One fine morning several weeks ago, I received a phone call from the local FBI office requesting an interview about Barrett Brown, former spokesperson for the Anonymous hacking collective. I told the agent, on the phone, that I didn’t really have any useful information, but he still wanted to talk to me. I didn’t see the harm in it, so I agreed to meet him that afternoon at a nearby coffee shop. For the rest of the day I grew increasingly nervous about the meeting as new and scarier possibilities came into my mind, despite their improbability. Was this guy a legitimate FBI agent, or was he something else? Did he intend to harm me, or possibly kill me?
I arrived to the coffee place a few minutes early and browsed through a selection of used books which included Bruce Sterling’s Hacker Crackdown — on sale for ten cents. Nearly immediately, I was accosted by a gregarious teenage girl, who complimented my beard and compared me to a popular musician I had never heard of. She was blonde, cute, and bubbly, but just underneath the surface lurked high culture. For the next few minutes we talked about Nietzsche and Goethe, until I saw the FBI agent staring at me from the corner of my eye. I said to the girl something like, “I’m sorry. I’m here to meet an FBI agent and talk to him about some shit.” She did not ask why, but instead exclaimed, loudly, “I hope he doesn’t drag you away and poison you!” This bizarre exchange, to which I have done little justice, was surely within earshot of the agent, and I still wonder whether it was some insidious kind of psychological manipulation. I am sure it was even stranger from the point of view of the agent.
He sat at a small table with a little pile of papers, and I joined him. On the papers were questions for me and information about me. I saw my driver’s license photo in full color for the first time, but with a distorted aspect ratio which widened my face. His manner was gentle, as you’d expect from a computer guy, and he wore an impeccable grey suit with fancy wingtip shoes. Because he alluded to a position with national security implications, that is all the description I will provide. Despite warning me that he was not an expert on Anonymous, he came across as generally well-informed, if not hopelessly misled on a few specifics. His praise for my writing was effusive and embarrassing, so much so that he apologized, and I could not help but glance at the girl, who now sat with her friends just a table away, as circuit breakers in my brain began to blow. What does she think of me, sitting here, getting this kind of incredible praise from an FBI agent? Surely she must be hearing this shit, and certainly she must not believe any of it. This boiling cauldron of ego soup was all the hotter for the chilling anxiety I had felt leading up to it. Yet, for all that, I did not detect a hint of inauthenticity in the agent’s manner, and, in fact, I saw genuine disappointment after a joke he told bombed because of my abnormally serious demeanor.
The business of the interview, the source of my anxiety, turned out to be a bit of a sad joke and far less disconcerting than all the continuous praise. Several questions, for instance, hinged on a case of mistaken identity. Because I use the pseudonym Kilgore Trout and had been somewhat of a nemesis to Barrett Brown, the FBI had apparently connected me with another Kilgore Trout who was, several years before I knew of Brown, also at odds with Brown. Both Brown and the other Trout had participated on the Little Green Footballs web site, some despicable hole of fringe punditry, but I knew very little about it. The agent claimed Brown had tasked a hacker with cracking Little Green Footballs — a fairly explosive piece of information. Evidence of Brown giving jobs to hackers has been alluded to in many stories about LulzSec, but no one has been sure of Brown’s level of involvement. If it was true he tasked someone with hacking Little Green Footballs, then his involvement with LulzSec could have possibly been pivotal. It was shocking, but of course I knew nothing that could be of help in any case. With grave seriousness which was not present in any other part of the conversation, he asked something like, “You once wrote that Barrett Brown worked for China or Russia. Is this true?” Like his joke that bombed earlier, my mind was too messed up to laugh at the right cue, and I did my best to seriously explain the joke. While anything is possible, I can’t get over the certainty that the FBI, in general, is seriously convincedin Anonymous and its possible connections to foreign power. It brings to mind reports out of Iranian state-owned media that attacks by Anonymous are orchestrated by the American government.
It’s nice to be reminded that law enforcement agents are real people, but it’s also a bit disturbing — because they’re real people. Anons, especially, tend to imagine law enforcement as a monolithic edifice which sees all and acts like a hatefully inhuman machine in exacting draconian punishments for the smallest infractions. Maybe that likeness is accurate enough in a few cases, but at the same time it’s really humans we’re talking about — prone to the same fear, misinterpretation, misinformation, and confusion as the rest of us.
P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto
Loretto, PA 15940
Mr. John Kiriakou:
After catching the publication of one of your letters on Firedoglake, and possessing a great professional investment in the controversies surrounding whistleblowing, I thought I would take some time to reach out to you, a prisoner of conscience, in order to better understand not only the personal toll your whistleblowing has taken but also any ruminations you might be able to offer on some puzzling legal questions. I am including a copy of a recent article I contributed to In These Times magazine regarding the relationship between national security and civil liberties. I have a few questions. I would appreciate your please setting me straight should my facts be otherwise.
In early 2009 I had the opportunity to hear “Matthew Alexander” – the pseudonym of a former Air Force interrogator in Iraq with which you are no doubt familiar – speak at an American University forum and offer his opinion that waterboarding was a poor security choice because of its, he purported, ineffectiveness. Having perused your book and caught your Democracy Now! interview, I found your openness to the concept that waterboarding, torture, is effective, albeit amoral, one of the most striking facets of your perspective. Considering the resentment that techniques like waterboarding inspire from the international community, why do you suppose that individuals, such as “Alexander,” consider (short-term) effectiveness such an important part of the argument around waterboarding?
Recently, a friend pointed out to me Executive Order 13526, which you may recall, iterates that “[i]n no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified … in order to … conceal violations of law.” If the Obama administration chose to discontinue waterboarding, specifically due to it being a violation of treaty obligations, in what sense, if any, was the information you relayed in your ABC interview, daresay your book, functionally a violation of the law in the eyes of the next administration?
From my review of your plight, it would appear that your and your family suffer, in part, due to a journalist, in whom you placed your trust, having revealed Guantanamo treatment information to detainee defense attorneys. Do you in some sense now blame that journalist for any kind of ethical breach—even if that leak to defense attorneys were to help expedite justice for the indefinitely held?
Also, I was curious as to your opinion on the meaning of extant whistleblower protections, given that what constitutes “wrongdoing” by authorities, higher-ups inherently bears some degree of subjectivity. What is conscience, if not sublimely subjective?
I hope you are well. If you wish, in replying, feel free to advise me on the nature of your treatment and its level of fairness, as you wait out what I’m sure will be arduous months. Thank you.
Portrait of Kiriakou, by artist unknown, taken from Kiriakou’s Twitter account
In January we reported on John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who recently started his 30-month stint in federal prison—for what he said was acting on pangs of conscience, not endangering national security, as judges and prosecutors would have it. Brian Sonenstein, at Firedoglake’s Dissenter blog, received a prison letter, and we’ve taken the time to transcribe it all over again to include what was crossed out in the Dissenter text: an accusation the incarcerated father of five seemingly began to level at the Justice Department, not just the “Bureau of Prisons,” for his mistreatment.
An address to write to Kiriakou is at the bottom of the letter.
“Letter From Loretto”
Greetings from the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, Pennsylvania. I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. At least that’s what the government wants people to believe. In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy. But that’s a different story. The purpose of this letter is to tell you about prison life.
At my formal sentencing hearing in January, the judge, the prosecutors, and my attorneys all agreed that I would serve my sentence in Loretto’s Federal Work Camp. When I arrived, however, much to my surprise, the Corrections Officer (CO, or “hack”) who processed me said that the Justice Department Bureau of Prisons had deemed me a “threat to the public safety,” and so I would do serve the entire sentence in the actual prison, rather than the camp.
Processing took about an hour and included fingerprinting, a mug shot (my third after the FBI and the Marshals), my fourth DNA sample, and a quite comprehensive strip search. I was given a pair of baggy brown pants, two brown shirts, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, and a pair of cheap sandals. My own clothes were boxed and mailed to my wife. The CO then led me to a steel bunk in “Central Unit” and walked away. I didn’t know what to do, so I took a nap.
My cell is more like a cubicle made out of concrete block. Built to hold four men, mine holds six. Most others hold eight. My cellmates include two Dominicans serving 24- and 20-year sentences for drugs, a Mexican serving 15 years for drugs, a Puerto Rican serving [7 ½ years ?] 7 ½ years for drug conspiracy, and the former auditor of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, who’s doing [unintelligible] years a long sentence for corruption. They’re all decent guys and we actually enjoy each other’s company.
The prison population is much like you might expect. Loretto has 1,369 prisoners. (I never call myself an “inmate.” I’m a prisoner.) About 50% are black, 30% are Hispanic, and 20% are white. Of the white prisoners, most are pedophiles with personal stories that would make you sick to your stomach. The rest of the whites prisoners are here for drugs, except for a dozen or so who ran Ponzi schemes. Of the 1,369 prisoners, 40 have college degrees and 6 of us have master’s degrees. The GED program is robust. (Bust when I volunteered to teach a class my “counsellor” [sic] shouted, “Dammit, Kiriakou! If I wanted you to teach a fucking class, I’d ask you to teach a fucking class!”) I’m a janitor in the chapel. I make $5.25 a month.
The cafeteria, or “chow hall” was the most difficult experience of my first few days. Where should I sit? On my first day, two Aryans, completed covered in tattoos, walked up to me and asked, “Are you a pedophile?” Nope, I said. “Are you a fag?” Nope. “Do you have good paper?” I didn’t know what this meant. I turned out that I had to get a copy of my formal sentencing documents to prove that I wasn’t a child molester. I did that, and was welcomed by the Aryans, who aren’t really Aryans, but more accurately self-important hillbillies.
The cafeteria is very formally divided. There is a table for the Aryans whites with good paper, a section of a table for the Native Americans, a section of a table for people belonging to a certain Italian-American stereotypical “subculture,” two tables for the Muslims, four tables for the pedophiles, and all the remaining tables for the blacks and Hispanics. We don’t all eat at the same time, but each table is more-or-less reserved as I’ve described.
Violence hasn’t been much of a problem since I arrived. There have been maybe a half-dozen fights, almost always over what television show to watch. The choices are pretty much set in stone between ESPN, MTV, VH1, BET and Univision. I haven’t watched TV since I got here. It’s just not worth the trouble. Otherwise, violence isn’t a problem. Most of the guys in here have worked their way down to a low-security prison from a medium or a maximum, and they don’t want to go back.
I’ve also had some luck in this regard. My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hit man. The Aryans whispered that I was a “Muslim hunter,” but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write commutation appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good.
The only thing close to a problem that I’ve had has been from the Cos. When I first arrived, after about four days, I heard an announcement that I was to dread: “Kiriakou – report to the lieutenant’s office immediately.” Very quickly, I gave my wife’s phone number to a friend and asked him to call her if, for some reason, I was sent to the SHU (Special Housing Unit) more commonly known as the hole, or solitary confinement. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but this kind of thing happens all the time.
When I got to the lieutenant’s office, I was ushered into the office of SIS, the Special Investigative Service. This is the prison version of every police department’s Internal Affairs Division detective bureau. I saw on a desk a copy of my book, The Reluctant Spy, as well as DVD copies of all the documentaries I’ve been in. The CO showed me a picture of an Arab. “Do you know this guy,” he asked me. I responded that I had met him a day earlier, but our conversation was limited to “nice to meet you.” Well, the CO said, this was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, and after we had met, he called a number in Pakistan, reporting the meeting, and was told to kill me. I told the CO that I could kill the guy with my thumb. He’s about 5’4” and 125 pounds compared to my 6’1” and 250 pounds. The CO said they were looking to ship him out, so I should stay away from him. But the more I thought about it, the more this made no sense. Why would the uncle of the Times Square bomber be in a low-security prison? He should be in a maximum. So I asked my Muslim friends to check him out. It turns out that he’s an Iraqi Kurd from Buffalo, NY. He was the imam of a mosque there, which also happened to be the mosque where the “Lackawana [sic] 7” worshipped [sic]. (The Lackawana 7 were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.) The FBI pressured him to testify against his parishioners. He refused and got five years for obstruction of justice. The ACLU and several religious freedom groups have rallied to his defense. He had nothing to do with terrorism.
In the meantime, SIS told him that I had made a call to Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill him! We both laughed at the ham-handedness by which SIS tried to get us to attack each other. If we had, we would have spent the rest of our sentences in the [unintelligible] SHU – solitary. Instead, we’re friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we chat.
The only other problem I’ve had with the COs was about two weeks after I arrived. I get a great deal of mail here in prison (and I answer ever letter I get.) Monday through Friday, prisoners gather in front of the unit CO’s office for mail call. One female CO butchers my name every time she says it. So when she does mail call, I hear “Kirkaow, Kiriloo, Teriyaki” and a million other variations. One day after mail call I passed her in the hall. She stopped me and said, “Are you the motherfucker whose name I can’t pronounce?” I responded “Ki-ri-AH-koo.” She said, “How about if I just call you Fuckface?” I just walked away and a friend I was walking with said, “Classy.” I said to him, “White trash is more like it.” And hour later, four COs descended on both of our cells, trashing all of our worldly possessions in my first “shake-down.” Lesson learned: COs can treat us like subhumans but we have to show them faux respect even when it’s not earned.
I’ll write about COs more next time. If you’d like to drop me a line, I can be reached at John Kiriakou 79637-083, P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto, Loretto, PA 15940.
The following video was extracted from an archive of federal repossessions and returned the chronicle.su office late last year.
“Years of systematically abusing oneself while praying to Charles Manson leads a person to create music and imagery like this. And in one dark night, it can all disappear. With one murder, all your work can be lost forever, whether you meant to kill the guy or not.” – Ronald Reagan
The pretext for this video more or less implies that the video was released in order to meet serious market demand for distorted pornographic imagery interlaced with swastikas and pictures of world leaders being shredded apart while a man sings into a dildo-enhanced microphone. There is no turning back now. Your mind is on the drugs.
Under Armor Spokesman, @th3j35t3r Attacks North Korea
Under the moniker @th3j35t3r, a little-known Twitter account, Tom Ryan of Provide Security is currently gearing up for cyber war with North Korea, Anonymous in tow.
After a series of test runs against mom-and-pop DPRK websites, we see Tom Ryan, aka John Tiessen, as possessing the ability to completely cripple the entire infrastructure of North Korea’s Internets. While working with OWASP on Web app exploitation, in the mid ’90′s Ryan developed — with the help of a DARPA contract and Adrian Lamo – a tool known only as XerXes, which sends “packets” to a given “serve,”, causing it to go offline temporarily. Some say it was also developed to really annoy Ron Brynaert.
This method, while not new, is very new and effective. The source code of XerXes has been hidden from the world for over two decades and far surpasses everything from WinNuke to LOIC/HOIC.
So is this a military operation? Is this what the NSA has been planning for years, General Keith Alexander at the helm? Or is this just a completely superfluous news article about something so utterly boring no one is reading?
We asked #hatesec’s Chairman of the Board Kevin Eubanks for comment, but all we got were some fucking lame jazz fusion licks instead.
Pastor Hal W. Hubbard caresses an Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake.
Saddleback Mountain, VA — Pastor Hal W. Hubbard of the Pentecostal Church of Holiness outraged the nation Wednesday with statements denouncing traditional marriage and the sacrosanct status of fetal life. In a recent sermon, Hubbard said, “God’s children are killing this planet, and soon his creation will be trampled into a wasteland of dust and refuse by the unholy feet of devil-worshiping breeders. Those married to the opposite sex will burn in hell along with those women who refuse the sacrament of holy abortion.”
Pastor Hubbard is known for fiery snake-handling sermons and speaking in tongues, and reportedly changed his position on gay marriage during a mystical experience in which he was bitten by a copperhead. “God sunk his venom into my veins as punishment for preaching against his will. Gay marriage and abortion are the only way we can save this planet; what was once evil may now be our only chance at salvation.”
Some have drawn a parallel between Hubbard and Westboro Baptist’s Fred Phelps, as both preachers use radical polemics in order to popularize their seemingly satirical message. Hubbard was offended by such comparisons, “I ain’t ruinin’ anyone’s funerals or sending my family marching around like moron hippies with retard signs. I just listen to the snakes and the people speakin’ in tongues. I believe what I believe, and only gay marriage and abortion can save God’s creation now.”
the chronicle rape tentacle has scraped glistening hate from the crusty bowels of your fucking internet for you
#lulzsec were the finest group of trolls that ever lived but most of them are in jail awaiting trial or FBI informants now #TROLLD2DETH #xx420N0SC0P3xx
#destructivesec was cool but their main mission was to destroy enough law enforcement online activities to get arrested, which they finally accomplished. just mindblowing.
now #rustleleague are attempting lulzsec status but failed due to infighting
now there is [email protected] which is the hardcorest of them all. They recruit new m3mb3rs exclusively through the Internet Chronicle’s comments section, found here. On the chronicle.su underground soviet hatesite
#b3rensteinB34rs no know limits. NNCSATANN feels no pain. he is the devil in hisself.
“The beauty of art is that it can be interpreted many ways by many different people.”
The great American struggle: grappling with the blank page
I was sitting at my computer just before dawn, listening to the steady crackle of my overworked record player, bouncing repeatedly off the groove in the paper label of The Beatles’ Let It Be.
Procrastination never sounded so sweet. I brewed myself an espresso as I played with the idea of putting on the Smiths. My neighbors probably hear it at top volume and wallow in the jealousy they must feel, living in the shadow of the tortured dark success just sixteen feet away. The power they’ll never meet – unless they come ask me to turn it down.
People just don’t understand me. It takes a unique point of view, cultivated within the bowels of suburban all-white neighborhoods, perverted by Mormonism, to really understand where I’m coming from. And even then, they’ll probably just go on Facebook and hashtag it. Pop a pill, and feel nothing. So dark. So troubled.
In 2010, WikiLeaks released film of an American bombing of reporters in Iraq leaked by Bradley Manning, a military intelligence analyst who fell in love with a WikiLeaks operative he knew only as Nathaniel. Bradley Manning fed Nathaniel millions of State Department memos, which further destabilized America’s delicate relations with the Arab world. Some believe Nathaniel was none other than Adrian Lamo, a former WikiLeaks associate who was later known for using Social Engineering techniques to extort confessions from Bradley Manning. In his statement at the court-martial proceedings, Manning admitted his relationship with Nathaniel had become “artificial,” and said he did not even use Tor [encryption] for his final leaks.
Barrett Brown acted as spokesperson for Anonymous, a technofetishistic Internet anarchist subculture, although he was quite fond of stating that he had never declared himself such. Anonymous attacked financial institutions that blockaded donations to WikiLeaks with the use of a Voluntary Denial of Service, which they likened to a virtual sit-in. WikiLeaks also enlisted Anonymous in hacking and publishing documents from Stratfor, an intelligence publication they misrepresented as a “Shadow CIA,” part of the fake operation #Antisec, which was headed by the recently-converted federal agent, Hector Monsegur Xavier, aka, Sabu. Brown viciously defended Sabu from accusations of being a federal agent.
Brown was indicted for cooperating with Anonymous in an attack on HBGary, a defense contractor which engineered Weaponized Social Media, a form of propaganda in which thousands of fake online personas were used to influence public opinion. He was also indicted and raided by police for retweeting [spreading] sensitive identity information of Stratfor employees. Brown was alerted to the raid ahead of time, by Sabu, and hid his laptop in his mother’s dishwasher. Agent Smith, having been tipped off by Sabu, found the laptop in the dishwasher and seized all of Brown’s computers, which contained the only copies of his pending book on Anonymous. Brown’s writing quickly degenerated into paranoid babble as he intravenously injected suboxone, a liquid oral medication prescribed for heroin withdrawal. In a series of YouTube videos released on September 11, 2011, Brown orated majestically from his apartment balcony and declared war on the children of Agent Smith. He was arrested hours later.
Andrew Auernheimer, known to the internet as Weev, was credited with popularizing the gaping asshole image “Goatse,” perhaps the most important staple of Internet shock humor. Weev enjoyed spouting racism and hate speech just to offend but was also a proficient coder and adept hacker. He was most proud of hacks which took the least amount of work, and often spoke of creating impossibly powerful characters in a Multi-User Dungeon game by entering negative numbers for character attributes. In an even simpler hack, Weev unearthed the personal information of millions of iPhone users and released this information to Internet tabloid Gawker. Weev was indicted and after several hearings requested to be incarcerated for the maximum possible time, saying, “You people should be ashamed of yourselves.” As he reached for his iPad, sheriffs tackled him to the ground and handcuffed him. Friends in the courtroom chanted “cocks,” and over 30 people were ejected from the proceedings.
“Aaron Socio”, a self-proclaimed prophet who proselytized pacifism and monism to Anonymous-identifying individuals on the internet, traveled across the United States living in a Winnebago. Socio purchased a persona management network from hackers in Argentina modeled after HBGary and used this to promote his religious teachings. After influencing a powerful brain-injured savant within Anonymous, Aaron Bale, Socio built a team of elite coders headed by Bale who created the ALIO mind virus, a much-improved version of HBGary’s persona management. This system was built upon a botnet, an illegal cloud computer which was programmed to generate its own fake user profiles. These profiles were guided by Socio’s Dehegemonic algorithm and intended to push humanity towards world peace.
Despite successful deployment of this sophisticated software system on December 21st, 2012, Socio became distraught that the world had not transformed as quickly as he had hoped. Just one week after ALIO’s release, Socio sped down a highway in Missouri, pushing his Winnebago to the absolute limit. Missouri state troopers made chase for two and half hours at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, and finally the radiator of the motor-home exploded, disabling the vehicle, which veered into the median and rolled onto its back. The irate redneck cops in Missouri worked Socio over brutally, and during this beating, Socio revealed the details of his Anonymous operation. Not believing Socio, the police charged him with terroristic threats anyway, along with reckless driving and evading arrest.
Hi, I’m Jim Ficks and this is Wal-Mart. At Wal-Mart, we cheer every morning, working ourselves up into a ravenous furor in the name of the great one and only, the provider, the destroyer – Wal-Mart of America. I’m Jim Ficks, and I have a job now. You Don’t. I’m Jim Ficks. My job is to rally employees working for $8 an hour, to rally together and “cheer” on our company name as audaciously as though they were speaking the unspeakable name of Yahweh himself.
Oh, HA HA. Don’t kid yourself! The Wal-Mart cheer not your typical high school cheer. At Wal-Mart, our morning cheers are actually the wailing song of abandoned hope, tinged with self-hatred the likes of which you never knew existed. That is, until our corporate overseer stated, in a company newsletter, that every morning from now until the end of human civilization will begin with a light-hearted climaxing chant, grow to a dull pulsing roar, and finally explode into a fireball of frenzied rage. Sweet, profit-maximizing rage. Don’t just watch – but focus – as the bald one they call “Joey” bristles with tension before snapping free from his hate-filled fervor, ready to seize the day like the throat of his enemy. Ready for blood, ready to stock shelves.
YOU LIKE THAT, YEAH YOU LIKE THAT DON’T YOU WAL-MART
WE HATE NIGGERS FOR YOU, WAL-MART. WE HATE OURSELVES. WE JUST WANNA COME IN THERE AND BUY YOU $2.15 CORN DOGS WAL-MART. WE NEED YOUR NITRATES IN OUR TOXIC BODIES TO MAINTAIN EQUILIBRIUM, WAL-MART, LEST WE TIP THE BALANCE OF HATE IN THE DEVIL’S HONOR. DACTARAI!!!!! FOR YOUR LOVE, MINE PRINCE OF PURITY. FOR YOUR PROFIT! Erodium Purus Nosferatu! MY PALE, FLUSHED FACE WAL-MART IT BURNS WITH SODIUM IODIDE, WAL-MART. WWWWWAAAAAAAAALLLL-MAAAARRRRRRRT!