Notes from the ducking stool: wget as evidence of guilt at the Manning trial


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And have you ever, now or in the past, used that tool of evil…GREP?!

(gasping, fainting, and eye rolling ensue)


Or, perhaps the Pure unadultrated evil of APT

(Queue the Thunderclaps, and the unexpected setting of the sun)


Nobody tell them about “curl”, their heads will explode…


[setting is federal prison]

“Hey bro,” cellmate asks. “What’re you in for?”

“Wget-fu, man…,” other cellmate replies. “Who GNU?”


Wait until they get to the emacs vs vim debate!

sudo apt-get install linux_competence

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Correcting dependencies... Done
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of linux_competence:
 linux_competence depends on linux_basic_awareness (=; however:
 Version of linux_basic_awareness on system is
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)



Do you now or have you ever exhibited a level of technical competence that would allow you to do scary things with my email machine?


That is probably exactly what they are doing but not for the reason being implied. They have to lay a basis to introduce evidence. If part of that evidence is showing that the wget command was used to download the documents in questions then they have to show that Manning was familiar with the command. The have to build a chain linking one to the other so they ask if he is familiar with the command and Cory Doctrow gets to write a FUD article. It all works out well for everyone.


Yes, creating Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about the wget command will certainly lead us to better justice down the road. Thank Gawd for that.

Cory Doctrow gets to write a FUD article.

Also, it’d be great if you could explain how Cory’s post is FUD?

BTW, it was Joanne McNeil who wrote the article. Oh, and Joanne McNeil was there at court and heard the tone of the question herself. Were you there or are you just creating uncertaintly and doubt out of thin air? (Ya know, with your very noticeably single-purpose account?)


There are some interesting background features in this; I wrote a post about it after it came up last year: - in summary, why worry about wget but not ssh or Firefox? I don’t know enough about the detail of the trial to be able to confirm that it’s simple hypocrisy but that’s the impression. Truth is the first casualty of law?


All the above was Greek to me.

ok, so you need to:

apt-get install linux_basic_awareness. 

and install per your os. linux_basic_awareness. is unavailable for ubuntu pre 12.04, any debian install, and arch. but! you can find a functional tar.gz at hope you know german! and how to compile!

linux. (oh, you were planning on installing something? hah!)


They might as well have asked if he knew what Firefox was since it does pretty much the very same thing as wget but isn’t so scriptable.



The topic claims “wget as evidence of guilt at the Manning trial.”

There’s no evidence of that in the article. The sole mention of this in the article is the following:

““Do you know what Wget is?” they interrogate a witness, as if it is malicious spyware and not an everyday command line program.”

That’s it. There’s no indication that knowing what Wget is is “evidence of guilt.” This is a witness, not a defendant. We don’t know what witness this is. It could even be one of the prosecution’s witnesses, and the question might be being asked in order to establish competence. There are no names here, neither the prosecutor nor the witness is named. And the “as if it is malicious spyware…” bit is entirely the author’s spin. If the prosecutors are really indicating that knowledge of wget is evidence of illicit conduct, then surely there would be followup questions along the same lines? But all we have is a hint, an intimation that there’s something wrong with this question, or how it was asked, from an author whose headline (“If Manning is ever released, he will re-enter a world ready to embrace him, advanced with the understanding to recognize his greatness.”) does not exactly speak to journalistic integrity.

So yes, I think Cory’s characterization of this small bit from this article as indicating that the prosecutors have used knowledge of wget as evidence of guilt, is quintessential FUD. There’s not enough information given to support the claim, what information is given is ambiguous, and the interpretation put on that information is questionable given the source.


Only with a crottling fork.

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I <3 single-serving accounts.

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Well, if he had used the Windows 7 search function like regular, non-terrorist citizens, he would never have been able to find those secrets.


That was Greek to me.

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There’s no evidence of that in the article.

I guess it’s all about perception then. Because I think Cory’s title matches nicely with the author’s account. Keep in mind, as far as I’m concerned, Boing Boing usually requires critical thinking skills. He made a ridiculous headline to match a ridiculous approach by the prosecution. If you couldn’t detect a tinge of sarcasm in the title, then it could be you’re being a little to literal around here.

entirely the author’s spin

So you were there at the court to discount her account or is this once again your own blind conjecture that she’s a spinmaster? She hasn’t given me any reason to doubt her account of it, but maybe you know something I don’t?

quintessential FUD

By introducing wget in that manner (as the author reported), it shows the prosecutor is brandishing and rattling the FUD saber. Cory and the author reporting on FUD isn’t FUD.

If you were there or have other accounts that show that wget was introduced in an innocuous manner, then I’d like to hear about it.