Obsessed with Jacob

The US Government Keeps Harassing a UW Researcher Who Speaks for WikiLeaks

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Kelly O
JACOB APPELBAUM Wants the Feds to stop grabbing his junk.

One day after being detained at the Canadian border trying to enter Washington State, Jacob Appelbaum jokes about writing the first Yelp reviews of all of our nation's airport detention areas. "Two thumbs up my ass," he quips, referring to the invasive welcome he gets every time he reenters the country.

But Appelbaum's bravado belies an angst that might seem paranoid if it weren't justified. The 28-year-old University of Washington researcher recently earned notoriety as the American face of WikiLeaks, and with it the ire of US government officials eager to punish somebody—anybody—for last year's leak of embarrassing helicopter footage and massive dump of diplomatic cables. The harassment is beginning to take its intended toll.

"In the middle of the night, when I hear a noise, I have to ask myself, 'Is this it? Do they have guns? Do I accidentally get shot?'" Only this time, Appelbaum's not joking.

One of only five persons named in a controversial Department of Justice subpoena and national security letter demanding that Twitter provide identifying information on more than 600,000 followers of WikiLeaks, Appelbaum has every reason to fear the worst. WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange is already under house arrest in Britain, awaiting extradition to Sweden, while accused whistle-blower Bradley Manning is being held in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. "You don't look like you're going to do so well in prison," Appelbaum says a US Army interrogator taunted him during his first detainment, implying that he would soon meet a similar fate.

"To me, they are a clear and present danger to America," Representative Peter King (R-NY), chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said of WikiLeaks members on WNIS radio in November. King urged the State Department to declare WikiLeaks a "foreign terrorist organization... By doing that, we will be able to seize their funds and go after anyone who provides them with any help or contributions or assistance whatsoever."

Although he volunteered for WikiLeaks for a couple of years as a data-security and anonymity expert, Appelbaum's troubles began only last August, shortly after delivering a keynote address on Assange's behalf at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference in New York. Two weeks later, when he was flying into Newark from a conference in Berlin, customs agents met him at the plane and detained him for "random" screening. Appelbaum was thoroughly frisked ("They actually put on the gloves and felt my testicles," he says) and his belongings were searched, his receipts photocopied, and his laptop and three cell phones seized. Then he was handed over to a US Army official for further questioning. It's a cliché to describe a run-in with government bureaucrats as "Kafkaesque," but when people from the government tell you that they're handing you over to agents they describe as "people from the government," that qualifies.

Four hours later, after being questioned about everything from Assange's whereabouts to his own opinions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—and after being denied access to a lawyer, a phone call, and a restroom—Appelbaum was finally released. But like the army official promised, this is now his life, and the same routine of humiliation and intimidation is repeated every time he crosses the border, something Appelbaum does frequently in his part-time job as a developer and evangelist for the Tor Project, an open-source routing network used by dissidents worldwide to shield their online identity from oppressive regimes. (In one of the many ironies surrounding Appelbaum's predicament, Tor—which brought him to WikiLeaks, and which preserves the anonymity of WikiLeaks contributors—was originally funded by US government research grants.)

The latest incident occurred on March 30, when Appelbaum was detained for hours by US customs officials in the prescreening area of the Toronto airport as he attempted to catch a flight back to Seattle. Nobody would tell him why he was being held. Nobody seemed interested in letting him catch his flight. He missed it. Appelbaum eventually booked a flight to Vancouver, BC, rented a car, and attempted to drive across the border. Not surprisingly, he was again detained, again denied a phone call, and again denied the use of a restroom.

"It's total fucking bullshit," Appelbaum vents. "They can make you miss your flight and piss your pants, and treat you like a criminal."

As for what's next, Appelbaum can only speculate. The Twitter subpoena is secret, so he has no idea what, if any, crimes have been alleged, and the border agents consistently refuse to explain why he's being detained, though they assure him it's serious.

What he does know is that his life is not going to get easier anytime soon. Once you fall into the system—the system he's spent his career helping others avoid—there's no recourse, he laments.

"You always lose." recommended


Comments (44) RSS

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Mentifex 1
WikiLeaks is still going strong. We all need to support PFC Bradley Manning in his struggle against the Nazi-esque U.S. military, and Larry Sinclair in his outing of President Obama as a closet homosexual who has continued the wars of George W. Bush.
Posted by Mentifex on April 6, 2011 at 12:17 PM · Report this
Remember and the mistreatment of him by the Nazi-esque U.S. military.
Posted by Mentafex on April 6, 2011 at 12:46 PM · Report this
Great article, Goldie, and some interesting stuff below (Greenwald's brilliant talk on Wikileaks and the gov't, and the probable compromising of TOR).

I disagree with your statement about "irony" though, if it was designed to be a compromised anonymizing site from the beginning, there's nothing really ironic about it!……
Posted by sgt_doom on April 7, 2011 at 11:27 AM · Report this
4 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
dirac 5
@3 I'd like technical evidence (papers, links from tech blogs) that TOR is compromised if used properly.
Posted by dirac on April 8, 2011 at 12:02 AM · Report this
dirac 6
I hope Applebaum is setting up a legal defense fund. I would donate.
Posted by dirac on April 8, 2011 at 12:04 AM · Report this
Thank God I read this article. Now I can get the NHL womans jersey I've had my eye on for $20 less! Who the fuck posts this bullshit???
Posted by MarioLePew on April 8, 2011 at 12:26 AM · Report this
I find ironic that people left Europe to move to "the land of free", and now who loves liberty should go back to Europe.

If I were Jacob I would have left USA since long.
Posted by gyorgy on April 8, 2011 at 4:50 AM · Report this
Where are the ACLU and similar pro bono civil rights legal defense organizations in this situation? The man is obviously being harassed at length by the US gov't.
Posted by Fed up with the feds on April 8, 2011 at 6:08 AM · Report this
Cry me a river. There are consequences for your actions. Maybe you should have thought about your junk getting grabbed before you helped leak government secrets.
Posted by bear etta on April 8, 2011 at 11:59 AM · Report this
@7 WTF are you talking about?
Posted by Frank Rizzo on April 8, 2011 at 12:00 PM · Report this
Packeteer 12
@5 If you read the change notes for past versions of TOR software they point out numerous bugfixes and patches for security exploits. I am not familiar with the speech at H.O.P.E. that was referred to in this article but it seems that the idea was the actual protocol has vulnerabilities in it at the base level. You have to consider however that any absolutely secure protocol will have issues with its implementation. Also theoretically there is no absolutely secure protocol, where there is a will there is a way.…

Also below is a guide how to unmask Tor nodes in which they were able to successfully unmask many. The guide includes screenshots and code to use. This is an old exploit but it goes to show there is always an attack possible.…
Posted by Packeteer on April 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM · Report this

Manning's treatment is not Nazi-esque. He threatened to kill himself and now he's forced to be without clothes for some period of the day. He isn't being subjected to his kidneys being removed while he watches. Shut the fuck up.
Posted by The CHZA on April 8, 2011 at 1:36 PM · Report this
douchus 14

PFC Manning has never threatened to kill himself. In fact, mental health experts who have actually interviewed him to determine if he is a harm to himself have stated he is not.

What he did do was laugh at the situation of having most items taken from him (sheets, shoes, clothes...) and note that a determined man will always find a way.

What is most embarrassing for the military and government is that what PFC Manning did is what all soldiers/sailors/airmen/Marines are tasked with doing: upholding the Constitution and defending our country. Whistleblowers, which is what he is, should be lauded while whoever in the military covered up the killing of innocents should be tried and found guilty.

Integrity is doing what is right, even when everybody around you is telling you it is wrong.
Posted by douchus on April 8, 2011 at 1:50 PM · Report this
man you white kids learn really late that the system will always win, and will always fuck you

you get taught that before you're a teenager where i'm from

watching shit cops instills a healthy amout of fuck-authority in ya at a young age
Posted by Swearengen on April 8, 2011 at 2:05 PM · Report this
dirac 16
@12 Thanks for the links. I'll check those out and I admit I don't have time to keep up with changelogs all the time. I was wondering about an inherent flaw rather than vulnerabilities and yes, I definitely realize that all of these tools have their weaknesses. Hopefully, I find out what they are wrt TOR from your links.
Posted by dirac on April 8, 2011 at 3:39 PM · Report this
dirac 17
^^by "inherent" I guess I mean design or architectural.
Posted by dirac on April 8, 2011 at 3:40 PM · Report this
#12, Packeteer, thanks for responding to Dirac, the epitome of infantilized self-importance.

#5, Dirac -- and probably aptly named for dimwitted paranoia, but not for intelligence level.

Why don't you get your head out of your candy butt and do a little bit of research on your own -- for a major change in your childish life?

I'm out to warn people, I'm not out to prove anything to the resident doucheys.

#13, The CHZA clown

Mr. Manning is a hero, something morons, draft dodgers and jackholes will never -- and like who cares, doo -- understand. He has been tortured for over 8 months, by sleep deprivation --- not allowed a decent night's sleep.

With idiots such as you, one couldn't tell whether you are alive or dead.
Posted by sgt_doom on April 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM · Report this
"What is most embarrassing for the military and government is that what PFC Manning did is what all soldiers/sailors/airmen/Marines are tasked with doing: upholding the Constitution and defending our country."

What a load of shit. Manning was a child throwing a tantrum that threw not just the DoD, but the State Department under the bus. Watch the Frontline episode on him - he's no martyr.
Posted by Reader1 on April 8, 2011 at 5:30 PM · Report this
dirac 20
"in your childish life" Projecting, eh?

Go fuck yourself...I was asking for more than you offered, you can either give it or not. Or you can act like a fucking immature asshole. Looks like option C for you.
Posted by dirac on April 8, 2011 at 6:51 PM · Report this
dirac 21
@20 I didn't even read my original comment--had to go back and see if I was being over-the-top rude or douchey. NOPE! sgt_doom I am your confederate more often than not, BUT I was simply and earnestly asking for something more in depth than what you provided NOT disputing what you said. Try not being a dick sometime.
Posted by dirac on April 8, 2011 at 6:55 PM · Report this
im sad to see the USA making this shit, the real enemy is the people who command the country not the "wikileaks" or "Al-Qaeda" .

wanna learn more about USA?? . see this amazing documentary : zeitgeist addendum / moving forward
Posted by I'm a stranger on April 9, 2011 at 1:10 PM · Report this
The system we are speaking of is in its dying days. One day, hopefully sooner than later, the oppressed will overcome the oppressors. Easily.
Posted by misgrace on April 9, 2011 at 3:41 PM · Report this

Could you please explain to us what exactly Pfc. Manning was blowing a whistle about? My understanding is that he had absolutely no idea what kind of information was contained in the secret documents that he stole. Even Wikileaks hadn't read the documents before they were released to the public.

Do you see the problem, here? There is an important difference between a journalist who puts herself at risk to report on a problem that deserves to be heard - and whatever it is that Wikileaks is trying to do...
Posted by ba on April 9, 2011 at 11:26 PM · Report this
@10 Why is the government holding such "secrets" ?
@13 Congratulations, your ignorance prevails!
Posted by Angsty on April 10, 2011 at 9:18 AM · Report this

Are you kidding me? They didn't know everything that was included in the cables but they obviously had a pretty good idea. To say that they had "absolutely no idea what kind of information was contained in the secret documents that he stole" is a complete fallacy.
Posted by Bagels on April 10, 2011 at 9:22 AM · Report this
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lorenbliss 28
Goldy's report on the sadistic treatment of Mr. Appelbaum underscores a point I keep repeating on my blog (Outside Agitator's Notebook, those of us who can immigrate to Canada or Europe should leave now before the U.S. permanently closes its exits.

The rest of us -- people like myself stranded here by old age, poor health and poverty -- will no doubt either die in concentration camps or be slain by the deliberately murderous downsizing of Medicare, Medicaid and other programs upon which our lives depend.

And no -- contrary to misgrace, the "system" is not "dying." Nor will it be overthrown: every one of the four historical prerequisites by which "the oppressed...overcome the oppressors" have been obliterated beyond any possibility of restoration. (These four prerequisites are (1)-ideology and analysis; (2)-leadership; (3)-mastery of technology; (4)-the support of a major foreign power. History proves that without ALL these prerequisites, any resistance movement is doomed.)

Meanwhile "the system" is merely doing what capitalism always and inevitably does. It is morphing into the savagery implicit in the core values of capitalism – infinite greed as maximum virtue; limitless selfishness as ultimate good – the final result eventually indistinguishable from what the Germans knew as Nazism.

And with the quasi-divine powers of surveillance and mass murder given the Ruling Class by today's technology, the resultant New Paradigm of governance – absolute power and unlimited profit for the Ruling Class, total subjugation and genocidal poverty for all the rest of us – could easily last forever: that is, until our species is extinct.

Indeed the genocide against elderly, disabled and chronically unemployed people is already underway in the form of cutbacks: the knowingly deadly elimination not just of Medicare and Medicaid, but eventually of all social programs: school lunches, food stamps, birth control, pre-natal care, public education, mass transport – literally everything that hitherto enabled lower-income people to survive.

Wake up, people: the United States is fast becoming the de facto Fourth Reich. Until we recognize the extent to which we have been betrayed (and the resultant magnitude of our powerlessness), hope is not "audacity" but imbecility.
Posted by lorenbliss on April 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM · Report this
lorenbliss 29
Sorry for the double post; I thought #27 was lost in the registration process, posted it again as a (slightly revised) #28, and have asked the moderators to please remove #27.
Posted by lorenbliss on April 10, 2011 at 11:25 AM · Report this
@ #21, dirac:

I sense some energy there --- which might be more constructively expended towards enlightening yourself, doing some actual research, reading and study into the topic mentioned. (After providing those two links, you should have been inspired to look further yourself, not be constantly spoon fed by others!)

My purpose here isn't to sweet talk you Sesame Street sissies, but to initiate cognition; get those synapses firing and neurons chugging along.

And BTW, my name isn't Dick -- it's Richard (that's pronounced Ri - shard).

O.K., di(ra)c?
Posted by sgt_doom on April 10, 2011 at 12:16 PM · Report this
dirac 31
@30, Whatever. Well, you may be named Richard but you're still being a dick. Though, you're a regular Tim Leary with your brilliant posting of links--inspiring cognition as if I need help (fuck you). You probably claim to have a high IQ although I am now assured that your EQ is terribly lacking.
Posted by dirac on April 10, 2011 at 12:40 PM · Report this
To add to the entire Wikileaks discussion and the entire extradition attempt to get Assange to Sweden it is important to consider the following.

Covered in that recent report released by the Fed (initiated from a Bloomberg reporter's FOIA request, and upheld in the court by an honest judge, thank goodness!), were trillions pumped out to foreign banks and foreign corporations by the Federal Reserve, to reimburse all that junk paper sold to them by the banksters.

Sweden's central bank, along with the Bonnier family businesses, also received some of those monies. Now, pretty much everyone involved with attempt to extradite Assange has either worked for, or is still financially connected to, those Bonnier businesses (e.g., Bodstrom, of the attack shyster firm, Borgstrom and Bodstrom, has his fiction books distributed by one of their companies, while the major so-called "witness" - the one now in Israel - has worked for several of the Bonnier publications, etc.)

Carl Bildt, also hot for Assange's extradition, is presently the Foreign Affairs Minister, but was the guy, who when he was prime minister previously, appointed present Justice Minister, Beatrice Ask, to his cabinet. It was Minister Ask who forced the re-opening of the already closed investigation of Assange (due to lack of any evidence, etc.)

Carl Bildt was a director at Lundin Petroleum during their involvement in Sudan at the time of the massacres and displacement of thousands of Sudanese occupying oil-rich lands. I'm sure Bildt is highly interested in shutting down Assange, and those Wikileaked US State Department cables which may just contain some interesting cables on Bildt and Lundin Petroleum.

Also of interest: the Swedish Security Police, SAPO, has a long-term working relation with the largest private security services (and private military company), G4S -- one might say that they've been structured together in their operations.

Now one of the two top executives at G4S is the former upper echelon guy at the DoD's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Jeffrey Starr, formerly of Goldman Sachs' Business Intelligence Group after retiring from the DoD.

Goldman Sachs, if I recall correctly, structured the takeover deal whereby G4S bought Wackenhut, where Starr had been an exec at, and brought him aboard as one of the top guys at G4S.

So, you got a top intel guy from the US (with familiar connections to former special prosecutor nimrod, Kenneth Starr, the nephew of the founder of A.I.G., Cornelius Starr) with possible connections to their state security police, a top government official, and numerous connections to recipients of financial largesse from America.

Sure sounds like a mighty pat situation to me.

Sidebar of note: Why is G4S connected to Wisconsin, California, Indiana and Georgia? When that Gov. Wanker was at the county level, he had previously attempted to privatize some of the guard/cop positions in their court system.

He laid off some people, and hired G4S people (then called G4S Wackenhut, but they've since dropped the Wackenhut from their corporate name). Important to note that the G4S manager hired had a criminal record!

G4S, along with the global banksters, has long pursued an agenda towards the privatization of all police and judicial systems worldwide. They've made some inroads in California, Indiana and Georgia, but thankfully due to another honest judge, were rebuffed in Wisconsin when it was legally ruled that Wanker didn't have the authority to privatize those positions.

Key connections: Bildt, Anna Ardin (elder witness and Bonnier employee in the past), Bonnier family corporation and businesses, Federal Reserve trillions, Thomas Bodstrom, G4S, Jeffrey Starr, Sudanese massacre, Lundin Petroleum
Posted by sgt_doom on April 10, 2011 at 1:03 PM · Report this
Perhaps he should invest in a urinary catheter.
Posted by Baconfat on April 10, 2011 at 2:03 PM · Report this
@Dirac #6 A legal fund doesn't help much when your opponent is harassing you extralegally.
Posted by nim_chimpsky on April 10, 2011 at 2:18 PM · Report this
#1 Manning, if proved to have been the leak, should be in prison for the rest of his life.
Posted by Zed Harwin on April 10, 2011 at 5:10 PM · Report this
Posted by treacle on April 11, 2011 at 1:39 PM · Report this
I just wrote the senator:…

What Jacob Applebaum is being subjected to is not only a waste of his time, but to the enforcement of our security as well.

Why detain or harass him?

If he has broken a law, then charge him with that.
If not, he should retain their rights and freedom, and not be penalized by the way he chooses to live his life.

If you believe WikiLeaks is a Terrorist Organization - then charge them with that.

Are we not innocent until proven guilty? Jacob is not being treated as such.

It is because of situations like these that the citizens of the United States learn to trust our leaders, and the supposed enforcers of our security even less.
Posted by Don Clark - Atlanta on April 12, 2011 at 8:33 AM · Report this
aardvark 38
Appelbaum, Manning, and all these guys are heroes for doing the right thing and openly sharing information. i have all the respect for your courage.
Posted by aardvark on April 12, 2011 at 1:42 PM · Report this
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40 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
This will all stop if he stops crossing the border. They can detain him all they want each time he crosses. You can have all the rights and freedoms in the US if you don't travel to foreign lands...he needs to stay home or move to Canada!
Posted by Annoyed on April 19, 2011 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 42
Since we will all sooner or later face prolonged interrogation, I suggest that after two requests to use the restroom are denied, peeing in a corner is an acceptable alternative.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on April 26, 2011 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Do the Marines still have Pfc Manning?Why does another branch of the Korporate Armed Forces keeping watch on a soldier?I take it the UCMJ trumps habeas corpus?Has anybody contacted the International Criminal Court?The so-called International Court of Justice?
Posted by 5th Columnist on April 26, 2011 at 5:17 PM · Report this
>Has anybody contacted the International Criminal Court?

It would be useless. USA do not recognize its authority. Like it does with many other international organisations and treaties, together with countries like China and Korea.

After all, if a country is perfect it does not need to recognize such organizations.
Hitler's Germany did the same with the Society of Nations.
Posted by zeby on May 4, 2011 at 5:55 AM · Report this

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