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.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_bob, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    i hope h gets raiped lol!!!!11

    get wut he deservez

     

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  2.  
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    RD, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    Absurd

    This is more jailtime than drug dealing, manslaughter, and even some murderers get. Ridiculous.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    This is terrorism, plain and simple.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Absurd

    Pfft, jail over drugs is just a waste of resources we could be using to fight real crime.

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:27pm

    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.

    No shit. That's because you committed the crimes you were charged with.

    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.

    This will endear you with the sentencing court. Maybe you should consider that you are not entitled to the information stored on computers owned by others. Just a thought.

    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.

    This is absolutely true. Stupid, arrogant "activists" like this inevitably see their plans blow up in their faces like an exploding cigar.

     

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  6.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), May 28th, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    Hmm...

    Didn't these guys bring down PSN awhile back?

    Or was that someone else?

     

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  7.  
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    arcan, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:30pm

    while most people might disagree with their tactics, it is rather hard to disagree with their motives. These guys simply wanted to expose what they thought was wrong with their government, in some cases at least (sony hack was still a dick move, no matter how much they deserved it). It used to be that you had to work within the system to erect any change. that avenue has long been cut off. The system is so bought and bribed that working through it is basically a waste of time. Honestly, they took the course of action that they thought they should. Like or dislike them, you have to respect that, and online security company should be lining up to hire these guys the moment they are out of prison, cause they already made a mockery of a lot of those companies.

     

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  8.  
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    arcan, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:30pm

    Re:

    stop using buzzwords please. they do nothing to prove your point.

     

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  9.  
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    arcan, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

    Re:

    your grammar is bad and you should feel bad.

    1/10

    troll harder

     

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  10.  
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    Andrew Norton (profile), May 28th, 2013 @ 4:32pm

    Rubbish

    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 with protestwarrior, he did it for the CC numbers.

    I've dealt with Hammond a lot, both before and after his jailtime for his protest warrior CC theft. He's arrogant, self-important, self-opinionated, and has no long term plans. He's also not as smart as he thinks he is (and often got proved wrong about things he 'knew') and wasn't even that good a 'hacker' (he attacked me in 09, after I threatened to go to his probation officer over another hack he'd done (to rig an internal pirate party election for his buddy, another kid in the Rik-from-the-young-ones mold), and he bounced.

    He claims to have principles, but I've only ever seen one, and that principle was "me me me"

     

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  11.  
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    arcan, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:32pm

    Re:

    arrogant, probably. stupid? still probably smarter than you. even smart people can slip up though.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Okay, have it your way.
    This is nothing more than the government flexing its muscles to inspire fear and uncertainty in people in order to get them to get their way.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    minus a "get them to."

     

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  14.  
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    out_of_the_blue, May 28th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

    OR this guy committed multiple "crimes" over a long period.

    Note that I write "crimes" with quotes to indicate likely don't deserve 30 years.

    But looks like Hammond still has some woozy notions of law: "immunity from prosecution in every federal court." I don't believe that his use of "immunity" can possibly be correct, THOUGH there may have been an illegal deal (by which I mean DOJ was trying to turn him into an agent -- and possibly has) in which that word was used.

    I'd cautiously agree with Mike's last paragraph, but add that when the gov't is eager to find "hackers", it's simply stupid to go sneaking into closets in order to "liberate" data, as Aaron Schwartz did.

    And then I'd sweep on from Mike's suggestion that this bit of hacking brought on draconian enforcement to the notion that piracy of copyrighted content will similarly bring bad results: yes, you pirates cause more of the gov't action that you rail about.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 5:14pm

    Re: Re: Absurd

    This is more time than laying waste to the world economy.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 5:21pm

    Re:

    "That's because you committed the crimes you were charged with."

    That was not proven in a court of law, was it? Plea bargains are a huge miscarriage of justice.


    "Maybe you should consider that you are not entitled to the information stored on computers owned by others"

    Unless you are the government, then it is no holds barred.

    Two sets of rules ... hi court, low court. Corruption is rampant. Stating the obvious is fun.

     

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    horse with no name, May 28th, 2013 @ 7:02pm

    More Rubbish

    The guy did the crimes, and he knows it. Pleading guilty at this point to some of them beats the hell out of having to defend yourself against all of them - especially hard when you are generally guilty.

    I am not shocked to see Mike Masnick standing up for another internet criminal though. Wake up, the charges weren't piled on, they were real.

    Stick that in your anonymous internet and smoke it.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous, May 28th, 2013 @ 7:26pm

    If there was no government, none of this would have happened. Anarchy could solve a lot of problems.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 7:33pm

    Response to: arcan on May 28th, 2013 @ 4:30pm

    Waste of te is it? I guess you weren't around for all of the post-SOPA proclimations.

     

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  20. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Re:

    He pled guilty as a part of that process admitted his guilt. Hell, he acknowledged his illegal actions in the quote above.

    If he'd gone to trial he would have likely been convicted and gotten more time.

    Funny, one more instance where I don't recall hearing about anyone donating to one of the Heroes legal defense. You people certainly are cheap to a fault.

     

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  21. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2013 @ 7:46pm

    Re: More Rubbish

    I don't know why your shocked. Masnick is the biggest piracy and hacker apologist in the nation.

     

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  22.  
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    Jesse (profile), May 28th, 2013 @ 8:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Absurd

    Infinitely more, seen as that is 0.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 3:11am

    Re: More Rubbish

    Lol, read it again and try to understand it in context. The problems are with the penalty lenghts and the abuse of discretion by prosecutors.

     

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  24.  
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    Spock, May 29th, 2013 @ 3:49am

    Now that you all know

    Now that you all know what horrors you could face with the DOJ if you get caught, if Swartz's and Hammond's accounts tell you anything, it's that you can no longer act surprised and run around crying about it when the hammer falls. If you are a black hat cowboy, man up when you get the knock on the door because you can't plead ignorance any longer.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "You people" ... common phrase used by bigots

    Pleading guilty as part of a plea bargain does not prove the defendant committed the crime they are accused of. It means that our justice system is broken. I suggest some light reading on the subject may be beneficial.

    Due to the fear of massive charges and ridiculous debt many accept reduced charges even though they committed no crime. This is the result of judicial over reach, lazy investigators and a for profit prison system.

    It is sad that justice needs to go begging via a legal defense fund.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "You people" ... common phrase used by bigots

    Pleading guilty as part of a plea bargain does not prove the defendant committed the crime they are accused of. It means that our justice system is broken. I suggest some light reading on the subject may be beneficial.

    Due to the fear of massive charges and ridiculous debt many accept reduced charges even though they committed no crime. This is the result of judicial over reach, lazy investigators and a for profit prison system.

    It is sad that justice needs to go begging via a legal defense fund.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 5:17am

    Re: Now that you all know

    Yes, it is only the "black hat cowboy" that is subjected to the low court justice system. Man up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 5:25am

    Re: OR this guy committed multiple "crimes" over a long period.

    Really, Blue 2?

    What's really happening is that the Chamber of Commerce in association with the **AAs have been making normal behaviour illegal and civil laws criminal in the name of your beloved copyright, in addition to lengthening the already insanely long terms.

    Your argument is invalid.

     

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  29.  
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    TaCktiX, May 29th, 2013 @ 6:22am

    Re: Hmm...

    Someone else. I don't think the guys who hacked Sony's network and caused Sony to take down PSN as a security measure actually ever had a name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    DCX2, May 29th, 2013 @ 8:43am

    Reminder

    Approximately 97% of federal cases that reach a conclusion do so through plea bargaining.

     

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  31.  
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    DCX2, May 29th, 2013 @ 8:45am

    Re: Now that you all know

    The fact that you compared Aaron Swartz and Jeremy Hammond as even remotely equivalent doesn't do much for your argument.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2013 @ 9:09am

    More non-violent people getting sent to prison on my tax dollar. Dear Mr. Government I am not physically scared of this man please let him go and monitor his computer usage!

     

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  33.  
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    Dave, May 29th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re:

    "That's because you committed the crimes you were charged with". Hmmm - you know this for a fact, do you?

     

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  34.  
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    JJJoseph (profile), May 30th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re:

    He pleaded guilty to the charges, and he admits he did it. That looks pretty cut & dried to me.

     

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  35.  
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    Lobo The Duck (profile), May 30th, 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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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