Operation Global Media Domination: The Barrett Brown Situation

Barrett Brown Busted

Barrett Brown Busted

That glum-looking fellow is Barrett Brown: author, journalist, YouTube extraordinaire (really), Anonymous member, and fameball. At that moment, he had plenty to look glum about, having been arrested on a small sampler pack of charges which quickly grew into a basket-crushing potential 110 years in prison for, essentially, shooting off his mouth on YouTube and passing along a link in an IRC. He’s been in pretrial custody with no bail for nearly a year, and he’s about to go to actual real trial as opposed to pretrial hearings, about which we’ve all heard too much lately, particularly if we’ve also been following Jeremy Hammond and Sabu, which we have. For a living.

Yeah, not exactly what the guidance counselor suggested in high school as a career choice, but oh well.

I’ve covered his case(s) several times for the Daily Dot and this blog, and today there was a hearing to decide if the actual trial would be the subject of a media blackout; in other words, Barrett is prevented from speaking to the media about any aspect of his case, or even any topic that might touch on it. Of course it went through, but of interest to certain inwardly-focused-lately bloggers the defence presented a strong rebuttal which included a list of the influential articles by and about BB.

And guess who wrote two of them?

Arrested Anonymous Activist Barrett Brown Sends Letter from Prison

Anonymous Spokesman Barrett Brown Faces New Charges

So, on the one hand it’s good to be a part of this. On the other hand, it sucks that the motion was successful and that BB now has to live in the most unnatural-to-him condition of all; the condition of not conveying information. A lot of people have wanted to silence him for a very long time.

Coincidentally (???) WikiLeaks released new SpyFiles, carrying on Brown’s Project PM work of watching the watchers. Nice timing there, Assange.

In unrelated-but-still-work news, it appears that the Syrian Electronic Army isn’t happy just going after news organizations, but is now going after individual reporters who report on them, even favorably. I got a solid tip that a journalist whom I will not name has had some trouble with relentless attempts to control his Twitter account, and of course I’ve been getting increasing numbers of phishing emails for months now, along with the occasional romantic advance from an African woman on Facebook. Today I found some spammer had managed to put yet another Event on my Gcal, which is just, let’s face it, annoying even when a) the time for the pseudo event (“lets be freinds”)  is already past b) I’m a Vancouverite and therefore my solid commitment to attend an event is zero indication of whether or not I will actually attend.

And, just to up the wordcount, I’m going to copy/paste some material that was cut from my article today. Gee, can’t think why.

Anonymous is having a Hamlet-like crisis of conscience over OpSyria, and there is a significant chance that it will end up costing actual human lives, however it’s decided in the end. We spoke to blackplans, a spokesperson for OpSyria, about what Anonymous has, what it will use, and why (for once) they are sitting on something which could very well literally destroy their enemies.

NYPA. The four most important letters in Anonymous stand for: Not Your Private Army, and they remind everyone that the so-called Internet Hate Machine is an unruly, anarchic collective that cannot be pointed like a gun at any target that takes someone’s fancy. Any Operation has to attract and retain enough committed, talented, and energetic people to accomplish its goals, which is why “totally getting back at that kid who was, like, mean to me once” is never going to become an Op.The decision-making process at Anonymous is messy, time-consuming, and self-selecting; if not enough good people show up, the Op fizzles and subsides and the people move on. It’s a natural, if messy process. But once you’ve got good people, they’ve staked out their targets, they’ve made their attacks, and you’ve got the MacGuffin (documents proving identity, control of a database, a botnet that can DDoS a website into oblivion, or as in OpSyria’s case: all of the above) there is rarely a moment of hesitation. You dump that file, you paste that dox, you fire your lazorz, and then you stick a press release on Pastebin and sit back and laugh as the victim flails helplessly.

Not this time. Here’s what is going down, and why, at OpSyria.

As we reported Tuesday, OpSyria, the anti-Assad operation which includes members of Anonymous along with some non-Anons, claims to have proof of the identities of five key players in the Syrian Electronic Army. Exposing those people, particularly if they happen to be located outside of Syria, would almost certainly mean their targeting and eventual death at the hands of anti-Assad forces, whether the rebel Free Syrian Army or a foreign government that involves itself in the Syrian civil war (as the US may do).

This isn’t hanging out with your friends in front of a Scientology center singing “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It isn’t sitting in your Mom’s basement DDoSing the Pope’s website.

Shit is very, very real.

[at this point you can go to the article to see the majority of the interview. The below and the above were not included]

Blackplans: I have been told to tell we also have evidence of collusion between personnel of the Syrian Embassy in Bucharest and a member of the SEA who resides in Romania. We have found statements by him online to this effect. “I work most of the interrogation .. figures Syrian embassy in Romania in front of you online. Call and ask.” Apologies for the poor translation, this was in response to allegations of disloyalty from another senior SEA member.

Oh, and I will just leave this here…

http://twitter.com/blackplans/statuses/374984867995717632

[presumably they don’t feel so bad about alerting Romania to the possible presence of the SEA operative(s) in their midst. I asked for more details and was told no, they couldn’t give them to me without completely doxing the person, and they didn’t want to do that. I suppose they just wanted to fire a shot across the bow of the SEA as a show of power]

————————————————————————————————————————–

There you have it: An Operation combining Anonymous and anonymous non-Anons is in possession of information that governments around the world have been pursuing for months. If they use it, those people will almost certainly die. If they don’t use it, what was the point of the Operation? To get to the point of pulling the trigger, and then to walk away instead? In a world at war, whether officially or unofficially, that is power beyond that of the state, of any Nation State. Are they ready for it? Is the world ready for it? Is this the end of the SEA as an entity, or will they double down on Assad and strike back somehow at a headless, faceless, stateless anti-organization? And what will they, or their enemies, do to those whose exposure has threatened the SEA itself, whether that information is revealed publicly or not?

It’s not too much to say that the fate of this not-officially-declared-yet cyberwar rests in the hands of Anonymous and its allies. And they do not leave fingerprints.

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DramaSec: The Power Ballads (now with 20% more awesomeness!)

Fabulous llama iz fabulous!

Fabulous llama iz fabulous!

You know what they say: politics is showbusiness for ugly people.

Ladies and gentlemen of #DramaSec, fans of flamewars, internet drama divas, and audience members: we at the ol’ raincoaster blog are proud to present the first-ever roundup of #DramaSec power ballads. If Music is the universal language (although Money is making a strong showing lately) then let the universe ring with the sound of our over-the-top and senseless interpersonal drama, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

Cue The Ballad of Brett Kimberlin:

And now The Adrian Lamo Blues. Not so much a power ballad as political hipster neo-folk, but who can resist a banjo, eh?:

The next one is hard. It’s almost impossible to determine which of these is more awesome, but for very different reasons. And I’m too lazy to look up how to code a table in HTML so they go side by side, so here it is in order of jaw-droppingness, from the lesser to the greater.

The RonBryn Song. You remember Ron, right?

And now, the musical apotheosis of the internet phenomenon known as #DramaSec. If you’re an impatient type, start it at 3:31. If you enjoy insidery jokes about countries to which you’ve never been, watch the whole thing. And do not doubt me when i say this is the apotheosis of awesomenosity. Words, my friends: They will fail you as they failed me.

Julian Assange performing an 80’s power ballad with updated WikiLeaks lyrics while wearing a righteous mullet:

Selah.

It is the East, and Julian is the sun...

It is the East, and Julian is the sun…

UPDATED TO ADD:

Plus bonus lyrics to The RonBryn song, courtesy of Elvira:

Open your web browser

Pretend you’re Neal Rauhauser

That’s one way to meet Ronbryn

He is a one man PRISM

Calls tweeting journalism (He does)

Though its just a lot of jizzim, Ronbryn

If your Mercedes is explodin’

You can’t find Edward Snowden

Who ya gonna call?

Ronbryn.

Barrett Brown, Julian, Patterico, Kimberlin

Troll ‘em all, fuck ‘em up

Ronbryn

You’re a sock

What a crock

Call the doc

What the fuck

SWAT ‘em all

Troll ‘em all

Ronbryn……!

Brett Kimberlin is plottin’

Another case of SWATing

Who’s he gonna call?

Ronbryn

He’ll tweet your misdemeanor

You’ll look like Tony Weiner

Tryin’ to humor Huma Abedin

Smearing smearing smearing

All the way to Barrett’s hearing

Ever thought of disappearing, Ronbryn?

OpFreeSnowden launches today

Snowden. Edward Snowden.

Snowden. Edward Snowden.

In an effort to bring greater awareness (if such a thing were possible) to the plight of now-stateless leaker Edward Snowden, Anonymous has announced #OpFreeSnowden, which takes the form of a Tweetstorm today, starting at 10am Pacific Standard Time. The stated objective, to “Take our PRIVACY BACK!” is clearly not going to be won by any action on Twitter, but in a propaganda war every little bit helps. The Tweetstorm package is designed and distributed in French and English, and signed by Anonym Hope and Anonymous Ekspct.

 

A scant handful of previous Anon-sponsored tweetstorms have been successful at trending globally, and with the widespread awareness of the Snowdon situation, this hashtag has as good a shot at the top as any Anonymous has ever launched. Clearly it will appeal only to those who support the ex-Booz Allen employee and his revelations of government spy programs, most famously PRISM and Tempora. There are no shortage of these; although surveys indicate the average American is content to give up the right to privacy for government surveillance, Americans also like a good David and Goliath story, and this one has one hell of a narrative.

 

EU nations banding together to pin the Bolivian ambassador’s plane and force it to land in Austria, on the off chance Snowden was aboard? No screenwriter would pen such a far-fetched scene. A marriage proposal from the most famous spy in the world? A legended white-haired hacker ensconced in an Ecuadorean embassy in deepest, darkest Knightsbridge, apparently pulling invisible strings? A flame-haired ingenue accompanying the leaker around the world and vanishing with him into the mysterious international zone at Moscow’s airport? And now, the internet’s most famous hacktivist hivemind, banding together to drive his name to the top of Twitter? Check, check, check and check.

 

The ground rules of a tweetstorm are simple: instead of retweeting the posts, you copy and paste them into your Tweet box, so that they seem to be original to you. Tweetstorms were developed in response to widespread Anonymous frustration that they could get hundreds of retweets but never, ever make it to the Trending list. With copy/pasting, they can. If you can’t think of anything to say but want to support the hashtag, they’ve already gone ahead and made up some tweets; some quotes from Snowden’s interviews, some simply statements of support. You’re allowed to make your own original tweets in a tweetstorm, the Tweetstorm Police won’t throw you off the hashtag, but the concept of repetition is important to the strategy: in marketing they say it takes nine exposures to make an impression, and Anonymous is counting on the power of repetition to get noticed.

 

What difference that makes to the fate of Edward Snowden, or the American people, remains to be seen. This is far from the last item in Anonymous’ bag of tricks.

Vince in the Bay Podcast: Disorderly Conduct – Hammond Plea Deal

Save Jeremy Hammond

Save Jeremy Hammond

Tonight I was a guest (one of a mob, really) on the Vince in the Bay radio podcast, talking about the Jeremy Hammond plea deal that was announced today.I didn’t do too badly, considering I haven’t slept since Sunday. Once again I think how nice it is to talk with people who don’t jump out of their skins when you talk about the coming revolution. Although it’s doubtful some of the more conservative people I work with will be thrilled to the very core of their beings at some of what I said. Take a listen to me, Vince, Subverzo, allshiny, Andrew “Panda” Blake, ShadowDXS, FuxNet, Hammurabis Code, Nicole Powers, Neal Rauhauser, and shokufeyesib.

If you want to see what the back row of the audience looks like at a podcast, you can scroll through the chatroom log. Enjoy?

DramaSec: unintended side-effects

The fearsome Goofy Elk

The fearsome Goofy Elk

One of the unintended side-effects of staring too long at a DramaSec op (previously known as Dramz, Flamewars, or Fucking Pointless Internet Drama Put Your Big Girl Panties On And Cut It Out FFS) is the contagion of the Derp Factor.

You have been warned.