Lunchbreak Link-A-Thon
and the Case of the Mysterious Mystery

  • “Curveball,” the star informant for American and German intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, cited by Colin Powell before the U.N. Security Council, admits to fabricating WMD in order to oust Saddam:

    Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right. They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.

    It’s worth noting, of course, that even at the time, we were pretty sure this guy was full of it.

  • Last week the blogging world broke an unbelievable story of corporate espionage that is only now working its way into mainstream news sources, and will take another year or two to become an unwatchable summer blockbuster. Private security firm HBGary Federal, apparently at the revoltingly lucrative behest of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America, had devised an intricate plan to sabotage unions and progressive groups and generally silence its political opposition through forged documents, invasive personal investigations, and all manner of morally and legally dubious trickery. All this was apparently aimed at the greater goal of undermining WikiLeaks:

    It is widely believed that Wikileaks has sensitive information about Bank of America, and plans to expose it later this year. This revelation prompted Bank of America to hire the law/lobbying firm Hunton and Williams, which in turn, according to the e-mails posted online by Anonymous, hired HBGary Federal and other firms to go after Anonymous and supporters of Wikileaks. For instance, one proposal from HBGary Federal and its associates proposed targeting Salon reporter and Wikileaks-supporter Glenn Greenwald with “actions to sabotage or discredit” him.

    A leaked report singles out a number of journalists, Salon reports, who are perceived as supportive of WikiLeaks:

    These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals. Without the support of people like Glenn wikileaks would fold.

    While every link in a long chain of collusion has tried to distance itself from the plot, it becomes increasingly clear that they’re pretty much all lying. Greenwald responded with his typical intelligence and loquaciousness.

    Of course, if you want to take down WikiLeaks, you have to go through Anonymous, as Amazon, Paypal, Visa, Mastercard and others have learned the hard way. The elusive organization of “hactivists” has launched attacks of varying effectiveness against the websites of numerous companies considered to be enemies of Wikileaks, as well as repressive regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. HBGary Federal’s somewhat overconfident CEO believed he had identified much of the collective’s membership:

    Near the end of January, Barr began publicizing his information, though without divulging the names of the Anonymous admins. When the Financial Times picked up the story and ran a piece on it on February 4, it wasn’t long before Barr got what he wanted—contacts from the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence, and the US military. The FBI had been after Anonymous for some time, recently kicking in doors while executing 40 search warrants against group members.

    It was, however, to be a Pyrrhic victory:

    But within a day, Anonymous had managed to infiltrate HBGary Federal’s website and take it down, replacing it with a pro-Anonymous message (“now the Anonymous hand is bitch-slapping you in the face.”) Anonymous got into HBGary Federal’s e-mail server, for which Barr was the admin, and compromised it, extracting over 40,000 e-mails and putting them up on The Pirate Bay, all after watching his communications for 30 hours, undetected. In an after-action IRC chat, Anonymous members bragged about how they had gone even further, deleting 1TB of HBGary backup data.

    They even claimed to have wiped Barr’s iPad remotely.

    Those e-mails, of course, set the internet ablaze with reports on the scheme, and have led to a string of very bad news cycles for everyone involved.

    Peter Bright at Ars Technica spoke with some of the hackers about how they managed to execute their retaliation. The cyber-security “experts,” it turns out, had commissioned some pretty drafty software to run their own website. What is it folks say about glass houses?

  • “So be it,” says Speaker Boehner, if some of the “200,000 new federal jobs” created under Obama fall victim to the former’s proposed spending cuts. The figure is a fair estimate, if you suck at math. Of course, not all the jobs lost will be new, or, for that matter, government gigs. So what kind of damage aren’t we talking about, wonders The Post‘s Dana Milbank?

    “Do you have any estimate of how many will?” Caldwell pressed. “And won’t that negatively impact the economy?”

    “I do not,” Boehner replied, moving to the next questioner.

    Well, Mr. Speaker, I do. I checked with budget expert Scott Lilly of the Center for American Progress, and, using the usual multipliers, he calculated that the cuts – a net of $59 billion in the last half of fiscal 2011 – would lead to the loss of 650,000 government jobs, and the indirect loss of 325,000 more jobs as fewer government workers travel and buy things. That’s nearly 1 million jobs – possibly enough to tip the economy back into recession.

  • Meanwhile, GOP Leadership has at last announced, explicitly and definitively, that a government shutdown is off the table, or else on it.
  • Ron Paul may have won the straw poll, but Michele Bachmann understands that the key to long-shot (no-shot?) Presidential aspirations is making headlines at all costs.
  • And while it’s too soon to prognosticate with much certainty, Nate Silver thinks the numbers support Republican dismay at their uninspiring Presidential field. Obama seems to have similar misgivings about the Democratic contenders for Jim Webb’s opening Senate seat, and will meet with purportedly uninterested DNC chair Tim Kaine to persuade him just how exhilarating a ride on the President’s coat-tails would be.
  • Anderson Cooper takes heat from the lazy hacks he’s made look bad by doing his freaking job:

    […]in the search for that mythical beast, objectivity, they have sought to banish from the news gathering process an indispensable element: judgment. Excluding, of course, Fox, for which a reluctance to judge has never been a problem.

    The rest of the journalistic world seems to have embraced its own version of those robotic, idiotic zero-tolerance policies where some kid gets suspended for bringing Midol to class. Meaning, in other words, a paradigm from which human reasoning and common sense are exiled.

  • When I read the headline “South Dakota Moves to Legalize Killing Abortion Providers,” I felt certain I had stumbled upon one of those misleadingly sensational ledes that have become even more ubiquitous in the age of web analytics. But it turns out to be a pretty straightforward summary of the situation.
  • News Corp brings their “decades-old legacy of exceptional journalism” to the world’s first iPad periodical.
  • Hendrik Hertzberg spent Friday evening soaking up the post-Mubarak revelry among Egyptian nationals, albeit in Astoria. He returned with some priceless photos and video taken by three celebrating journalism students.
  • Former Senator Russ Feingold’s Progressives United PAC will combat corporate influence in politics by supporting “progressive candidates at the local, state and national levels, as well as holding the media and elected officials accountable” to a progressive agenda. On behalf of ACT NOW PAC, Senator, I forgive you for stealing our thing.
  • At around 7:30 last night, as I was trying to finish up some new designs for a client, I noticed the rumblings of an approaching commotion from the street below. As it neared, I could discern clearly the melody of the 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight” played with tasteful embellishment by a talented trumpeter. Running downstairs and out onto the sidewalk, coat-less and with untied shoelaces, I was greeted, of course, by the first-ever Phil Collins Day Parade as it wound its way down my street. Which is to say, some days, I don’t hate it here:


  1. AndrewS says:


    “All three critics concede Cooper was accurate: The regime did lie. Yet they question whether it was journalistically ethical to say it.”

    Read more:

  2. Pingback: Things That Make Me Angry | ACT NOW

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