The hacktivist group Anonymous, famous for hacking former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s e-mails, among other things, has issued a warning to the U.S. Senate for passing a bill that brings the United States closer to military rule and further from democracy: “US SENATE: Expect us!!”
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act on December 1 in a bipartisan vote of 93-7. The bill gives the military the unprecedented power to seize suspected terrorists anywhere in the world, including American citizens on U.S. soil, and keep them locked up indefinitely without charge or trial. Indigenous Peoples worried that the legislation could be used against them for asserting their rights to self-determination and sovereignty or for protecting their lands and resources against exploitation by governments or corporations.
The controversial bill has alarmed and outraged many who say it violates the due process rights of the U.S. Constitution and takes the country one step further on the wrong path toward tyranny. The bill also enraged Anonymous, a nebulous Internet community that opposes censorship and oppression. The group’s latest video is a “Message to the American People” and begins with the salutation, “Dear brothers and sisters. Now is the time to open your eyes!”
The video shows a figure at a table wearing a black hoodie and reading a statement. The person’s face is covered in the white mask of a smiling moustached face made famous in the film V for Vendetta in which a shadowy freedom fighter known as “V” uses violence to resist a totalitarian regime.
“The passage of this law is nothing less than an outright declaration of WAR against the American People by the military-connected power elite,” the Anonymous member says. “If this is signed into law, it will shred the remaining tenants of the Bill of Rights and unleash upon America a total military dictatorship, complete with secret arrests, secret prisons, unlawful interrogations, indefinite detainment without ever being charged with a crime, the torture of Americans and even the ‘legitimate assassination’ of U.S. citizens right here on American soil!”
“If you have not yet woken up to the reality of the police state we’ve been warning you about, I hope you realize we are fast running out of time. Once this becomes law, you have no rights whatsoever in America?—?no due process, no First Amendment speech rights, no right to remain silent, nothing,’” the Anonymous member says.
Business Insider describes Anonymous as a cyberspace Internet meme – a set of ideas and beliefs that is transmitted culturally, in this case through social media on the Internet. “The meme started in 2003 and has been adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment,” the report said. Beginning in 2008, however, the Anonymous collective became increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism, undertaking protests and other actions, often with the goal of promoting internet freedom and freedom of speech, the report says. In addition to Sarah Palin’s e-mail, Anonymous hacked Mastercard and Visa after the credit card companies cut off financial transaction with Wikileaks; at least 41 Malaysian government websites; H.B. Gary, an Internet security firm that the U.S. government relies on to keep its information safe. The group is credited with bringing down websites in Egypt and Tunisia before the Arab spring events, and in Libya before the U.S./NATO air invasion. The group also threatened companies and government officials it viewed as complicit in the mistreatment of Bradley Manning, the army private accused of leaking documents to Wikileaks.
“The US senate does not want us to speak,” the Anonymous member in the video says. “Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice…intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance, coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.”
Then comes the Anonymous warning:
“We are anonymous.
We are Legion.
United as ONE.
Divided by zero.
We do not forgive Censorship.
We do not forget Oppression.