Anonymous declared war on the New York Times this week, launching “OpNYT” on Wednesday. Unlike most actions by the crippled hacktivist collective these days, their attack on the Times doesn’t just consist of writing boring, unreadable manifestos (though there is a lot of that). Anonymous has leaked ‘secret’ correspondences between New York Times reporters and Anonymous members, meant to expose the Times’ “incompetence.” Unfortunately for Anonymous, the documents reveal the exact opposite.
Last night, Anonymous fameball Barrett Brown promised on Twitter that Anonymous would “release correspondence with NYT showing incompetence on [national security] reporting.” The correspondences were published soon after on the hacker document-sharing site Pastebin under the heading “The Secret History of the New York Times’s National Security Failure.”
But anyone looking for evidence of anything other than journalists doing their job will be sorely disappointed. The leak amounts to Anonymous whining that the Times has not breathlessly hyped all of the groups’ crackpot schemes and conspiracy theories.
One correspondence from 2011 consists of an Anonymous representative tipping off a Times reporter about the hack of the security firm HBGary, and the leak of a huge cache of their emails. The reporter responds:
“I told [redacted] that I don’t think this is an NYT story right now, but that I want to try and do something longer on all of this in the next week or two.”
The Times eventually did publish an in-depth article about the HBGary hack and revelations that the firm had proposed a plan to disrupt Wikileaks. But that was not enough for whoever wrote the press release accompanying yesterday’s leak. They complain that the Times didn’t see “fit to cover” every single boring detail in the leaked email cache.
The second supposedly incriminating leaked correspondence actually reveals how full of shit Anonymous is. It’s a long chat with a Times reporter during this year’s fake “Operation Cartel.” If you remember, OpCartel was a campaign against Mexico’s notorious Zetas drug cartel, supposedly launched in retaliation for the Zetas kidnapping an Anonymous member. There was never any proof that the kidnapping occurred, and the Zetas conveniently “released” their prisoner before the operation even started. This was the “Canadian girlfriend” of Anonymous campaigns.
In the leaked chat, the reporter asks, “What evidence have you seen that the kidnap really happened?”
“None,” responded the Anonymous rep. “Nor would I have expected to as we have no intention of providing a chance that the person could be identified.”
The reporter continues to press the Anon for even a shred of evidence:
[redacted]: I’m going to ask a stupid question.
If no one has any evidence a person was kidnapped, how do you know a person was kidnapped?
5:29 PM me: I’m relying on the account of someone I’ve known and worked with in the past and whom I believe to be telling the truth based on the nature of her responses as well as other details I can’t go into due to the present situation
5:30 PM Obviously if I were functioning as a journalist, that wouldn’t be sufficient. But in this case…
5:31 PM We already have journalists looking too fucking closely into who the person is, including a review of Mexican records, and as such we’re very reluctant to assist them in finding out more.
[redacted]: But a responsible journalist won’t run the name.
So what difference does it make?
5:32 PM me: If you take a few minutes to think about the process by which such a name would come up and the nature of the situation in Mexico, and concede that mistakes occur in journalism, you can probably guess.
Good job, New York Times, for not running with this particularly unbelievable Anonymous fairytale.
All signs point to OpNYT being a stunt by Barrett Brown, the former Anonymous spokesperson who recently scored a six-figure deal for a book about Anonymous. Brown reappears whenever there’s an opportunity for free publicity, and has recently appeared in the press stoking the overblown hysteria over the Trapwire surveillance system that appeared in some leaked Wikileaks emails earlier this month. The press release announcing OpNYT was written in the same insufferable prose as Brown’s—The Times is described as “a filthy, poorly-composed whore.” And Brown was the press’ main point of contact during both the HBGary hack and Operation Cartel; I’d bet he was the Anonymous representative in at least one of those correspondences.
OpNYT is another reminder of Anonymous’ sad decline: the once-feared hacktivist group reduced to a brand stamped on a huckster’s latest package of premium bullshit.
Anybody — individual, government or institution can and should disclose — there are no requirements, no restrictions, using true or false identity, press officers or all the iterations of anonymous sources — commonplace or never before used.
Call it what you like, The Truth, disclosure, leak, whistleblow, propaganda, lies, spy operation, official secrets, false flag, taking the king’s coin — best to create new, alluring and mesmerizing locutions.
Disclose quietly with inscrutable understatement to be impossibly noticed then dramatically discovered through a strategic disclosure to select outlets, or with maximum exaggeration, publicity stunts, hired agencies, sock puppets, spookily covert or ostenatiously overt.
Disclose from the inside or the outside or offside the rules of the game; don’t hesitate to preach, fabricate, prevaricate, embellish, distort, bombast, editorialize, repeat, hector, condemn, laud, headline, blare, bumper sticker, or stupefyingly frank and earnest.
Calibrate with the topical or risk being overlooked; board bandwagons; ridicule and pretend to ignore competitors; declare highest and mightiest of principles with deepest grievance; advertise your pain and threats from gargantuan opposition; be ever ready to give media interviews with easy to understand quotes; offer pity to those who fail to grasp the importance of your disclosures; rue those who misquote you; say you forgive the ignorant who misunderstand you.
Conspire, co-conspire, multi-conspire, mega-conspire; mimic the master conspiracists in major sources of public disclosure of invaluable information required to save nations and faiths against barbarous atheism — hyperbole without restraint.
Join with those who bestow awards and recognition on the best of the disclosure championship breed, and condemn the mongrels, the nobodies, the fakers, the publicists, the apostates, with highest scorn for those who mock noble, selfless, high-risk disclosure.
Form splinters to attack, demean and debunk main stream disclosers, in particular the recipients and grantors of awards for disclosure.
Disclose insider secrets of disclosers, splinters, other insiders, leaders and spies, covert and overt funders, boosters and informants, their neglected families and jilted lovers.
Originate a group (declare confidentiality for security its funding source, leaders or membership) to console former disclosers and those who believe they have been exploited by trusted, high-profile disclosers — target families, lovers and investors — invite and flatter documentarians and media profilers to get inside early to record the casualties’ disclosures.
Disclose that the originated console group was a fraudulent sting to ensnare the disaffected as evidence disclosure is forever corrupt, dishonest, self-serving and under the sway and in the pay of sinister, unknown, powerful, ancient and new-ly camouflaged fronts for amoral manipulators. Up ratchet the disclosure deception, critique and historicize it with other confidence exploits ancient and modern.
Prepare and distribute a prospectus and contract terms for a Disclosures Anonymous series for the bottomless pocketed NGOs and vulture capitalists; for entertainment and cyberwar industries; for the UN, foreign ministries, spy agencies, foreign and military aid agencies, and propagandists; the educational and conferencing industries; for aggregators, siphons and SM; for persistant advertising attackers; for hacktivists, FOI and cellphone warriors; above all for the flocks of all ages and places being educated, intimidated and counseled to be law abiding, keep quiet, be obedient. patriotic and trust authority. Tip Disclosures Anonymous to the grandiloquizers and anonymous sources combine.
Expect a brief publicity spark but no overt takers of the prospectus with a few of the usual criminally covert, but that the series will be stolen, plagiarized, given away or blackmarketed until expropriated for authoritarian makeover and certified as officially tax-worthy.
Within the amply fertilized Disclosures Anonymous series plant a sub-rosa disclosure exploit to bare secrets of disclosure manipulations.
Like this: Unauthorized disclosures of secrets are essential for democracy.
Conflict between government and opposition forces continued during the week, generally following the established pattern of government military attacks and security raids against centers of opposition, on the one hand, and ambushes and bombings by opposition forces on the other. The Syrian conflict also continued to spark clashes in neighboring Lebanon. Further turmoil among the top leadership of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) reflected the opposition’s continued difficulty in unifying ranks. Syria and the United Nations traded accusations on the subject of human-rights violations.
Update on Clashes
Reports from opposition sources transmitted via Arab media — such as the influential, London-based, pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat — described widespread clashes between government and opposition in and around several major population centers. Opposition sources typically claimed that government forces killed dozens of individuals in various daily assaults, though such claims remain impossible to verify.
- Government forces reportedly used artillery and helicopters during bombardments in Al-Rastan, Homs, Idlib Province, and villages near Aleppo.
- Clashes were also reported in a southwestern district of Damascus and specifically on 23 May in the city of Aleppo, the scene of antigovernment demonstrations. Various opposition sources described the Aleppo protests as comprising “1,500,” “tens,” or “hundreds” of thousands of demonstrators.
- A large car bomb, apparently targeting military intelligence facilities, exploded in the eastern town of Dayr al-Zawr on 19 May, resulting in several deaths. Another deadly bomb attack occurred in the Damascus neighborhood of Qabun during the night of 21-22 May.
Reports of clashes transmitted by the state-run SANA news agency followed a familiar pattern of branding opposition attacks as terrorist in nature and hinting of foreign support.
- SANA reported several deadly attacks by “armed terrorist groups,” typically against isolated security forces, such as border guards.
- It also reported military engineers’ success in disarming a number of “terrorist” bombs.
- According to SANA, security forces discovered a “terrorist” weapons-manufacturing warehouse in Homs and intercepted several “Tunisian terrorists” attempting to infiltrate into Syria from Turkey.
More Clashes in Lebanon
Clashes between pro-Syrian Government and pro-Syrian opposition factions continued in
Lebanon, and a number of Lebanese Shiites were abducted in Syria under unclear
- Following a week of clashes in Tripoli between Sunnis hostile to the Syrian regime and Alawite regime supporters, fighting broke out in Beirut during the night of 21-22 May, reportedly resulting in two deaths.
- Ahmad Abd-al-Wahib, a Sunni cleric belonging to the pro-Syria 14 March alliance, was killed under disputed circumstances by Lebanese Army troops at a security checkpoint in northern Lebanon on 20 May.
- Approximately one dozen Lebanese Shiites, said to be pilgrims returning to Lebanon via Syria from Iran, were seized at gunpoint in Aleppo on 22 May. Family members and Syrian state media blamed the assault on the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but the FSA denied all responsibility and accused the Syrian Government of staging the incident.
Crisis Within SNC
The SNC formally accepted the resignation of Burhan Ghalyun, who had been reelected president on 15 May, and announced a new presidential election on 9-10 June. Ghalyun resigned under pressure from critics within the SNC who accused him of monopolizing power and failing to support properly the uprising.
Mutual Accusations Regarding Human-Rights Violations
In a report addressed to the UN Human Rights Council on 20 May, the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry charged that Syria is the victim of human-rights violations, both through “direct killing operations” by “armed terrorist groups” and through “the sanctions imposed by the countries, which are funding, backing, and hosting these groups.”
In a report released on 24 May, the UN’s Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria charged that the Syrian Army and security services were responsible for most of the human-rights violations documented by the commission, both in the form of direct attacks against individuals and the “systematic denial” of food, water, and medical care.
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LulzSec Sneak Preview of Files to be Released
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