well.

The one thing that is known: you publish fast and hard, they respect that.

Threats just give them time to get to you, your family, your contacts, your confederates, your backers… the game of threats is played very differently than the game of power, although both are ruthless when done with Russia.

ajacksonian on November 30, 2010 at 4:42 PM

When Russia was targeting dissidents, it was going against the wishes of the British establishment.

When Russia targets WikiLeaks in countries outside of Russia . . . who knows how much interference it will get from governmental authorities?

daryl_herbert on November 30, 2010 at 1:55 PM

I think somebody might “forget” to protect Assange…it’s even possible that Assange’s daily travel schedule might be “leaked”….

But Assange is beyond delusional if he thinks that anybody is going to “negotiate” with him. Nobody “negotiates” with a mosquito…they just SLAP!!!

landlines on November 30, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Can’t say I feel sorry for him. I don’t like how the Russians operate, but it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

Esthier on November 30, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Well, there goes all those “let’s see them leak Russian or Chinese secrets!” posts I keep seeing here…

ernesto on November 30, 2010 at 1:41 PM

We’re still waiting. He hasn’t done it yet.

Esthier on November 30, 2010 at 5:26 PM

It wasn’t his guilt with regards to the leaks that prompted my post: the commenter to whom I was responding had called him a rapist.

ernesto on November 30, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Fine, credibly accused rapist. It’s a blog comment section, and you don’t have clean hands in assigning guilt before a jury has either.

Esthier on November 30, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Welcome to Russian gulag comrade. Enjoy your stay.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

SgtSVJones on November 30, 2010 at 5:51 PM

Don’t I wish. Go get him Vlad.

jeanie on November 30, 2010 at 6:07 PM

Polonium enema.

SurferDoc on November 30, 2010 at 6:10 PM

The Russians…have not blanched at, well, much of anything.

I think you mean haven’t blenched. Unless, of course, their almond harvest was bad this year…

Tzetzes on November 30, 2010 at 6:47 PM

I am on planet bizarro! Here I am rooting for the Russians!

dhimwit on November 30, 2010 at 7:12 PM

And suddenly Assange becomes a sympathetic figure, unbelievable. The Russians are still ruthless thugs in a backwards society, but Obama wants to be their best friend and Bush claimed to have seen Putin’s soul…Reagan is sorely missed.

I have to admit though I want to see Assange’s next leak about that bank he says will be brought down with the info he has. We know we’re swindled by those bastards, many of whom contributed to Obama anyway, so I want to see their dirty laundry which our government has been hiding.

Daemonocracy on November 30, 2010 at 7:18 PM

One thing to consider is that if the Russians play hardball they may not shut him down entirely. He’d make a good thorn in the U.S.’s side, and therefore may just shut him down enough to make him harmless to them and yet still a massive problem for us. That would be the smart play, and the Russians are anything but stupid when it comes to this sort of thing.

One Angry Christian on November 30, 2010 at 7:20 PM

One Angry Christian on November 30, 2010 at 7:20 PM

How many fingers do you think it would take?

pedestrian on November 30, 2010 at 7:32 PM

The CIA should get Assange quick and leave the word “Spasiba” carved in his cold forehead.


profitsbeard on November 30, 2010 at 7:47 PM

Why not float questions about whether the Russians want to whack him?

Float a few more stories about others who want to do the same, then when he’s whacked, everybody will be pointing fingers at everybody else, and in a few days nobody cares.

91Veteran on November 30, 2010 at 10:58 PM

Will Assange actually go to Ecuador to escape the rape charges? Also wonder if Ecuador would be safe. Tend to doubt it.

jeanie on December 1, 2010 at 1:40 AM

If the Russians take out Assange, it won’t be like Trotsky’s death. His will be slow and painful.

Ward Cleaver on December 1, 2010 at 9:28 AM

Meh…TIME’s already considering him for Person Of The Year.

ProudPalinFan on December 1, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Well, may still be problematic, as Wikileaks’ site is hosted on Amazon servers here, in the U.S. (which actually further underscores the imbecility of the Obama Administration to shut it down)

PJ Emeritus on December 1, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Make a memo, moron – the next time you right-wingers pick a group name, TRY not to pick one that can so easily be confused with a sex act. Unless of course that’s your intention.

Dark-Star on November 30, 2010 at 3:29 PM

The expression is “take a memo”, salad-tosser. Unless you’re some sort of euro-weenie, of course.

And, in your links (don’t feel smug yet, salad-tosser) There is only ONE mention of a “Tea Bag Protest Party”. Nowhere is the TEA Party referred to as the “Tea Bag Party”.

Once again, you leftists try to lie – and do it so ineptly.
One would think that you sub-human leftists would learn from your experiences – but one would be wrong, I suppose.

Solaratov on December 1, 2010 at 1:04 PM

But if someone winds up grabbing Assange, he may want to pray that it’s the Americans rather than the FSB.

This is one “reset” Obama would gift to Russia, keeping his own hands clean.

maverick muse on December 2, 2010 at 3:08 PM

How many fingers do you think it would take?

pedestrian on November 30, 2010 at 7:32 PM

Frankly I think with him it’d take only a real physical threat. The man wreaks of coward like a chat room teenager firing textual assaults from the safety of the internet hiding behind a facade of intellectual and moral superiority.

He’s a lot like the American left: threaten the Christians because they won’t kill you. Leave the Islamic militants alone because … they can and will.

One Angry Christian on December 3, 2010 at 6:01 PM