There are petitions all over the internet right now, pleading for a judge to give someone an easy time. They’re full of claims about how what he did was not that bad, and he did it ‘for good’ etc. It’s all poppycock. These same people cry out ‘double standards’ if someone else gets preferential treatment, but want it for ‘their guy’. And the truth is, the only way they’re going to get it, is to lie.
Everyone reading this so far has gone ‘huh?’ and “Who the hell are you talking about?” so I’ll answer you, it’s Jeremy Hammond, self-confessed hacker. And despite the pleas of people for leniency, he’s not a very nice person at all. How do I know? Because I’ve had to deal with him for a number of years. And unlike all those people writing letters who dealt with him because they wanted to and wanted something from him (or are his family), I didn’t want to deal with him (especially later) and I had something he wanted. I saw the real him, and it’s not pretty.
The story goes way back to late 2006, when the US Pirate Party was just getting started. There was a fairly loud-mouthed guy who would hang around in IRC and be really unproductive. Instead of helping get stuff done, he’s want to go ‘storm a building’, or ‘have a march’. When it was pointed out to him (repeatedly) that you don’t do that with a political party, since breaking the law kinda makes it hard to get registered and on the ballot, he usually resorted to crass statements and abuse. He was just another unproductive troll.
At that time, I was the international coordinator for the USPP (since I understood a lot of languages, and knew the situation in Europe, where most of the Pirate Party stuff was happening), but then I had to move house in late 2006. When I got back online, that loudmouth was gone. I thought nothing of it anymore, and carried on. Later in 2007 I became Party Chairman, and got the party really started.
About two years later, I was running Pirate Party International, in the run up to the 2009 European Parliament Elections, when this blowhard started dropping by. He went by the nick “Insurgency” and was egging on the anarchists who were hanging out (and didn’t get the clue that the Pirate Party stands for responsible and accountable government, not ‘no government’). After a few weeks of this, he started going on about how long he’d been involved in stuff. That’s when he disclosed he was the loudmouth from 2006.
With that, he started going on about how he was the ‘real long time supporter’ and ‘should do things his way’. There needs to be more protests, need to get out on the streets, be angry, take over stuff, show people we mean business; pretty standard Black Bloc stuff really. While he had one or two supporters (the main one being a New Yorker who is the living embodiment of Rik Mayall’s Young Ones character, Rick) he wasn’t getting far encouraging people to follow him. So he did the one thing he could do to get people to maybe take some notice of him, give his real name.
With his real name, his absence was easy to understand. He disappeared because he was in jail, and he was back because he was out on parole. Not that moderated him any. Also, as the ‘hack this site guy” and “the protest warrior hacker” his star rose a little with the easily impressed, which is telling, as they were generally unimpressed with his rhetoric before. It’s the glitz of a little notoriety, which is also the basis of his current support.
Things came to a head in June&July 2009. We had won a seat, and perhaps a second in the EU elections in Sweden, and I was winding down my role as PPI head, ready to hand over to someone else (or as it turned out, a team of someone elses) but one of my last roles was monitoring the internal elections of the USPP. Having set up a 3rd party ballot site (ballotbin) to handle running the election in a fair way, that wasn’t good enough to Mr Hammond. He proceeded to use his ‘skills’ to attack the election, using a mixture of social engineering, and code injection to screw around with the election, not for any point, not for ‘politics’, but just because he could, and to ensure one of his fans won.
His preferred guy won, handily on the initial count, but he couldn’t let things go without his ‘genius’ being recognised. So he added in another candidate. This was before the verification step, so with this in mind, the scrutiny on the votes themselves was intense. His preferred guy won still, but by the closest of margins in the end.
As a reminder, he’s all about openness, and democracy and representing people in his political statements, and he repeatedly claims to courts that such feelings motivates his actions.
IT’S ALL CRAP!
Seriously, it’s just more of the social engineering that is the majority of any ‘hack’.
We had an open, free, fair election (too open in fact, since it later turned out there were even more shenanigans over the people registered to vote) – everything he claims to stand for – and he still had to mess around with it, because he could.
At this point I confronted him, and told him he needed to either go away for good, or if he wanted to stay, to behave himself, or else I’d take the hacking stuff to his parole officer. While it curbed his public excesses somewhat, it didn’t stop them.
At no time was this more evident than in September 2009, where a jubilant Hammond came in to boast of his activities, setting fire to a banner in Daley Plaza. He was openly excited over being arrested, and seemed to have relished in the physical confrontation and intimidation. From what I recall of the conversation on ‘why’ he did it, it seemed to be about not wanting things to go smoothly for the local politicians, and that anything that made them look bad was a good thing, that was his ‘protest’, a tantrum.
Thankfully, after this, he started being quieter, and he’d pop up only for a troll session or two. It wasn’t until November 2009 though that I learnt of one reason he wasn’t around so much, we weren’t so easy to intimidate. The few that were easily impressed with him had mostly evaporated when we required some work off them, and with me around as a sensible counterweight, he couldn’t do much ‘mob-raising’. It was also around then that I found out he had attempted to target me. Unfortunately, I’m not easy for him to target, as I keep personal details (at least, those that could be used for social engineering) hidden, or disguised. Perhaps more importantly, I don’t have a credit card. Without that plastic sliver to target, I doubt he was fully committed (and it’s fairly safe to say that credit cards are one of his weaknesses)
By late-2010, he’d disappeared almost entirely from Pirate Party stuff, popping in now and then to be disruptive, but nothing else. We know why. Unable to recruit (and especially after the public distancing from the wider Anonymous movement) he moved on to other pastures.
Yet in my dealings with him, in 2006, and then 2009/2010 there are a few things that come to mind.
- Yes, he can be charming when he wants to be, but if you fail to be charmed, that façade will fall, and quickly.
- He has an ego; a BIG ego at that. When he wasn’t recognised on his return in 2009, he started namedropping himself, hoping for recognition. And if you don’t recognise him, he was quick to link you to Wikipedia.
- Despite constant claims to be politically motivated, he has no interest in the political process. When some of his claims were disproved, he resorted to attacks.
- He has a worldview, and nothing at all will change that, not facts, not reality, not even the clear demonstration that his methods not only don’t work, they actually work against his worldview.
- He is spoilt. He was used to getting his own way, and has a problem with people telling him no.
- He likes to be ‘the smartest in the room’, If there are other smart people around, they’d better think the same way he does.
- Credit Cards are his weakness, he’ll gravitate to them whenever he can.
- He has problems accepting responsibility for his actions.
- He believes that the end justifies the means for his actions, but that others should always behave to impossibly high standards.
Frankly, when he is sentenced, I personally hope they throw the book at him. Despite the claims of political persecution, and ‘being an example’, my first-hand experience of dealing with him is that he’s a thug, that does what he wants because he feels like it, and he has a major problem accepting responsibility, but who likes to think himself a political crusader that is using civil disobedience (he’s not, and more on that another time), despite hating politics and striving to stay politically blinkered except where he can use it to justify anarchy.
The letters dozens of people are sending to his lawyer saying ‘let him off’, are from people who don’t really know what this case is about. They have what his lawyers have said, and not a lot else. Some of the bigger-name Pirates were supporting him, but didn’t know that this wasn’t even his first ‘hacking and stole credit cards’ arrest. They didn’t even know he took Credit Card numbers. Basically, his support campaign is the only thing ‘political’, supported by low-information voters.
He calls himself an ‘electronic Robin Hood’, he’s not (he’s actually taken money FROM the charities) and no-one but his supporters have called him that (and only after he first referred to himself that way).
He calls himself a ‘political prisoner’; he’s not. He’s a petty criminal who has drug charges, a few convictions for violence, and one felony conviction already for breaking into a computer system and stealing credit card info. You’re not a political prisoner if you break the law because you don’t like the government and get caught. You’re a political prisoner if your arrest is just because of your political beliefs. Trying to make out that he’s a political prisoner is a slap in the face to all the actual political prisoners around the world. He’s a guy that thought he was smarter than he is and got caught stealing credit card numbers. He’s a thief, and not a very good one, but the one this he is NOT, is a political prisoner. To try and portray his as one disgraces and demeans the likes of Nelson Mandella, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
One thing is for certain, he sure doesn’t speak for, or otherwise represent me.
I will say this though, when I heard he was arrested (based on his predictability) I gave a chuckle. And I will say this, I’ve been following the case for the Lulz. What other term is there for the massive attempts to justify a persistent criminal offender’s repeated arrests and convictions.
and Lulz to his ‘security‘ too.