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Anonymous hits the US Chamber of Commerce
April 30, 2011 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Last night at midnight, more than a gigabyte of internal memos from the US Chamber of Commerce and two other conservative think-tanks were leaked to the Internet. Although no announcement has been posted to the semi-official Anonymous web site, the archive contains a README file crediting the hacker/cracker/griefer collective.

Anonymous' scrapes with the Chamber of Commerce started back in February, when leaked documents from the security firm HBGary implicated the CoC in a proposed smear campaign against progressive journalists. Meanwhile, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the American Legislative Council have appeared recently on the blue for their involvement in Wisconsin and Michigan's budget battles.
posted by verb (50 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anonymous is the Left we've been missing for 60 years? Probably not, but I'll still take it.
posted by DU at 8:40 AM on April 30, 2011 [32 favorites]


21st Century, no flying cars but this thing.

I'll take it.
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 AM on April 30, 2011 [25 favorites]


This kind of thing is an interesting consequence of the movement to the paperless office. If these memos had been on paper, then this kind of release would have required burglary and cameras, and only a tiny fraction of the whole could have been gotten.

But since all of it was electronic, on insecure servers connected to the internet, it could be gotten by hackers working in Timbuktu and Kalamazoo, and spread out to the world in just hours.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:45 AM on April 30, 2011


Anonymous is becoming the Woodward and Bernstein of our era. An anonymous, crowd-sourced Fourth Estate.
posted by darkstar at 8:45 AM on April 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Can't wait for the dirt to be sorted and exposed. Downloading now.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:54 AM on April 30, 2011


I wonder if any new information will come to light from this. It's not as if the Chamber of Commerce or Tom Donohue work really hard to hide their goals. Most people don't pay attention. The others couldn't give a fuck.
posted by defenestration at 9:00 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I read the first sentence of the post and my immediate response was "YES!" followed by "Woohoo!" and "Awesome!"
posted by oddman at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2011


I wonder if the dead-tree papers that have been providing curative services for the other info-dump leaks will provide the same attention to these. Has there been any word of concentrated efforts to sort through these documents for the interesting bits?
posted by codacorolla at 9:12 AM on April 30, 2011


CoCgate?
posted by zonem at 9:14 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Curiously enough, reviewing the documents so far reveals absolutely nothing interesting. It's a giant archive of PDFs of the various organizations' newsletters, press releases, and powerpoint decks.
posted by verb at 9:16 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, as an aside, I think the barrel that globalized capitalism has itself over at the moment is pretty funny. On the one hand you need the Internet to engage in the sort of modern trade environment that they've created (which is keeping all the money in the states, and shipping all of the labor overseas), but the same free nature of the Internet that allows you to do that is the same free nature that lets people air your dirty laundry all over the Internet, more effectively create political action against you, and just generally serves to make people more educated and less provincial. I wouldn't be surprised if the current efforts to seriously regulate the Internet were stepped up by several degrees as the populace becomes more diverse and your conservative base begins its wholesale die-out.
posted by codacorolla at 9:16 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


defenestration is right, the CoC is pretty upfront about what it wants.

I doubt there will be any smoking guns in regard to foreign donations and any ad campaigns the CoC is involved in.

Money is only fungible when Planned Parenthood controls it.
posted by Max Power at 9:19 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


the Chamber of Congress has lawyers who are legion and do not forgive and do not forget (until they stop getting paid.)
posted by ennui.bz at 9:19 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ennui.bz: to sue somebody, you need someone to sue.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:24 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


reviewing the documents so far reveals absolutely nothing interesting.

This is not surprising. In lawsuits, you'll sift through millions of pages to find maybe 40-50 documents that really hint at anything, and only maybe 3-4 documents that are worth showing a judge or jury. Also, overwhelming, the best stuff you'll ever find in document reviews is in emails. People hardly ever create documents that lay out their "secret" internally-understood directives, unless its directly part of their business model. If someone could put this stuff in a searchable database like concordence or documatrix, and then searched for obvious terms like "shit*" "fuck*" "oh my god" "liberal" "Koch" and the like, that would be a far better mechanism for quickly identifying the best stuff.
posted by shen1138 at 9:24 AM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Anonymous is becoming the Woodward and Bernstein of our era. An anonymous, crowd-sourced Fourth Estate.

Indeed. I'm beginning to think their current slogan about being legion and not forgiving etc., is too on the nose, too Bond villain, too, well... too smartass kids on 4chan.

I'm starting to think it should be something more like "Anonymous: we are the press."
posted by Naberius at 9:25 AM on April 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is not surprising. In lawsuits, you'll sift through millions of pages to find maybe 40-50 documents that really hint at anything, and only maybe 3-4 documents that are worth showing a judge or jury.

Well, what I mean is that they aren't even particularly private documents. They're press releases, and PDFs of flyers and brochures that they clearly send out, and the occasional schedule for a luncheon. While it's certainly possible that something of interest could be found, it's nothing like the previous high-profile HBGary leak, in which a company's internal email archives and private communication were made public.

Everything in this document dump appears to be intended for public or semi-public consumption. It's not unrealistic to think that the CoC will come out looking better after this incident; after all, the hackers tried to make them look bad, and all that was released was a bunch of conservative talking-point brochures.
posted by verb at 9:37 AM on April 30, 2011


anonybros totally changing the world through leet hacking!
posted by defenestration at 9:37 AM on April 30, 2011


Over on the Daily Kos thread, the mood is souring quickly. "This looks like it's just a web scrape of their public web site," according to one of the commenters. Perhaps I posted this story too soon.
posted by verb at 9:39 AM on April 30, 2011


don't let that get in the way of the fawning
posted by defenestration at 9:40 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't wait for the dirt to be sorted and exposed.
posted by Meatbomb


It would be helpful if you could post everything to this thread.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:53 AM on April 30, 2011


annd....Just in time for the federal election in Canada, Wikileaks has released 2222 cables about the Canadian government.
posted by adamvasco at 10:04 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like the fact that the stuff is circulated quicky vs the huge wait time at wikileaks. I prefer the Anonymous model of there is only a brand and no real organizational structure or figurehead deciding who is in and who is out.
posted by humanfont at 10:10 AM on April 30, 2011


Why is this being distributed in in True Crypt encrypted format, in stead of plain text?

Why does each downloader have to type in a password?

Is this a false flag to get anyone who talks about the encrypted contents to also be implicitly admitting that they "circumvent[ed] access control[s]", a violation of the DMCA or other "anti-hacking" laws?

I'd stay well away from this, it might be a sting.
posted by orthogonality at 10:21 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I doubt the TrueCrypt-format distribution is a DMCA booby-trap, orthogonality. What the DMCA outlaws is circumventing "a technological measure that effectively controls access to" a copyrighted work. No court in America would believe that distributing encrypted content along with its password and instructions for decryption is an effective access control. That would be like pressing a burglary charge after inviting the burglar into your home and handing him your stereo.

More likely the uploader just wanted to look cool. This is close as he'll ever get to being in a techno-thriller, might as well make the most of it.
posted by skymt at 10:42 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm having trouble finding other discussions beyond the Kos. Twitter shows seemingly few people talking about it and link to Kos. Has it hit the web anywhere else?
posted by GPF at 10:45 AM on April 30, 2011


I'm confused by update x2 on kos. Does this mean that this data dump was all collected from legitimate sources and not by l33t h4x0rz?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:03 AM on April 30, 2011


"The content from http://alec.org, http://uschamber.com, and http://mackinac.org were collected with entirely legal means..."

Yes, that means that the torrent was basically just someone wanting to play spies and hackers. Apologies for jumping the gun with this post.
posted by verb at 11:06 AM on April 30, 2011


To: bob.franklin@uschamber.org
From: melissa74@uschamber.org

Bob -- we're ordering pizza for lunch. do you like black olives? M.
-----

To: melissa74@uschamber.org
From: bob.franklin@uschamber.org

WE MUST CRUSH THE SOCIALIST MENACE BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!
-----
To: bob.franklin@uschamber.org
From: melissa74@uschamber.org

I agree, Bob. But about lunch -- if you don't want pizza, Petroni's has good sandwiches, too. M.
-----
To: melissa74@uschamber.org
From: bob.franklin@uschamber.org

I AM FUELED BY MY HATRED FOR THE SUBVERSIVES ON THE AMERICAN LEFT!
-----
To: bob.franklin@uschamber.org
From: melissa74@uschamber.org

So you don't want anything? We're about to call in the order. M.
-----
To: melissa74@uschamber.org
From: bob.franklin@uschamber.org

DO THEY SELL CANNOLI?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:08 AM on April 30, 2011 [47 favorites]


No court in America would believe that distributing encrypted content along with its password and instructions for decryption is an effective access control.
This is actually how most DRM systems "work"; the only difference is that the instructions are in machine code.
posted by roystgnr at 11:09 AM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


knows twitch
posted by clavdivs at 11:15 AM on April 30, 2011


This is actually how most DRM systems "work"; the only difference is that the instructions are in machine code.
True, but that difference is important. Breaking the rules of a hypothetical DRM system encoded in English is simple: just choose not to obey. Breaking the rules of a software DRM system requires finding the (likely obfuscated) key and decryption code, then running the encrypted content through the latter with the former. Less than 1% of the population could do that. I'd say that's effective. (Of course it only needs to be done once; that's where the ban on circumvention tools comes in. What an awful law.)
posted by skymt at 11:20 AM on April 30, 2011


I like the idea that this is some postmodern art piece about how, like, if you were to really examine these guys' websites, like, some deep shit would ensue, so, you know, the dominant ideology is like the encryption and your mind is the key and your eyes are the real hackers.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:36 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which sites should we be monitoring to get a dissemination of this information? It sounds like there's a lot to sift through.
posted by scunning at 11:45 AM on April 30, 2011


I'm noticing a historical parallel here - from Juan Cole's book Napoleon's Egypt:
"The Egyptian authorities now loyal to Bonaparte also called on the common people of Cairo to stop showing curiosity and talking about "the affairs of state" and ... Putting public discussion of the affairs of state off limits to ordinary subjects was an old Ottoman tactic of control, and its use by the French Republic, standard-bearer of the Rights of Man, as jarringly incongruous."
posted by HLD at 12:13 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


This kind of thing is an interesting consequence of the movement to the paperless office. […] since all of it was electronic [it could be] spread out to the world in just hours

This is the meaning of the oft-misunderstood phrase "information wants to be free". It doesn't mean "information should be free" or "I want [some] information to be free". It means that, in the same sense that water "wants" to flow downhill or a market "wants" to find a price equilibrium, information, at least in electronic form, "wants" to be widely disseminated. Keeping information confined takes effort. It's just too easy to duplicate and transmit.

(Even boring useless information such as this data dump appears to be.)

The moral aspect is separate. Maybe you want to keep the water dammed up so it doesn't wash away the city. The hacker response would be that you shouldn't build on the floodplain in the first place, though.
posted by hattifattener at 12:22 PM on April 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


the archive contains a README file crediting the hacker/cracker/griefer collective.
As an aside, ohinternet.com fucking sucks. The owners of encylopediadramatica.com basically dumped the site and redirected all the links there, then bowdlerized all the content. Really lame.
posted by delmoi at 1:24 PM on April 30, 2011


Some of the more interesting documents, primarily about ALEC strategy, are being posted at my Support Bill Cronon FB feed. Sorry, I don't have an alternate source for any of this.
posted by dhartung at 1:31 PM on April 30, 2011


It sounds like they weren't hacked at all. Still, it's theoretically possible they may have left some incriminating files on the website, but kind of unlikely.
Why is this being distributed in in True Crypt encrypted format, in stead of plain text?

Why does each downloader have to type in a password?
They want to get more people to start using crypto, everyone who wants to access the files will have to install truecrypt in order to do it, which means new installs, and people will learn how to use it. (This is what they've said)
Is this a false flag to get anyone who talks about the encrypted contents to also be implicitly admitting that they "circumvent[ed] access control[s]", a violation of the DMCA or other "anti-hacking" laws?

I'd stay well away from this, it might be a sting.
Don't be an idiot.
posted by delmoi at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


EEEK! ED is gone? Nooo! :-P
posted by cavalier at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2011


Man this stuff makes me want to start learning text analysis...
posted by stratastar at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2011


Deeply underwhelming, to say the least.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:34 PM on April 30, 2011


Metafilter: "shit*" "fuck*" "oh my god" "liberal" "Koch"
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 5:16 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Last night at midnight, more than a gigabyte of internal memos from the US Chamber of Commerce and two other conservative think-tanks were leaked to the Internet.

You know, I thought my pancakes tasted funny...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:08 PM on April 30, 2011


Anonymous responds.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:22 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


is this the release that was supposed to be about a major financial institution? what ever happened to that?
posted by 3mendo at 10:03 PM on April 30, 2011


anonnews.org :

On April 29th a person using the twitter account “@septscelles” released a large file to Barrett Brown that purportedly contained secret US Chamber of Commerce documents. This file was later made available via File Dropper as a (strangely truecypted) torrent named "chambersecrets2". It is also reported to have been made available in an unencrypted form on the Pirate Bay.

Despite the promise of secrets and leaks, early research has thus far shown that this information is publicly available through a simple Google search. It's very possible that “@septscelles” is just an attention seeking troll. Despite this, there is a more insidious possibility. We learned from the HB Gary emails that the Chamber of Commerce was advised to “feed the fuel between the feuding groups, [creating] disinformation." Specific mention was made of "[creating] messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization [and to] submit fake documents and then call out the error…”

The file is very large, and will therefore take some time to fully examine. Nevertheless, we would like to state that this information was provided by an unknown party and may be an attempt to discredit Anonymous through a campaign of misinformation. More information will be coming soon.

posted by jeffburdges at 11:45 PM on April 30, 2011


Nothing in there jumped out at me as being, "CLICK ME, I'M NOT A PUBLICLY AVAILABLE PRESS RELEASE OR EDUCATIONAL PAMPHLET!"

Would be better if it actually had internal emails or something. Publicly stated, odious goals? Meh. Thought-to-be-private conversations dishing on the dirty, illegal tricks they intend to use? I wish...
posted by Slackermagee at 12:45 AM on May 1, 2011


This kind of thing is an interesting consequence of the movement to the paperless office.

I think a more interesting consequence is learning that all these facts don't do you a lick of good if you can't process them efficiently. You end up with information overload; much like how digital cameras have produced reams and reams and reams of photos of flowers. I foresee a future where it ends up taking you so long to go through all the information that the guilty parties grow old and die before ever seeing prosecution.

Great data requires great editors.

I like the fact that the stuff is circulated quicky vs the huge wait time at wikileaks.

There's a huge wait time because that's a shitload of documents to go through.

Despite the promise of secrets and leaks, early research has thus far shown that this information is publicly available through a simple Google search.

...and this is why we still need editors.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:16 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The real reason why US Citizens were/are not aware of these conflicts, changes and stakes is that the whole subject... is dull. Massively, spectacularly dull. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this feature.

Consider the fact that just about every last transcript, record, study, white paper, code amendment, revenue ruling and procedural memo has been available for public perusal since date of issue. No FOIA filing even required. But not one journalist seems ever to have checked them out, and with good reason: This stuff is solid rock. The eyes roll up by the third or fourth paragraph. You just have no idea.

[This is] one of the great and terrible PR discoveries in modern democracy, which is that if sensitive issues of governance can be made sufficiently dull and arcane, there will be no need for officials to hide or dissemble, because no one not directly involved will pay enough attention to cause trouble. No one will pay attention because no one is interested, because, more or less
a priori, of these issues' monumental dullness."

(David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, which was my best friend over the Atlantic last week. I should have listened when he promised it wasn't fiction.)
posted by rokusan at 5:24 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


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