Photo: Stian Eikeland
Internet Freedom-fighting group Anonymous struck again, releasing a series of hacked emails taken off the servers of Pentagon consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.The leak of some 90,000 emails off the consultant firm’s servers was dubbed “Military Meltdown Monday,” and possibly includes correspondence from some of the top figures in Pentagon.
Early reports of the leak looks like the emails include people who work for US CENTCOM, SOCOM, the Marine Corps, various Air Force facilities, Homeland Security, State Department staff, and what looks like private sector contractors. The bounty could be glorious: Booz Allen Hamilton has some big government names on its payroll, including three former Directors of National Intelligence and one former head of the CIA.
Why did Anonymous target Booz Allen Hamilton? One reason given was because BAH is the government’s private cover for supervising the highly controversial SWIFT monitoring program. Doesn’t ring a bell? That’s how the government likes it. Allow me to enlighten you.
SWIFT is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, and essentially allows banks across the world to talk to one another, allowing banks to essentially pay each other (although it does not perform the payments, it allows the payment orders to be sent).
SWIFT Terror Finance Surveillance Program is a classified surveillance program set up by the US government to spy on that banking network, under the guide of looking for “terrorist” transactions. Since that is borderline unconstitutional (ok, it’s completely against the Constitution) and also violates a series of European laws, the U.S. government had to find an independent third party to monitor the program.
Who did they pick? Booz Allen Hamilton, which, as I said above, employs some pretty big government heavy hitters among its leadership team. In other words, they were letting former government bigwigs with an incentive to approve or overlook any government overreach guard the security of the data.
“It is bad enough that the administration is trying to hold out a private company as a substitute for genuine checks and balances on its surveillance activities,” said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “But of all companies to perform audits on a secret surveillance program, it would be difficult to find one less objective and more intertwined with the U.S. government security establishment.”
This is not, of course, the only reason why Anonymous chose Booz Allen Hamilton. When Anonymous hacked HBGary earlier this year, they uncovered a secret program within the military-industrial complex community to infiltrate and manipulate social media.
According to an Anonymous release, “The main aims of the project were two fold: Firstly, to allow a lone operator to control multiple false virtual identities, or “sockpuppets”. This would allow them to infiltrate discussions groups, online polls, activist forums, etc and attempt to influence discussions or paint a false representation of public opinion using the highly sophisticated sockpuppet software.”
“The second aspect of the project was to destroy the concept of online anonymity, essentially attempting to match various personas and accounts to a single person through recognition shared of writing styles, timing of online posts, and other factors. This, again, would be used presumably against any perceived online opponent or activist.”
Who else was allegedly involved in these immoral, hidden acts against American citizens? Booz Allen Hamilton.
“Anonymous has been investigating them for some time, and has uncovered all sorts of other shady practices by the company, including potentially illegal surveillance systems, corruption between company and government officials, warrantless wiretapping, and several other questionable surveillance projects. All of this, of course, taking place behind closed doors, free from any public knowledge or scrutiny.”
Well, now they get their day in the sunlight and some public scrutiny. Expect us.
— John Thorpe
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