Following Anonymous #OpLastResort Announcement, House Oversight Requests Swartz Hearing

Sentencing Commission Nyan cat Following Anonymous #OpLastResort Announcement, House Oversight Requests Swartz Hearing

Sentencing Commission Website “Asteroids” Game, featuring Nyan Cat

WASHINGTON — Following days of Anonymous defacement and deactivation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission website, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote a letter Monday to the attorney general requesting a briefing on attempts to prosecute late Internet activist Aaron Swartz for computer fraud and theft.

As to whether Anonymous computer fraud spurred the letter, the committee majority’s staff had not responded to requests for comment, and minority press staff say they have  “no comment” beyond the letter itself. Meanwhile members of the hacktivist collective are likely to claim the timing of the letter as a success in their “OpLastResort” campaign to draw attention to overzealous copyright enforcement, particularly by former Swartz prosecutor Carmen Ortiz. To the end of drawing that attention, operation participants have loaded a whimsical, custom game of “Asteroids” onto the Justice Department’s Sentencing Commission website, or employed Structured Query Language injection causing its total inaccessibility, such as at the time of this writing.

Notably using the passive voice, the Oversight Committee representatives’ letter to Attorney General Eric Holder reads in part:

HOGRC re Swartz Jan 28 2013 Following Anonymous #OpLastResort Announcement, House Oversight Requests Swartz Hearing

They ask that Mr. Holder schedule a committee briefing by next Monday and be prepared to answer the following questions:

HOGRC Qs re Swartz Jan 28 2013 Following Anonymous #OpLastResort Announcement, House Oversight Requests Swartz Hearing

As of midday Monday the following presentation from the OpLastResort (Operation Last Resort) campaign was the most viewed YouTube video in any category.

The video claims that federal sentencing guidelines are out of keeping with the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. To encourage authorities to institute enforcement and legislative changes, the video encourages members of Anonymous to download and redistribute “warheads,” information files encoded via the same PGP “.aes256″ standard WikiLeaks utilized for its eventually unraveled Cablegate “insurance” file. The video says that activists will release heavily redacted, private government files to a select media outlet. In order for authorities to deter the release of the full information “warheads,” the video makes the following demands:

[1] There must be reform of outdated and poorly-envisioned legislation, written to be so broadly applied as to make a felony crime out of violation of terms of service, creating in effect vast swathes of crimes, and allowing for selective punishment.
[2] There must be reform of mandatory minimum sentencing.
[3] There must be a return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused, and consideration of motive and mens rea.
[4] The inalienable right to a presumption of innocence and the recourse to trial and possibility of exoneration must be returned to its sacred status, and not gambled away by pre-trial bargaining in the face of overwhelming sentences, unaffordable justice and disfavorable odds.
[5] Laws must be upheld unselectively, and not used as a weapon of government to make examples of those it deems threatening to its power.

While Anonymous has become famous for inciting vigilantism with imagery from the 2005 film “V for Vendetta,” this video also promotes action using scenes and music from the Batman “Dark Knight Trilogy.”

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