I am a bit high off the news that activist group Anonymous hacked a law firm, Puckett & Faraj, which defends military clients, and leaked 2.6 gigabytes of emails. Principal Neal Puckett successfully defended Frank Wuterich, who led the Marine death squad responsible for the Haditha massacre. In Nov. 2005, as random revenge for the roadside-bombing death of a comrade, the Marines broke into several homes in the Anbar province town of Haditha and slaughtered 24 people, all civilians.
Wuterich received absolutely no jail time whatsoever. Instead, he got a pay cut and demotion for pleading guilty.
Now, everyone accused of even the most violent crimes deserves a lawyer — civil libertarians have unfortunately been forced to stridently argue this in recent years. But only the most brutal, sadistic, mass-murdering criminals seem to get a lawyer these days — at least up until you hit a certain station, and then no lawyer is necessary because no charges will ever be brought. Anyone else accused of applicable crimes is thrown in a hole or extrajudicially executed. This is why Puckett & Faraj seem to be a legitimate and symbolic target.
Having just escaped having to serve on a jury, I can tell you lawyers aren’t always the smartest people in the room. So it’s hardly surprising to see the twisted logic in the following tweet from Puckett & Faraj:
“Puckett Faraj cyber-attacked Friday by cowards for defending Frank Wuterich from the government the hackers seek to destroy – go figure.”
Several problems here. 1) Wuterich *is* the government. 2) Anonymous and other activists — remember Occupy Wall Street? — are angry specifically over the unequal treatment given government actors in government courts versus the rest of us. Glenn Greenwald just wrote an entire book about this. That is precisely what happened in the Wuterich case. 3) As is it literally deadly to fight against the ruling system head-on, it is from a position of self-preservation, not cowardice, that the apparatuses of state are attacked anonymously.
Should law firms who represent war criminals be so attacked? It depends. Let’s call it an iffy means to a just end, exercised on a key pillar of an oppressive system. All things are not equal.
“This may completely destroy the law firm,” admitted Puckett & Faraj’s business manager in an email.
Wuterich and his pals no doubt have a name for this. It’s called “collateral damage.”