You Got the Wrong Guy, Mister.

 Posted on February 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

When Anonymous stole criminal-defense firm Puckett and Faraj's email communications, it claimed that the theft (and defacement of the firm's website) was "part of our ongoing efforts to expose the corruption of the court systems and the brutality of US imperialism," contrasting Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich's reduced charges with Bradley Manning's prosecution.

Haytham Faraj, of Puckett & Faraj, commented on Anonymous's theft:

Anonymous hacked into my business email account and stole over 3 gigs of email communications. Ironically, I am a supporter of Anonymous' declared mission of exposing corruption, injustice, hypocrisy and governments acting in secret. I also supported Wikileaks. I volunteered to defend Bradley Manning and did a 30 minute interview on BBC TV about him. Anonymous will not find a smoking gun in the Haditha emails. In fact they will discover that which I stated all along. Wuterich did not shoot or kill women and children. He was entitled to a defense like everyone else in a free society. By putting my emails in the public sphere Anonymous did not violate my privacy. There is nothing in those emails about me. It violated the privacy rights of hundreds, perhaps thousands of other people who were entitled to their privacy by publishing their personal email and telephone information, to disclosing private and personal information that clients share with lawyers believing that the information will remain private and confidential. I am upset by Anonymous' thoughtless acts.

Did Anonymous hack Puckett & Faraj? Someone claiming to be Anonymous says they did; someone claiming to be Anonymous claims they didn't:

The recent hacks of Puckett and Faraj, a law firm which defended the accused Haditha massacre squad leader, are actually not the work of Anonymous. Yet again, the corporate or government provocateurs at #Antisec have continued their smear campaign to ruin the name of Anonymous by using it for increasingly destructive action.

A side-effect of anonymity: anyone can claim that they are you. To distinguish, we'll call the person (or canine) who claimed Anonymous responsibility for the theft "Atticus" and call the person (or canine) who denied Anonymous's responsibility "Publius." Not for any reason other than that foolish people who think they're doing something important by writing anonymously online often adopt those monikers.

Atticus, claiming that he seeks to "expose the corruption of the court systems and brutality of U.S. imperialism," crows about the harm that has been done by this attack, not to the U.S. Government nor to Frank Wuterich, but to the lawyers and their other clients:

The contents of these email messages include detailed records, transcripts, testimony, trial evidence, and legal defense donation records pertaining to not only Frank Wuterich but also many other marines they have represented.And to add a few layers of icing to this delicious caek, we got the usual boatloads of embarrassing personal information. How do you think the world will react when they find out Neal Puckett and his marine buddies have been making crude jokes about the incident where marines have been caught on video pissingon dead bodies in Afghanistan? Or that he regularly corresponds with and receives funding from former marine Don Greenlaw who runs the racist blog We believe it is time to release all of their private information and court evidence to the world and conduct a People's trial of our own.

What a bunch of stupid petulant ignorant children. (Take it personally? Of course I take it personally.)

Imperialism is the policy of the US Government and corporations. The Marines that Puckett and Faraj defend don't make policy; they are its tools. If they get caught going overboard and violating the rules of engagement, the government has no compunction against hanging them out to dry. In fact, this is the government's preferred result-it can claim harsh punishment as evidence that crimes by troops are isolated incidents that are amply dealt with. Lawyers like Puckett and Faraj are the only thing preventing the government from continuing to exploit Marines like Wuterich for the ends of imperialism.

If the US Government had its way, Frank Wuterich would have been imprisoned and dishonorably discharged. This would have been a better result for US-Iraq relations, and for continued US public support of military intervention wherever Exxon and Wal Mart require it. So the US Government turned on its tool and attacked him. At that point, new battle lines were drawn: US Government vs. Wuterich and his lawyers.

That's the side that Puckett and Faraj are on: with the people and against the government. By attacking Puckett, Faraj, and the other people they defend, Atticus sides with and joins the United States Government. That's not "exposing corruption"; that's just piling on.

If Publius is right and Atticus is a government provocateur, Atticus couldn't have picked a much better gesture than to attack defendants and their counsel: it makes Anonymous look bad while advancing government policy.

But I suspect that Atticus is just a script kiddy who stumbled onto a vulnerability (Puckett's weak password, used for both website and email), exploited it, and then made up the justification. Hacking into the prosecutors' servers would have made an interesting point (as would stealing email from Marines who aren't being prosecuted), but hacking the government would be harder, and serving Marines who aren't being prosecuted have too many friends. It's so much easier to find some low hanging fruit, already unpopular with the public, and then pretend you're doing something important.

I am unimpressed.

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