The Syrian Electronic Army has once again struck Western media and social media organizations, adding to their resume of Assad support, while in the west alleged hacker Jeremy Hammond claims the United States government went to hacktivist collectives Anonymous and Lulzsec to target foreign governments.
The Huffington Post, Twitter and the NewYork Times has allegedly suffered the hacking-wrath of the Syrian Electronic Army, according to The Hacker News. The SEA is a Pro-Assad Hacker group that has shown seemingly unrivaled contempt toward western media depictions of Syria’s government, thus the young hackers have taken up cyber-arms against western media and social media.The Pro-Assad Cyberforce accomplished their latest task by using the infamous “Phishing” technique, in which they sent fraudulent emails that aim to collect passwords, usernames and other sensitive information that allotted them access to the NewYork Times’ domain and Twitter’s DNS server. Tuesday’s attack left Twitter and the Times inaccessible, while issues continued to persists for some users through Wednesday morning, according to The Guardian. Could the existence and actions of the SEA illustrate the world’s movement into an era in which Hacker groups are the new mercenaries?

Photo from Twiter

Photo from Twiter

While the SEA wreaks havoc on the west in the name of Assad, alleged hacker/Anonymous participant Jeremy Hammond recently claimed in a statement written while in prison that the US government had hacker turned FBI informant Hector Xavier Monsegur, a.k.a Sabu, encourage hacktivists to infiltrate foreign governments. Hammond was arrested under suspicion of being a key player in Anonymous’ Stratfor attack. “What many do not know is that Sabu was also used by his handlers to facilitate the hacking of targets of the government’s choosing – including numerous websites belonging to foreign governments,” Hammond said in his statement. “What the US could not accomplish legally, it used Sabu, and by extension, me and my co-defendants, to accomplish illegally.” Hammond’s claims in connection with the SEA’s recent attacks demonstrate a new transition in the world, in which the Cyberworld is the new battleground. We now live in a world where anyone with enough time and knowledge can raise arms against governments and media sources, leaving every user on the internet a bystander waiting in some way to be possible victimized by E-conflict.

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 Cryptologist, Cypherpunks and cyber freedom-fighters of the 1980’s and 90’s brought a completely new feel and movement to the world with their creations such as Phil Zimmermann’s Pretty Good Privacy as well as Jim Bell’s Assassination Politics, which he posted on the Cypherpunk mailing list. As distinct creations and ideas such as these impacted the world, their relevance and legacy as they help to constitute the Cryptowars of the 80’s and 90’s has seemingly been lost among the knowledge of the general public.

  Bitcoin,a crypto-currency created by an anonymous cypherpunk under the fake name Satoshi Nakmoto may be en rout to becoming a major part of mainstream society. Bitcoin lobbyist are now in the process of meeting with the Federal Reserve, FBI and other powerful organizations with the intent to “help regulators, policymakers and law enforcement officials better understand the Bitcoin protocol and distributed finance so they can make better decisions and develop new methodologies for identifying and interceding illicit activity,” according The Guardian.

 Alongside the “revelation” of Bitcoin to the mass public, has also been recent NSA revelations by Edward Snowden. Many of the privileges and actions the NSA has taken, were what the early Cypherpunks challenged nearly two decades ago.

 Cryptology, cypherpunks and the Crypto-wars are very notable events in our past that go unnoticed. Had the knowledge of the Cryptowars been passed down throughout the past 20 years then undoubtedly the idea of Bitcoin would be well know among many with the recent meeting with the FBI and other American authoritative organizations would have taken place years ago and the knowledge of the issues cypherpunks addressed in the past would have altered the recent turn of events regarding the NSA.

Bradley Manning (Salon.com)

After years of swelling activism, impatient waiting, and speculation the Manning trial has finally come to a close with what some would say is a more bitter than sweet ending.

What seemed to be the most frightening charge to many, was one of few Manning was found innocent of. That is, as can be seen in the above tweets, aiding the enemy. An article from The Guardian detailed how the “aiding the enemy” charge would have “cast a long shadow on national security journalists and their sources,” due to the fact that had the New York Times or any other major newspaper published Manning’s leaks, as opposed to Wikileaks, the U.S government claimed it would take the same course of action it has in this case. Though not guilty of aiding the enemy, Manning faces up to 136 years in prison due to the other charges he’s been found guilty of.

Manning was found guilty of six different Espionage Act offenses, Wanton Publication and a plethora of other charges which citizen journalist Alexa O’Brian, one of few who reported everyday of the trial and has been reporting nearly since the inception of the case, was kind enough to chart as seen below. Detailed court Transcripts can be found at Pressfreedomfoundation.org.

Sorry for the size issue, open image in a new tab for a better view.

If you have no idea who Bradley Manning is or what he did, he, as an analyst for the United States military, leaked hundreds of thousands of files from the government network SIPRNet to Wikileaks which he claims to have done for the good of the people. After chatting with hacker Adrian Lamo through an internet chat room, Lamo reported Manning to authorities, leaving him caught in his tracks. Afterward Manning went through multiple military prisons until halting at Ft. Meade in Maryland where his trial took place. Since the beginning there has been much outrage toward Manning’s pretrial treatment, for he was placed on suicide watch against the advice of a psychologist, as well as towards the fact that Manning is even on trial for many believe his actions are noble due to the content of the files he leaked to Wikileaks.

Though the trial is over, one can not deny there is definitely more to come, at least from Manning supporters, as Twitter is booming with tweets that disdain Manning’s treatment during the entirety of the last few years and the results of the trial.

The Hacktivist collective Anonymous has added Manning’s ordeal to a number of others such as the imprisonment of journalist Barrett Brown and activist Jeremy Hammond, all being part of what some are calling an unnecessarily harsh crackdown on those who are considered “Cyber-Criminals”.

Regardless of which side of the fence one stands on when it comes to the Manning/Wikileaks trial, one cannot deny the extreme lack of major media coverage that kept this important event somewhat hidden from the general public. I would like to thank Alexa O’Brian, Kevin Gosztola and Nathan Fuller for their work and true reporting on this epic event in history.

(Photo from Dojpride.org)

With debacles such as the Bradly Manning situation, and five other charges against leakers on account of the Espionage act (which is the highest prosecution of leakers in the recorded history of the American presidency), it is without suspicion that leakers seem to be a major threat to government powers. Now, The Associated Press reports that the Department of Justice may have wrongfully obtained AP employee phone records in early 2012.

The investigation that lead to the attainment of the phone records by the U.S government is apparently part of an investigation to find out who leaked information to the AP allowing them to write a story regarding the recovery of an explosive device in affiliation with al-Qaida in Yemen.

Though the government can legally attain phone records, or any other evidence from media sources, it may be the case that government officials did not follow certain procedures usually required for obtaining such evidence from media sources.

According to Justice.gov, “Before considering issuing a subpoena to a member of the news media, or for telephone toll records of a member of the news media, Department attorneys should take all reasonable steps to attempt to obtain the information through alternative sources or means”, which did not happen and “Negotiations with the affected media member must also precede any request to subpoena the telephone toll records of any member of the news media”, which also did not happen. Theses are just two of the constraints the department of Justice did not take before obtaining the phone records. The AP wrote the Justice Department’s reason for not following through with specific procedures, such a the ones mentioned above, was because “the government recognizes that “freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news,” and to “avoid actions that “might impair the news gathering function.”

It appears as though the U.S government may be on a manhunt for leakers. They possibly went through the trouble of unethically obtaining information for the sake of prosecuting someone who released information that may be important to the public. The real reason may be because, according to the AP, the U.S told the public it has “no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden’s death.”, while the story detailing the bomb threat was released on May 7th of that same year (2012).

It is clear that certain powers in the U.S government may not want the public (the people it governs) to know its wrongs, or maybe even lies, so it hunts those who expose it. Regardless, this is not how the United States of America should operate.

"The Liberator" Unassembled   Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization lead by University of Texas law student Cody Wilson which aims to “produce and publish information related to the 3D printing of firearms,” has caught serious government attention as according to SHTFplan.com, the U.S Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance forced Defense Distributed to remove access to plans for The Liberator, a 3D printed gun capable of firing live rounds, from their website. The government claimed that the site may have violated the Arms Export Control Act by releasing such data without prior authorization from the Directorate of Defense Trade. The letter enforcing the removal of the content from the U.S office sent to Wilson can be read at Gizmodo.com.Though access to the blueprints through Defense Distributed’s Defcad.org was terminated, as a banner on the homepage reads “DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information,Pirate Bay networks have offered different versions of “The Liberator” blueprints for download, according to Cnet.com.

As we see, this is undeniably censorship, but could this be for the greater good, or is this a stifle on the advancement of technology? Writer Shelly Palmer makes an interesting point, as he explains in response to Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is strongly against 3D printed weapons, that technology is evolving and that people and legislation cannot adjust to it at the rate of its progression. At the same time, this technology, like any, can be extremely dangerous in the hands of some. As we have seen, when weapons such as firearms can fall into the hands of just anyone, catastrophic events can unfold, such as school shootings and other acts of public endangerment and terrorism. Regardless, information is information and to strictly censor someone seems breaks the 1st amendment of the U.S constitution does it not? And in the future this information could be used by people to protect themselves. But an even bigger question is, why would congress block an amendment that would require background checks for gun purchases, but is up in arms about people being able to simply create their own gun? Is this what the government calls a safety precaution? If safety is the cause, why would the amendment requiring background checks be banned? Just something to think about.

At the beginning of 2013 Military Drones are to be released in U.S airspace, with the capability of mining information on civilians. As reported by The Guardian, the methodology of collecting information on civilians, according to an unclassified Air Force document, seems to be very vague for those operating Drones are not able to collect information on Specifically identified civilians, which leaves no clear definition as to who can be monitored, while at the same time the document states that Specifically identified civilians can be monitored if desired by the Secretary of Defense. While the wording is strange and vague in itself, there are other issues to consider in dealing with the use of Drones in U.S society. The Drones will be operated by military personnel, thus meaning that the military will have the ability to conduct surveillance on U.S citizens. This would completely contradict the nature of the Democratic United States thus defining it as a Military Oligarchy, for the military would have “control of domestic populations on U.S soil” (The Guardian). Furthermore the use of drones to constantly monitor civilians somewhat challenges the 4th amendment of the United States constitution.With the U.S constitution being challenged as well as the nature of the U.S democratic state, you can be sure readers that this 21st century mayhem will be followed by my writing. Thank you for reading and please stay tuned.

For more on Drones you can also check out these links

http://www.globalresearch.ca/killing-civilians-obamas-drone-war-in-pakistan/5315661

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/25/us/drones-privacy/index.html

According to Rawstory.com, it has been confirmed that on December 20, 2012, the United States House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization act of 2013 (NDAA 2013).The NDAA 2013 allows for the indefinite military detention of anyone suspected of being aligned with “terrorist” groups or any other group that would be a “threat” to the United States government (among other things). This completely juxtaposes constitutional rights and can be considered a threat to every citizen in the United States, for it bypasses amendments set in the Bill of Rights that prohibits the U.S government from actions such as indefinite detention (as well as other actions allotted to the U.S government by this  bill), that is constituted by a vagueness that poses such a threat in many people’s eyes. One consequence of the vagueness of the NDAA is that many journalist, whistle blowers, and activists are at threat simply due to the fact that their work could be a “threat” to the United States, such as Alexa O’Brian who produces a plethora of content in support of and has connections to groups that support Wikileaks (which has been labeled as a threat to the United States), Bradly Manning (whistle blower what leaked U.S military information to WIkileaks), and Julian Assange (founder of Wikileaks)  as well as many others with affiliations that could be disdained by the U.S government. One Senator that is strongly opposes this this bill is Rand Paul (along with others in opposition of this bill), who has labeled it as “An abomination”. The results of this bill and its passing will define what America is today and were it is headed. As this 21st Century Mayhem continues to unfold I shall be present and ready to inform my readers. Please continue reading, and if you have any questions, comments, request, or anything please free to contact me. Thank you for your time.