The hacktivist collective Anonymous has been unusually quiet after a slew of arrests and the revelation that one of its key members was an FBI snitch. Now a fugitive member has put Anonymous back in headlines with some spectacular, and likely bullshit, claims.
"Right now we have access to every classified database in the U.S. Government," Chris Doyon, a 47 year-old homeless man who goes by the handle Commander X, boasted to Toronto's National Post last week. Doyon has been on the lam in Canada since February, when he fled California and an indictment on federal hacking charges for launching a DDoS attack against the county website of Santa Cruz, California to protest the removal of a homeless encampment there. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
As Commander X, Doyon has been an outspoken leader of Anonymous operations—he said he organized an attack on city of Orlando websites. He joined the Occupy movement in Santa Cruz, and is the leader of an Anonymous-allied hacktivist group called the Peoples Liberation Front. It's that group which Doyon says has obtained access to "every classified database in the country."
"We might well be the most powerful organization on Earth," Doyon said of Anonymous.
All this sounds unlikely, to put it lightly. With memories of other outlandishly false claims previously made by Anonymous, we asked Commander X for some more details. Over Skype he spoke about the database claim and fleeing the U.S., from his outpost at a Canadian coffee shop. With nothing but Commander X's word, you can judge for yourself. Interview has been edited for length and readability.
Gawker: You claim in the National Post that Anonymous has "access to every classified database in the U.S. Government." It's gotten a lot of play in the blogosphere but, I'll be honest, this seems pretty unbelievable. Can you elaborate?
Commander X: Not at this time, but I will answer any questions if security allows.
Gawker: Nothing at all? We've seen Anonymous make big claims like this and not pull through. Why should we believe you now?
CX: It was not Anonymous that gained access to these databases. It was the People's Liberation Front.
Gawker: So the PLF right now has access to every classified database in the country?
CX: All the ones we know of yes. I imagine there are still some that are so well sandboxed and hidden that we don't yet know they exist. But most of the key military and intelligence databases are now accessible by people aligned with the PLF. There are MANY young tech savvy people who have direct and unfettered access to the secrets of the USA. These people, some of whom are directly members of the PLF, and others who come to us for the sole purpose of giving us access—these people made this unprecedented access possible.
Gawker: Have you personally seen the databases?
CX: Yes, I am the Supreme Commander of the PLF—everything done under its flag is on my watch.
Gawker: Is there anything you can show me at this time to convince me this is for real?
CX: No. You'll have to wait like the rest of the world. But I can tell you this, the crimes of the USA government go beyond mere killing of innocents and torture of prisoners. There were summary executions, many of them. This is just one example of the things we are discovering in these files.
Gawker: You told the National Post that you escaped in February using an "underground railway" from Santa Cruz to Canada. Can you elaborate on your escape?
CX: A little. Most of it will come out in great detail eventually, as we had a mainstream journalist of some renown embedded with us during the last six days of Op Xport, as it was called. The "underground railway" refers to the transportation part of the network. Then there were along the way a series of 'safe houses' where I could rest and make arrangements for the next leg of the journey. At the end, I ended up at the border—a remote stretch somewhere in the north west—it was a remote, wooded and unfenced section that was scouted ahead of time using Google Earth. Journalist still in tow, I hiked across. 48 hours after crossing the frontier I issued a press release.
Gawker: Who runs the safe houses? Other Anons?
CX: Yes, the entire network was the product of Op Vendetta—as was our legal team. [Op Vendetta was launched by the PLF in January, 2011.] Those were the two goals of Op V. The safe house network was a mixture of three elements: PLF, Anonymous - and Occupy Movement. All three of those groups played key roles in both the safe houses and the transportation.
Gawker: If another Anonymous member wanted to take advantage of this "Underground Railway," how would they do this?
CX: They would contact the Peoples Liberation Front. At this time, we would only take someone facing a felony charge related to a peaceful act of protest or information activism, i.e. hactivism.
Gawker: California lawyer Ed Frey was stuck with paying your $35,000 bail after you fled. Is he upset about that?
CX: That is personal, and between him and I. No comment.
Gawker: Are you worried that increased attention from the National Post article might end with the U.S. coming after you with more dedication?