from the terrorism-is-just-things-we-don't-fully-comprehend dept
Jeremy Hammond — a member of various Anonymous offshoots — had the misfortune of being prosecuted in the United States. While his UK accomplices in the Stratfor hack were sentenced to 1-3 years, Hammond received a 10-year sentence (along with three years of supervised release) for his participation. The length of Hammond’s sentence was mainly due to the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) being a horribly-written law (and there’s a possibility it will get much worse in the future), and the FBI’s willingness to toss the hacktivist under the bus for the sins of Anonymous, while glossing over the fact that it was an FBI informant (Hector Monsegur, aka Sabu) who handed out hacking targets to Hammond.
Hammond’s lengthy prison sentence may also have to do with other bad laws written by legislators who didn’t have a full understanding of the issues they were attempting to address. A leaked document obtained by the Daily Dot [pdf link] shows the FBI put Hammond on the government’s terrorist watchlist more than a year (Date/Time Entered: 1/19/2011) before he was arrested for the Stratfor hack.
A leaked document originating from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) reveals that Hammond was considered a “possible terrorist organization member,” and indicates that he was placed on the multi-agency Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), alongside individuals suspected of ties to Al Qaeda, Somalia-based extremists al-Shabaab, and Colombia’s leftist FARC guerilla movement.
Here’s the pertinent information is all of its teletyped glory:
The document also includes Hammond’s rap sheet, which up to that point, only includes fraud and unauthorized computer access related to the theft of credit card information from a conservative website. What it doesn’t include is anything that might justify his addition to the terrorist watchlist — unless the FBI considers protests to be a terrorist activity.
Of course, the government agencies that have the power to place US citizens on terrorist watchlists don’t seem interested in providing justification for their decisions. Just having a vague sense of unease seems to be all the “evidence” any agent/official needs to declare a person a threat to this country. Nearly 40% of those currently on the government’s terrorist watchlist have “no known affiliation to recognized terrorist groups.”
The government has long shown it doesn’t understand hacking and is no fan of activism — generally viewing both activities as some sort of threat. So, on the watchlist Hammond went, something that presumably played a part in the prosecution’s push for a decade-long sentence for the hacktivist. His actions and motives were often far from pure, but his imprisonment appears to be a result of the FBI throwing an unwitting operative onto the judicial scrapheap before moving onto its next sting operation.