Earlier today, Anonymous announced what sounded like an awesome caper: The group had compromised the email of a law firm that represented Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the Marine squad leader who got a slap on the wrist for his role in the Haditha massacre. Trouble is, the hack had a lot of collateral victims, including people that Anonymous might normally be aligned with. Like a lawyer for Guantanamo detainees.
In announcing the hack, Anonymous stressed that it was attempting to expose and combat the failures of the military justice system, which let a murderer off the hook. Included in the release are "detailed records, transcripts, testimony, trial evidence, and legal defense donation records pertaining to not only Frank Wuterich but also many other marines they have represented."
Well, yes. But a very cursory examination—we've only been able to peruse a tiny percentage of the data released—has turned up a wealth of information about, for instance, sexual assault victims. Puckett and Faraj, the targeted law firm, represented a Marine accused of rape in 2007. So among partner Haytham Faraj's emails are witness statements from the victims—whose names have not been reported in the context of the sexual assault—recounting how one awoke from a drunken stupor to realize "her tampon was pushed deep inside her." Another recalls only "flashes": "My next flash is I am lying on my back on the bed near the bathroom...and there is a man in boxer-like shorts straddling me." It's hard to see how the public release of that information accords with Anonymous' self-described "ongoing effort to expose the corruption of the court systems and the brutality of US imperialism."
One of Puckett and Faraj's former partners is Eric Montalvo, a lawyer who represented Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamed Jawad. Jawad was accused of attempted murder for throwing a grenade at U.S. forces in 2002. Depending on who you ask, he was either 12 or 17 years old at the time. He spent nine years without a trial in Guantanamo before Montalvo succeeded in getting him a habeas corpus hearing.
Among the hacked emails is an attachment with 9 months' worth of Montalvo's cell phone records. Every call, in or out. It's an unlikely reward for taking on a case like Jawad's. There's a wealth of data in the release that absolutely should become public, and I will eagerly pore over it. But there are unintended consequences to the approach.