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real war on reality

On May 28 Jeremy Hammond pled guilty to the Stratfor hack, noting that even if he could successfully defend himself against the charges he was facing, the Department of Justice promised him that he would face the same charges in eight different districts and he would be shipped to all of them in turn.  He would become a defendant for life.  He had no choice but to plea to a deal in which he may be sentenced to 10 years in prison.  But even as he made the plea he issued a statement, saying “I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.”  (In a video interview conducted by Glenn Greenwald with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong this week, Snowden expressed a similar ethical stance regarding his actions.)

Given the scope and content of what Hammond’s hacks exposed, his supporters agree that what he did was right. In their view, the private intelligence industry is effectively engaged in Psyops against American public., engaging in “planned operations to convey selected information to [us] to influence [our] emotions, motives, objective reasoning and, ultimately, [our] behavior”? Or as the philosopher might put it, they are engaged in epistemic warfare.

The Greek word deployed by Plato in “The Cave” — aletheia — is typically translated as truth, but is more aptly translated as “disclosure” or “uncovering” —   literally, “the state of not being hidden.”   Martin Heidegger, in an essay on the allegory of the cave, suggested that the process of uncovering was actually a precondition for having truth.  It would then follow that the goal of the truth-seeker is to help people in this disclosure — it is to defeat the illusory representations that prevent us from seeing the world the way it is.  There is no propositional truth to be had until this first task is complete.

This is the key to understanding why hackers like Jeremy Hammond are held in such high regard by their supporters.  They aren’t just fellow activists or fellow hackers — they are defending us from epistemic attack.  Their actions help lift the hood that is periodically pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth.


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When a private firm uses ruses to infiltrate and monitor groups, how is that not fraud?  If someone from those groups had become an employee of those firms and then exfiltrated information, wouldn't that be equivalent?  The only difference I see is that the groups may not regularly ask people to sign non-disclosure agreements that include conflict of interest clauses and similar.

Only actual government employees, and perhaps deputies, seem to be legally protected from fraud and other charges relating to bad faith.

You're right, Stephen. It's fraud.

By the way, the basic premise -- “I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.” -- is tough because he's both right and wrong.

More transparency in general helps people trust governments and corporations.

But more transparency also means the "bad guys" have access to that information, too.

It's a tough line to walk but clearly not everything should be made public.

What Ed Snowden should have done:

If Edward Snowden had been a federal government worker, he would have been protected by federal whistleblower legislation. He's not. He's considered a part of the "intelligence community," so he's pretty much out of luck at this point.

Gordon Schnell, an attorney and partner at Constantine Cannon who specializes in whistleblower and fraud law tells Business Insider that in recent years, Congress has gone out of its way to not provide protection for national security workers who leak information to the public.

Consider Bradley Manning, the Army private who leaked classified information to Wikileaks, and currently on trial for charges that could carry a sentence up to 20 years.

But Snowden's biggest problem isn't that he's a national security employee, or that he decided to disclose evidence he thought was improper government activities, but that he decided to go straight to the press instead of taking proper action that could've prevented him from facing criminal charges.

First, national security workers should report any concerns and harmful activities to the inspector general, who are supposed to be semi-independent of any government agency. If that doesn't work, there are other intra-government routes to consider, such as going to Congress. 

"It won't immunize whistleblowers from full disclosure, but it's a lot safer than going to the press where there's no protection at all," Schnell tells us. "Think about how different this story would be if [Snowden] had tried other avenues first and come up empty handed."

"The story would be much more black and white [if Snowden had gone to the inspector general and Congress first] than it is now." Schnell isn't saying that Snowden should have ruled out the press completely, but that if he had tried to get the information out in other ways and failed, he'd have an easier time defending himself in court.

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