The hacker group that battled Visa, HBGary Federal, and even the Westboro Baptist Church is now threatening fresh attacks on government officials and major U.S. corporations, according to one of the organization's senior members.
"It's a guerrila cyberwar -- that's what I call it," Barret Brown, 29, said in an interview with MSNBC Tuesday. Brown, a college dropout, claims to be a senior strategist and "propagandist" for the hacker group, which calls itself "Anonymous." He considers this new "war" a reactionary response: "It's sort of an unconventional asymmetrical act of warfare that we're involved in, and we didn't necessarily start it. I mean, this fire has been burning."
The group is furious over the treatment of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking classified U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks. Manning is currently spending his time in solitary confinement at a military brig in Quantico, Va. On the evenings of March 2 and March 3, he was reportedly required to strip naked and remained so within his cell for seven hours each night.
Incensed, Brown and his hacktivist cohorts decided to do what they do best: online disruption. In a document used to coordinate the group's actions, Anonymous named Department of Defense press secretary Geoff Morell and chief warrant officer Denise Barnes as targets in a "dox" attack, meaning an operation that involves the publishing of personal information of victims and using it for mass harassment.
To Brown, such illicit behavior is a form of civil disobedience.
"Our people break laws, just like all people break laws," he said. "When we break laws, we do it in the service of civil disobedience. We do so ethically. We do it against targets that have asked for it."