The Curious Origins of Political Hacktivism


Real hacktivism is at least as old as October 1989 when the US Deptartment of Energy and NASA machines world wide were penetrated by the anti-nuclear WANK worm. The worm was the second ever to be unleashed, but its provenance was a curious contrast to its forebear. For you see, worm #1 had been traced to the son of National Security Agency chief cryptographer Robert Morris.

That WANK had a bold political intent was immediate. WANK penetrated machines had their login screens altered to:


\__ ____________ _____ ________ ____ ____ __
\ \ \ /\ / / / /\ \ | \ \ | | | | / / /
\ \ \ / \ / / / /__\ \ | |\ \ | | | |/ / /
\ \ \/ /\ \/ / / ______ \ | | \ \| | | |\ \ /
\_\ /__\ /____/ /______\ \____| |__\ | |____| |_\ \_/
\ /
\ Your System Has Been Officically WANKed /

You talk of times of peace for all, and then prepare for war.

In our book Underground, Suelette Dreyfus and I trace the source of the worm to Melbourne, Australia. At the time there was considerable cold war fueled anti-nuclear sentiment in the country. Australia had (and still has) a number of US spy, early warning and nuclear submarine communications bases, most of which were first and second strike soviet targets. Australia would not otherwise be a nuclear target, a fact charismatic Soviet foreign minister and Gorbachev confidant Edvard Shevardnadze frequently drew to the attention of the Australian people before finding himself a loved and reviled President of Georgia.

Additionally in 1984, New Zealand, a country with which Australians feel a special affinity, had under Labour pri-minister David Lange, made NZ a nuclear free territory, precluding the admission of nuclear armed or powered warships into NZ ports. The US in response rescinded its defence treaty obligations to NZ, cut intelligence ties (or at least pretended to, see Nicky Hager’s excellent book “Secret Power” for futher details) and instigated a number of trade sanctions against the country.

But New Zealand’s nuclear woes were not to end there. At 11:59 pm on the night of July 10 1985 the Greenpeace flag-ship “Rainbow Warrior”, docked in Auckland harbour preparing to sail in three days time to Mururoa Atoll to demonstrate against French nuclear tests, was bombed by amphibious DGSE (French Secret Service) agents, killing Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. Within days, two DGSE agents Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur were arrested, following an investigation by Australian journalist Chris Masters, plead guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced by the NZ high court to 10 years. The other DGSE agents escaped via a French Nuclear sub off the NZ coast. The French, a significant NZ trade partner, immediately instigated trade sanctions against the country. In June 1986, a political deal was struck; France would lift sanctions, pay a few million in blood money, and the two agents would be transferred to Hao Atoll, a French military base in the pacific, where they would supposably serve out the remainder of their sentences. However, by May 1988 both had been smuggled back to France.

Examination of the worm source code show specific instructions to avoid infecting machines New Zealand.

Policy always has unpredicted consequences, but it should be remembered that some are blessings!

JULIAN ASSANGE is president of a NGO and Australia’s most infamous former computer hacker. He was convicted of attacks on the US intelligence and publishing a magazine which inspired crimes against the Commonwealth. He is the co-author of Underground and can be reached at http://iq.org/


November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration
John Wight
After Paris: Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large
Joseph G. Ramsey
No Excuses, No Exceptions: the Moral Imperative to Offer Refuge
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies
Andrew Moss
The Message of Montgomery: 60 Years Later
Jim Green
James Hansen’s Nuclear Fantasies
Robert Koehler
The Absence of History in the Aftermath of Paris
Dave Lindorff
The US Media and Propaganda
Dave Randle
France and Martial Law
Gilbert Mercier
If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
Alexey Malashenko
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Binoy Kampmark
Closing the Door: US Politics and the Refugee Debate