Anonymous Are Cowards, Say Lawyers Who Defend Admitted War Criminals

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.”


SOPA, and Why We’re Not Blacked Out

Today is the day digital activists protest the Internet-censorship bill known as SOPA by symbolically blacking out their websites. SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, is a megacorporate-written scheme to “protect” entertainment and media conglomerates’ intellectual property, but it could shut down and otherwise disrupt much of the Internet if properly applied. It’s an attack on free speech. backs the blackout protests fully, and we absolutely, unequivocally condemn this hideous bill. But we can’t join in the protest itself. There is simply too much going on in the world to give the War Party a break from our 24/7 scrutiny. And goodness knows they won’t be taking a break.

We will continue providing information on the issue as it progresses.

Ethiopia: America’s Model for Civil Liberty?

Remember how the US contracted Ethiopia to “restore order” in Somalia? The East African dictatorship was to help install a UN-backed government of warlords and former communist apparatchiks in order to “free” Somalia. They ended up obliterating the delicate gains the impoverished society had made in the early 2000s.

Ethiopia, whose government purposely starved Its Own People to death in the 80s, such that Americans sang songs about them, was Washington’s light of freedom unto the Somalis. That turned out horrifyingly as we know — Ethiopia could poetically be said to have infected Somalia with famine; many other African despotisms have been roped in to somehow deliver democracy at missile-point, killing and displacing thousands in the process; an insurgency of war-scarred children runs wild.

But the point isn’t to mock yet again the utter, utter failure of US foreign policy with regard to Somalia, but to note that Ethiopia — DC’s go-to for regional freedom delivery — is run by terrible people who monitor and punish journalism they feel threaten them. Two Swedish journalists were just sentenced to 15 years in prison for “terrorism,” i.e., the crime of attempting to report in the Ogaden, an ethnic Somali region ruled brutally by Addis Ababa. Ethiopian journalists have been charged with terrorism as well. Many flee, shuttering their papers, in order to avoid what I imagine are quite inhospitable prisons — all for speaking their minds.

In the US, meanwhile, a sort of terror-fueled guerrilla law has taken hold, which will now soon be properly codified thanks to a few hawks and an ocean of cowards in Congress, plus a power-mad president. One could wonder if Ethiopia might be the model for the US government lately, whose leaders have seen fit to torture, imprison, and murder Americans for their own crimes of speech.