LulzSec Hacker Jeremy Hammond Pleads Guilty To CFAA Charge; Faces 10 Years

from the doj-pile-on dept

In yet another Computer Fraud and Abuse Act case, in which the DOJ piled on charge after charge after charge until the person they were pressuring accepted a plea bargain, Jeremy Hammond has officially accepted a plea deal for helping LulzSec/Anonymous hack Stratfor. He admits that he did it, and given that, it's perfectly reasonable to suggest that some punishment is warranted, but it still seems troubling the amount of pressure that the DOJ used to get him to take a plea bargain. We've talked about this for years: very few cases go to trial, because the DOJ pulls out everything possible to pressure you to take a plea:
There were numerous problems with the government's case, including the credibility of FBI informant Hector Monsegur. However, because prosecutors stacked the charges with inflated damages figures, I was looking at a sentencing guideline range of over 30 years if I lost at trial. I have wonderful lawyers and an amazing community of people on the outside who support me. None of that changes the fact that I was likely to lose at trial. But, even if I was found not guilty at trial, the government claimed that there were eight other outstanding indictments against me from jurisdictions scattered throughout the country. If I had won this trial I would likely have been shipped across the country to face new but similar charges in a different district. The process might have repeated indefinitely. Ultimately I decided that the most practical route was to accept this plea with a maximum of a ten year sentence and immunity from prosecution in every federal court.
It's worth noting that others involved in the same case have been sentenced to much lower sentences in the UK, so it will be interesting to see what the final sentencing yields.

Hammond insists that he still stands by what he did:
Now that I have pleaded guilty it is a relief to be able to say that I did work with Anonymous to hack Stratfor, among other websites. Those others included military and police equipment suppliers, private intelligence and information security firms, and law enforcement agencies. 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.
As I've said before, while I understand why people think this is reasonable strategy, such hacks almost always lead to more backlash than forward momentum. Yes, governments and companies are doing questionable things behind closed doors, but hacking into them to "prove" that takes away much of the value of finding out that information, and only increases the power of the government to create and use laws like the CFAA broadly to stifle perfectly legitimate uses of computers.
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Filed Under: anonymous, cfaa, cracking, doj, hacking, jeremy hammond, lulzsec
Companies: stratfor

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  1. icon
    Lobo The Duck (profile), 30 May 2013 @ 7:53pm

    Pfft. He needs the time to get his head on straight

    I know this guy. I know him from back before his first prison stint. He tried hiding himself in the Chicago hacker scene.

    Needless to say it didn't work out. The guy was toxic to pretty much anyone who didn't stroke his ego.

    He's not Robin Hood.
    He's not a hero.
    He's not Swartz (who simply wanted free information).
    He's not Mitnick (who was an OCD binge-hacker).
    He's not Abby Hoffman.
    He's not even Ted Kaczynski.
    This was never about morals.
    Or ethics.
    Or justice or any of that.

    It's about Jeremy stroking his ego. About him feeling powerful and important. About stealing from someone he dislikes.

    And he learned NOTHING in his first vacation at Club Fed. 2 years in Medium Security. And he came out every bit as effed up as he was when he went in (if not more-so). Still convinced that he did no wrong. He went right back out and did the same stupid thing AGAIN.

    And the main reason he got caught? Because he had to open his mouth and brag about his "cred". He's an attention hound. Good, bad or otherwise. When he wants to be in the spotlight, with people paying attention to him.

    So, all the people claiming that 10-30 years for a repeat offender is "out of line"? Or that he "didn't benefit". Grow up. Simply because Jeremy got caught before he could spend anything doesn't mean others didn't lose. Or didn't incur costs to protect themselves after he stole their information.

    If you can't do the time DO NOT DO THE CRIME!

    If I leave my door open, that is NOT tacit permission for you to come in, steal my wallet and vandalize my home.

    The same notion applies to breaking into systems owned by others.

    And, even if he did find some evidence of wrongdoing at Statfor, it doesn't excuse what he did. Indeed, it makes it WORSE now. Because he's tainted the evidence.

    All in all, Jeremy needs to be segregated from society for his own good. He needs a support and therapy structure to get himself into a better, less destructive headspace.

    Otherwise, he's going to come out of prison in a few years/decades and simply self-destruct like this all over again.

    As much as I hate footing the prison bill for a moron like him, I believe he deserves a chance to get the therapy he so desperately needs. Or, failing that, that society deserves to be protected from destructive child-men such as he's demonstrated himself to be.

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