Having sparred with Westboro baptist church last week, the loose-knit hacking collective Anonymous' next targets are the billionaire Tea Party-backing Koch brothers, David and Charles. Under the newly-launched "Operation Wisconsin," Anonymous members have taken down the website of the Koch-funded free-market advocacy group Americans for Prosperity with a DDoS attack. (Update: It's back up.)
Anonymous says the operation is in retaliation for what they see as meddling in Wisconsin's pro-union protests by the Kochs via their conglomerate Koch Industries. In a press release, they write:
Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin. Governor Walker's union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process. The Koch's have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state's power supplies.
(Koch Industries insists it doesn't stand to benefit from Walker's bill or the clause.)
Judging from chatroom and twitter chatter, Operation Wisconsin is well underway. In addition to coordinating attacks on various Koch-associated websites, the press release calls for a boycott of all Georgia Pacific products, which is owned by Koch Industries.
It's unusual for Anonymous to take on such a blatantly political operation. The idea that the Koch brothers are "usurping" democracy clearly echoes liberal talking points, who have cast the Kochs as the evil financiers behind everything from the Tea Party to global warming-deniers. But one Operation Wisconsin leader, who goes by the handle Antivigilante and is associated with the Anonymous spin-off group Magnanimous, says that the attack is not guided by party lines.
"The operation was non-partisan and remains so, the political noise generated is unavoidable," Antivigilante told us in an email. "It's not about Walker, it's about Koch. It's not about the Tea Party, it's about a corporation casting a reality distortion field on the Wisconsin gov't."
Koch Industries' distortion field is very powerful, so Anonymous might want to watch out. Koch has spent months trying to track down a group of anonymous (not Anonymous) pranksters who set up a harmless spoof website. And it seems like Anonymous hopes to do a lot more damage than that.