The hacker collective Anonymous is giving the U.S. military until Monday to improve its treatment of Bradley Manning, the U.S. army private accused of leaking classified information to Wikileaks.
Manning was charged with releasing classified information to an unauthorized party. He is being held as he awaits a hearing to determine whether he will face a court martial.
The threat is to post the personal information of the staff at the Quantico, Va., marine base where manning is being held, according to Barrett Brown, who describes himself as the group's spokesperson. The reason for the attack is the inhumane treatment of Manning, Brown says.
To me, when you strip down a U.S. soldier -- strip him naked - and force him to stand outside of his cell, you lose your status as a human being, he said.
Brown was referring to posts by Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, that said Manning was forced to stand naked outside his cell during an inspection. Coombs filed a formal complaint about Manning's treatment.
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Coombs says that Manning is being kept in conditions akin to solitary confinement, as Brig Commander James Avehart had said Manning was at risk of injuring himself, and possibly suicide. Avehart was replaced in January by Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes. The military says the change in command was ordered in October of last year and is unrelated to the complaint.
Brown says that the brig commander and others who ordered Manning's treatment will be targeted, simply by posting their personal information and making it appear high on Google search results. There are a couple of goals, he said. One is to make it a less pragmatic decision to take orders to do evil... We're going to make it plain we're not happy.
It is difficult to ascertain how serious Barrett's - or the Anonymous collective's - threats are, as the group itself has no real hierarchy. Postings to Anonops.ru, the site that hosts many of the groups' statements to the press, can be made by anyone. The site itself seems to be down.
Brown himself says he and the group have contacts within the military. (He says a number of his immediate relatives served or are serving now). Brown describes what the Anonymous collective plans to do as investigating the people involved in the treatment of Bradley Manning. He adds that many of the hackers who work in the collective themselves work for large corporations.
The threats from Anonymous can be very real. HB Gary Federal, a security firm, had thousands of its emails hacked and posted to the Internet, after the head of the firm, Aaron Barr, claimed he had uncovered the identities of the group's members. The emails proved embarrassing to Barr and to HB Gary, as they outlined a plan to discredit Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, using a number of dirty tricks.
This isn't the kid in the basement, Brown said. If HB Gary had known that they'd have backed off.
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