DOJ Secretly Subpoenas Private Twitter Information On Suspected WikiLeaks Associates

Tyler Durden's picture

The DOJ, instead of pursuing actual threats to so-called justice, such as, among other, the fact that the entire US mortgage industry is based on churn-predicated fraud, that Goldman Sachs is an undisputed monopolist in the OTC market, and that JP Morgan uses its cartel power and FRBNY affiliation to control the commodity market, has decided to instead go after private user information on Twitter of all places. And while the excuse is that this is merely another expansion in the ongoing probe against that uber-terrorist organization Wikileaks (which as Salon's Glenn Greenwald points out is "doing nothing more than publishing classified information
showing what the U.S. Government is doing:  something investigative
journalists, by definition, do all the time") it may have actually crossed the line by subpoenaning private data from an Icelandic member of parliament, Birgitta Jonsdottir, a one-time associate of Julian Assange. Furthermore, it appears that Twitter may be just one of many services which have received the DOJ subpoena (Wikileaks suspects that Google and Facebook are two other sites that may have received a Wikileaks-related subpoena but have so far not disclosed it), but is the only one which requested that the original order be unsealed. Most importantly, the question of just who Eric Holder consider a potential "threat" is completely unclear, which means that pretty much anyone can be the subject of complete disclosure of data previously considered private.One thing is certain: if anyone has ever donated to Wikileaks via Paypal or otherwise, they are now likely a target.

The Guardian was on the case first, describing how Birgitta Jonsdottir learned that was the target of a DOJ subpoena:

A member of parliament in Iceland who is also a former WikiLeaks volunteer says the US justice department has ordered Twitter to hand over her private messages.

Birgitta Jonsdottir, an MP for the Movement in Iceland, said last night on Twitter that the "USA government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. Do they realize I am a member of parliament in Iceland?"

She said she was starting a legal fight to stop the US getting hold of her messages, after being told by Twitter that a subpoena had been issued. She wrote: "department of justice are requesting twitter to provide the info – I got 10 days to stop it via legal process before twitter hands it over."
Twitter would not comment on the case. In a statement, the company said: "We're not going to comment on specific requests, but, to help users protect their rights, it's our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so."

Most of Twitter's messages are public, but users can also send private messages on the service.

Why is Jonsdottir being investigated:

Jonsdottir was involved in WikiLeaks' release last year of a video which showed a US military helicopter shooting two Reuters reporters in Iraq. US authorities believe the video was leaked by Private Bradley Manning.

Adrian Lamo, the hacker who reported Manning to the authorities, indicated that Manning first contacted WikiLeaks in late November 2009 – a period covered by the request for Jonsdottir's tweet history.

In 2009 Jonsdottir invited Assange to a party at the US embassy in Reykjavik where he chatted with the ambassador to Iceland. WikiLeaks had recently published a secret report on the collapse of the country's banks.

"I said it would be a bit of a prank to take him and see if they knew who he was. I don't think they had any idea," Jonsdottir said last year.

However, as could be expected in what is now becoming an all out McCarthyist witch hunt, the circle of potential investigation targets is virtually unlimited:

Marc Rotenberg, president of the online watchdog the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) in Washington, said it appeared the US justice department was looking at building a case against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, over its publication of secret US documents.

EPIC 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.

"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," said Rotenberg.

Glenn Greenwald provides more information on what is being sought by the DOJ:

The information demanded by the DOJ is sweeping in scope.  It includes
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.  A copy of the Order served on Twitter, obtained exclusively by
Salon, is here.

It also appears that this latest escalation in the Wikileaks investigation has been going on for a while and that the Judge who served the orders gave specific instructions that services such as Twitter do not disclose the information to the subject of the witch-hunt. It is only a fluke that Twitter resisted and demanded to at least advise user of what is going on:

The Order was signed by a federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern
District of Virginia, Theresa Buchanan, and served on Twitter by the DOJ
division for that district.  It states that there is "reasonable ground
to believe that the records or other information sought are relevant
and material to an ongoing criminal investigation," the language
required by the relevant statute.  It was issued on December 14 and ordered sealed -- i.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.  A copy of the unsealing order is here.

Lastly, as noted previously, it is very possible that the DOJ is canvassing private information from far more services than just Twitter. And since the DOJ can use any excuse to find an "affiliation" between anyone and soon to be persona non grata #1, Julian Assange, nobody's private internet data is safe any longer. On the other hand, ever since Goldman, which de facto is the government, has a direct and very private look at Facebook's entire database, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. Again Greenwald summarizes it best:

And the key question now is this:  did other Internet and social network
companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) receive similar Orders and then
quietly comply?  It's difficult to imagine why the DOJ would want
information only from Twitter; if anything, given the limited
information it has about users, Twitter would seem one of the least
fruitful avenues to pursue.  But if other companies did receive and
quietly comply with these orders, it will be a long time before we know,
if we ever do, given the prohibition in these orders on disclosing even
its existence to anyone.

One thing is guaranteed: the DOJ, instead of actually going after real crimes, is using its vast power to go after the very core premise behind the idea of investigative journalism. After all, who will care about the real crimes perpetrated behind the scenes when the government makes a special-effects filled motion picture about a fake crime involving the 21st century's biggest "witch" spoon-fed to the peasantry on every single TV channel in 24/7, and soon in glorious 3D (using passive shutter glasses sold at Best Buy on one year layaway of course).

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TheGreatPonzi's picture

Talking about Wikileaks, I'm still waiting for the Bofa files.

Assange looks more and more like a fraud.

dwdollar's picture

Assange has done this many times before.  It's his M.O.  He will promise, wait, then release.  I don't think that qualifies him as a fraud.  Although, it is a foolish way of generating publicity, donations and support.

caconhma's picture

Marxist Obama and his Wall-Street & FED masters make America look more and more red like the former Soviet Union and today Red China. WOW!

Enkidu's picture

'...more like a fraud' ... hmm, I wonder about GreatPonzi and how courageous he would be. Would GreatPonzi take on the most powerful (well once believed so!) military power in the world?! Would GP be spitting truth about that vicious government - or that corrupt bank?! I don't think so. As for checking to see if Assange is a 'spy' well, we foreigners are supposed to spy on the US... just as the US spies throughout the world. Wasn't a spy CIA cell blown up in Afghanistan only a year ago? I thought the 800+ bases in foreign lands were there for spying. 

The whole roaring tiger is looking damned weary and damned desperate - not to mention damned damned broke!

Mad Mad Woman's picture

It's not so secret anymore.   DoJ is on a witch hunt. Whatever happened to the "real" DoJ? Still too many Bushites in there I guess.

centerline's picture

High time for some name changes... Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information, etc.!

On another note, I recall watching the movie "Brazil" when I was much younger.  At that time, the underlying concepts did not resonate (I was too young).  Rather, I was captivated by the "other worldliness" of the story and bizarre nature of that world.  What stinks is that I now see our world more closely resembling the world of Brazil more every day!

LoneStarHog's picture

YOU are everything that is WRONG with America.  YOU have to politicize EVERYTHING.  Get this through your THICK head:  There Is No Good Political Party In America!!!!!

The old DOJ examples:  Waco, Elian Gonzalez, etc.....

GET IT?????

LoneStarHog's picture

Yeah, go ahead and junk me, you goddamn political hacks!

Red Neck Repugnicant's picture

The DOJ, instead of pursuing actual threats to so-called justice, such as, among other, the fact that the entire US mortgage industry is based on churn-predicated fraud, that Goldman Sachs is an undisputed monopolist in the OTC market, and that JP Morgan uses its cartel power and FRBNY affiliation to control the commodity market....

None of this matters. 

The Tea Party and the right-wing of America sent a very strong message to Washington in November:


  • where is Obama's birth certificate
  • what are the Jeremiah Wright connections
  • is Obama a Muslim
  • is Obama really a modern day Hitler
  • why does Obama think homosexuals should be treated like other humans
  • is Obama going to kill my grandma
  • when will Obama learn that Depressions are best fought with austerity
  • When will Obama learn that we should always increase interest rates during depressions
  • when will Americans learn that survival-of-the-fittest, anarcho-capitalism creates a healthier, less corrupt society
  • are the American unions responsible for QE like Glenn Beck says they are
  • how are the rich going to trickle down their wealth if you take away their tax breaks
  • how are the rich going to give us jobs (like they did during the Bush years) if you take away their tax breaks
  • is Obama replacing the US dollar with a new world currency
  • stop spending money - especially if it doesn't benefit me directly.  
  • why does Obama care about the Gulf of Mexico and holding BP responsible
  • why doesn't Obama just let General Motors go away - our industries are strong enough 
  • why is Obama trying to make sure poor people get food stamps
  • why is Obama changing his rhetoric about the debt ceiling from 2006, when clearly the economy is the same?  There was no justifiable reason to cut spending in 2006, whereas today there is
  • how much time does Obama spend playing golf and basketball
  • how much does a trip on Air Force One cost
  • finally, just put someone in the White House that I can identify with, like Sarah Palin.  She might be a television-loving dingbat, but boy is she snarky!  And at least she's white!
Don't try and tell me that politics don't matter in America. Everyone of you right-winged hypocritical dingbats identify with multiple things in this list.  This list is all politics, and for those of you that recognize the lunacy of every single point that I listed, then congratulations.  


Rodent Freikorps's picture

One and done.

If Obama had a tramp stamp, it'd say, "Property of Wall St." and be in the shape of handle-bars.

King_of_simpletons's picture

But, these are hard hitting issues that matter to the ignoramus populace....

Kina's picture

Right wing?? You are insane...who gives a fuck about left or right wing?


Most here I imagine think both sides of the street are the same.


Must be full moon tonight.

Wynn's picture

Ignore the junks, its a broken system, just like the others.

As it is now (well, always has been) narrow minded hacks can diminish the words of another will the click of a button, and there is no recourse.

trav7777's picture

HUH?  God damn you people have sandy vaginas.

How does someone clicking junk diminish your words?!?!

Wynn's picture

fair enough. diminishes something though. just look at the long history of people offended by seeing a junk number under their comment. agree or disagree, saying someone's opinion has no value is not particularily productive.

Rodent Freikorps's picture

Don't sweat the junks. If you don't get a few you really haven't said anything.

Kina's picture


Biazze. Who in the fuck are you talking to? It makes no sense at all.

Blindweb's picture

Relevant, Glenn Greenwald's previous article:

Obama has brought in the same power elite hacks every time he had a chance to make a change.

centerline's picture

Totalitarian shift, full steam ahead...

sushi's picture

A very profitable business opportunity has just opened up. Duplicate a variety of Internet services but locate the servers within jurisdictions that are not willing to kowtow to US interests and become patsies er, extensions of the VOPO er, NKVD er, DOJ.

After all, the banking industry has done its part by demonstrating a prior model, miving its transactions to offshore locations outside US jurisdiction. And you do not hear government raising a squak about that.

And what do you want to bet that the DOJ is acting on behalf of the US Defense establishment and all the data obtained will be passed through and entered in that massive DOD profiling database?

chubbar's picture

Not really. The OECD (organization for economic cooperation and development) has spent years gaining access to the banking records of all countries that Americans do business with. Perhaps China or Russia still resists but you will note that Switzerland and Panama recently capitulated to the U.S. demands for banking transparency. This was done under the guise of fighting terrorism but in reality is just one more mechanism to control its citizens and access their private banking records.

The elites still do what they want with regard to banking and stealing as all of that is condoned by lack of prosecutions/investigations, hence the premise of this article that DOJ is ignoring the elephant in the room to pick fly shit out of the pepper shaker.

It always comes down to the fact that only a handful of people really protect the privacy concerns in any country and those people can always be identified, co-opted through bribery or threats, sometimes outright assassination in order to make them comply with the wishes of the empire called the U.S of A. and the hidden rulers pulling the strings.

What you are witnessing with Assange is a wholesale effort to intimidate, control and contain anyone, anywhere, who dares to challenge the facts put out by the establishment. They aren't going to put up with anyone distorting the reality they have so carefully constructed and conveyed to the masses.

sushi's picture

Agree 2,000% with your last para.


RichardP's picture

Primarily, they are looking for information that will support a charge that Wikileaks paid the Army grunt to steal the government files.  They want to prosecute Assange as a co-conspirator to theft of government secrets.  Precedent has already been established that he cannot be prosecuted for simply being in receipt of and publishing government secrets.  See the Pentagon Papers situation.

Secondarily, they are looking to intimidate anyone who would dare support any attempts to obtain government secrets or publish same - per the last paragraph in chubbar's piece.  They want to scare people badly enough that support for such activity drops close to zero  They will probably succeed in this, just because they can.

Thirdly, anyone who thinks their personal and banking information is safe from the governments gaze, even if it is not online, is mistaken.

Paul Thomason's picture

What a bunch of sad little schoolyard bullies this mob is, 'astonishing' as Jeremy Clarkson would say.  Too self-absorbed by their own importance to actually be concerned about using their powers appropriately for the greater good.  It is a sad reflection on the state of the US legal and political systems.

Maybe they could investigate the fraud going on a the federal reserve, whose actions now are genuinely starting to put lives at risk;


Phineas Gage's picture

OT - for those interested, Chris Whalen on Dylan Radio talking about BofA settlement:

apberusdisvet's picture

Who is the Government grooming to be the next Hitler?  Someone has to lead the new Brownshirts (SEIU, TSA).

Tic tock's picture

IF the War was going to be fought on American soil, then there would be a US Hitler. But since the War will be fought somewhere around the sides of the Himalayan mountains, he will come from one of those territories. 

Rodent Freikorps's picture

So, was Wikileaks nothing but a stalking horse?

That chick has a face for radio. She must be the Icelandic version of a Code Pink harpy.

Dan The Man's picture


Julian Assange is a hero.   Ponzi is a blind fool.

LeBalance's picture


As if the DoJ is in business to "go after" the folks that own it.

Broken thesis, first line.

Wynn's picture

"You are either with us, or you are against us" tells you everything you need to know.

But with means supporting/condoning the ponzi, the military industrial complex, and the crooks/narcissists running the show in DC.

37FullHedge's picture

I live in the UK and freedom of speach in many areas but mainly in race has gone, Its a criminal offence to be racist, If I was racist and acted against Blacks or Asians in a discriminationary manner in words or actions I could see myself in prison for these crimes, Sex discrimination is against the Law too, Heres the kicker The state has a State sponsered Positive discrimination policy, This discrimination is where Whites are excluded from things regardles of ability so Woman and Blacks or Asians get the posts on racial grounds, This Law only applies to Whites you couldnt make this crap up, The problem with such a totalitarian regime it cant have freedom of speach and Wikileaks is a beacon of truth, The point I am making is here in the UK you must be insane to say or do anything which may be spinned as racist and this development looks like the same thing regarding the internet making it insane to speak the truth even by private email

Clearly the world governments will take Wikileaks down but more Wikileak sites will be created this move exposed on this blog its possibly to prevent anyone daring to leak things to anyone.

trav7777's picture

thank goodness that blacks and women have been so historically prodigious in advancing society by technological invention and whatnot.

Diversity and multiculturalism are suicide.'s picture

Diversity and multiculturalism are suicide.


Diversity and multiculturalism are great things except when they are co-opted by the state. I want to live in a world where diversity is the norm. Each man is sovereign and has a right chose his own community, currency, retirement plan, medical plan, etc.

NotApplicable's picture

It's called the criminal justice system for a reason.

woolly mammoth's picture

Thanks for the 911 links from a previous post. Sadly informative.

Jerry Maguire's picture

It's malicious in effect, but not necessarily in intent.  Big government is clumsy.  Decision making gets concentrated at the top because no one else wants to risk responsibility.

Yes, they have much better things to do than troll around for wikileaks accomplices; the whole fiasco is quickly becoming yesterday's news.  One wonders why officials would want to prolong their own agony.

There's a principle at stake, if you want to call it that:  cross us and we'll get you.  We're more powerful than you.  You must bend to our will.

That's the language of empire.  And the American empire may be particularly short-lived:

Theme of the day:


bugs_'s picture

SOOOO Birgitta was involved with the edited "raw" video!  Aha!!

Fernley Girl's picture

Would you "go dark", or continue to use the internet?

STANFORD, Calif.--President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.

Read more:
Kina's picture

create an Internet ID for Americans

Big Brother * 1000


The US really is on its way to becoming facist state. I would be immigrating to Mexico if I were in the US. lol

pods's picture

Of course this will be for amerikans "security".  A happy, safe, cage.

They want to control the internet.  Jesus, we might as well start calling it the interlink.  And of course there will be no database.  And your SSN will not be used for identification either.  <rolls eyes>

Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. "I don't have to get a credential, if I don't want to," he said. There's no chance that "a centralized database will emerge," and "we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this," he said.


janchup's picture

I'm an old man. I remember the 50s and 60s when we'd react with horror at the cynical evil of the U.S.S.R. "justice" system....

trav7777's picture

Open source encrypted EM and we come.

In the meantime, DO NOT USE the services of any of the companies hosted in the USA, I guess.

DrLamer's picture

There is no thing called "THE TRUTH" on Wikileaks. Wikileaks - is simply a bunch of documents. Yes, some of them are usefull to FIGURE OUT THE TRUTH. But that is not the truth itself. And the volume of semi-usefull documents simply helps to hide the truth itself.

Mr. J. Assange! Be a honest man: give 10% of the money obtained from the wikileaks and PR around You... to the ZeroHedge site!  The truth is somewhere here, on ZH. It will be quite fair: ZeroHedge is under the same "supervision" of DOJ, ANS, FBI, DOD, GS, JPM .... etc as the Wikileaks.

O-o-o-ps! ... Mr. Durden, you are not Mr. Assang, .. or ... are You?!



Kina's picture

The worry for the world and the US here is not Assange, it is most definately the AG.


You have to worry when a super power expends a great effort to get some minor individual simply out of spite and malice.


The innordinate behaviour of the AG must send a big warning to all countries to not even to consider extraditing Assange, no matter what. He has no chance of a fair trial, in fact the biggest concern now is the US concocting a case against him.

Kina's picture

The banks got full control of the US when they assasinated Kennedy.

Only a matter of time now, unless Americans get the good luck of an absolute total economic collapse that brings about a reset.'s picture

The banks got full control of the US when they assasinated Kennedy.


The banks had full control long before that. FDR took America's gold and gave it to the Fed in 1933, fer crissake.

Motorhead's picture

Where's J. Edgar when you need him?  Wait, he's still around!