Richard Fernandez poses the question the New York Times, El Pais, and the Wikileaks spreaders should be asking,
The potential for using sources without provenance for disinformation was been the subject of earlier posts. Because Assange is “leaking” reports about classified events, there is very little we can do to verify the leaks against collateral information. There is no open source collateral. For so long as the “leaks” seems plausible, they will gain credence. Once they gain credence, they become a vehicle into which can insert disinformation into the message in small but crucial quantities. Kevin Mitnick was a master of this kind of “social engineering” or hacking. “All social engineering techniques are based on specific attributes of human decision-making known as cognitive biases. These biases, sometimes called “bugs in the human hardware, ‘are exploited in various combinations to create attack techniques’”. It is our old friend disinformation, about which I wote in What Would Assange Be Willing To Say?
Julian Assange achieved the remarkable goal of establishing the truth of a set of assertions without reference to a known provenance. The fact that they were about classified information meant that the prospects of collateral confirmation or denial were small. As long as the leaks were plausible they could be passed off as true. In all likelihood the WikiLeaks stories are probably mostly true because disinformation consists of a lie embedded in a matrix of fact filler. Assange would have understood the power of a background process running amidst a mass of routine code; the importance of a wrapper around the core function. But what was the core function doing? You could never be sure if you couldn’t look very closely. And you could never look too closely as long as the leaks talked about classified comms. If Assange leaked about an entirely accessible event — if, for example, he leaked the location of every fire hydrant in the world — we could verify it. But if he leaked a claim about what we could only partially descry then his leak would only have to conform to the public visible truth to become accepted as entirely true.
He would have been well aware of the concept of deniable encryption. “Deniable encryption allows its users to decrypt the ciphertext to produce a different (innocuous but plausible) plaintext and insist that it is what they encrypted. The holder of the ciphertext will not have the means to differentiate between the true plaintext, and the bogus-claim plaintext.” How can the public know that WikiLeaks hasn’t given us the false plaintext of the real secret events if there is no other way of finding other plaintexts? It can’t. And we may never know for sure if Julian Assange’s leaks are true or whether a ringer is lurking in there somewhere.
The most important preparation for disinformation is to set up the scenario, what is called “pretexting”. It consists of creating a background we are ready to believe so that when the lie is fed to us, it is swallowed hook, line and sinker. And for decades — going way back before the Second World War — the Left has been “pretexting” by promoting self-hatred in the West. We are the bad guys. We don’t deserve to live. And so when Julian Assange says he wants to “crush bastards” he is really referring to his own civilization. What is more, there are nods of assent all around.
Richard’s post should be read in full.
This is a particularly important issue, as we are bombarded with more Wikileaks.
And I ask again, just who is bankrolling Assange?