It’s Payback Time!

The cyberwar begins

by , December 10, 2010

The headlines are ablaze with news of the war – no, not that war, or that war, or even this war – I’m talking about the “cyberwar” being waged against the enemies of WikiLeaks, not only the American and Swedish governments, but also the corporate collaborators who have done their best to drive WikiLeaks into the ground. 

A group of computer-savvy warriors for truth and justice, who call themselves “Anonymous,” have brought down the internet operations of MasterCard, Visa, and FinancePost (the Swiss that abruptly terminated WikiLeaks’ account), as well the site of the Swedish prosecutors’ office and that of the odious “feminist” lawyer, Claes Borgstrom, who is fronting for the CIA’s sex-smear-frame-up of Julian Assange.  

This cyberwar, which was started by the US, has two sides going at it, but you’d never know that from reading the “news” accounts in the legacy media. Take this typical story from USA Today, headlined “Pro-WikiLeaks cyberattacks show growing threat,” which avers: 

“The attacks Wednesday were part of a recent series by supporters and enemies of WikiLeaks, said Gunter Ollmann of Internet security firm Damballa. ‘It’s like a Wild West shootout … and we’ve had these different organizations being caught in the crossfire,’ he said. 

“Last week, WikiLeaks servers were knocked offline by people angry over its release of diplomatic and military information that critics said could embarrass the government and even risk lives, he said.”

Who are these “people” who are “angry” at WikiLeaks – random “patriots”? Sean Hannity? Sarah Palin? Joe Lieberman? Of course not: it’s these guys, i.e. employees of the US government whose online aggression is illegal and unethical.  

WikiLeaks, you’ll recall, was brought down by a series of powerful denial-of-service (DOS) attacks undoubtedly launched by US government thugs. WikiLeaks supporters are now firing back, and for daring to defend themselves are deemed a “growing threat” by such arbiters of online etiquette and Just War Theory as the editors of USA Today. A similar case of self-imposed blindness permeates the “reporting” of the Washington Post, which described the attacks on MasterCard, Visa, et al, as follows

“The online attacks are part of a wave of support for WikiLeaks that is sweeping the Internet. Twitter was choked with messages of solidarity for the group, while the site’s Facebook page hit 1 million fans.  

“Late Wednesday, Operation Payback itself appeared to run into problems, as many of its sites went down. It was unclear who was behind the counterattack.” 

It’s “unclear” only to those whose vision is blurred by State-worship. For the rest of us, it’s all too clear who was and is responsible for the online thuggery directed at WikiLeaks and  its supporters. The same people who believe they have a God-given “right” to carpet-bomb civilians and murder foreigners “terrorists” en masse are now launching virtual attacks on web sites whose owners have violated no known laws and are publishing exactly the same materials being printed by the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel. The online version of the TSA hasn’t taken down the web sites of the legacy media, at least not yet, but make no mistake – they’re next.  

Naturally, our online spooks have a cover story, albeit not a very convincing one, dutifully trotted out by the Los Angeles Times

“A group called Anonymous temporarily disables the websites of Visa and MasterCard after they said they would no longer handle donations to WikiLeaks. A rival ‘patriotic’ hacker, the Jester, fights back. 

“… Meanwhile the Jester has claimed responsibility for taking down WikiLeaks’ website several times since it posted its first batch of confidential State Department cables on Nov. 29. The Jester, who describes himself as a patriotic hacker with a military background, claims other like-minded hackers have approached him to help.” 

We’re supposed to believe that a single private individual, who claims to be “ex-military,” and who tweets “TANGO DOWN!” every time he hits his target, is responsible for bringing down WikiLeaks. Those who fall for this story are like those children who really believe you can’t see them if they hide their face behind their fingers. Well, peek-a-boo, Mr. Government Employee – I see you! And so does anybody else with an ounce of sense. 

Like all government employees, however, these Pentagon hackers are engaged in “work” that is neither productive nor useful even to themselves and their masters, because WikiLeaks is stronger now than it has ever been if strength on the internet is measured in terms of accessibility. In response to what is clearly a government-mandated campaign to destroy them, their supporters have harnessed the technology to evade and indeed make a complete mockery of the enemy. As this rather technical but fascinating piece concludes: 

“If suppressed content automatically goes viral, the Internet’s construction basically guarantees that that content will have a home for the rest of time. If you attack DNS support, people will tweet raw IP addresses. If you take down the BGP routes to web content, people will put up more mirrors, or switch to overlay networks to distribute the data. You can’t burn down the Library of Alexandria any more— it will respawn in someone’s basement in Stockholm, or Denver, or Beijing.” 

Which is precisely why the US government fears and loathes not only WikiLeaks, but the Internet itself, and is now making an effort – futile, as explained above – to control it. It’s a realm entirely beyond Washington’s power to regulate and suppress – and we can’t have that! This is why they’re trying  to make an example of WikiLeaks, and  Assange, and that’s why they will ultimately fail. Furthermore, their efforts to do so will boomerang and cause their ultimate downfall, as Assange explains in his brilliant essay, "State and Terrorist Conspiracies." [.pdf]

Assange likens authoritarian and neocorporatist regimes to conspiracies, with various branches that communicate with each other and yet must maintain enough secrecy to stave off growing opposition to their schemes. To threaten this essential element of all such regimes – secrecy – is to cause the ruling elite to clamp down and restrict information flow even within its own apparatus, lest a dreaded “leak” seeps out. And that course is fatal, as Assange explains: 

“Literacy and the communications revolution have empowered conspirators with new means to conspire, increasing the speed [and] accuracy of the their interactions and thereby the maximum size a conspiracy may achieve before it breaks down. Conspirators who have this technology are able to out conspire conspirators without it. For the same costs they are able to achieve a higher total conspiratorial power. That is why they adopt it. For example, remembering Lord Halifax’s words, let us consider two closely balanced and broadly conspiratorial power groupings, the US Democratic and Republican parties. Consider what would happen if one of these parties gave up their mobile phones, fax and email correspondence — let alone the computer systems which manage their subscribes, donors, budgets, polling, call centers and direct mail campaigns? They would immediately fall into an organizational stupor and lose to the other. 

“An authoritarian conspiracy that cannot think is powerless to preserve itself against the opponents it induces. When we look at an authoritarian conspiracy as a whole, we see a system of interacting organs, a beast with arteries and veins whose blood may be thickened and slowed until it falls, stupefied; unable to sufficiently comprehend and control the forces in its environment.” 

This recalls the key insights of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek, the libertarian theorists of the “Austrian” school, whose critique of socialism was that imperfect knowledge dooms efforts by central authorities to regulate business and fix prices. 

Our rulers, however, have other ideas. Armed with computer technology, and the hubris of scientism – which purports to wear the mantle of science – they think they can get around the inherent limitations of the human condition, and control the uncontrollable. What they didn’t take into account was that such hubris induces opposition – and so the first cyberwar has begun. 

It is a war the US government, with all its resources, cannot win, because the nature of the technology – the weaponry – has defeated it before even the first shot was fired. And make no mistake: that first shot was fired by Washington, not Assange – an act of aggression our puffed-up rulers will live to regret.  

The more the government clamps down and tries to hide its secrets, the more vulnerable it will become – until that glorious day dawns when its blood is so thickened and slowed that “it falls, stupefied, unable to sufficiently comprehend and control the forces in its environment.”  

Assange is a thinker, as well as a doer: he long ago perfected the theory of which WikiLeaks is the practice, and you would do well to investigate what he has to say in his seminal 2006 essay [.pdf]. I can’t resist quoting the wonderful introduction, which puts the WikiLeaks fight in perspective: 

“To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not.  

“Firstly we must understand what aspect of government or neocorporatist behavior we wish to change or remove. Secondly we must develop a way of thinking about this behavior that is strong enough carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and into a position of clarity. Finally must use these insights to inspire within us and others a course of ennobling, and effective action.” 

Words to inspire, as well as inform.

One last thing: these “hactivists” have been denounced as “nihilists,” and “anarchists” (as if the two terms are synonymous, which they are not), but this is just regimist propaganda designed to scare people into accepting an ever-tightening tyranny that is reacting in a way that seals its own doom. It is not “nihilism” to oppose our rulers and their “new world order” of client states and perpetual war: it is patriotism of the highest order, patriotism in the service of liberty. They think they can stop the rising tide of rebellion by arresting a 16-year-old boy in the Netherlands – but can they arrest the over 40,000 people who have recently downloaded the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, the hi-tech weapon of choice that brought down MasterCard? Of course not. They rule by fear, and smear – but only if we let them.

Of course, Antiwar.com does not endorse illegal acts, nor do we urge people to engage in them. But this war, Cyberwar I, was started by the Powers That Be – and now let them fight it, even as they realize that they cannot win.

Read more by Justin Raimondo