Earlier this month, the NATO Rapporteur (and we explain what that is) released a draft report addressing, among other things, the scope and impact of the leaking of the Wikileaks documents by Private Bradley Manning, the threats and actions by “hacktivists” (activist hackers engaging in “hacktivism”), including the hacker collective known as “Anonymous”, and what counter-measures NATO and other such bodies might take.
According to the draft NATO report:
14. The US government’s post-9/11 policy on information-sharing received the most serious blow when the “anti-secrecy” organization WikiLeaks started publishing documents of different levels of confidentiality. Its first major release (April 2010) was a video of a US helicopter shooting into a crowd in Bagdad in 2007 which killed 18 people, including two Reuters journalists. Shortly after, the release of 77,000 documents allegedly revealing the realities of the Afghan war were made public, as well as almost 400,000 secret Pentagon documents on the Iraq war. In November 2010, WikiLeaks published about 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables, which provided US diplomats’ candid assessments of terrorist threats and the behaviour of world leaders. Currently, the US authorities suspect that the material was leaked by Private Bradley Manning stationed in the Persian Gulf, who had downloaded the information from a computer in Kuwait. He then passed these files on to the “whistleblower” organization, which made them public.
One of the most prominent group of on-line hackers – Anonymous – led a campaign against Iran, Australia and the Church of Scientology. Their most prominent campaign, however, took off in 2010 after WikiLeaks had released the US diplomatic cables. In its on-line seven-point manifesto, Anonymous announced its engagement in “the first infowar ever fought” and named PayPal as its enemy. What followed were DDoS attacks against Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, and other companies that had decided to stop providing services for WikiLeaks (they used to administer online donations for the site), against the Swiss bank PostFinance, that had earlier closed Julian Assange’s bank account, and against the Swedish Prosecution Service. The group also attacked Amazon.com, which was previously renting server space to WikiLeaks.
In the very long report, the NATO Rapporteur (the person appointed by NATO to look into and report on the situation) goes on to say that “It remains to be seen how much time Anonymous has for pursuing such paths. The longer these attacks persist the more likely countermeasures will be developed, implemented, the groups will be infiltrated and perpetrators persecuted.”
Let’s repeat that: “The longer these attacks persist the more likely countermeasures will be developed, implemented, the groups will be infiltrated and perpetrators persecuted”
In response, “Anonymous” posted this message to NATO:
Greetings, members of NATO. We are Anonymous.
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In a recent publication, you have singled out Anonymous as a threat to “government and the people”. You have also alleged that secrecy is a ‘necessary evil’ and that transparency is npt always the right way forward.
Anonymous would like to remind you that the government and the people are, contrary to the supposed foundations of “democracy”, distinct entities with often conflicting goals and desires. It is Anonymous’ position that when there is a conflict of interest between the government and the people, it is the people’s will which must take priority. The only threat transparency poses to government is to threaten government’s ability to act in a manner which the people would disagree with, without having to face democratic consequences and accountability for such behaviour. Your own report cites a perfect example of this, the Anonymous attack on HBGary. Whether HBGary were acting in the cause of security or military gain is irrelevant – their actions were illegal and morally reprehensible. Anonymous does not accept that the government and/or the military has the right to be above the law and to use the phoney cliche of “national security” to justify illegal and deceptive activities. If the government must break the rules, they must also be willing to accept the democratic consequences of this at the ballot box.We do not accept the current status quo whereby a government can tell one story to the people and another in private. Dishonesty and secrecy totally undermine the concept of self rule. How can the people judge for whom to vote unless they are fully aware of what policies said politicians are actually pursuing?(Article continues below)
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When a government is elected, it is said to “represent” the nation it governs. This essentially means that the actions of a government are not the actions of the people in government, but are actions taken on behalf of every citizen in that country. It is unacceptable to have a situation in which the people are, in many cases, totally and utterly unaware of what is being said and done on their behalf – behind closed doors.
Anonymous and WikiLeaks are distinct entities. The actions of Anonymous were not aided or even requested by WikiLeaks. However, Anonymous and WikiLeaks do share one common attribute: They are no threat to any organization – unless that organization is doing something wrong and attempting to get away with it.
We do not wish to threaten anybody’s way of life. We do not wish to dictate anything to anybody. We do not wish to terrorize any nation.
We merely wish to remove power from vested interests and return it to the people – who, in a democracy, it should never have been taken from in the first place.
The government makes the law. This does not give them the right to break it. If the government was doing nothing underhand or illegal, there would be nothing “embarassing” about Wikileaks revelations, nor would there have been any scandal emanating from HBGary. The resulting scandals were not a result of Anonymous’ or Wikileaks’ revelations, they were the result of the CONTENT of those revelations. And responsibility for that content can be laid solely at the doorstep of policymakers who, like any corrupt entity, naively believed that they were above the law and that they would not be caught.
A lot of government and corporate comment has been dedicated to “how we can avoid a similar leak in the future”. Such advice ranges from better security, to lower levels of clearance, from harsher penalties for whistleblowers, to censorship of the press.
Our message is simple: Do not lie to the people and you won’t have to worry about your lies being exposed. Do not make corrupt deals and you won’t have to worry about your corruption being laid bare. Do not break the rules and you won’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it.
Do not attempt to repair your two faces by concealing one of them. Instead, try having only one face – an honest, open and democratic one.
You know you do not fear us because we are a threat to society. You fear us because we are a threat to the established hierarchy. Anonymous has proven over the last several years that a hierarchy is not necessary in order to achieve great progress – perhaps what you truly fear in us, is the realization of your own irrelevance in an age which has outgrown its reliance on you. Your true terror is not in a collective of activists, but in the fact that you and everything you stand for have, by the changing tides and the advancement of technology, are now surplus to requirements.
Finally, do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous. Do not make the mistake of believing you can behead a headless snake. If you slice off one head of Hydra, ten more heads will grow in its place. If you cut down one Anon, ten more will join us purely out of anger at your trampling of dissent.
Your only chance of defeating the movement which binds all of us is to accept it. This is no longer your world. It is our world – the people’s world.
We are Anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
(This message was posted on the AnonNews.org site.)
So, what do our readers think about all this?
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