Anonymous – The Hacker Wars
Vivien Lesnik Weisman (2014)
The Hacker Wars is a riveting documentary about members of Anonymous – the leaderless international hacking community – who have made their identity public. It focuses on four individuals: Andrew (Weev) Auernheimer, Barrett Brown, Jeremy Hammond and a hacker turned FBI informant who went by the screen name SABU.
The first two men made their identify public as a form of civil disobedience – directed at government surveillance, secrecy and suppression of civil liberties. Hammond’s name became public after an FBI informant named SABU entrapped him into hacking into Stratfor, the infamous private intelligence/security contractor.
Weev was arrested in 2013 – not for hacking – but for downloading over 100,000 government email addresses from an unscecure AT&T website and sharing the security glitch with journalists. He served 13 months in jail before his conviction was overturned on appeal.
Barrett Brown, a non-hacker, was a journalist who reported on Anonymous activities. He was arrested for allegedly copying a publicly available Stratfor link to his Project PM website, a clear violation of his first amendment rights. He was sentenced to 63 months in Federal prison. He was released to a halfway house (on house arrest) in November 2016.
SABU was arrested in June 2011 and released after one day after agreeing to infiltrate Anonymous on behalf of the FBI. Eight days later (at the behest of the FBI), he formed the splinter group Antisec, which in September 2011 aggressively promoted Occupy Wall Street to other Anonymous members. In December 2011, he persuaded Jeremy Hammond to assist him with the infamous Stratfor Christmas Hack. This was the operation in which scores of ex-CIA and ex-military operatives who worked for Stratfor woke up on Christmas to discover they had donated $50,000 each to various charities.
Hammond pled guilty and was sentenced to ten years.
The FBI was an active member of Anonymous for nine months in all. SABU’s role as an informant came out at his trial in April 2012. Owing to his invaluable service to the FBI, he walked away a free man.