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article imageOp-Ed: Jeremy Hammond, hero of the resistance Special

By Justin King     Nov 18, 2013 in World
Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in the massive Startfor leak in 2011. His trial was little more than a show for the public. The importance of the millions of emails released by Hammond is still not completely understood.
Hammond’s Christmas present to the world in 2011 was the hack of Stratfor, which occurred on Christmas Eve. Targeting Stratfor was not Hammond’s idea; in fact, he admits he had never even heard of the organization until another hacker going by the handle “Sabu” brought the target along with several others to Hammond in a private chat used by Anonymous hacktivists.
The setup
Unfortunately, Hammond was unaware that Sabu was actually Hector Xavier Monsegur, an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Common sense dictates that the FBI should not be able to instigate a hack, and then charge the participants in the hack. That would be entrapment. It would also be common sense that the “Honorable” Judge presiding over the case should not be married to one of the victims of the cyber attack, but both of those things happened.
Sabu reportedly suggested hacks against the Internal Affairs Division of the Military Police of Brazil, the Official Website of the Crown Prince of Kuwait, the Tax Department of Turkey, the Iranian Academic Center for Education and Cultural Research, the Polish Embassy in the UK, and the Ministry of Electricity of Iraq. These targets, of course, sound more like a list of targets the United States government would like hit, rather than an Anonymous activist. The information obtained from these hacks was uploaded to Sabu’s server, which of course, was supplied by the FBI. So in the end, the United States government gained access to these sites.
The emails
The leaked emails from Stratfor provided an inside view of the private intelligence industry, a view that revealed it to be a not-so-private industry. The emails seem to paint Stratfor as an extension of the U.S. intelligence machine, rather than a separate entity.
In a 2011 email exchange, identified as 1146487 by Wikileaks, Stratfor employees discuss Osama bin Laden, and in the process one says
But, I get a very clear sense we (US intel) know names and ranks.
Later in the email, the same employee states
I can get access to the materials seized from the OBL safe house.
The private firm has access to materials seized from Osama bin Laden’s safe house. Allow that to truly sink in. A purportedly private firm has ready access to some of the most sensitive evidence gathered in the War on Terror.
This shadowy connection between Stratfor and the United States intelligence community may not seem, at first glance, to be an issue. However, one of the standards of a free society is the lack of a secret police, which is why until recently the U.S. intelligence services have been barred from spying on citizens.
Stratfor certainly fills that void, as it has collected information on the Occupy movement, environmentalists, Anonymous, as well as suspected domestic terrorist groups. It has even hired itself out to monitor activists for large corporations such as DOW. Large corporations collecting information on activists is nothing new. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, doesn’t historically farm out its work. As this customer service email demonstrates though, sometimes it is easier to have updates from the private intelligence company sent directly to your email address, rather than your personal account.
Just as the United States uses military contractors to perform dubious work in war zones, there exists a shadowy industry giving the U.S. intelligence machine plausible deniability. As the Stratfor Chair so eloquently put it, while referring to the Central Intelligence Agency as “Langley” in one of the compromised emails
Everyone in Langley knows that we do things they have never been able to do with a small fraction of their resources. They have always asked how we did it. We can now show them and maybe they can learn.
Our annual and decade forecast will, I guarantee you, be read by everyone at the CIA. They are looking for new models and they are looking at us. Every ounce of excellence that Stratfor owns will go into those two pieces. This will not only be good business, it will serve our country.
The problem with this, as any former case officer will tell you, a spy being paid by one nation can easily be paid off by an opposing nation offering just a bit more money.
The court proceedings
The court proceedings for Jeremy Hammond were like most in recent memory on the federal level, and that is to say an atrocious miscarriage of justice. The Judge presiding over his case, Loretta Preska, refused to recuse herself from the case, even after it was shown that her husband was implicated in the Stratfor leaks.
The federal court ruled
Defendant has failed to carry his substantial burden of showing that a reasonable observer, with knowledge and understanding of the relevant facts, would entertain significant doubt that justice would be done absent recusal,
Preska issued the ruling vouching for impartiality herself. She did say that the agency that brought the charges against Hammond, the FBI, determined that the information obtained about her husband was minor. In a move that came as a shock to no one, the FBI had no problem with her staying on as the judge.
Protester in support of Manning and Hammond.
Protester in support of Manning and Hammond.
The sentence handed down by the judge was obviously impartial. Hammond received 120 months for conducting an FBI instigated hack of a private company. British hacktivists associated with Anonymous who intruded on systems at the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI were sentenced to up to 32 months. The headlines referred to their sentences as “long jail sentences.”
In response to the draconian sentence handed down, Wikileaks released every single email received from the leak to the public.
Hammond’s hero status
With the newly released documents, it can be expected that the list of things exposed by Jeremy Hammond to expand beyond Trapwire, domestic spying, collusion between intelligence agencies and an allegedly private firm, and the numerous other revelations.
Hammond took his decade long sentence with stoic strength stating that he would spend his time in prison
reading, writing, working out and playing sports – training myself to become more disciplined so I can be more effective on my release.
It’s hard to imagine how much more effective an activist can be. Hammond’s actions brought all of this to light and illustrated that the United States is not quite the land of the free we believed it to be. He and other activists like him that expose the massive police and surveillance state being built around the nation offer the citizens of the United States a chance that historically those in nations with developing tyrannies do not have: knowledge that it is coming.
John Fairhurst commented on his sentence
It is a sad world we live in when a young man serves more time in prison for exposing lies and corruption than someone who molests or rapes a child, this must stop.
He exposed the problems. Now it is up to the average American to demand an end to these practices, and hopefully also demand the release of the activist that put the spotlight on America’s growing intelligence machine.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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