Sweeping subpoena issued earlier this year

US government preparing new attacks against WikiLeaks

By David Walsh
26 August 2011

The Obama administration and its Department of Homeland Security are continuing their assault on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, as part of the effort to stifle opposition to American militarism and imperialism.

A recently unsealed court document, signed by a US magistrate judge on January 4, 2011, lifts the lid on the government’s attempt to mount an espionage or “terrorism” case against Assange and WikiLeaks. The so-called production order, the equivalent of a subpoena under the reactionary USA PATRIOT Act, was issued to WikiLeaks’ Domain Name Server, Dynadot, in San Mateo, California. The order was intended to provide information for a secret grand jury convened in Alexandria, Virginia.

WikiLeaks publicized the existence of the court order Wednesday, only hours after the anti-secrecy group reported a massive denial of service (DOS) attack, which forced it to run off backup servers. WikiLeaks blamed US authorities for the latter attack, asking, with good cause, “Are state directed Denial of Service attacks, legally, a war crime against civilian infrastructure?” and “Should we, legally, declare war on state aggressors that commit infrastructure war crimes against us?”

WikiLeaks has earned the fury of the US government and military for its release of troves of previously secret documents revealing their criminal activities around the globe. Pfc. Bradley Manning has been targeted for fierce persecution by the Pentagon for his alleged role in passing on the damning documents.

The DOS attack on WikiLeaks followed its release of tens of thousands of new documents, including cables from the US embassy in Libya shedding light on Washington’s support for and military collaboration with the Gaddafi regime as recently as August 2009.

The production order served on Dynadot, as the International Business News points out, “could be the first major step by the United States government in labeling WikiLeaks a terrorist organization.” Vice President Joe Biden has already termed Assange, who remains under house arrest in Britain in relation to a trumped-up sexual assault case in Sweden, a “high-tech terrorist.”

The Dynadot order was issued at approximately the same time US Justice Department prosecutors obtained a similar order for records from Twitter, Inc. WikiLeaks reports that Dynadot complied with the government order, without providing details.

In 2008, the Julius Baer Bank and Trust successfully sought an injunction against WikiLeaks over the release of internal documents, and Dynadot was ordered to shut down the wikileaks.org domain. However, the same judge later lifted the injunction, citing First Amendment issues. In December 2010, Dynadot founder and president Todd Han, in response to a journalist’s inquiry, commented, “Yes we are experiencing significant pressure regarding the domain, both to keep it up and to take it down.”

The three-page production order from Obama’s Homeland Security Department in January 2011 is a sinister document, worthy of a police state. It orders Dynadot to hand over within three days the following information for each account associated with WikiLeaks and Assange for the period November 1, 2009 to the present:

“1. subscriber names, user names, screen names, or other identities;
2. mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, e-mail addresses, and other contact information;
3. connection records, or record of session times and durations;
4. length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized;
5. telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address; and
6. means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number) and billing records.”

It also demands Dynadot turn over to the government:

“1. records of user activity for any connections made to or from the Account, including the date, time, length, and method of connections, data transfer volume, user name, and source and destination Internet Protocol address(es);
2. non-content information associated with the contents of any communication or file stored by or for the account(s), such as the source and destination email addresses and IP addresses.
3. correspondence and notes of records related to the account(s).”

This sweeping order is not only aimed at building a case against Assange and WikiLeaks; its intent is to intimidate and terrorize any individual or organization, including DNS hosts, that might contemplate opposing and exposing US government policy, or merely providing services to such opponents. It is a further attempt to criminalize political dissent.