Friday, August 17, 2007

CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia edits

From the AP via Yahoo courtesy of AlterNet:

WikiScanner revealed that CIA computers were used to edit an entry on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. A graphic on casualties was edited to add that many figures were estimated and were not broken down by class.

Another entry on former CIA chief William Colby was edited by CIA computers to expand his career history and discuss the merits of a Vietnam War rural pacification program that he headed.

Aerial and satellite images of the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were removed using a computer traced to the FBI, WikiScanner showed.

CIA spokesman George Little said he could not confirm whether CIA computers were used in the changes, adding that "the agency always expects its computer systems to be used responsibly."

The FBI did not have an immediate response.

More here.

So, yeah, this definitely violates Wikipedia's conflict-of-interest policy. I know that because I studied the policy pretty heavily when I was violating it myself at my university job in Baton Rouge. That's not what really troubles me. As the article observes, Wikipedia is, in the long run, self-correcting; their tens of thousands of volunteer editors will eventually catch any mistakes and correct them. What troubles me is that these moves by the two major US spook agencies essentially amount to psychological warfare waged on their own people. I mean, okay, every institution has to engage in some kind of public relations, especially given the media saturated environment in which we live, but this is very disturbing. Both the CIA and FBI have long histories of fucking with, even murdering, law abiding American citizens. This stealth-propaganda just comes too close to that shit.

I shouldn't be surprised. Sleaze is standard procedure for these two agencies. It's also worth noting that FOX News is pulling the same shit.