While the anarchist, antiwar and information freedom movements focus their attention — rightly so — on Bradley Manning’s torture and detention for exposing U.S. war crimes, let’s also spare some attention for another hero: Jeremy Hammond.
Hammond is allegedly the main hacker behind last December’s LulzSec hack of Stratfor, a quasi-private corporate intelligence and strategic analysis firm with close ties to the national security state. As someone who used to regularly read their analysis (helpfully “pirated” and distributed by a subscriber on an email list I frequented), I can testify to its quality.
Stratfor, although firmly on the side of the bad guys, delivers brutally frank and realistic assessments of the strategic situation for the American national security community and for transnational corporations in need of amoral and honest situational analysis of the countries they’re planning to bleed, rape and pillage.
Stratfor analyses of geopolitical realities, like the coalescence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a counter to U.S. military hegemony in Central Asia, read like an Inner Party briefing for Big Brother on the balance of power between Oceania and Eurasia. Stratfor earns every dollar it receives from its paymasters.
LulzSec (and allegedly Hammond) hacked Stratfor’s intranet and publicized an enormous cache of internal documents, emails, and subscriber data. This was a near-crippling blow to Stratfor, as well as a revelation into the cynical terms in which the good old boys of the national security state discuss the world when they think the rabble who supply blood and treasure for their wars are out of earshot. No talk about “spreading democracy” and “defending our freedoms,” when the women and servants are in bed and it’s “just us men” sitting in leather chairs with their cigars and brandy snifters.
Of course the response of the mainstream press and establishment liberal commentariat is drivel, ranging in tone from scathing denunciation to concerned hand-wringing about Hammond’s “troubled past.” Some of it, like his marijuana arrests, only an idiot would regard as relevant to anything.
AP correspondent Michael Tarm calls Hammond a “dogged, malicous hacker,” based on an alleged online chat in which he “appears to delight in the damage he caused Stratfor.” In other words, he’s “doggedly malicious” against the corporate state in exactly the same way as Sam Adams against the British Empire and Nelson Mandela against the Apartheid. Hammond’s alleged exultation at the downfall of Stratfor sounds to me an awful lot like Americans cheering the staged pulldown of Saddam’s statue in April 2003.
Tarm may consider the Little Eichmanns in the CIA, Pentagon, State Department and Stratfor the “good guys,” and Hammond and LulzSec the “bad guys.” But that hardly makes Hammond a sociopathic caricature like Leopold and Loeb. Anyone who feels sorry for the Stratfor subscribers whose identities and credit information were publicized should bear in mind that these people included a former Vice President and a former CIA Director.
The FBI had better hope they’ve arrested the six people in the world with skills equal to the Stratfor doxing. I believe such skills are proliferating faster than their possessors can be arrested. The first large-scale doxing, against HBGary, occurred over a year ago, before Sabu was turned — and when who knows how many second- and third-tier hackers were learning under his mentorship.
If the FBI failed to eviscerate the human capital of Anonymous, then when they manage to regroup the FBI will be at the top of the list of institutions that should “be very afraid.” Security analyst John Robb suggests that security in the FBI’s enormous computer infrastructure is about as full of holes as HBGary’s and Stratfor’s. Imagine the goodies: Unredacted files on activists, new identities of participants in the witness protection program, etc. Despite this setback, I believe we’re headed for a near future in which another government agency or large corporation falls victim to a Stratfor-scale hack every week.
Villains and heroes usually switch places in historical accounts when a revolution succeeds. Today’s “insurgents,” “terrorists” and “traitors” become tomorrow’s “freedom fighters.” And today’s “leaders” and “patriots” become tomorrow’s tyrants and state terrorists. We’re in the early stages of a prolonged revolutionary struggle between self-organized networks and hierarchical institutions — a struggle in which I believe the forces of voluntary association and horizontalism are almost certain to win in the long run. And when that struggle is won, when the Pentagon is leveled and sown with salt and the NYSE is a manure storage warehouse, people like Assange, Manning and Hammond will be remembered as martyrs of the Revolution.
Stratfor is on the side of evil and Hammond’s alleged actions against it were entirely warranted. I condemn his arrest and prosecution.
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