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White House targets WikiLeaks and LulzSec in cyber-espionage report

In Anonymous, Archive, Hacking, LulzSec, WikiLeaks on February 21, 2013 at 2:50 PM

gov't

02/21/2013

Amid a growing call for new cybersecurity protections in the United States, the US government has issued a report that reconfirms Washington’s interest in shutting down WikiLeaks and other underground information-sharing organizations.

In Washington, DC on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder unveiled a new White House report that is meant to address further the growing threats malicious hackers are posing on America’s computer networks and the information stored therein.

The presentation, made just days after a security firm released an in-depth analysis of a covert cyberbattle waged at the US by Chinese hackers, is only the latest in a series of actions from the White House being rolled out to target computer criminals scouring the Web for privileged information to pilfer and exploit. As with an onslaught of other recent administrative actions, though, the latest release out of Washington also serves as yet another example of the White House’s escalating war on information sharing: In addition to singling out the dangerous actors abroad that are attempting to uncover state secrets and private intelligence, the report put out on Wednesday also points the finger at the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and the group LulzSec — a now-defunctoffshoot of the hacktivist movement Anonymous who wreaked havoc on the Web for a span of several months in 2011.

US President Barack Obama has made numerous statements in recent months in which he addresses emerging cyberthreats from foreign competitors, specifically China, but the report released by the White House on Wednesday doesn’t stop with states abroad. Within the 141 pages of the publication, ‘Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of US Trade Secrets,’ the Obama administration includes portions of a 2011 report that discusses the dangers posed by alleged hacktivists groups, including WikiLeaks and LulzSec.

That sub-report, a product of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, was put together 16 months ago to warn Congress of the growing threats facing American companies holding onto crucial trade secrets and sensitive technologies that could be harvested from bad actors on the Internet. But in addition to the Chinese hackers who have managed to make international headlines this week on the heels of a highly-cited report, the publication warns that domestic parties could be acting as proxies for foreign intelligence.

“Cyberspace provides relatively small-scale actors an opportunity to become players in economic espionage,” the report claims in part. “Under-resourced governments or corporations could build relationships with hackers to develop customized malware or remote-access exploits to steal sensitive US economic or technology information, just as certain FIS have already done.”

“Similarly, political or social activists may use the tools of economic espionage against US companies, agencies, or other entities, with disgruntled insiders leaking information about corporate trade secrets or critical US technology to ‘hacktivist’ groups like WikiLeaks,” it continues.

Further down, the authors of the whitepaper attempt to broadly explain the hacktivism phenomena, citing WikiLeaks and the Anonymous-offshoot as examples of hacktivist groups orchestrated to harm the United States.

In the section ‘Possible Game Changers,’ the report reads:

“Political or social activists also may use the tools of economic espionage against US companies, agencies or other entities. The self-styled whistleblowing group WikiLeaks has already published computer files provided by corporate insiders indicating allegedly illegal or unethical behavior at a Swiss bank, a Netherlands-based commodities company, and an international pharmaceutical trade association. LulzSec — another hacktivist group —has exfiltrated data from several businesses that it posted for public viewing on its website.”

Exposing “allegedly illegal or unethical behavior” seems unworthy of administrative action on the surface, but when WikiLeaks or other groups are unearthing damaging facts about the United States, the White House is ready to respond. While unveiling the report this week, Mr. Holder said attacks targeting United States entities are posing a “steadily increasing threat to America’s economy and national security interests.”

The attorney general’s comments mirror a remark made by Pres. Obama earlier this month during his annual State of the Union address when he said, “We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.” Holder’s quip, however, comes at a crucial moment as it comes the same week that two accused LulzSec members have hearing in federal court week for matters related to WikiLeaks.

On Thursday morning, District Judge Loretta Preska told 27-year-old Jeremy Hammond and a courtroom full of supporters that she will not be stepping down at this time from the federal case against the young political activist, who’s accused by the government of hacking private intelligence firm Stratfor during a highly-publicized security breach in late 2011. Prosecutors say Hammond, an alleged member of LulzSec, hacked into Stratfor and obtained a trove of personal information, including personal correspondence between executives and thousands of credit card credentials belonging to subscribers of a paid service offered by the company. In recent weeks, though, it’s been discovered that Judge Preska’s husband, attorney Thomas J. Kavaler, was victimized in that very hack. Mr. Kavaler’s personal information, including his credit card numbers, were leaked in the hack attributed to Hammond. Despite this knowledge, though, Judge Preska said Thursday that she is reserving judgment in recusing herself from the case.

“The conflict of interest here is clear cut,” National Lawyers Guild Executive Director Heidi Boghosian said in a statement earlier this week. “Judge Preska is required to avoid the appearance of bias so that, even if she owned one share of Stratfor stock, she would be obligated to recuse herself. How can she be impartial when the case directly affects the man she wakes up to every morning?”

Supporters of Hammond say any conviction might be grounds for an appeal if Judge Preska stays on board, but given the current state of affairs — especially Thursday’s decision — a happy ending for the alleged hacktivist seems improbable. Moments before Thursday’s hearing began, attorney Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights told a crowd outside of the courthouse that Mr. Holder’s report from one day earlier suggests the Obama administration will go to great lengths to return a guilty verdict against Mr. Hammond and any other hacktivists.

“Just yesterday, our wonderful attorney general announced a new policy, a tougher policy, one in which he said we are going to make truth tellers — getting them — a priority,” he said.

According to Ratner, the latest maneuver out of Washington exemplifies the Obama administration’s ongoing witch-hunt for political activists who have engaged in activity critical of the US government.

“They already killed Aaron Swartz; Jeremy Hammond is facing 39 years-to-life; Bradley Manning, life imprisonment; and Julian Assange, if they ever get him out of that embassy and into a prison here, will face the same,” said Mr. Ratner, who works as an American attorney for the whistleblower site.

Last month, 26-year-old Demand Progress founder and Reddit co-creator Aaron Swartz was found dead in his New York City apartment from an apparent suicide. He was weeks away from standing trial in a controversial court case regarding his alleged theft of free academic papers published on the website JSTOR. After his death, Aaron Swartz’ father blamed the government in part for his loss.

“Aaron did not commit suicide but was killed by the government,” Robert Swartz said during his son’s funeral earlier this month outside of Chicago, Illinois. “Someone who made the world a better place was pushed to his death by the government.”

Interestingly, all parties mentioned by Mr. Ratner share one common bond in particular: they’ve all been linked in some regards to the WikiLeaks website. After his passing, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said with little explanation that Swartz had a relationship with his organization. As for Hammond, the Stratfor data he is believed to have compromised was later published by WikiLeaks, a group which has been in the sights of American prosecutors since even before the 2010 release of materials attributed to Army Private first class Bradley Manning — a 25-year-old soldier who has been detained for roughly 1,000 days now without trial. Assange, an Australian citizen residing in England, has been inside of London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for over six months awaiting safe passage to South America.

“What do they want to do? Put them up against the wall and just shoot the guys?” Mr. Ratner asked outside of the courthouse.

On Friday, Mr. Ratner might very well get his answer. Hector Xavier Monsegur, a hacker who famously operated on the Web as LulzSec ringleader “Sabu,” will be sentenced in federal court for crimes that preceded the Stratfor hack. But although Sabu’s rap sheet is long and his crimes arguably heinous, he is expected to be let off easy: according to court documents, he pleaded guilty back in August 2011 but has had his sentencing delayed because of his ongoing cooperation with federal investigators. In fact, FBI agents provided him with the very computer used by Hammond to upload the hacked Stratfor files just two months later.

“A travesty of justice,” Mr. Ratner said of the ordeal on Thursday, accusing the government of entrapping other LulzSec members by using Sabu as a confidential informant. That on its own is being considered enough reason by soon to shut-down the case against Hammond.

Since the start of 2013, Washington’s elite have relentlessly rolled out new attempts at prosecuting and persecuting alleged cybercriminals. On the day of his State of the Union address, Pres. Obama signed an executive order that will lay out the framework for a system of information-sharing about the government and private businesses. One day later, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Sen. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA — an attempt at formally creating those government-to-business links through federal legislation. Both lawmakers attempted to have CISPA be approved by Congress last year, but the bill failed to advance to the Senate before the end of the session.

In light of recent events, though, CISPA may have a new fate. This week’s report on emerging cyberthreats from China has garnered so much attention that the White House and Justice Department responded with their new strategies to protect trade secrets and intellectual property on the Web. Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and the president himself are advocating new cybersecurity laws almost to the same extent of the fear-mongering being spewed at the same time.

“This is clearly not a theoretical threat – the recent spike in advanced cyberattacks against the banks and newspapers makes that crystal clear: American businesses are under siege,” Rep. Rogers said when he unveiled his proposal. Rep. Ruppersberger added that all it will take is one national cyber-emergency and Congress “will get all the bills passed we want.”

Until then, though, it will be the courts that come down on hacktivists — not Congress. Meanwhile, those making enemies with the White House say they won’t stop. In a letter published by his attorney on Wednesday, Jeremy Hammond writes, “We the people demand free and equal access to information and technology. We demand transparency and accountability from governments and big corporations, and privacy for the masses from invasive surveillance networks.

“The government will never be forgiven. Aaron Swartz will never be forgotten.”

wiki2

Via RT

Jeremy Hammond speaks out from solitary confinement

In Anonymous, Archive, Hacking, Jeremy Hammond, LulzSec on February 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

jhammond

02/21/2013

The accused hacker condemns persecution of Aaron Swartz and others, while justice system flaws dog his own case.

On Thursday morning, the judge overseeing Jeremy Hammond’s trial for his alleged involvement in the famed LulzSec Stratfor hack refused to step down from presiding over the case, despite a reported conflict of interest. Hammond’s attorneys had filed a motion to have Judge Loretta Preska recuse herself from the case after it emerged that her husband had been a Stratfor client with data released by the hack.

The legal system is such that it was up to Preska herself as to whether or not to step down — she opted against it, and Hammond will appear in court in April with the judge presiding. The same judge denied the activist bail (he has been held in a Manhattan federal prison for over a year, regularly placed in solitary confinement) and told the defendant that he could face life in jail for his alleged involvement in the hack.

On the same morning Judge Preska announced that she would not be stepping down from the case, Hammond released a statement of his own through his lawyers. The tract decries the criminal justice system’s treatment of cyber activists, condemns government’s persecution of dissent and above all celebrates the work of the late Aaron Swartz.

In the statement, posted in full by SparrowMedia.net, Hammond writes:

The tragic death of internet freedom fighter Aaron Swartz reveals the government’s flawed “cyber security strategy” as well as its systematic corruption involving computer crime investigations, intellectual property law, and government/corporate transparency…

It is not the “crimes” Aaron may have committed that made him a target of federal prosecution, but his ideas – elaborated in his “Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto” – that the government has found so dangerous. The United States Attorney’s aggressive prosecution, riddled with abuse and misconduct, is what led to the death of this hero. This sad and angering chapter should serve as a wake up call for all of us to acknowledge the danger inherent in our criminal justice system.

Hammond’s words echo those of, among others, Swartz’s family and partner who blamed overzealous prosecutors and a flawed criminal justice system for driving the online activist to suicide over charges relating to downloading academic articles. Hammond sees Swartz’s case in the context of growing persecution of online activism and dissent under the dangerously broad Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA):

The rise in effectiveness of, and public support for, movements like Anonymous and Wikileaks has led to an expansion of computer crime investigations – most importantly enhancements to 18 U.S.C § 1030, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Over the years the CFAA has been amended five times and has gone through a number of important court rulings that have greatly expanded what the act covers concerning “accessing a protected computer without authorization.” It is now difficult to determine exactly what conduct would be considered legal.

… The sheer number of everyday computer users who could be considered criminals under these broad and ambiguous definitions enables the politically motivated prosecution of anyone who voices dissent.

The 27-year-old alleged hacker then frames his own case in terms of a “fundamentally flawed and corrupt” legal system:

I am currently facing multiple computer hacking conspiracy charges due to my alleged involvement with Anonymous, LulzSec, and AntiSec, groups which have targeted and exposed corruption in government institutions and corporations such as Stratfor, The Arizona Department of Public Safety, and HB Gary Federal. My potential sentence is dramatically increased because the Patriot Act expanded the CFAA’s definition of “loss.” This allowed Stratfor to claim over 5 million dollars in damages, including the exorbitant cost of hiring outside credit protection agencies and “infosec” corporations, purchasing new servers, 1.6 million dollars in “lost potential revenue” for the time their website was down, and even the cost of a 1.3 million dollar settlement for a class action lawsuit filed against them. Coupled with use of “sophisticated means” and “affecting critical infrastructure” sentence enhancements, if convicted at trial I am facing a sentence of 30-years-to-life.

Dirty trial tactics and lengthy sentences are not anomalies but are part of a fundamentally flawed and corrupt two-tiered system of “justice” which seeks to reap profits from the mass incarceration of millions, especially people of color and the impoverished. The use of informants who cooperate in exchange for lighter sentences is not just utilized in the repressive prosecutions of protest movements and manufactured “terrorist” Islamophobic witch-hunts, but also in most drug cases, where defendants face some of the harshest sentences in the world.

For Aaron Swartz, himself facing 13 felony CFAA charges, it is likely that it was this intense pressure from relentless and uncompromising prosecutors, who, while being aware of Aaron’s psychological fragility, continued to demand prison time, that led to his untimely death.

Following Swartz’s death, efforts have arisen to reform the CFAA. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) has proposed legislation, titled “Aaron’s law,” which aims to stop the government bringing disproportionate charges in cases like Swartz’s. However, as I noted at the time, “the structural problems plaguing federal justice go far beyond Swartz’s prosecutors and cyber crime law.” Hammond expresses similar skepticism about the effectiveness of such reforms when it comes to ending government persecution under the CFAA, which he argues must be “found unconstitutional under the void-for-vagueness doctrine of the due process clause”:

Due to widespread public outrage, there is talk of congressional investigations into the CFAA. But since the same Congress had proposed increased penalties not even one year ago, any efforts at reform are unlikely to be more than symbolic. What is needed is not reform but total transformation; not amendments but abolition. Aaron is a hero to me because he did not wait for those in power to realize his vision and change their game, he sought to change the game himself, and he did so without fear of being labeled a criminal and imprisoned by a backwards system of justice.

Meanwhile, following Judge Preska’s decision not to recuse herself Thursday morning, anger at the government’s treatment of Hammond is set to foment. In advance of Preska’s decision, Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild (which is representing Hammond) said, “The conflict of interest here is clear cut… Judge Preska is required to avoid the appearance of bias so that, even if she owned one share of Stratfor stock, she would be obligated to recuse herself. How can she be impartial when the case directly affects the man she wakes up to every morning?”

Hammond’s twin Jason said of Preska overseeing his brother’s case, “There’s no way he can get a fair trial in
her courtroom.”

Via Salon

Jeremy Hammond and the Broken Rule of Law – The Other Bradley Manning

In Anonymous, Archive, Bradley Manning, Hacking, Jeremy Hammond, Manning on February 19, 2013 at 3:08 PM

02/19/2013

Activist Jeremy Hammond has been held without bail since his arrest in March. He is accused of hacking into the computers of private intelligence firm Stratfor and giving million of emails to WikiLeaks. He has been called the other Bradley Manning. While Manning revealed government wrongdoing, Hammond is alleged to have leaked information from a private company, helping expose the inner workings of the insidious and pervasive surveillance state.

When he was 22, Hammond was called an “electronic Robin Hood” using hacking as a means of civil disobedience. He attacked a conservative group’s web site and stole user’s credit cards with the idea of making donations to the American Civil Liberties Union. His intention was in the spirit of taking from the rich and giving to poor. He later changed his mind and didn’t use the credit cards.

If he did what he is alleged with Stratfor, it was for the public good. Documents that he is alleged to have obtained and uploaded to WikiLeaks revealed spying on activists and others for corporations and governments. Furthermore, attorney and president Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner argued that the Stratfor hacking was a clear case of entrapment targeting online activist group Anonymous and Hammond. He explained there was an informant named Sabu and the FBI gave him the computer onto which the documents were uploaded.

Hammond now has been moved to solitary confinement and has been virtually cut off from all interaction with the outside world. On Feb 14, the Jeremy Hammond Support Network posted a message on social media that heavy restrictions were put on him. The Network reported Hammond now is not allowed any commissary visits to buy stamps for letters and food, as he does not get enough to eat. Now visits are limited to his lawyer and telephone contact is restricted to his brother.

His case is another example of the expanding unchecked authoritarian power in the justice system in general. Here Hammond appears to be following similar footsteps as Bradley Manning who also was placed into solitary confinement. Nahal Zamani, Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights argued how solitary confinement is a form of torture and is “clearly cruel and unusual punishment. Indeed, the use of solitary has been condemned as torture by the international community.”

Unlike Manning, who is subject to the military ‘justice’ system, Hammond is in a civilian court, which is supposed to follow the Constitution. What happens though when one is placed into jail outside of the public eye is that prisoners are more and more being stripped of their rights and treated inhumanely. Once they are behind bars, they become incognito, losing connection to the outside world. Inside the cage is a twilight zone where laws and conventions can be bent by those who are powerful, with little oversight or accountability.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of a deeply flawed justice system combined with an increasingly corporatized prison industrial complex. Prisoners are marginalized and many are forgotten. Hammond shared his personal experience as prisoner at the Metropolitan Correctional Center during Hurricane Sandy. He wrote how because of the storm, the Correctional Center lost power. They had no hot water or heat and prisoners were left behind with no phone calls, no visits and no mail. What was revealed was a callous system that abandons the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged. Hammond noted how as was seen in the Katrina disaster of New Orleans, New Yorkers experienced that relief came not from FEMA and government agency but from grassroots community groups such as Occupy Sandy. He ended his letter saying:

“Very frightening to consider what would happen to us prisoners – already disenfranchised, silenced, marginalized and forgotten – in the event of a more devastating natural disaster. There’s a universal consensus here – ‘they’d probably leave us to die.’”

In addition to this, the US legal system is more and more used to target political dissidents, especially information activists. In November 2012, Hammond was denied bail despite his attorney convincingly arguing that he posed no flight risk and assuring that he would not have access to computers. The prosecutor insisted he is a flight risk and Judge Loretta Preska held a very hostile attitude toward Hammond and stated that the reason for bail denial was that Hammond poses “a very substantial danger to the community.” Hammond now faces indictments against him for various computer fraud crimes which could amount to 37 years to life in prison.

Ratner addressed obvious conflict of interests with judge Preska sitting on the case against Hammond. It came to light that Preska’s husband worked for a client of Stratfor, whose emails Hammond allegedly leaked. Ratner spoke of how the mere appearance of a conflict of interest is enough for her to recuse herself, according to judicial rules.

Jeremy Hammond’s case is showing how broken the rule of law has become in our time. Like Bradley Manning, Barret Brown and the late Aaron Swartz, this is another case of a high profile activist being severely targeted by having the book thrown at them with generally specious charges. The courts have become part of a rigged system that favors corporations and those politically connected to them. One thing that these activists seem to have in common is that they actually never really hurt anyone and are driven by one of the higher ideals that this country has been founded on -that of a truly informed populace, while those that are politically targeting them regularly harm and exploit innocent people.

Holding those who abuse power accountable is becoming nearly impossible with the current system. More than ever, checks and balance will only come from the people. It was in response to a public uproar that Manning was moved from Quantico where he had been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.

This Thursday, February 21, Preska will make a decision on the defense motion to recuse herself from the case against Hammond and supporters plan to pack the courtroom to demand a fair trial. We all have to stay awake and support those who have passed the twilight gate, who are rendered invisible, marginalized from the rest of the population. A broken rule of law can be corrected through the vigilance and conscience of ordinary people; witnessing injustice and challenging it from all sides. We will be watching.

For information on the Jeremy Hammond Courthouse Support Rally, go to Revolution News!

Via Counterpunch

Anonymous: #OpFkLAPD – Peaceful Demonstration @ LAPD HQ | 02/16/2013

In Anonymous, LAPD, News, OpFkLAPD, Police Brutality, USA, USA, Viral Videos, World Revolution on February 15, 2013 at 9:46 PM

02/15/2013

 

Come on the 16th to peacefully demonstrate armed with cameras and a Guy Fawkes masks. Join us on IRC at irc.anonops.com/#FkLAPD and follow us on Twitter @FkLAPD

We Are Legion.
We Do Not Forgive.
We Do Not Forget.
Expect Us. 02/16/13

Related Link: White House Petition: Officially Classify the LAPD as a Domestic Terrorist Organization

The Ruthless War on Hackers and Whistleblowers

In News on February 15, 2013 at 5:39 PM

whistlblwrz

02/15/2013

At the height of the purported cocaine “epidemic” in the US in the 1980s, politicians and law enforcement officials felt something had to be done. What Congress did was to pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986: one of the most draconian, overtly racist pieces of legislation in US history. The law introduced mandatory minimum sentences, including an astonishing 5 years in federal prison for the possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine. What moved the law from the medieval to the outright racist, however, was the fact that in order to spend the same 5 years in prison for possession of powder cocaine, one would have to be caught with 500 grams of the substance. In other words, there was a 100:1 sentencing disparity between convictions for possession of crack versus powder cocaine. Expensive powder cocaine tended to be the drug of choice for upper-middle class suburban kids and white-collar bankers, while much cheaper crack was favoured by poorer drug users. Despite such a blatant discriminatory factor, it took 26 years to pass the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 which pushed the sentencing ratio down from an outlandishly racist 100:1 to an outrageously racist 18:1.

What does this have to do with hacking and whistleblowing?

A lot. At the most basic level, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 stripped bare any pretence that justice in the US was blind, or that the scales were calibrated so that no preference would be given to a particular citizen on the basis of race or socio-economic status. The law sent a loud, unambiguous message that there are two sets of rules in the US: one for those with power and social capital, and one for the rest. Thus, when it was widely reported in the wake of his suicide that the hacker and programmer Aaron Swartz was facing 35 years in prison for illegally downloading academic articles from the JSTOR system, it became clear to many unfamiliar with the case just how skewed the US legal system is, and the extent to which prosecutors were willing to go to “make an example” of someone whose greatest crime was downloading articles that academics provide to publishers for free, which are then re-sold to those same academics for a healthy profit. JSTOR itself did not wish to press charges, but the prosecution went ahead, with a computer hacker facing more years in prison for downloading journal articles about Emily Dickinson and film theory than any Wall Street CEO, Blackwater executive or corrupt politician.

When we speak of state violence, we tend to think of overt acts of physical violence against the body: the death penalty, police brutality or warfare being classic examples. Violence, however, is not relegated only to the application of pain, but can also include the limiting of physical and psychological freedom. As such, imprisonment is a significant act of violence, and is, along with the ability to take a life through capital punishment or warfare, a significant power afforded to states. Financial sanctions may cripple a person economically, but if they are still free to walk the streets, play with their children or engage in the many simple acts that make up the day-to-day existence of a human being, then that person still retains the core elements of dignity and humanity. I cannot believe that someone would be denied these for a quarter century for the crime of downloading academic articles; nor, for that matter, can I fathom the UK sending Anonymous hackers Christopher Weatherhead and Ashley Rhodes to prison for 18 and seven months respectively for the crime of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against PayPal, Visa and Mastercard. This, while the former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Fred Goodwin, walks free after taking home a salary of £1.3 million, while overseeing the biggest loss in British corporate history, £24 billion.

In addition to hackers we have whistleblowers, none more famous than Bradley Manning, who also faces the possibility of spending the better part of his life behind bars. Already confined for almost 1000 days, and initially placed in solitary confinement, Manning is accused of placing the security of the United States in jeopardy by providing classified documents to WikiLeaks. A portion of the information he leaked was footage (now known as the “Collateral Murder Video”) showing the killing of civilians by a US attack helicopter in Iraq. The irony is, were Manning a Chinese, Iranian or Cuban soldier who had exposed potential war crimes committed by his government, his solitary confinement and impending life sentence would be held up as evidence of the barbarity and anti-democratic tendencies of the “regimes” in question, and calls would be made for his release on “humanitarian” grounds. As it is, Manning (like Swartz) is being given the 1986 crack cocaine treatment by the US government: the threat of a wildly excessive prison sentence, at odds with both logic and law, for the purpose of crushing the individual in question.

If the message of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was that the poor and minorities needed learn their place in an America ruled by white elites, then what is the message being sent in relation to Manning, Swartz and the two Anonymous hackers in the UK? Much the same as in the case of crack versus powder, actually. While the US and UK make geopolitical hay out of their commitment to free speech and democracy, dissenters and activists must learn their place. They are useful to the neoliberal project in that they show that moderate dissent is tolerated; but once that dissent crosses the line and trespasses upon the sacred turf of corporate profits and military power, then action must be taken. If that means sending a man to prison for life for exposing potential war crimes, or driving a man to suicide for downloading academic articles, so be it.

anon

Via Counterpunch

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