For those joining late, Jeremy Hammond was arrested last year for being involved with the Wikileaks file dump of incriminating information about the company Stratfor. Stratfor is an information-gathering company which has been doing work for US intelligence agencies–work those agencies are barred by law from doing themselves. The CIA can’t spy on American citizens except in special circumstances–but they can hire Stratfor to do it, and can use the evidence in court because it was provided by a ‘third party’. They have also provided ‘intelligence’ to corporate interests on a variety of subjects.
I had been following the Jeremy Hammond case off and on for the past few weeks, hoping for the best, expecting the worst. This is as close as one can get to the worst without having it. Hammond pleaded guilty this AM to a variety of government charges in exchange for not having the big ones and to keep from having multiple charges from multiple jurisdictions. He’s looking at ten years in prison for what he pleaded to in exchange for not facing 30 years for what he didn’t plead to. He explains it all here. here’s the gist:
…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 probably didn’t help his decision-making prowess that he had been in Solitary confinement for nearly 15 months. This is an increasingly common practice with the Obama Administration’s dealings with whistle-blowers (Bradley Manning has been in Solitary for something like 1,000+ days) and there’s ample evidence that such treatment is as close to torture as one can get without getting out the water-board. Amnesty International has condemned the practice.
And yes–Hammond is a whistle-blower. Stratfor has done some bad things on behalf of a variety of bad players. Here were the best Stratfor revelations as of a year ago. More recent tidbits include the possibility that Bin Laden’s body was brought to the US at Dover Air Force base. Whether that’s true or not, the ‘official story’ was always bogus–there was no way any forensic scientist on this planet could have determined DNA in the narrow window given by the US between Bin Laden’s death and his burial at sea.
Here’s what people need to know about Wikileaks and how this unfolds: Hammond pleaded guilty to ‘sharing confidential information’. In theory, it’s also a crime to PUBLISH such information. Wikileaks has stated that its media partners include L’Espresso and La Repubblica newspapers in Italy, the NDR/ARD state broadcaster in Germany and Russia Reporter. Could all of them be found culpable? Wikileaks has already found out (again, thanks to Stratfor) that the Feds have seated a grand jury in Virginia to go after Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange. The conviction feeds the ability of the grand jury to indict, just as the expected prosecution of Bradley Manning will do the same.
And meanwhile, the government has made it clear that its persecution leading to the suicide of Aaron Swartz was not a one-off. If they were looking for a chilling effect, they’ve got it. Between this and the indictment of fourteen accused hackers on the PayPal 14 case, there’s no question that Obama’s administration is drastically upping the ante in its war on transparency.