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  • Main image: AMONG the trove of American intelligence agency documents released by Wikileaks this week is one that instructs the country's spies on protocols to follow while travelling abroad. Some of these are specific to the CIA's needs. ("Talk to CCIE/Engineering about your planned TDY timeline," the document begins, adding such tidbits as "Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat.") But others are just good common-sense business-travel tips—for spies and corporate sales managers alike.The first universal advice in the document, which appears to be designed for spooks visiting an operations base in Frankfurt, is this: "If you are using a personal credit card, be sure to call your credit card company and notify them of your travel to Germany." That seems like sound guidance. Even better is the pithy advice on which airline to fly with:Flying Lufthansa: Booze is free so enjoy (within reason)!Flying United: My condolences, but at least you are earning a United leg towards a status increase.Hardly patriotic. One also has to wonder at the depth of the spooks' training, when the guide has to remind them: "Do not leave anything electronic or sensitive unattended in your hotel room. (Paranoid, yes, but better safe then [sic] sorry.)"Then there is this helpful tip ...
  • Print section Print Rubric: Donald Trump adored WikiLeaks when it served his cause. Now, not so much Print Headline: All change Print Fly Title: In pursuit of WikiLeaks UK Only Article: standard article Issue: How to have a better death Fly Title: Another Trump U-turn Main image: 20170429_usp506.jpg THE hypocrisy is breathtaking. But it looks as if the Trump administration really is going after WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, the self-styled transparency campaigner who runs it from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has been holed up for five years evading extradition to Sweden to face a rape allegation. As a candidate, Donald Trump said he loved WikiLeaks for helping his campaign by publishing embarrassing e-mails from the Democratic National Committee, hacked by the Russians. Now he is in the White House, he views leaks less indulgently. On April ...
  • Print section Print Rubric: Trading in software flaws is a booming business Print Headline: The exploits of bug hunters Print Fly Title: Cyber-security UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Why Israel needs a Palestinian state Fly Title: Cyber-security Main image: 20170520_STD002_0.jpg TO HELP shield their products from ransomware like the recent worldwide WannaCry attack, most big software-makers pay "bug bounties" to those who report vulnerabilities in their products that need to be patched. Payouts of up to $20,000 are common. Google's bounties reach $200,000, says Billy Rios, a former member of that firm's award panel. This may sound like good money for finding a programming oversight, but it is actually "ridiculously low" according to Chaouki Bekrar, boss of Zerodium, a firm in Washington, DC, that is a dealer in "exploits", as programs which take ...
  • Print section UK Only Article: standard article Fly Title: Q&A Main image: 20171021_blp507.jpg THIS week's edition of "The Economist Asks", our flagship interview podcast, features an interview with Hillary Clinton. The full transcript, lightly edited for clarity, follows. Listen to the podcast here. For a full list of all our podcasts, click here. Hello and welcome to The Economists Asks. I'm your host Anne McElvoy. This week we're asking what stops a woman from becoming president of the United States. I'm here with Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief of The Economist, and together we're talking to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, secretary of state and senator from New York. After a long career in law, policy and politics, Mrs Clinton, the former first lady from 1993 to 2001 had aspired to become the first female American president. But in one of the most dramatic races in US presidential history, she was defeated by Donald Trump in the elections nearly a year ago. "What happened?" is the title of her candid new book about why she lost. The Economist: Hillary Clinton, welcome to ...
  • Print section Print Rubric: Keeping up with this administration's news-generation is exhausting Print Headline: Turkey before Thanksgiving Print Fly Title: Scandal proliferation UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The army sidelines Robert Mugabe, Africa's great dictator Fly Title: Turkey before Thanksgiving Location: WASHINGTON, DC Main image: Cut-out and keep Cut-out and keep AN ADVISER allegedly involved in a plot to force a migrant to return to his home country. An attorney-general who seems conveniently forgetful when testifying before Congress. A president's son exchanging messages with an agent of a hostile foreign power. In past administrations any of these things would have caused shock, hand-wringing and, probably, Congressional hearings and sackings. But it's just another ...
  • Print section Issue: Bulletins from the future Fly Title: Location: Main image: 20110709_srd001.jpg EVEN IF YOU are not a news junkie, you will have noticed that your daily news has undergone a transformation. Television newscasts now include amateur videos, taken from video-sharing websites such as YouTube, covering events like the Arab spring or the Japanese tsunami. Such videos, with their shaky cameras and people's unguarded reactions, have much greater immediacy than professional footage. Messages posted on Twitter, the microblogging service, have been woven into coverage of these events and many others. "You have these really intimate man-in-the-street accounts, and you can craft a narrative around them," says Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. A computer consultant in Pakistan unwittingly described the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in a series of tweets. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, too, were reported on Twitter in real time by people who were there. The past year has also seen the rise to fame of WikiLeaks, an organisation that publishes leaked documents ...
  • Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The new special relationship Fly Title: WikiLeaks Location: NEW YORK Main image: 20110910_IRD001_0.jpg IF CYBERSPACE had air, it would be thick with recriminations. Thanks to a series of slips compounded by warring whistle-blowing egos, an entire trove of 251,000 purloined American diplomatic cables has been published online. The result may be fatal for WikiLeaks, as well as embarrassingly revealing governments' misdeeds, mishaps, evasions and cover-ups. One cable has allegations that American troops executed an Iraqi family, including five small children, in 2006. (The government in Baghdad has reopened an investigation.) Another questions the long-term safety of China's nuclear-power plans. In a third, a Bulgarian minister admits to misleading environmentalists about legislation on genetically modified crops. Previously released cables also featured unvarnished opinions. But the new lot include the names of people who talked ...
  • Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Many miles to go Fly Title: Julian Assange Main image: A restless soul A restless soul Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography. Canongate; 339 pages; £20. Buy from Amazon.co.uk IF JULIAN ASSANGE had had his way, this book would not exist. "All memoir is prostitution," the founder of WikiLeaks said after reading the first draft, penned by Andrew O'Hagan, a ghost writer, based on 50 hours of interviews. But Mr Assange had already spent his advance to settle his legal bills fighting his extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him about sex-offence allegations. So the publisher decided to print the manuscript anyway, creating a curious new genre: an "unauthorised autobiography". The result is a strangely unbalanced book. The second half indeed did not merit printing. It does not add much to what has been revealed in the other half-dozen books that have appeared about WikiLeaks, a non-profit organisation devoted to making leaked information public. At times it is little more than ...
  • NOKIA rolls out a new range of smart phones, Wikileaks goes quiet and Oracle acquires a cloud computing firm You can also listen to this audio item on Soundcloud, which allows readers to leave comments at specific points along the audio timeline. Click on the blue bar to visit the Soundcloud website and leave a comment. Babbage: October 26th 2011 by TheEconomist
  • NO LONGER quite the cause célèbre he once was, Julian Assange was in court without his celebrity backers on November 2nd, when he failed in an appeal against his extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him on sex-assault charges. The WikiLeaks whistle-blowing site he founded is in trouble too: it has suspended most of its operations as it grapples with banks and payment-card companies that block its transactions.Mr Assange's lawyers had challenged a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), normally enforced automatically, on four main grounds. Two High Court judges firmly rejected them all in terms that leave little room for a further appeal. They did not accept that the Swedish prosecutor was the wrong judicial authority to order an extradition; their judgment also said it did not matter that Mr Assange has not yet been accused of an offence in Sweden. Nor did it accept that the events being investigated were too minor, or too poorly described, to be an offence in England too (this "dual criminality" test is a central feature of the EAW). It also rejected the argument that extradition was disproportionate to the potential crime involved.
  • Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Greece's woes Fly Title: WikiLeaks Main image: Single to Stockholm, economy class Single to Stockholm, economy class NO LONGER quite the cause célèbre he once was, Julian Assange was in court without his celebrity backers on November 2nd, when he failed in an appeal against his extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him on sex-assault charges. The WikiLeaks whistle-blowing site he founded is in trouble too: it has suspended most of its operations as it grapples with banks and payment-card companies that block its transactions. Mr Assange's lawyers had challenged a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), normally enforced automatically, on four main grounds. Two High Court judges firmly rejected them all in terms that leave little room for a further appeal. They did not accept that the Swedish prosecutor was the wrong judicial authority to order an extradition; their judgment also said it did not matter that Mr Assange has not yet been accused of an offence in Sweden. Nor did it accept that ...
  • NICK COHEN, a British journalist and author, is a polemicist. His views have swung from the left to the right and back again over his 30-year career, but his arguments are often punchy and persuasive. In "You Can't Read This Book" (Fourth Estate), his sixth book, he argues that we are living in an unprecedented age of censorship, coerced by violence, religion and money. The book opens in 1989 at the end of the cold war, a time when many believed that liberal democracy would spread and freedom of speech would flourish. It was also the year that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa on Salman Rushdie, for his supposedly blasphemous book, "The Satanic Verses". Mr Cohen uses the Rushdie fiasco as a springboard to discuss censorship, and the correlation between Islamic fundamentalism and the suppression of free thinking in the West, both in society and online. His argument borrows heavily from the works of writers such as George Orwell, John Milton and John Stuart Mill—especially Mill's principle that censorship should only be applied in extreme circumstances. We spoke to Mr Cohen about censorship, religion and freedom of speech. What made you want to write a book about censorship?Firstly, it was watching a Russian oligarch with a criminal record using the libel law in Britain to silence all newspapers that wrote articles about him. ...
  • THE latest release by Wikileaks may be underwhelming, but at least it is entertaining. Stratfor, a Texas-based research outfit that likes to sell itself as a private intelligence firm, had its email servers hacked into by Anonymous, a mischief-making group of geeks. Among the gems is an assertion that the EU orchestrated the Iran war campaign to distract people from its financial woes. Let it never be said that intelligence has anything to do with intelligence. That, however, is a topic for our defence blog. Of greater interest to Johnson is "The Stratfor glossary of useful, baffling and strange intelligence terms", a wry guide to spook jargon that is given to new staff. This blog has, in the past, grouched about airline jargon, corporate jargon, wine-tasting jargon, military jargon and Euro-jargon (twice). Jargon is not in itself a bad thing. When it is obfuscatory, employed unnecessarily or used in non-specific contexts, it becomes a nuisance. But it can speed up communication and transmit complicated ideas efficiently within relevant circles. It also creates a feeling of kinship, like knowing a secret code (which appears to be one purpose of the Stratfor document). Stratfor's 20-page list of 170 terms is well-written and often very funny. The CIA is "the post office with a foreign policy". A "Clancy" is "somebody who has read a lot of Tom Clancy". ...
  • THE Republican party holds its convention in Tampa, Sudan and South Sudan resume talks, the WikiLeaks saga rumbles on and the Paralympics get underway in London
  • THE first outraged tweet I saw about it came from the Associated Press's Ron Fournier: the Department of Justice (DOJ) had "tracked Fox News reporter via key card and seized personal emails. #Chilling @AP". That turned out to be a little off-point. The DOJ had checked the visit log of Fox News reporter James Rosen as he was entering and leaving the State Department one day in 2009, and that of State Department officer Stephen Kim, to back up the suspicion that Mr Kim had leaked information from a top-secret intelligence report on North Korea which had just been distributed that day, and which led to Mr Rosen's article a few hours later. This seems unsurprising, and no more or less upsetting than checking an old-fashioned sign-in book would have been. Further, the DOJ had gotten a search warrant from a judge to read two days' worth of Mr Rosen's e-mails. This goes significantly further, but in a sense it's not terribly surprising either: in an age when the FBI can issue secret National Security Letters to get the authority to read anyone's non-encrypted electronic communications for virtually whatever reason they want, it seems rather quaint to be outraged that the DOJ is using the old-fashioned, relatively transparent route that requires it to show probable cause and get a warrant first.But the question remains, why did the judge grant the government a warrant to search a ...
  • ON MAY 30th at the United Nations, special rapporteur Christof Heyns delivered a speech calling on all states to ban the deployment of robots that can autonomously decide to kill humans or destroy property. Some, however, argue that autonomous weapons system will prove a boon. We asked two experts to present their side of the argument.
  • HENDRIK HERTZBERG of the New Yorker is untroubled by the NSA's promiscuous data-gathering operations. In response to a left-leaning friend's despairing note about the complacency of a press corps faced with the spectre of "the encroaching police state", Mr Hertzberg shrugs:I still don't know of a single instance where the N.S.A. data program has encroached on or repressed any particular person's or group's freedom of expression or association in a tangible way. Nor have I come across a clear explanation of exactly how the program could be put to such a purpose.But even if the program could be misused in that way, for it to happen you would have to have a malevolent government—or, at least, a government with a malevolent, out-of-control component or powerful official or officials.This is quite strange. The main charge against the NSA's indiscriminate dragnet is that it violates the constitution's fourth amendment, not the first. If the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court's secret reinterpretation of the intended meaning of "relevant" in the Patriot Act oversteps the Supreme Court's prevailing interpretation of the fourth amendment, the NSA's data-harvesting programme may be responsible for hundreds of millions of violations of Americans' constitutional rights. That Mr Hertzberg fails to grasp the central concern about the programme—that it violates the American ...
  • Print section UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Has the Arab spring failed? Fly Title: A villain's guide to football Main image: 20130713_IRD001_0.jpg A NEW football season approaches, and with it new players, overpriced replica kits and unsavoury club owners. If you are one of them, most observers will wrongly assume that you are laundering only your reputation, and that you are willing to lose millions on a philanthropic sporting folly to do so. That is too kind. Your new asset will not just help you wash your dirty money. It will make more of it too. It is a good time to enter the football racket. Banks are less generous and sentimental about loans. Tax officials are less lenient, too, as Rangers, a big Glasgow club, discovered: it was forced into liquidation by tax arrears, afterwards being reconstituted under new ownership. But hard times mean clubs are desperate and going cheap. Set up a holding company (or a nest of them) in a discreet jurisdiction, as many owners do, and you have a money-laundering and embezzlement machine at your disposal. ...
  • HERO or villain? Victim or culprit? Patriot or traitor? Bradley Manning has been called all of these things. For nearly three years Americans have debated the character of the young army private who stole and then leaked a trove of classified documents to WikiLeaks. On July 30th a military judge announced her opinion, finding him guilty of violating the Espionage Act, but clearing him of having aided the enemy. Hearings on his sentence will begin soon.There is no argument over what Mr Manning did. Earlier this year he admitted to sending hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, war reports from Afghanistan and Iraq and other files to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad. In doing so, he pleaded guilty to ten of the charges against him and faced up to 20 years in prison. He has now been found guilty of the bulk of the remaining charges, which could see him spend the rest of his life behind bars.At his plea hearing in February, Mr Manning tried to explain why he had exposed American secrets. He hoped to "spark a domestic debate of the role of the military and foreign policy in general" and "cause society to reevaluate the need and even desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore their effect on people who live in that environment every day." One of his earliest publicised leaks, that of the so-called ...
  • IF THERE is one thing that "The Fifth Estate" makes clear, it is how fascinating and altogether stranger-than-fiction Julian Assange really is. Bill Condon's kinetic drama about the rise and partial fall of WikiLeaks includes flashbacks to Mr Assange's childhood in a brutal Australian cult. It touches upon his youthful hacking of NASA's computers. And it reminds us of the messianic zeal with which he extols the revolutionary power of information-sharing. If any 21st-century public figure deserves a biopic, it is Mr Assange.It is frustrating, then, that "The Fifth Estate" is not that biopic. The film is adapted from two books, one of them a memoir written by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Mr Assange's Berlin-based sidekick during the early days of WikiLeaks. Mr Condon and his screenwriter, Josh Singer, stage the febrile events of 2007 to 2011 as they were perceived by Mr Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl), so Assange is rarely seen without Daniel's company. It is an approach that makes sense as long as the two cyber-conspirators are together in squats and cafes, plotting to expose corruption and tyranny, or hurrying through airports with backpacks slung over their shoulders. But when Mr Assange is somewhere else, which he is for much of the running time, the film is no longer about the ethics of disseminating intelligence reports. Instead it becomes a story about whether Daniel's ...
  • ON SUNDAY, Wikileaks released two documents that the group claims are secret Central Intelligence Agency manuals for officers travelling abroad. The first, titled "Surviving Secondary", is dated September 2011, and focuses on helping officers get through secondary screenings at airports with their covers intact. The second, "Schengen Overview", is dated January 2012, and explains the ins-and-outs of Europe's visa-free Schengen Area and the threats various European biometric databases might pose to undercover operatives. Genuine or not ("We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported stolen intelligence documents," Ryan Trapani, a CIA spokesman, told Bloomberg via email), they are both fascinating reads.Julian Assange, Wikileaks's founder, justifies the release of the documents by claiming that they "show that under the Obama administration the CIA is still intent on infiltrating European Union borders and conducting clandestine operations in EU member states". This is hardly a surprise. But it is also hard to see the release of these documents, if authentic, doing much damage to American intelligence efforts. Terrorists no doubt already know the techniques "Surviving Secondary" emphasises: "The Importance of Maintaining Cover—No Matter What", for example, is just common sense. For their part, European officials surely know the ...
  • Print section Print Rubric: What looks like a Russian hack of the Clinton campaign chairman's e-mail account would, in another year, be causing the candidate problems Print Headline: Hacked off Print Fly Title: Hillary Clinton's campaign UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The debasing of American politics Fly Title: Hillary Clinton's campaign Location: WASHINGTON, DC Main image: 20161015_USP001_0.jpg IF OPINION polls maintain current trends, the sounds of pursuit by Donald Trump will reach Hillary Clinton's ears ever-more faintly as she enters the final straight of a long, slog of a race for the White House. But even if the Republican nominee continues to run out of puff (see Briefing) one last worry haunts Democrats: that Mrs Clinton, an uninspiring candidate lugging decades of ...
  • Print section Print Headline: Politics this week UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The threat from Russia Main image: 20161022_wwp006_290.jpg Vladimir Putin attended a summit with Angela Merkel in Berlin that also included the leaders of France and Ukraine. Russia's involvement in the war in Syria has put a further strain on its relations with Europe and Mrs Merkel is threatening sanctions. Mr Putin had not visited Germany since Russia attacked Ukraine in 2014. He recently pulled out of a trip to France after François Hollande suggested that he wanted to discuss Syria. See article. After seven years of negotiations, a trade deal between the European Union and Canada faced a big hurdle when the parliament of the Belgian region of Wallonia rejected it, saying it fell short on social and environmental standards. Negotiators in Brussels scrambled to overturn the decision. See article. Barack Obama praised Matteo Renzi, the beleaguered prime minister of Italy, at a state dinner in Washington. Mr Renzi is staking his political reputation on a referendum in ...
  • Print section Print Rubric: Barack Obama cuts short the whistle-blower's sentence Print Headline: The long commute Print Fly Title: Chelsea Manning UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The 45th president Fly Title: The long commute Main image: 20170121_USP001_0.jpg SLOPPY security at an American military base in Iraq in 2009 allowed a lowly soldier to set off a diplomatic thunderstorm. Bradley Manning, a junior intelligence analyst, downloaded a database of American government files onto a CD (labelled "Lady Gaga" to avoid suspicion) and uploaded them to WikiLeaks, a website devoted to exposing official wrongdoing. The results were explosive and the price was heavy. The hundreds of thousands of leaked documents included a video of a shocking American airstrike on innocent Iraqis, carelessly mistaken for terrorists. A caustic ambassadorial cable ...
  • Print section Print Rubric: The CIA, which exists to find out secrets, fails to keep them Print Headline: The spy who came in for the code Print Fly Title: WikiLeaks, again UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Quantum leaps Fly Title: The spy who came in for the code Location: WASHINGTON, DC Main image: 20170311_USD001_0.jpg A GRIM year for American spy agencies took a turn for the worse with the leaking, on March 7th, of what appeared to be a lengthy, detailed catalogue of the CIA's secret hacking tools for turning computers, internet routers, telephones and even web-enabled televisions into remote spying devices, and for bypassing encrypted messaging services by penetrating individual Apple and Android smartphones. The WikiLeaks anti-secrecy organisation posted nearly 9,000 ...
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