Shortly afterwards, some of my new friends and I got into a conflict with a state-linked "intelligence contractor" that turned out to have been planning a campaign, set in motion by the Department of Justice, to attack journalists and activist groups deemed supportive of Wikileaks. This plot, discovered in the 70,000 emails Anonymous stole from the contractor's servers, involved illegal computer intrusions of the same sort for which hacktivists are routinely prosecuted; attempts to expose activists to charges of fraud and libel by providing them falsified documents which they would be encouraged to release to the public; and a campaign of intimidation against Glenn Greenwald, a noted supporter of that group and an otherwise consistent critic of government wrongdoing. Greenwald, these men wrote, must be forced to choose "cause over career" as a result of their attacks. "Damn it feels good to be a gangster," wrote one of the personnel involved—an employee of the powerful information technology firm Palantir, which later promoted him, and which itself has close ties to the current administration via its co-founder, Peter Thiel.
The most important fact of the 21st century is that any individual can now collaborate with any other individual on the planet.
Some may not approve of everything that was done out of the handful of internet servers from which much of this activity was coordinated, or by the large numbers of others who acted on the margins. I was openly critical of some of it myself, despite having been deemed the "spokesperson for Anonymous" by much of the press even as I repeatedly declared that I was no such thing. Nonetheless, it was not a criminal movement, any more than the anti-war movement of the '60s was inherently criminal simply because some portion of its participants also burned draft cards and engaged in sit-ins and incited riots. Indeed, the group of radicals who broke into the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania in 1971 and stole files revealing that agency's vastly criminal COINTELPRO apparatus, directed against the citizenry and against our very Constitution—these, too, were not criminals. Or, if they were, then so was the bulk of the FBI. Was the Nixon Administration a criminal enterprise? Was the CIA? Was the U.S.?
It is an absolute certainty that, with sufficient thought, a new mechanism may someday be designed, capable of integrating thousands of talented individuals and existing organizations into a sort of parallel civic ecosystem