A newspaper’s comment policy

Recently I stumbled across an article by the German news outlet ‘Die Welt’, titled “Virtueller Assange doziert skurril von der Leinwand” (Virtual Assange oddly lectures from the screen). This article was clearly just another part of the ongoing smear campaign against WikiLeaks and Assange. In a delusional case of what is best described by the XKCD cartoon shown above, I fetched my neatest politeness-costume from one of the lower drawers and wrote up the text cited (in translation) below—to the best of my knowledge in compliance with the newspaper’s comment policy—and finally clicked the ‘submit” button.

It’s a pity that this article contains some factual mistakes and just renders a somewhat emotional picture of the situation.

My main point of critique is this:
The (quote) “willkürliche Veröffentlichung geheimer Papiere [die] auch Menschenleben kosten kann” (arbitrary dumping of secret files, that may well cost human lives) was neither intended nor caused by WikiLeaks. The article unfortunately suggests the opposite.

Some Facts:
Initially, WikiLeaks had redacted the cables in cooperation with its media partners, so as to not endanger US-Government informers.

One of those Media partners, David Leigh (The Guardian) wrote a book in which he published the password to a file containing the entire set of unredacted cables.

A couple of months later, it transpired to the public that the encrypted file corresponding to the now widely known password was out there in the internet. That fact was publicised by Daniel Domscheidt-Berg in cooperation with the News outlet ‘Der Freitag’.

Many people then asked how the encrypted file could spill out into the net—but that’s not the point, since this is exactly what the purpose of encryption is:  the encrypted data (a worthless series of zeroes and ones) may safely be seen by anyone in public.

Some level of trust is a precondition for cooperation. Should Assange have anticipated that Mr. Leigh would be foolish enough to publish the password verbatim? Despite all venial technical nescience, anyone should know to *never* publish passwords, even less when they decrypt such critical data.

The best summary of this subject I’ve red is this FAQ:

Once accepted, this would have been the article’s second comment, the first one being the very much justifiable question “Soll diese Berichterstattung ein Witz sein?” (Is this coverage supposed to be a joke?).  About two hours later, I had another look at the site, and—big surprise—my comment was still not accepted. What was even more telling, it now stated “Die Kommentarfunktion dieser Seite wurde deaktiviert” (The comment feature has been deactivated for this website).

So what? Those rapscallions obviously do accept critique, as long it is not underpinned with facts. They’re clearly not worth anyone’s time, so its essentally a good thing that comments are closed. The single one that made it through actually does a pretty good job.



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