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« Silicon Valley-Supported Rep. Cornyn Makes Inquiry on Swartz Prosecution | Main | Twitter, Anshe Chung/ Second Life Hacked »

02/02/2013

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Catherine Fitzpatrick

A backup of my comment at Empty Wheel in case the geeks delete it:

Empty Wheel, when you write this:

http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/01/16/the-december-2010-black-hole-in-the-network-interface-closet/ (see your comment no. 62)

"Look, part of the Manning investigation pertained to who helped Manning scrape lots of data w/encryption to avoid notice. He got a software tool to help him do that in Jan-Feb 2010 in Cambridge. According to Adrian Lamo, he had already told the Feds who that was by August. In Cambridge at that time (though I have no idea if he was at the parties earlier) was someone who had ALREADY scraped massive amounts of data without being identified. So it’d be unlikely that he would totally escape their interest."

"And presumably, one way to learn more about that would be to learn how Swartz uploaded the PACER documents to Amazon. That’s another thing he was FOIAing–what kind of info the govt got from Amazon in that investigation. And that’s something the GJ in this case was investigating too.

I’m fairly sure they used the GJ to investigate if he had ties to WikiLeaks, and that’s what his lawyer was trying to learn about in his discovery motions."


.... it seems to me that you are basically positing a theory that Swartz helped Manning with the hack for WikiLeaks. You're not just setting up a critique of government overreach -- you're laying the path by which a plausible case could really be made that Swartz and other MIT hackers helped Manning and WikiLeaks.

You don't seem to want to come out and say that, nor does Saul Tannenbaum, who also makes a series of very informed and interesting comments.

But that is the net effect of what you are getting at. Either you are positing that Swartz could have been that person to provide Manning with that "scraper tool", or someone else in the circle could have, or you are implying, due to Swartz's previous existing connection to Amazon servers with his large downloads in the PACER caper, that he could have helped somehow there. You're laying out a theory of the case that has the feds "overreaching" and bringing in the Secret Service and the forensic experts because *they need to confirm Manning's story*.

You think they don't get to do that; and maybe you think Manning should go free. But those are ideological questions separate from whether the government thinks they have a case or not -- and it looks as if they do, both against Swartz for the JSTOR hack, and against *somebody* for helping Manning.

I'm going to assume that Manning will allocute and confess and be sentenced to a lesser term as a result and that time in solitary will be booked against the sentence. And that his confession may well involve explaining the connections to Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, Danny Clark, Aaron Swartz and others.

And the government may not have a case against any of those people, despite their aggressive probing, because maybe it's just not enough, or maybe files got erased.

But you do seem to be going there. And what are we to make of the mention of Aaron Swartz's former partner in the court documents about the grand jury's investigation?

I've laid this all out on my own blog where I've been studying this case from a far more critical view than you, because I don't support the copyleftist movement and don't think these goals should be achieved through coercion and unlawfulness in this fashion, even if they are merited, which I'm not persuaded they are.

http://3dblogger.typepad.com/wired_state/2013/02/did-aaron-swartz-help-bradley-manning-hack-for-wikileaks.html

I don't think the prosecutors should be savaged; I think if anyone is to blame, it is Lessig for leaving his protege literally to hang after he "crossed a line" that Lessig himself wouldn't cross, but coyly incited.

Heather Brooke seems to implicate Danny Clark in her interview with Swartz cited in her book which she republished on her blog after his death.

http://heatherbrooke.org/2013/a-few-thoughts-on-the-death-of-hacktivist-aaron-swartz/

Look, I understand your concern about overreach and injustices in this and related cases even if I don't share your leftist politics. I'm a liberal who believes in all human rights for all, and I find hackers like Assange and Manning aren't demonstratively whistleblowing on valid human rights concerns such as to justify the damage to WikiLeaks sources and the liberal, democratically elected government of the US. They aren't persuasive; I knew and had concern about the killing of journalists in Iraq long before "Collateral Damage", but Appelbaum lied outright when he claimed to me that US soldiers deliberately wounded children -- even on Assange's heavily framed and distorted rendering of this video, you can tell that they didn't know who was in the van.

I also don't appreciate Swartz taking away *choice* online for whether to have "information wants to be free" or information wants to be in a walled garden or behind a pay wall to get costs covered and ensure people's livelihoods. I'm quite sure you see it differently, but then you don't seem to realize: in your intense effort to try to illustrate how the government is making all kinds of "wrongful" cases against Swartz, you're actually laying out a theory of the case that has him and his fellow MIT hacker buddies helping Manning deliberately, out of ideology -- which was wrong.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

And while I'm in Heather Brooke's moderation queue:

February 2, 2013 at 11:17 am

Heather,

I’ll have to get your book to see the context of your research here, but it sounds to me as if you are citing your interview with Aaron Swartz to set up an implication of Danny Clark as the person who in fact did help Bradly Manning with the US government server hack and/or the transfer of those files to WikiLeaks.

You must know that the grand jury asked David House, one of the MIT hackers who invited Manning to the open house party for BUILDS, what he knew about Clark’s breakfast with Manning the following morning.

I’m also wondering if at the end of the day you’re implying that Swartz helped Manning — or helped Clark without realizing he was helping Manning. Or what the story is. I’ve thought a lot about it and laid it out on my blog:

http://3dblogger.typepad.com/wired_state/2013/02/did-aaron-swartz-help-bradley-manning-hack-for-wikileaks.html

I read through the posts at Empty Wheel that also ask a lot of questions about the alleged overreach of federal prosecutors and the possible fishing expedition on WikiLeaks. But on the way to asking all those questions, they don’t seem to realize, as you don’t, that in fact you are implicating these MIT hackers. They aren’t under arrest, but at least one, Jacob Appelbaum, in this circle, was under investigation by the grand jury.

Dgolumbia

this has graduated from informed and unorthodox reflection on an important matter, into something like real investigative journalism. I had a few whiffs of something like this (including the very odd mention of inducements to Quinn Norton in the indictment), and of Swartz's possible connections to WikiLeaks, but this is starting to make it sound very possible, and making the government's interest in stopping Swartz and others like him somewhat understandable.

all of which makes Swartz's simultaneous insistence on forcing other people to be maximally open, while demanding for himself a very thick right to privacy, and somehow believing that the law should be able to make that distinction about actions due to how he and his friends perceive "intent" (indiscriminate and unelected "hacktivists" should be allowed to operate in secret and even protected as such by law, but processes overseen by democratic bodies with long-established needs for and laws regarding secrecy, especially state diplomacy--the part of WikiLeaks I find most concerning--must be forced to operate in the open), that much more disturbing.

as I've said before, it's hard to understand what principles an activist is working for, when their actions involve shredding so many other principles that their own actions seem to entail. Swartz and his supporters would not want others to act the way they do/did, if they didn't believe in the cause.

thank you for keeping up on this series & I hope you will keep publishing whatever else you find.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

I don't have the resources to do "real investigative journalism". People like Empty Wheel or Streetwise Professor can do the informed, considered blogging they do because they have jobs in academia (at least I think that's the story for Marcy Wheeler) and networks of people to martial evidence and such. There's lots that has to be done to make this into proper journalism but I don't have the time or connections. The first obvious thing to be done is to place Swartz at that party or at least in town at that time. That may have been done by Heather Brooke but I'm not sure. The next thing to do is to question Clark about Swartz, but he won't talk to just anyone, if at all. Third, Amazon has to be persuaded to leak something about what they know about Swartz's uploads and WikiLeaks, but they don't do that because all of Silicon Valley would crush them like a ton of bricks for outing a customer's privacy when they are touting "the cloud" as secure (of course it isn't). The government hasn't called Amazon as a witness from what we can see. The issue of how these big services will cooperate or not with the USG is a hugely controversial and contested area that Obama solved not by signing CISPA and permitting the time-honoured checks and balances system to establish this, but writing an executive order about cooperation with Internet companies that is more secretive and which we don't know how will play out. Someone has to at least question the legal team as to what they say about the WikiLeaks claim of Swartz as a "source" (or maybe they mean "engineer"), even though they haven't answered -- and if the legal team wanted to engage in more victimology, they could have maybe seized on this angle, but didn't.

Then there's questioning of Quinn, and questioning of all friends in Brooklyn who were at the last two parties that Swartz went to before he died and also might have known what he was working on before he died. And here it could turn out that he suffered from depression as an illness and had triggers for this depression unrelated to this case -- as much as everyone in the family and friends' circles seems to very much need his death to be about his case, or they feel as if his life was lived in vain.

The Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, they might have undertaken a story like this but they aren't what they used to, and they would be adopting such a position of lionizing Swartz and hating on the USG for WikiLeaks that they wouldn't keep a curious mind. Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker, who did the excellent story on Assange that basically outed Assange as having deliberately manipulated the editing and release of "Collateral Damage" would be a good candidate to do the serious journalism this requires. But the New Yorker editorial line is to weep for Swartz, too.

The problem with the Swartz story is that you are dealing with a very tight-knit community even if loosely connected that protects its own and has very fierce ideals and rigid ideologies. I'd have an easier time going out to cover the modest patrol attacks in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn than I would finding out who helped Manning with the "scraper tool" to get the files for WikiLeaks. And actually, the US government, which has considerably more resources than anybody, doesn't seem to have come up with an indictment, because if they mounted their "overzealous prosecution" of Swartz, if that theory pertains, as a "fishing expedition," then they didn't come up with enough information to indict among those 13 charges -- unless this was something that was going to come out at the trial, and I don't see any sign of that.

I totally agree that the most disturbing aspect of the unethical hackers is that they want "transparency for thee and not for me". They think it's legitimate to rip apart the most liberal, elected government we've had in decades, in a liberal democratic state (i.e. not an abusive authoritarian state like Russia), but then make darknets for themselves and hide everything. It's like Appelbaum petulantly whining about what a victim he was when the feds were detaining him at the border and confiscating his phones and demanding his Twitter records because he bragged about his support for WikiLeaks at a conference, but then he casually sits in the audience where an FBI agent is on a panel and brags that he's able to hack her phone.

These moments are what let me know that WikiLeaks is a war for power, not transparency.

The principles they are working for are known to me from history -- "revolutionary justice" and "revolutionary expediency" and that's why I oppose them.

My own feeling, ever since I saw Harold Koh's first "cease and desist letter," is that the USG does not have a case against Assange and never will have one. I would be pleasantly surprised if the military came up with more forensics to back up Lamo's chatlogs which essentially are the smoking gun, but I bet they won't, and I bet it's because too much has been cleverly erased.

What vexes me about this story is that all those who are in a position to make educated and informed guesses like these bloggers I've cited are only doing this to make another case, of the government's "overreach", and they and their readers start with the premise that there's nothing wrong with WikiLeaks because this somehow was "whistleblowing" for "America's wars".

I opposed the war in Iraq and I don't think they have a case here and I don't think that's what this hacking is about. "Collateral Murder" does not show what they want it to show, if you approach it in good faith without ideological tendentiousness. It shows a case of mistaken identity because journalists walked around with armed men and their tripods got mistaken for an RPG. If it were just journalists and only their tripods were mistaken, that would be one thing, but nobody can deny they were with armed men and that in itself is controversial in the journalists' community, as it is not universally accepted that you should have armed escorts. As for other aspects of Cablegates, I've never found any American war crime that they claim seems to exist in this material.

David House doesn't seem to speak out as much as he did after opposing Assange and having all of Assange's attack dogs bully and try to silence him.

It seems there are no adults, least of all in the university, to explain right and wrong to him, and he is only celebrated:

http://www.bu.edu/today/2012/the-making-of-a-cyber-libertarian/

I've always found it odd that the military let an MIT hacker who met Manning at a party to come visit him when he was virtually in solitary confinement without only one hour a day outside a cell. Huh? This maximum security prisoner got this activist visitor? They must have thought he would shed light on his case, and then they got the excuse to seize his laptop.

It's absolutely not true that WikiLeaks "didn't hurt" anybody, as I know for a fact that it has, but that those harmed do not paint targets on their backs to invite further harm and therefore the public especially the hacksters don't get their "proof". And that's just how it is. Eventually these stories will be told.


Zejuwpdk Sharklasers

Wow, this was some super-entertaining high-quality conspiracy theory reading. But you forgot to include Eric Schmiedl and Ivan Krstić... also, Mayo, lulz.

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