Missing From The Story: LulzSec Informant Sabu Released Early Because He Got LulzSec To Hack FOR The FBI

from the time-served-indeed dept

Earlier this week, there were plenty of reports about how Hector Xavier Monsegur, also know as "Sabu," the leader/turned informant of the Anonymous spinoff hacking project LulzSec, was released from jail early for his "extraordinary cooperation" with the FBI. Technically, this was at his sentencing, and he was given "time served" (amounting to about 7 months in jail). Most folks have noted that the "extraordinary cooperation" involved handing over the names and information on other LulzSec members, including Jeremy Hammond, who was recently sentenced (by the same judge) to 10 years in prison.

However, that seems to leave out the other, increasingly troubling, aspect of the Sabu story -- which was that he didn't just "cooperate" with the FBI in fingering various LulzSec members, he actually gave them orders (which first came from the FBI) on who to hack, including key government computers in a variety of foreign countries. It seems likely that this was the "extraordinary cooperation" that helped Sabu secure a much shorter sentence.

Two of the other individuals that Sabu helped authorities arrest and prosecute have commented on Sabu's deal. Jake Davis highlights how Sabu was a huge "get" for the FBI, since they didn't seem to understand much about internet hacking without Sabu to lead them through everything -- and he wonders if this will lead others to rush to become informants as well. In fact, Davis points out that the whole reason for the light sentence is probably to encourage more informants -- though, it could equally be argued that it's not just to encourage more informants, but more people who can help the FBI secretly hack into targets.

Meanwhile, another LulzSec member, Ryan Ackroyd, who was recently released after serving 9 months of a 30-month sentence, pointed out that while the sentence is unsurprising, it's somewhat ridiculous given Sabu was in many ways "the worst" of the bunch:
"Sabu was the worst one out of us all, he should have been given the largest sentence. He was the one stealing from people's bank accounts, credit cards and PayPal so that he could pay his bills and buy new things. Sabu talked people into hacking things for him and when he got caught he decided to snitch on these people, for something he asked them to do, in order to save himself."
Either way, no matter what you think of the situation and Sabu, it seems worth remembering that he didn't just help find other LulzSec members, he got them to hack specific FBI targets.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 9:51am

    Yes, because that doesn't taint any evidence obtained at all.

    Morons.

     

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

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 9:58am

    Just like on TV

    "House of Cards" featured a ripped-from-the-headlines subplot that matched Sabu's case pretty damned closely, except that it was implied that ruthless government coercion motivated the hacker to become complicit, rather than rat out his friends. No such morality tale here.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    zip, May 29th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    body count

    Although it's well known that the length of a convicted criminal's sentence is inversely proportional to the number of associates he is able to ensnare (and their respective prison sentences) by becoming an informant and testifier for the FBI, I wonder if anyone has ever put together a formula showing the mathematical relationship?

    Just as a guess, it seems that to get one other person convicted means a 50% reduction in a person's sentence, while getting 10 people convicted might translate to a 90% reduction.

     

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  4.  
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    Michael, May 29th, 2014 @ 11:41am

    Does the FBI really have such a bad reputation as an employer that they have to coerce competant hackers to work for them? They really cannot manage to find people that are willing to do that job for them?

     

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  5.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Wouldn't it be funny if they used this newfound trust in hacking external sources to grab a shitload of documents from the FBI and go Snowden or something?

    As another note I wonder what were the threats that made them work for the FBI. Or was the mere prospect of getting out of jail earlier enough?

     

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

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 1:33pm

    Re:

    As another note I wonder what were the threats that made them work for the FBI.

    Looking at how the DOJ works, threatening to pile on the charges to keep them in jail until they were senile.

     

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

  7.  
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    madasahatter (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 2:01pm

    Re:

    The typical DOJ warm-body is marginally competent enough to turn on a computer. They think hacking is this incredibly difficult activity when most hacks are done by script-kiddies and often rely on (spear-)phishing to get credentials.

    The problem is it easy often easier to use the abusive powers of the US DA to coerce someone to their bidding.

     

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  8.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    Re:

    "They really cannot manage to find people that are willing to do that job for them?"

    They've had a real problem finding such people, yes. For good reasons. Even assuming that they can find skilled people who don't have an ethical problem working for the feds, those positions aren't very desirable: low pay, extremely difficult and invasive application process, etc.

    Skilled people can do a whole lot better than working for the feds.

     

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

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 3:16pm

    Just remember boys and girls, it's not "Entrapment" when the FBI does it.

     

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

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 6:25pm

    I wonder if Sabu has been placed in witness protection after all the snitching he's done.

     

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

  11.  
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    prodigitalson, May 30th, 2014 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    I don't think its so much the FBI's reputation as an employer as it is working for "da man" in general. I assume that most people in the field with a decent skill level have an aversion to authority and especially law enforcement (at any level). Even if one has no qualms about going that route I would think the law enforcement would be pretty much a last choice. It would be much more interesting, and likely lucrative, to work for the NSA or CIA.

     

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


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