The tech media is awash with stories about the US Department of Justice (DOJ) subpoenaing, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, pictured on the right, a former WikiLeaks volunteer and current member of the Icelandic Parliament.
MP Jónsdóttir is tweeting all about her side of DOJ actions. Salon has a copy of the DOJ Order signed by federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, Theresa Buchanan. Glenn Greenwald in the War Room section of Salon says the Order was:
issued on December 14 and ordered sealed -.e., kept secret from the targets of the Order. It gave Twitter three days to respond and barred the company from notifying anyone, including the users, of the existence of the Order.
On January 5, the same judge directed that the Order be unsealed at Twitter's request in order to inform the users and give them 10 days to object; had Twitter not so requested, it would have been compelled to turn over this information without the knowledge of its users.
The DOJ Order says Twitter should provide all of Jónsdóttir's information including "all mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, all known email accounts, as well as the 'means and source of payment,' including banking records and credit cards."
It seeks all of that information for the period beginning November 1, 2009, through the present. The New York Times article raises the question of the DOJ subpoenaing foreign nationals and demanding their personal information.
Of the five individuals named in the subpoena, only two — Pfc. Bradley. Manning and Jacob Appelbaum — are American citizens.
The others include an Australian, Mr. Julian Assange, Ms. Birgitta Jonsdottir from Iceland, Mr. Rop Gonggrijp a Dutch national. It is safe to say, WikiLeaks, Appelbaum, Gongrijp, and Assange intend to contest this Order.
Icelandic MP Jónsdóttir has Tweeted that she will ask her foreign minister to intervene with Luis E. Arreaga, the US Ambassador to Iceland. Jónsdóttir says she wants to meet with the US Ambassador about the Order – and wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall for that one?
Marc Rotenberg, president of the online watchdog the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, has already requested that the US authorities hand over information about their investigations into people who have donated to WikiLeaks via MasterCard, Visa, or PayPal. Rotenberg said:
The government has the right to get information, but that has to be done in a lawful way. Is there a lawful prosecution that could be brought against WikiLeaks?
It seems unlikely to me. But it's a huge question here in the US.
The US Department of Justice building
The titillation factor in this saga went up when Jónsdóttir retold the story of her inviting WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to a reception at the US embassy in Reykjavik.
During the event, Assange reportedly sipped an adult beverage with Sam Watson, the embassy's deputy chief of mission, whose embarrassing dispatches concerning the US and UK role following the collapse of Iceland's bank would later be published on WikiLeaks.
The DOJ and US Military clearly are making a legal case against PFC. They accuse Bradley Manning of copying over 250,000 messages that were classified as Secret or higher and then forwarding them to WikiLeaks.
Manning's whereabouts have been rumored to be in various US Military jails – originally in the Middle East and now supposedly near Washington, DC. If Manning is convicted in a Military Courts Marshall proceeding he could face as much as 52 years to life in prison for espionage. To add to the legal maneuvering, US Congressman Representative Darrell Issa (Republican from California) with his chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he will open hearings into the whole WikiLeaks saga as soon as possible.
Clearly, there is a criminal aspect to the saga. However, there are major questions about the US government singling out WikiLeaks, its staff and friends for criminal prosecution while letting off the hook US national news media including the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, Houston Chronicle, Des Moines Register, Manchester Union Leader, USA Today, and the Christian Science Monitor.
None have been subpoenaed for publishing exerts from the 250,000 classified document obtained by WikiLeaks.
Thus, it appears that the US Government is making an example of WikiLeaks in an attempt to differentiate online publications from old guard print publication.
Those are the same print publications who have published US Government initiated leaks that bolstered the proven falsehood that was used to drum up passionate support for the Bush Administration's Iraq War.
Free-speech advocates fear the same legal arguments used against WikiLeaks could be used to prosecute media that publish information in defiance of the government.
With the First Amendment to the US Constitution, the Founding Fathers intended that no American should ever need permission to read or write anything. BSN expects this saga will drag on for years and only a select few will be prosecuted after all the US Government's protestations.