Anonymous Declares War on the U.S. Government Following Aaron Swartz' Suicide
January 26, 2013 1:43 PM
Anonymous takes the fight to the U.S. Government
is steaming mad, and the U.S. government is directly in its crosshairs. The suicide of Aaron Swartz, an internet activist and co-creator of Reddit and the RSS standard, was the final straw which caused Anonymous to come out of hiding and attack the U.S. Department of Justice with all its might.
I. Aaron Swartz Find Himself in Legal Trouble, Eventually Commits Suicide
Swartz came under fire after he accessed JSTOR database with a personal laptop in 2011. Using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) data network, Swartz downloaded over 4 million academic journals in an effort to make them freely available to the public.
While Swartz had indeed compromised MIT's network and the JSTOR database, the Middlesex County district court decided that he wouldn't face jail time for his actions. The matter would have been closed and Swartz would have been "off the hook" so to speak, but United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz took up the case and things decidedly took a turn for the worse.
Ortiz decided to hit Swartz with 13 felony charges that could have sent him to jail for up to 35 years. Swartz would also be on the hook for a $1 million fine for his actions. In a
2011 press release
, Ortiz declared that, "Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”
With the U.S. Government breathing down his neck and with no outlet and no amicable resolution in sight to "humanely" resolve his legal woes, Swartz took his own life on January 11, 2013.
After Swartz committed suicide, Ortiz acknowledged that, “There was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal gain” and that his conduct “did not warrant the severe punishments authorized by Congress.”
Aaron Swartz's family released a statement shortly after his death that placed the blame for his suicide on MIT and the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office:
Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.
II. Anonymous Breaks Its Silence, Fights for Justice by Attacking the U.S. Department of Justice
This morning, Anonymous revealed its massive attack on the U.S. Government, culminating with the hacking and defacement of the website for the United States Sentencing Commission (for obvious reasons). Anonymous made it clear that Swartz's death was the reason for its latest actions:
Two weeks ago today, a line was crossed. Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win -- a twisted and distorted perversion of justice -- a game where the only winning move was not to play.
And with that, Anonymous laid out its plans to turn the tables on the government and in essence, give it a taste of its own medicine. In the letter, Anonymous declared, "The time has come to show the United States Department of Justice and its affiliates the true meaning of infiltration. The time has come for them to feel the helplessness and fear that comes with being forced into a game where the odds are stacked against them."
Anonymous has spent the last few weeks infiltrating government sites using injection code to gather a wealth of information that it intends to leak to news organizations. Although the hacktivists didn't detail what's included with the information they've gleaned so far, they note, "Everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public."
We have enough fissile material for multiple warheads. Today we are launching the first of these. Operation Last Resort has begun...
We have not taken this action lightly, nor without consideration of the possible consequences. Should we be forced to reveal the trigger-key to this warhead, we understand that there will be collateral damage. We appreciate that many who work within the justice system believe in those principles that it has lost, corrupted, or abandoned, that they do not bear the full responsibility for the damages caused by their occupation.
It is our hope that this warhead need never be detonated.
The first weapon is a file called US-DOJ-LEA-2013.aes256, which contains multiple "warheads" named after current U.S. Supreme Court Justices:
Anonymous plans to detonate its warhead if its demands aren't met.
The contents of these files has not yet been decimated, but we're sure that over the course of the next few days that we'll be privy to what Anonymous wants the world to learn about the U.S. Government.
III. What Does Anonymous Hope to Gain from These Actions?
Anonymous knows that its actions will bring forth a hellstorm from the U.S. Government; Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, has already stated today that it is "handling it as a criminal investigation." But Anonymous feels that changes have to be made to the way sentences are handed down for crimes that essentially are a "violation of terms of service". It calls for "reform of mandatory minimum sentencing" and "a return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused, and consideration of motive."
The inalienable right to a presumption of innocence and the recourse to trial and possibility of exoneration must be returned to its sacred status, and not gambled away by pre-trial bargaining in the face of overwhelming sentences, unaffordable justice and disfavourable odds. Laws must be upheld unselectively, and not used as a weapon of government to make examples of those it deems threatening to its power.
Anonymous ended its diatribe by simply stating, "This time there will be change, or there will be chaos…"
We doubt that the U.S. Government will simply roll over and bow down to the demands of Anonymous, so it will be interesting to see how many warhead detonations we'll see as we move on to another round of "WarGames".
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