20 October 2014

Hackivist Jeremy Hammond accepted a non-cooperating plea agreement Thursday, May 30 in the Stratfor case which could land him in prison for 10 years. Hammond was arrested in March 2012 for his role in the LulzSec hacking attacks on private security and public safety servers.

StratFor is the the trade name for Strategic Forecasting Inc., which bills itself as a private CIA. In documents released by Hammond to Wikileaks, it was revealed that StratFor was spying on ecological and corporate justice activists and marketing it's intelligence to major corporations and government agencies for a subscription fee that often ran to $40,000.

Hammond has spent 15 months in incarcerated without bail and the last several months in total isolation where he is restricted from family visits for 1 year and community visits for 2 years. Additionally, he may be required to pay up to $2.5 million in restitution to his victim, the private intelligence firm StatFor, for lost business and a judgement in civil action against them by their clients for failing to properly secure their private data.

The federal judge in Hammond's case, Lorreta Preska, refused to recuse herself after it was revealed that her husband, Thomas Kavaler, was amongst StatFor's clients. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, the judge cynically claimed that if she recused herself the defense would continue to seek recusal of succeeding judges in an attempt to avoid trial. In a move widely seen as retaliation, Hammond was placed in solitary confinement and had all visitation privileges stripped from him for years within days of filing the recusal motion, allegedly for testing positive for marijuana.

Stratfor was found to be in possession of documents from and be working with such agencies as the DHS and the Texas DPS to infiltrate groups including the Tides Foundation, Ruckus Society, Occupy and Deep Green Resistance. Stratfor additionally worked directly with Tea Party activists and Brietbart to gather and disseminate information on left-leaning activists to harass, defame and disrupt peace, green and social justice groups and movements.

Stratfor blurred the lines between corporate and government interests to the point where its vice president wrote in an email "Text Not for Pub. We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect." Chillingly the US, British and Swedish Governments all deny any plan to kidnap Assange and subject him to trial and extradition to the United States. Yet Stratfor's officers refer to “we,” which can only mean the US government, despite their denials.

StratFor's own internal editorialization clearly politicizes the threat posed to by non-violent activists seeking any independent political power “[...] The Occupy Movement is extremely dangerous [...] if they continue to refuse conforming to the established political process.”

Hammond took the plea agreement because the government had threatened him with a 42 year sentence if convicted, and multiple additional prosecutions lasting nearly a decade if acquitted. In a press release explaining his decision he wrote “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.”

In an interview today on Democracy Now, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange provided his own perspective on this and other chilling attacks on journalists and whistle-blowers by the Obama administration “They’re going after Bradley Manning because they don’t like results and to try and keep an appearance of authority. The Pentagon, allied institutions like Stratfor, can’t keep up a perception of authority if bright young men, determined, courageous and moral, like Jeremy Hammond, are seen to have struck a blow against them and exposed their corrupt activities.”

The Free Press will continue to follow this story and other cases of the ongoing full frontal assault by the federal government on journalism and the dissemination of the truth.