Julian Assange Media Rollout in Anti-Promotion for “The Fifth Estate”


Julian Assange is stirring a bubbling cauldron of interest that could result in The Fifth Estate‘s coffers running over, with the fair-haired boy of cyberspece delivering the Midas touch for the box office gold.  WikiLeaks founder Assange has been giving interviews to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association which will be publishing them this week, ahead of the film’s release, RT Spanish “Behind the News” host Eva Golinger, and weirdly, ABC’s “This Week.”

Why is it weird that Assange spoke to George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s Sunday morning news show? Because ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company. Disney’s Touchstone is distributing The Fifth Estate, produced by DreamsWorks, which has a television distribution deal with ABC/Disney. Talk about corporate synergy.

Stephanopoulos announcing that Assange would be

 live from his London hideout

was a tad melodramatic, because we all know where Assange has been since June, 2012–in the Ecuadorian Embassy, 3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 0LS, United Kingdom, the building with all the nice policemen ringing it to prevent the easy-to-spot Assange from escaping and going…where, exactly?

Here are some highlights from Assange laying out his complaints about The Fifth Estate to ABC and RT. In both interviews, Assange discusses the government surveillance and the dangers to journalists who cover whistleblowing and report on leaks are facing. He also discusses his future, and in the RT interview, goes into detail about the asylum process, concepts of sovereignty and freedom, Google’s involvement with the State Department, the Obama’s administration’s exceptionally high record of prosecuting espionage cases, and that it is

a linguistic abuse to call speaking to the media espionage. Similarly it’s a linguistic abuse to say that WikiLeaks as a publisher, when it publishes, is conducting espionage.

Both interviews make for fascinating reading. In the interest of Fair Use, and because La Figa focuses on the intersection of politics, entertainment and pop culture, here’s what Assange had to say about The Fifth Estate in both interviews. There are links to the full inteviews, which I encourage you to read. First up, ABC’s “This Week,” from their transcripts:

There was no approach to us by DreamWorks, in any formal capacity whatsoever, other than an informal approach by Benedict Cumberbatch just days before shooting began.

This is a film that is based upon my life’s work, the work of my organization; we have people in extremely serious situations. [UK citizen] Sarah Harrison, who accompanied Edward Snowden out of Hong Kong, now effectively in exile in Russia because of the terrorism investigation here.

We have (inaudible) an alleged media source, the 25 organizations including ours up for sentencing in under a month’s time, an ongoing grand jury investigation.

But what are the responsibilities for ethical filmmaking in that context? None of the suggested changes that we sent to participant media ended up even in the final text of the film. But there’s been a big cashing-in that has gone on….

This is a rich organization, DreamWorks. It’s making a lot of money and tries — is continuing to make a lot of money from this process. But none of — there’s no contribution to our defense fund, to the defense fund of our sources and so on.

Assange’s RT interview with Eva Golinger is a must-read. And yes, he is driving the conversation about the film, taking control of the PR. And insuring that once people have seen it–and they will, due in part of Assange’s PR blitz–they’ll be able to learn much more about WikiLeaks and its founder. Here’s what he had to say to RT about The Fifth Estate in response to Eva Golinger’s asking if the film is an attempt to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks:

I know the book that it was based on. The books were definitely an attempt to do precisely that. DreamWorks has picked the two most discredited libellous books out of dozens of books available for it to pick. But it’s coming out of a particular milieu about.. within Hollywood and that constraints, it seems, what scripts can be written and what things would get distribution. I don’t know if that was the intent of the filmmakers. It’s certainly the result, but it’s been doing quite poorly in the reviews.

I think the information we have published about it was pretty successful in knocking out any view that is inaccurate history. It’s interesting to see that in the America’s Disney, who’s responsible for the distribution there, has been putting up posters of me with the word ‘traitor’ emblazoned across my face*. You know, a laughable concept ‘cos because I’m an Australian, I couldn’t even be a traitor, in theory, to the United States. I mean it’s a type of libel.

I think ultimately people are starting to become immune to those sorts of attacks. There’s been so many as time is going by. And people who’ve been watching the WikiLeaks saga have seen many of these attacks, having seen that they’ve turned out not to be true. So I think our base is not going to be affected by the film.

More likely, WikiLeaks’ base will expand. Because as the film, which Assange so maligns, says:

If you want the truth, you should seek it out for yourself. That’s what they’re afraid of. You.

*A Google search shows there are several posters for The Fifth Estate. One shows Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange with the word “hero” across his face, another with the word “traitor.” The same is true for the face of Daniel Brühl who plays Daniel Berg, Assange’s  lieutenant who wrote the book on which The Fifth Estate is based.

Julian Assange’s Unhappy Letter to Benedict Cumberbatch

Intertubes pin-up boy Julian Assange is all sandy-pants about the upcoming film The Fifth Estate, and has been for sometime, judging from a letter dated  January 15, 2013 to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Assange in the Disney/Dreamworks bioflick. The letter was posted on the Wikileaks site yesterday and reveals that  the actor had approached Assange asking for meeting before the film began production. Assange declined, stating that while he was fond of Cumberbatch’s past films and would enjoy meeting Cumberbatch, but:

I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film…I believe you are well-intentioned, but surely you can see why it is a bad idea for me to meet with you. By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give.

Assange is basing his prescient review of The Fifth Estate on the source material, two books highly critical of  Wikileaks and its founder.  One of the authors, according to Assange, acted as consultant to the production. Assange points out there are far more truthful/favorable source materials available. Basically he calls Dreamworks part of the huge machine looking to break a cyber-butterfly on a wheel.  It’s all huge plot against him:

In other circumstances this vendetta [between Wikileaks/Assange and Assange's once-trusted lieutenant Daniel Domscheit-Berg, author of Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website] may have gone away, but our conflict with the United States government and the establishment press has created a patronage and commissioning market – powerful, if unpopular – for works and comments that are harmful to us.


The United States government has engaged almost every instrument of its justice and intelligence system to pursue—in its own words—a ‘whole of government’ investigation of ‘unprecedented scale and nature’ into WikiLeaks under draconian espionage laws. Our alleged sources are facing their entire lives in the US prison system. Two are already in it. Another one is detained in Sweden.

Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion. This film is going to bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads. It is going to smother the truthful version of events, at a time when the truth is most in demand…

Your skills play into the hands of people who are out to remove me and WikiLeaks from the world.

Reuters reports that Cumberbatch plays Assange as

rude, awkward and unkempt in the film.

At the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last month, Cumberbatch told reporters that while Assange would probably not like how he is portrayed in the film, The Fifth Estate is celebration of the Assange’s acheivements. In a July 2013 interview with The Guardian, Cumberbatch says that he was initially concerned that the film cast Assange–currently living in the Ecuardorian embassy in London to avoid deportation to Sweden on charges of sexual assault–as

a cartoon baddie…I think I may get my head bitten off by Disney for saying so, but everyone agreed with that.

Cumberbatch spent a great deal of time researching Assange and delving into the activist’s background and childhood in order to give a nuanced performance:

To have been a child in a single-mother relationship, being pursued around the country by an abusive stepfather who was part of a cult – to be taken out of any context where he could discover who he was in relation to other people – well, to then become a teenage hacktivist, and evolve into a cyber-journalist, to me makes perfect sense. And he’s still a runaway today. I find that profoundly moving.

If you like spoilers, Wikileaks posted a copy of the film’s script on September 18, 2013.  The Fifth Estate opens October 18, and Asssange’s letter makes me want to see it now more than ever. I wonder if Dreamworks will send Assange a screener…

Anonymous Hits Syrian Govt Site: “World Stands with You Against Brutal Regime”

Anonymous computer hacktivists  landed on the Syrian government’s website (Monday morning 8/8/11 in Syria) http://mod.gov.sy/ leaving their logo and a message to the Syrian people in English and Arabic:

To the Syrian people: The world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Know that time and history are on your side – tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become. We salute your determination to be non-violent in the face of the regime’s brutality, and admire your willingness to pursue justice, not mere revenge. All tyrants will fall, and thanks to your bravery Bashar Al-Assad is next.
To the Syrian military: You are responsible for protecting the Syrian people, and anyone who orders you to kill women, children, and the elderly deserves to be tried for treason. No outside enemy could do as much damage to Syria as Bashar Al-Assad has done. Defend your country – rise up against the regime! – Anonymous
The hack falls in the middle of Ramadan. It was up from at least 9:30 pm west coast time and is still up at press time. UPDATE: By 12:30 am west coast time, the Syrian government’s site was not responding, either because of high traffic or because the government had pulled it down.

The logo of a torso with a question mark instead of head explicates the idea that Anonymous is a headless (dis)organization; there is no leader, as well as reference the Sixties motto “Question Authority.” Anonymous came out of the 4Chan pages, a NSFW image sharing site, and began their activism staging global masked protests against  Scientology and that organization’s abuses of civil rights. Since the success of that campaign, the WhyWeProtest.net aspect of Anonymous has expanded to embrace the uprisings in Iran and fight against censorship and for free exchange of information. Many also take issue with what they see as oppressive copyright restrictions.


Anonymous hacks in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange included taking over the non-transactional pages of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal to protest the institutions’ refusal to process payments designated for Assange’s defense. The Swedish government website was defaced this year by Anonymous in support of Assange. Other government sites including those of Maylasia, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, and Egypt have also been attacked. And the Westboro Baptist Church was hacked.  Basically a bunch of people in an IRC chat room will discover they have an affinity on certain issues, recruit some other like-minded folks and go do something.  The internet–with the right tools–allows anyone to be anonymous/Anonymous.
Recently LulzSec/AntiSec, which emerged from Anonymous, have hacked into government and law enforcement websites, as well websites of security companies such as HB Gary, as well as Sony. A Portuguese man was arrested then released in the LulzSec investigation, while a member of the anti-Scientology branch of Anonymous in Sweden was mistakenly named by internet vigilantes as  Topiary, the alleged the head of LulzSec/AntiSec, after the arrest of a teenager in the Shetland Islands.  The English teen has been charged, resulting in a retaliatory hack of 70 law enforcement websites, compromising 10 gigabytes of information:

We are doing this in solidarity with Topiary and the Anonymous PayPal LOIC defendants as well as all other political prisoners who are facing the gun of the crooked court system.

The Syrian hack–which follows the hacks of other repressive states in the Middle East–is a major move for a  branch/few people/many (?) Anonymous, showing they mean srs bsns when it comes to freedom and democracy, and that for this bunch, their hacktivies are focused on more that just teh lulz. Other Anonymous activities include supporting the current large scale demonstrations in Israel and Chile, and  encouraging voting in Argentina’s elections last week.

(for a good, in depth look at Anonymous, check out this edition of The Stream from late June of this year. The Anonymous segment begins at 22:48 and includes a live interview with an Anon who explains the Anonymous philosophy and the hows and whys of Anonymous political involvement, as a well as discussion about new forms of democracy evolving out of social media and cyberspace.)

Looked at WikiLeaks? You Could Be F*ucked

Let’s hope we all look good in orange, because according to an extreme interpretation of the law, courtesy of some Air Force uptightnik, Americans who accessed WikiLeaks may end up breaking rocks in the hot sun for having violated the Espionage Act, according to the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News:

Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base issued startling new guidance stating that the leaked documents are protected by the Espionage Act and that accessing them under any circumstances is against the law, not simply a violation of government computer security policy.

It’s already a double bozo no-no many for government employees to download classified materials from the WikiLeaks web site onto unclassified computer systems, though the government has conceded that the WikiLeaks stuff is now public domain. However the AFMC legal office said:

Air Force members — military or civilian — may not legally access WikiLeaks at home on their personal, non-governmental computers, either. To do so would not only violate the SECAF [Secretary of the Air Force] guidance on this issue,… it would also subject the violator to prosecution for violation of espionage under the Espionage Act.

So no peeking at WikiLeaks from the library or the local copy shop!

And the Air Force added that family members can’t access the material either

If a family member of an Air Force employee accesses WikiLeaks on a home computer, the family member may be subject to prosecution for espionage under U.S. Code Title 18 Section 793.

Secrecy New points out

[I]ronically enough, the real significance of the new AFMC guidance could lie in its potential use as evidence for the defense in one of the pending leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act.  Defendants might argue that if the Espionage Act can be seriously construed by Air Force legal professionals to render a sizable fraction of the American public culpable of espionage, then the Act truly is impermissibly broad, vague and unconstitutional. (emphasis mine)

Exactly. There are probably many, many people in USA who have relatives in the Air Force  they’ve never met or even know they are related to.

Like, what–the Air Force is gonna trace all the ISPs that have gone onto WikiLeaks, get the names of the users and compare their DNA (both matriarchal and patriarchal) to every current Air Force member, civilian and military?  Doesn’t our military have better things to do?

[HT: FAS.org]

Anonymous Runs Operation Payback on Tunisia, Net Wars Heat Up

Websites run by the Tunisian government have been successfully targeted by Operation: Tunisia, a cell within Anonymous’ Operation Payback, in a distributed denial of service  action, which dropped this image and message on several government sites before the Anon-fueled DDoS knocked them offline. (Reminder: DDoS is illegal, and people have been arrested for it).

The message from Anonymous is to the point:

The Tunisian government wants to control the present with falsehoods and misinformation in order to impose the future by keeping the truth hidden from its citizens. We will not remain silent while this happens. Anonymous has heard the claim for freedom of the Tunisian people. Anonymous is willing to help the Tunisian people in this fight against oppression. It will be done.

This is a warning to the Tunisian government… It’s on the hands of the Tunisian government to stop this situation. Free the net, and attacks will cease, keep on that attitude and this will just be the beginning.

The sites affected include: pm.gov.tn, rcd.tn, benali.tn, carthage.tn, bvmt.com.tn, sicad.gov.tn, indrustrie.gov.tn, commerce.gov.tndouane.gov.tn and ministeres.tn. You can see screen shots of  some  pages here and here and here.

Anonymous has been assisting Tunisia dissidents with a strong efforts and dedicated actions, much as they did–and continue to do–in Iran responding to that country’s post-2009 election revolts, with codes, the manual mean of DDoS, and with spreading the word about what is happening in the country.

It is reported that many of the Tunisian DDoS-ers are based in that African nation, but with Anon being an Erisian global disorganization, there is help from around world with a bunch of people supplying code that helps Tunisians move past Internet filters and surf anonymously.

The country’s already tense situation escalated on after New Year’s Day when Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s  government blocked WikiLeaks, a Tunisian WikiLeaks mirror and media sites reporting on Wikileaks; several cables from Embassy Tunis released by Wikileaks going as far back as 2008 were highly critical of the Tunisian government.

Within nine hours of the government shutting down access to Wikileaks, numerous sites linked to the government were decorated with Anonymous/Operation: Tunisia’s message, then knocked offline.

As of this writing many government sites still remain offline. Tunisian pro-government hackers have returned the favor according to more than one report; Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, a university assistant, told Al Jazeera:

The government has cracked down on activists by hacking our emails, facebook and blogs. They have deleted a few pages in which I was writing about the public protests.

According to reports on Facebook, there have been dozens of injuries and at least four deaths in the recent spate of protests, though this is difficult to confirm.  Al Jazeera is covering the protests–which include police surrounding high schools and colleges to prevent demonstrations after

[A]bout 250 demonstrators, mostly students, attended a peaceful march on Monday afternoon to express their support for the protests in the region of Sidi Bouzid, a union source told AFP.

The march then turned violent when police tried to contain the protesters by firing tear gas canisters, one of which fell into a mosque.

Enraged, the protesters then reportedly set fire to tyres and attacked the local offices of the ruling party, the source said.

Because of tech issues centering around  DNS servers hosting governmental as well as business and media sites (DNS=domain name service, a hierarchical naming system built on a distributed database for computers, services, or any resource connected to the internet), some non-governmental sites have been unavoidably affected.

As pointed out in the Wikileaks cables, corruption in Tunisia is rampant, so Operation: Tunisia has also targeted Tunisian President Ben Ali’s wife, Leila Ben Ali and her extended family the Trabels are knocking off websites linked to the  family’s businesses.

In an egregious and morally reprehensible move, the government has cracked down on access to religious leaders and local police and officials are harassing Muslim men with beards. According to the Tech Herald which has done excellent reporting on the Tunisian situation:

One [internet relay chat/IRC] user explained how local mosques are only available during certain times of the day now.

“In the mosques we have not the right to learn our religion, we do the prayer, and they close the mosques,” a Tunisian explained to us on IRC.

“We have five prayer sessions a day. We go to the mosque, do it, and then they close the mosque until the next prayer. In the past there is Imam (religion man) who [teaches] people the Quran, now we have nothing.”

This is the second African nation which has been the focus of an Anonymous DDoS action; in late December Anon instigated a DDoS-ing of  a complete takedown of the ZANU-PF website, the Zimbabwean government portal, and the Zimbabwean Finance Ministry website, as well as posting their message on Finance Ministry website, stripping all other news content and offering a message that said simply:

We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

Exclusive! Wikileaks to Reveal Inside Info on Santa Claus!

Wikileaks has threatened to reveal the top secret methods NORAD uses to track Santa Claus across the globe and also claims to have the documentation about who Santa really is, how he fits down the chimneys, what he does if you don’t have a chimney, and most shockingly, how exactly Santa knows if you’ve been naughty or nice.

An unnamed government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, though denying s/he is part of Anonymous, says that these revelations could spark a huge global unrest and provoke children worldwide into an uprising against their parents, while potentially driving major retailers and multinational neo-feudal states like WalMart, Target and IKEA into bankruptcy as well as undermining the economies and manufacturing bases of countries like China.

If the truth about Santa comes out, we’re fucked!

said the official while stuffing lumps of coal in Administration staffers stockings.

Gawker Hacked Email, How Timely. EPIC: Assange To Be Freed on Bail Just in Time to Check his OKCupid Profile?!

Detail: Pelligrini, Venus and Cupid

On the 12th day or so before Christmas, I awoke to learn Gawker’s egg had been cracked. Luckily it hadn’t occurred to me to sign up on their social media site–I didn’t know they had one, and besides not my tpyes once I looked–and by then their dating section had been up for days. With tags and stuff.

The media-multipager achieved a gnostic epiphany when  it was finally revealed on 12/13/2010 that

Ooops! There are lots worse things than a bunch of people going to your site to see if it’s still up and then causing it to crash.

The social engineering aspect is really interesting. I wonder how many people have been checking Assange’s profile on OkCupid? Take a look at Boucher’s Cupid Held Captive.  Because Julian won’t be posing for it anytime soon. He’ll be staying on a nice big piece of property. Maybe.

WikiLeaks’ dude ordered freed on bail, over $300K to be put on sureity, with plenty of conditions, Guardian and Alexi Mostrous report. Judge allowed Tweeting in court. Heather Brooke reported:

newsbrooke Heather Brooke
In an amazing nod to the fact we live in digital age, judge has said we can tweet #assange. So I will be along w @AlexiMostrous
surrender passport, stay at manor house, curfew from 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am
Geoffrey Robertson qc: “it’s not so much a house arrest as a manor arrest.” #assange house 10 bedrooms surrounded by 600 acres in Suffolk.

Once the money hits the courts, Assange could soon be free to move about the Internet. Though the prosecutor had two hours to appeal. Which they’ve done!

Humboldt: You’ve Got to Dig from Week to Week to Get Results or Roses

Someone got kinda mad at me for writing about Paul Gallegos winning the Humboldt County Attorney’s race, an online writer named Rose who is virulently anti-Gallegos. On December 5, a week after I wrote the post about Gallegos’ win, Rose threw down cranky, ad hominem, gritty sandpaper neener epithets, which were pretty funny.

Despicable propagandist

is snappy, fer shur. But not as cool (nor anywhere as accurate) as when I was called a

voodoo hussy.

And that was to my face, in real life.

Still, nice use of the Word-of-the Day Calendar! Frankly I think


would have been a lot cleverer. And one must keep in mind that propaganda is in the eyes of both the creator/creatrix and the reader/s.

Because this article was up on FDL, Rose wrote

It really must be about right vs left after all. /(sarc)

I covered Gallegos because there things he supports that I support, things I like about him–for instance,  he says he’s heard of Big Flats, and he also says he’s never surfed the mythic surf spot, nor does he claim to know where it is. And that means something to a lot of folks in Humboldt.

Rose  complained that the comments were closed on my post. Well, the comments on all my posts close after a certain amount of time. That’s just what happens.

So anyway, Rose does allow comments on her page:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is enabled. This means your comment won’t show up unless or until it is approved. Shoulda done this years ago. This is primarily to limit the attacks on other posters. If you have something to add to the topic at hand, you should have no trouble. Thanks – and weigh in…

Gosh yeah, within moments someone did have something to add which was approved–someone who was more comfy posting anonymously:

Anonymous said…
She swallows. And i don’t mean koolaid.

Now that’s some weighing in on the topic at hand. Thar she blows!

(And when is swallowing a bad thing?)

Rose then posted her disdain for my lack of a university degree, making fun of my not having graduated college; mocked me like having had jobs and stuff; though by their fruits ye shall know them…grapes of thorns, figs of thistles? So Rose, seriously whatever.

My link alert, which is not super timely, and a friend in Humboldt who doesn’t really monitor watchpaul.org regularly, directed me over to Rose’s site Wednesday night, Dec 7.  I wrote what I thought was a very nice response, somewhat belatedly, but still…

Hi Rose. Posts on FDL close automatically after 48 hours; nothing cowardly about it, simply a way to prevent spammers and bots. Sorry you missed the window, but thanks for the linkage!

I find your views intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. You can read more of my despicable propaganda at http://lafiga.firedoglake.com.

which showed up after a mere three minutes.

And I posted about all of this on my Facebook page which got a lot of comments.  I thought in light of the current kerfuffle over anonymous/Anonymous, DDoS, WikiLeaks and Assange it would be timely on Thursday day to use Rose’s anonymous poster to illustrate a point about online anonymity.

Rose had posted the two following remarks after 9pm Wednesday night:

Rose said…

Lisa Derrick, You’re a tool. You got used here. You don’t know jack about the subject. You do your readers and yourself a disservice.

If this article is any indication of the accuracy of your writing, you ought to find another profession.

Did they pay you?

12/08/2010 9:08 PM

A few minutes later,

Rose said…

Tell you what, Lisa – open up your comments on that post. I’ll post the real facts. Then your readers can actually get a fair honest picture and make up their own minds – maybe they’ll prefer the fairy tale. But at least they’ll know the Emperor isn’t wearing any fine robes. Whaddya say?
12/08/2010 9:22 PM

Assange and personal commitments kept me away from watchpaul.org until Thursday night, December 9 when I responded between 6 and 7 pm, politely saying that again comments close automatically, but that I had made sure that people were getting directed to her blog as it is important to gain a variety of perspectives.

And then I asked her to define the “they” to whom she was referring. Because I’d love to know.

You’d think cooking foil companies would be subsidizing some bloggers–all that hat making!

My most recent response to Rose hasn’t shown up yet as of 12:27 am Saturday, nor have those responses from people who wrote me Wednesday and Thursday letting me know they have sent Rose their own views.

It strikes me that if one is going to moderate comments–especially after making an queried accusation of a sordid, scurrilous, damaging and  wrong nature–one should be monitoring and moderating comments for replies.

And if one is going to allow anonymous (yet accurate, though caged as a derogatory slam) remarks about a subject’s sexual behavior, one should allow for equally as rapid replies from those who use their names, pseudonyms and Anonymous covering.

Otherwise the blog in question just seems like despicable propaganda. But hey, it’s the holiday season and I’m sure Rose is really busy getting her picket signs ready for the AntiWin rally outside the Gallegos victory party.

Oh and Anonymous #1  of watchpaul.org: You’ll never have the pleasure.

For the record: No one I have ever written about has paid me to write about about them and junkets, tee shirts, meals, etc. don’t sway me. I did once write a piece about U2, Negativland, Fair Use and copyright. A while later I was paid before it was repurposed into a press release; the essay has also been excerpted elsewhere without recompense.

Hypocrite Amazon Now Hard Target in Peaceful Anon Protest

Hypocrite lecteur,—mon semblable,—mon frère!

Amazon took away the WikiLeaks server. And now the mega retailer is swimming against a tide of peaceful protests launched from couches, basements, dorm rooms, retirement homes, kitchen tables, and cafes–not unlike the old traditional coffee houses–Bewleys of Dublin, Lloyds of London, across Europe and into the New World–as a few hundred/thousand people support freedom of speech on the internets.

Amazon is currently the target of a peaceful online protest, what one droll wag on CNN this morning called

pranksterism, a protest for the modern era

Delightful Everyone loves a peaceful protest. Until the party van comes. Or the banhammer gets dropped.

What is really pretty disgusting is that while Amazon has no shame in yanking down WikiLeaks, they are certainly happy to sell copies of the WikiLeaks documents expose US foreign policy conspiracies. All cables with tags from 1- 5000

Which has readers pretty much asking:

Can I pay for that with PayPal?

I wonder who, if anyone, owns the copyright on those? The American people, since our tax dollars paid for them? Amazon kindly insure that We the People of the United States get our penny per book, kthnx.

Also, there is no attempt to close Amazon for a bit in a “WikiLeaks protest” or “attack.” This is not being orchestrated by WL, or Julian Assange, who is currently in jail and hopefully being taken very good care of. As one pseudonymous protester, the cutely named Coldblood, told Reuters:

It’s very hard to get hold of anyone from WikiLeaks. The only (person) you could really get hold of was Julian, but unfortunately he’s not available at the moment.

This is a bunch of people acting anonymously of their own free will, deciding whether or not they want to DDoS Amazon, or wherever. Whoever feels like it, on whatever “target” they feel like. Or not.

I have [srs bsns]/ L8rz

Also, just to clarify, WikiLeaks is not gay plot despite the tin foiled ravings of  Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis” for the conservative Christian group the American Family Association and Ann Coulter. David Taintor at TPM nicely breaks it down:

Fischer assumes that the alleged WikiLeaks source Private Bradley Manning was “at minimum” seriously confused about his sexuality. He then really stretches things when he suggests that Manning leaked the documents to wage war on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

In Fischer’s own words:

Regardless, he is a one-man argument for keeping open homosexuals from serving in the military in the first place. If the 1993 law – which flatly prohibits homosexuals from a place in the armed services – had been followed, there would be no PFC Bradley Manning and no WikiLeaks.Apparently Fischer isn’t the only one who feels this way. Ann Coulter also wrote last week that Manning’s supposed homosexuality is to blame for his alleged decision to leak the documents, calling him a “poster boy” for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

And if you have been poking around, so to speak, on 4Chan, you may notice the word  “fag” thrown around. A lot. That is British schoolboy slang, may the Captain rest in power. It kinda freaked me out at first, but then I recall reading Stalky & Company by Rudyard Kipling  when I was 13 and being sort of taken aback by the use of fag, and having to process it. Honestly it still kinda weirds me out. But considering Anon has been a presence attending and as marchers in Pride Parades, and has a queer, queer side, I have to just take a really deep breath.

So as of now, Amazon is still up, and Twitter is calling the waaambulance, saying they’re not blocking a#wikileaks, hoping Anonymous will play nice (or maybe the social network is just stalling to set out some honey pots), and has explained to MSNBC why #wikileaks is not a Trending topic

Sometimes a topic doesn’t break into the Trends list because its popularity isn’t as widespread as people believe. And, sometimes, popular terms don’t make the Trends list because the velocity of conversation isn’t increasing quickly enough, relative to the baseline level of conversation happening on an average day; this is what happened with #wikileaks this week.

Oh Hai, Sarah Palin! Lots of People are Anonymous: Thoughts from Cyberia

Many websites have a function whereby commenters can post anonymously. Recently on one, someone posted as Anonymous, posting with regards to me

She swallows

like that’s a bad thing.  At any rate, that person is Anonymous. On some sites, anonymity is encouraged; others prefer you have some sort of screen name, even if it’s Sokpppt7137.

Then there are consciously anonymous actions undertaken under the “leaderless resistance” of Anonymous, like the person who snuck into the public restroom of a hotel ballroom, carefully unrolled the toilet paper and stuck small pieces of paper with


and other entheta URLs on every few sheets, then carefully rolled the t.p. back up again before a large anti-xenu event began.

Pics or it didn't happen

Or the people who are protesting the actions of PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa and others against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

But what about when journalists mention which program/s a bunch of people are using to do a DDoS (distributed denial of service) on the above?  Or the program/s a bunch of people are using to pull a DDoS on Wikileaks, Anonops.net etc? Or entertainment industry sites?

[For the record--and this will prolly make some people all butthurt--I support intellectual property/copyright law; I also firmly believe that all  material in the public domain should be freely shared and distributed; I also support Fair Use.  Oh and from now on I am using DDoS and its lonely sibling DoS as verbs ( DoS: Denial of service, which is like a DDoS, but from just a solo basement or couch)].

It make me wonder who isn’t A/a/nonymous, especially when a tech aide to a politician–whose PAC website was allegedly crashed in protest of said politician’s very aggressive statements against Julian Assange–tells the entire world via ABC.com what program to use to continue the peaceful, but to some un-lulzy types, really scary and/or annoying attacks:

A SarahPAC.com technical aide said that the “DOS attackers, a group loosely known as Anon_Ops,  used a tool called LOIC (Lower Orbit Ion Cannon) to flood sarahpac.com.  The attackers wanted us to know that they were affiliated with wikileaks.org through an obscure message in our server log file.“

The tech emailed this screenshot to show what he’s talking about.

Um, wow. Thanks for the hi-tek how-to.

There are few things here that need to be looked at, aside from Rick Astley winning MTV Europe’s Best Act Ever with 100 million votes, which should have been a clue that the internets are srs bsns. The Delphic pythoness murmers:

Chester Wisniewski of Sophos wrote on September 19, 2010 when a number of entertainment industry sites were under DDoS over prosecution of PirateBay:

The people who are being lured into participating may not recognize that DDoSing is criminal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The fact that a few thousand people can bring major websites to their knees is a bit scary. There are rumors that some 4chan* members may be using botnets in the attack as well which introduces even more legal concerns.

No matter how you view it this is not a good situation. That a small number of people can hijack parts of the Internet is demonstrative of what could be done if a larger group, or someone with a lot of zombied PCs were to want to wreak havoc on more critical locations. It has been some time since large scale DDoS attacks have been in the news and hopefully it will be awhile before we see this again.

Zombie PCs! Transformers! Terminators! And Batman?!

On September 19, two and half months before Wikileaks spooged a weensy, glistening drop of their load into the Intert00bs, the Recording Industry Association of America was knocked off line for 21 hours. The Motion Picture Association of America, and BPI  (British Phonographic Industry, the organization supporting the British recorded music industry; thank goodness vinyl is making a comeback, or they might feel kinda silly about that quaint vintage monicker. Or not because they’re British.) were all DDoSed (and possibly DoSed). On November 4, the United States Copyright Office was the target of denial service attacks. Remember, remember on the 5th of November.

The September 19th denials seems to  have been prompted when at least one group within the entertainment industry hired their own personal army of one, epic fail guy Aiplex Software, to do a DoS  whose general manager Girish Kumar yakked to the media in a report published on September 8:

What we do is we see all those links on the net. We find the hosting [computer] server and send them a copyright infringement notice because they’re not meant to have those links. If they don’t remove [the link] we send them a second notice and ask them [again] to remove it…Generally speaking 95 per cent of … providers do remove the content. It’s only the torrent sites – 20 to 25 per cent of the torrent sites – that do not have respect for any of the copyright notices. How can we put the site down? The only means that we can put the site down is [by launching a] denial-of-service [attack]. Basically we have to flood [the site] with millions and millions of requests and put the site down.

And sometimes, well–Kumar admits there’s collateral damage:

At times, we have to go an extra mile and attack the site and destroy the data to stop the movie from circulating further.

Destroy the data? Wow, that’s kinda mean. Is Aiplex so targeted that they only destroy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Showgirls is safe?

So, basically, Kumar got all boasty, and the internets got toasty.  Pride goes before a website crash.

By the 5th of November it was  even more widely available knowledge that a program called Lower Orbit Ion Cannon was involved in the website crash.

Sarah Palin’s tech aide reported the crash as a DoS, which is technically, not so-technically and exponetially a different thing (Um like, I–who frequently forgets the skills necessary to change my FB profile picture–can  understand the difference, so it can’t be all that hard to grasp!). Possibly Sarah Palin’s unnamed, unknown and thus anonymous tech aide who mentioned  LOIC was correct and only one bot was doing the deed. Think about it. One lone  hackitivist maybe being a little disinformational?

Or maybe the aide (for ABC.com revealed the tech aide’s gender) was confused. But I can’t imagine anyone working for SarahPAC as a tech aide being unclear on the difference between the two. That’s what computer school is for.

But this brings up a rather interesting aside. There are bout 29,100 results on Google for “low orbit ion cannon” including the sublime

The news is hilarious right now I’ve never heard a news reader say “low orbit ion cannon” in serious news report before

to listings of torrent sites and other Pottersville-like places online where those so inclined ought be using proxy condoms  and/or be careful. Because for the last few weeks LOIC has been on some radars. And some versions might have cyber-cooties.

Wikileaks and Anonops.net were also hit by DoS. The Jester (th3j35t3r) is claiming the scalps, which he took using something he invented called XerXeS which is actually kind of silly name because even though the Spartans went anhero into battle and were slain, XerXeS lost the war. (Video of  The Jester using XerXeS ion Infosec Island currently inaccessible, but Google it. My tin foil is starting to itch)

The Jester has been promoting his DoS services for nine months, first as an anti-jihadist take down artist and now as a crusader against Wikileaks. In February, 2010 he told Infosec Island:

Regarding helping the good guys defend against such an attack[by XerXeS], I can guarantee that no bad guy has this in his arsenal yet, and no bad guy will ever get it from me. I have not been approached directly by any sec/mil/spook types, but if that happens I would be glad to help out. Preferably, they would approach me with a signed immunity from prosecution document. I am not going to just throw myself to the wolves.

During the first phase of Wikileaks getting DoS’ed last week, this interesting story popped up featuring The Jester, an alleged police raid, fake accounts and a whole lot of supah spai cloaking daggers ( ic whut u did ther?). He also talked about Wikileaks’ insurance file.  That made my head hurt.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Anonymous posted a blog setting out its aims as campaiging for free speech

Hello World. We are Anonymous. What you do or do not know about us is irrelevant. We have decided to write to you, the media, and all citizens of the free world at large to inform you of the message, our intentions, potential targets, and our ongoing peaceful campaign for freedom.

The message is simple: freedom of speech. Anonymous is peacefully campaigning for freedom of speech everywhere in all forms. Freedom of speech for: the internet, for journalism and journalists, and citizens of the world at large. Regardless of what you think or have to say; Anonymous is campaigning for you.

And just now on CNN, Bearded Tech Guy told Kyra Philips that DDoS, downloading a programming is

volunteering if you will, to be part of the attack…pranksterism, protest for the modern era

Merry merry! Tis the season!

*[4Chan is a website/forum, founded by Christopher Moot Poole, who just scored a gianormous gig as a venture advisor with Leher Ventures, a rilly big deal in Cyberia. 4Chan as no "members." 4Chan is a very big, like a virtual city, but with words and pictures, some NSFW, and you can find all sorts of things to do or fap to. Do what thou wilt. Or you can move along, nothing here to see. But lots that cannot be unseen.]

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