Archive - Apr 18, 2011

Late Versus Never

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Memo to HBGary and Bank of America: ALL THAT FOR LITTLE OLD US?

One of the things I plan to do over the next couple of weeks is visit some items that I really should have told you about, but haven't put into the column for various reasons. And of all the things on that list of items, none is more fascinating or more telling than the scandal given the nickname "Chamberleaks" by the few left-wing outlets to bother covering it.

Rembmer Wikileaks? It wasn't all that many months ago that Wikileaks was going to destroy us all, and Julian Assange was declared Public Enemy Number At Least Three Or Four. In the months since then, Assange is still free, Bradley Manning is rotting in an American torture cell without trial, and no new leaks, including a threatened one about Bank of America, have been made public.

But apparently, back in the day, the US Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America were shitting themselves over the possibility that we might find out what the fuck they've been up to behind closed doors. So plans were drawn up targeting Wikileaks and its supporters, including journalists like Glenn Greenwald and the New York Times' Jennifer Lee. Oh, and the hacker group Anonymous.

Now, here's the thing. You can like Anonymous, you can hate Anonymous. You can support Anonymous, or you can oppose Anonymous. But there are two things you have to be crazy or stupid to do with regards to Anonymous; fuck with them, or brag about fucking with them. Aaron Barr, a mucky muck at HBGary Federal, a computer security firm, fucked with Anonymous, and bragged to the Financial Times about it.

So Anonymous got about 50,000 of HBGary's e-mails, the plans to "Discredit, Confuse, Shame, Combat, Infiltrate, Fracture" its enemies were revealed, and Aaron Barr no longer works for HBGary. Whoops.

But don't think this is some kind of victory. Some progressive House Democrats called for an investigation, but you can guess how far that got. And all of this was on top of, and addition to, the corporate cooperation in the war on Wikileaks that we already knew of - Amazon, PayPal, Visa, etc. suddenly noticing that their Terms of Service had been violated. All this does is show a tiny fraction of the power the business community thinks it's entitled to wield in order to protect its interests. And who it sees as the enemies of those interests: unions, journalists, hackers, and Internet crusaders.

So if you're one of those moderates who feels a bit uncomfortable supporting people and groups that work outside the system, remember this micro-scandal, and remember how completely fucking rigged the "system" you expect them to work within actually is. Then maybe you can get off your high horse long enough to realize just what the conditions on the ground smell like.