Wikileaks.org has claimed that it has cracked the encryption to a US military video in which journalists were killed.
In a report featured by the New York Times earlier this week, it claimed that the video showed an American helicopter shooting and killing a Reuters photographer and driver in a July 2007 attack in Baghdad.
Employees of Reuters were allowed to view the video on an off-the-record basis two weeks after the killings, but they were not allowed to obtain a copy of it. At a news conference at the National Press Club, WikiLeaks said it had acquired the video from whistleblowers in the military and viewed it after breaking the encryption code.
WikiLeaks said that it had released both the original 38-minute video, and a shorter version with an initial analysis. Subtitles have been added to both versions from the radio transmissions.
It said: “WikiLeaks obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. We have analysed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident.”
Commenting on the website breaking encryption, security expert Bruce Schneier said: “Surely this isn't NSA-level encryption. But what is it?”
Some comments on his page discredit the encryption, with one claiming if there was any encryption at all, it could have been added by WikiLeaks, or by the submitter before he/she ‘lost' control of the media. Another said that it was ‘perhaps possible that WikiLeaks obtained a completely unencrypted video, or the encrypted video and the key, and have made up a story about an effort to decrypt it, in order to protect their source'?
Speaking on a video interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed that it took time to break the encryption. He said: “We have a number of cryptographers and other security experts and other volunteers, so it is just a matter of going through the most probable passwords that something might be encrypted with.” He confirmed that WikiLeaks spent three months working on the material.