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/*COVER*/   >  anonymous has declared war   >  the youth, the ignored, the silent of this country have been underestimated in both passion and power. We do not want your apology, only your resignation and the resig nations of those who hold office in this nation without revealing the full truth to its citizens   >  it’s bad enough they do these things in public but using our internet to spread thes lies is too much for anonymous to let go unpunished. we are legion. we are anonymous. expect us.

<HE SAID, HE SAID:>

<the astonishing true story of      <?:how anonymous & the internet shaped a national election>

syrinx esterhazy

<HE SAID HE SAID>   <page = 1


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<p class="copyright"> © Syrinx Esterhazy 2014    All rights reserved. </p>

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<HE SAID, HE SAID:> <the astonishing true story of      <?:how anonymous & the internet shaped a national election>

syrinx esterhazy

<HE SAID HE SAID>   <page = 3


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<HE SAID, HE SAID:>

<the astonishing true story of      <?:how anonymous & the internet shaped a national election>

syrinx esterhazy

<HE SAID HE SAID>   <page = 1


{%= chapter value}

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<!--table of contents--> {} introduction {5;} who is/are anonymous? and circumstances that allowed for oracle {/} mittens r-money {13;} the primaries and the emergence of a fundamental divide {//} check yourself before you wreck yourself {45;} flip-flopping turns into falsehoods and an introduction to lyinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ryan {///} turn up the heat in tampa {80;} the RNC and continuing growing tensions online {////} we are the 47% {120;} last-minute desperation and the final months {/////} t minus zero {156;} election night and repercussions {//////} ongoing oracle {193;} the operation continues and the news pays attention

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INTRO DUCTION <!-- Is the internet a single entity or a mass? -->

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<p> It’s hard to tell. Even the grammar of the internet is confused—do the users of Twitter begin a trending topic, or does Twitter itself trend #WaysToMakeMeSmile? The staff of Twitter, of course, remains unnamed and blameless. And in effect, the users of Twitter never identify themselves by name unless by choice. The groupthink of Twitter, like Tumblr and Facebook and other social networking sites, can only exist in a vacuum without clumsy and accidental verbal and physical missteps. When you can spell check and edit every word you type, your identity is subject not to the situations you are thrust into on a daily basis, but by the words and images you choose as your representation. Your identity is something that you choose. It’s a short step from choosing your identity to stripping it entirely. When you remove your default photo, take off your signature, or stop using the ubiquitous exclamation marks that identify you to your friends, the internet is your oyster. You can say anything, do anything, and feel the thrill of anonymity. Is that how Anonymous formed? Not as specifically, no, but it stands to reason that as websites grew in popularity and allowed a “Post as Guest” or “Post Anonymously” option, people would take advantage of the attractive offer. Trolls write nasty comments on news stories or blog posts, or a forum user posts an inflammatory statement. Who can we blame for such <HE SAID HE SAID>   <page = 5


/*introduction*/

affronts to our internet pride? No one. Anonymity protects the perpetrator, and if the reply was made to another anonymous contributor, no one can rise to their defense. It stands to reason, then, that a group would arise on message boards and forums—especially 4chan, a popular no-rules imageboard which holds some of the internet’s most seedy underbelly—that relied on and identified with their anonymity. Believers of free speech (often too free, assisted as they were with nameless, faceless posts) and free information, they were internet pirates in multiple senses of the word. Not only did they illegally download shows, music, books, movies, but they aggressively protected their booty from the high seas of the internet, laying claim to memes and jokes. It is not a huge leap from protecting a trivial Advice Dog image to developing a unique sense of morality—one that some may call skewed. While many participants claim that they are doing it “for the lulz,” a common Anonymous phrase, some took their ideals for free speech and free information to a reactive state. When ThePirateBay, a popular torrent aggregator, was under attack from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Anonymous launched a coordinated DDoS attack to shut down their servers. Similar protests against the shutdown of Megaupload, the SOPA/PIPA bills, and more, were to follow. Of course, this activity was restricted to the internet. Anonymous first gained traction and fame when they targeted the Church of Scientology for attempting to remove an interview with member Tom Cruise from the internet’s annals of information. Always a stalwart opponent of censorship, Anonymous stepped in. Soon it became an all-out war against Scientology. Anonymous never lost the taste for real-world intervention, as they began to target the Westboro Baptist Church, a famous extremist Christian church that conducts protests against queer rights. Anonymous became a driving force behind Occupy Wall Street worldwide, exhibiting their decentralized anti-government standpoint. They attacked the Pentagon’s servers, some UK government websites,

<img src=“anonymouslogo.jpg”> <img src=“obnoxious_eagle.jpg”>


and eventually hacked and threatened the drug cartel Los Zetas when a member of Anonymous was kidnapped. What moral code do they have? It seems that they are liberal to the point of anarchy. All they seem to seek is freedom to do whatever they want on the internet and face no consequences. Had they been as coordinated during the Bush administration, they would have attacked the servers of the White House as a protest against the Patriot Act, surely. Governments, corporations, anyone who seems to impede the rights of an average internet user is a target. Anonymous became a threat. A faceless, nameless organization that exists solely on a metaphysical plane? One that faces no consequences? One that could attack a government? How can society adapt around an emerging group that doesn’t want money and has no need for more power?

Let us now take a step back and look at the positions on the board as of September 2012, when Anonymous launched its most overtly political Operation yet. <p> That month found a presidential election just beginning to settle into its gory right vs. left brawl, after both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The Obama campaign’s infamous emails were continuing (people frequently joked that they were good friends with Barack or Michelle Obama, Jim Messina, and a plethora of other big names, after seeing them so many times in their inbox). Mitt Romney had chosen ultra-rightwing penner of a budget that would cut Medicaid Paul Ryan as a running mate, and had promised yet another reboot of his campaign as his awkward personality, unpleasant slickness, and apparent disconnect with the

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/*introduction*/

average American taxpayer, were proving unsurprisingly detrimental on the campaign trail. Fox News, a perfect example of a company that disregards its own slogan (“fair and balanced”), was acting almost as Romney campaign headquarters (as liberal pundits and comedians were always happy to point out; Jon Stewart used those words, and Rachel Maddow did not shy away from directly criticizing Fox’ reporting bias), desperately trying to cover up Romney’s infamous flip-flopping, his refusal to get specific on even one issue, and his ubiquitous and never-ending gaffes. The pieces were in place for a rough, tumultuous election. The right was further right than ever before with the influence of the Tea Party and as a reaction to Occupy Wall Street, a movement fresh in their minds as it was only a year old. The left was struggling to find their footing—the President’s public endorsement of same-sex marriage and the fading of the “post-racial” myth would seem to position it the furthest left it had ever been, but in areas like defense it stayed moderate at best. Barack Obama’s galvanizing 2008 campaign had run its course; confronted with an immobile Congress and a heap of issues inherited from his predecessor, George W. Bush, his campaign promises of change and hope fell short for many of his supporters who found themselves disillusioned. The multiple near-shutdowns of the government due to refusals by the right to push through budgets which included federal support to Planned Parenthood or PBS were eye-opening, especially to new voters whose voices, though loud in 2008, were ineffective. In 2012, they were of voting age.

And now, our stage is set.

<p> Curtain open on the Republican National Convention, at the loud applause at the close of Paul Ryan’s speech. “Let’s get this done,” he cries, and then obligingly says, “Thank you, and God bless.” The crowd goes wild. Livestream viewers are split between the conservative young who are all riled up, and the liberal young who find themselves disgusted with this blue-eyed supposed savior of the GOP.

<!--I’m concern about the ver poor.--> <div id=“pull quote”> <img src=“freedommagnet.jpg” alt=“found on 4chan imageboard”>


not ned

ry ->

> 47% > 47%

“Wasn’t that supposed to be Sarah Palin?” bloggers and Facebook spewed onto the internet. “Besides—half of that stuff wasn’t even true!” This being the internet, a lot of it got brushed off as indignation, righteous or otherwise. Within 24 hours, however, those bloggers would be pointing and saying “I told you so!” Almost every political speech or statement gets checked afterwards. W. Bush’s most famous mistakes are not only the ones where he butchers the English language and makes a caricature of himself but those where he says things that are patently untrue. The art of the fact-check is by no means a new member of the political or journalistic sphere—in fact, a bestselling book details one single news story as it goes back and forth from exaggerating writer to exasperated fact-checker. But with the advent of the internet and real-time reactions, journalists used Twitter to fact-check Paul Ryan’s speech as it was happening. Those cries of “that stuff wasn’t even true!” soon gained some momentum as popular internet newspapers such as the Huffington Post and Politico, and of course Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart on their respective political comedy shows, were suddenly revealing lie upon lie upon lie in Paul Ryan’s speech. Many of these were not simply misleading statements but things that Ryan or Romney had used as an attack before and was already disproven. A comment of Ryan’s that began to circle the internet detailed Obama’s supposed promise in 2008 to a GM plant that it wouldn’t close for a hundred years. It closed, of course, just a few months later, but also a few months before Obama was elected. Ryan’s assertion that Obama was to blame for an event that took place under Bush, due to a claim Obama never made was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Immediately, the statement made by the GOP campaign that they would not allow fact-checkers to impede their campaign became more than a rallying cry for the right against the “dirty left-wing media,” but also a peering glance into how little the government, and more importantly the right, cares about facts.

<img src=“i demand the tr

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ruth badge.jpg”>

/*introduction*/

For Anonymous, this meant that they were not only giving incorrect information to the public, but obscuring truths from the public. Already protective of the right to free and accurate information, and predisposed to dislike government and especially the right for their conservative religions and meddling views, they decided that they would take matters into their own hands. In an anonymous ask on tumblr, Anonymous explained, “it’s bad enough they do these things in public but using our internet to spread these lies is too much for anonymous to let go unpunished. we are legion. we are anonymous. expect us.” Websites went up and websites were hacked. Anonymous spread their “flyers” and “posters” around 4chan, Tumblr, Twitter, and towards the very end of the campaign, Facebook. (Facebook, of course, was never as much of breeding ground for Anonymous as these other sites because Facebook relies on one’s default picture, and creates a culture of interpersonal interaction based visually; the ability and necessity of participation to be a presence on Facebook [tagging photos, checking in at places, announcing where you are and when you leave] is contrary to everything that makes Anonymous powerful.) Hacktivist members of Anonymous put images onto the Romney campaign website, and as the movement gained momentum, onto the sites of many government officials on both sides of the aisle.

Operation Oracle had taken hold of the nation.  </p> <p>


> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > >

47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47% 47%

The lack of a leader or a center to the movement allowed it to evolve with the political climate. The infamous 47% video released by Mother Jones of the hidden-camera footage of Romney’s private fundraising dinner was one of the first turning points for the Oracle campaign. After that video, Anonymous grew even angrier and the operation grew even larger. More DDoS attacks. More “poster” hacks. More juvenile “graffiti” on the nominee’s images on the internet. The message was clear: “the youth, the ignored, the silent of this country have been underestimated in both passion and power. We do not want your apology, only your resignation and the resignations of those who hold office in this nation without revealing the full truth to its citizens” (from an anonymous member on 4chan). This brings us back to the original question. Were there a few intrepid, active, angry individuals behind this? Was it simply a mass? Or, most likely, was it an outcry of an entire subcultural group waiting for the opportunity to mean something? As the internet evolves, and more people become accustomed to it, how do the veins of traditions and subtraditions begin to splinter people off into their own groups? Anonymous is distinct from other internet users, but looking around at an average group of people, it is impossible to tell who was part of Oracle. There’s no identifying mark or sign (though later this book will discuss graphic style). There’s a logo, but not one that was reproduced. It was an entirely new way of participating in government. One that left the speakers, well, Anonymous. One year ago, Anonymous announced the official end of Operation Oracle, almost six months after its inception, but the effects haven’t stopped their thrumming resonance. Downloading a CD illegally does not mean that the pirates of the internet don’t care about the dreams whose tatters they wore on their shoulders, growing up knowing no Washington but one which was corrupt, vile, scheming. Lacking a face doesn’t preclude a desire for honesty and truth in government. How did such a diverse and unorganized group as Anonymous implement such great change?

What does it mean? <HE SAID HE SAID>   <page = 11

> I on the record pretty > I whethe were a whethe > [ create > I inheri > I going, raised > M manage years by a t > I when t ballot > M jobs d during histor > I histor of att religi that w > T Thomas right. > W the jo > N


I’ve still got the same positions e issues I had four years ago. My d as governor and my positions are y darn conservative. I know what it’s like to worry er you’re gonna get fired. There a couple of times I wondered er I was going to get a pink slip. [At Bain Capital], we helped e over 100,000 new jobs. I went off on my own. I didn’t it money from my parents. If you want to get the economy , lower corporate tax rates. He’s d them. My investments, of course, are ed not by me. For the last 10 they’ve been guided and managed trustee, they’re in a blind trust. I’ve never voted for a Democrat there was a Republican on the t. More Americans have lost their during President Obama’s term than g any other President in modern ry. I don’t think we’ve seen in the ry of this country the kind tack on religious conscience, ious freedom, religious tolerance we’ve seen under Barack Obama. The government would have banned s Edison’s light bulb. Oh, that’s . They just did. Women account for 92.3 percent of obs lost under Obama. NOT A SINGLE WORD IS TRUE


MITTENS R-MONEY <img src=“church_rose_window.jpg” alt="romney is a mormon, and spent much of the campaign appealing to the christian right"> <img src=“mittens2.jpg” alt=“found on Oracle site”>

<p> To many, the GOP primaries were a joke. Presented with ten potential nominees at first (the major players in order of their popular vote results, worst to best: Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Romney), the country watched as for almost a full year, these politicians campaigned against each other, raising huge sums of money for SuperPACs and pushing each other more and more to the right. Some were funnier than others—Perry’s inabaility to remember the three programs he would cut, Romney’s infamous $10,000 bet, Newt Gingrich talking about his plan to go to the moon, Herman Cain being Herman Cain—but some were forgotten. Huntsman’s mild-mannered moderate views, for example, were dismissed quickly in favor of Gingrich’s blustering self-importance or Santorum’s earnest and fierce homophobic agenda and belief. The left watched in a mix of amusement and terror as one after another made mistake after mistake, while the right waited impatiently for one to finally come out as the competitor for Obama. Finally, as all elections do, the campaigns narrowed and Romney came out as the nomniee. Out of touch with middle- and lower-class America, constantly prostelatizing about the private sector, and reeking of wealth, Romney began his solo campaign mainly on one issue: I am not Obama. And how could one confuse them? <HE SAID HE SAID>   <page = 13


<img src=“police_and_protestor.jpg”> <img src=“patriarchal misogynist bullshit_protest.jpg”> <img src="sad_mittens_stamp.png">

In order to keep his supporters, who mainly seemed to like him by virtue of not liking anyone else, or because he was the most likely success against Obama, he started moving farther right than he had ever been as governor of Massachusetts. The “Obamacare” Affordable Care Act was closely related to “Romneycare” implemented in MA and yet it was condemned by the GOP and promises of its repeal upon election were made by everyone on the right. But even more than these flip-flops that made Romney famous, he became known as a liar. Paul Ryan’s GOP Convention speech probably started it, but fact checks were unpleasant to Romney long before his choice for vice president ignored


<img src=“studentloansblow.jpg” alt=“romneys plan sugges students borrow money from their parents to get started

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ted d”>

/*mittens r-money*/

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Desperate to counter the assault on his character, Romney finally called a press conference to “address the slander seen on the internet.” During the conference, it seemed to many (including Anonymous) that he was visibly upset. One poster on 4chan went so far as to say that Romney was “near tears” and that “we beat that little bitch to the ground.” Romney explained briefly the sweeping misconception that he was a liar, reiterating a late campaign claim of his honesty and trustworthiness, and then continued to the meat of the conference, by saying, “If you were one of the young people on YouTube, on Twitter, on blogs, and you are angry at the dishonesty in Washington, take your passion to the ballots and stop Barack Obama from lying! Tell him you won’t accept dishonest economic policies or pledging to save Israel when he won’t even consider a preemptive strike on Iran. Tell the government you want to see change. Real change. Change I can bring to the White House.” He continued in a more somber tone, and taking a cue from Obama’s old playbook, “If you truly believe that I am a bad man, a dishonest man, I pledge now that I will fight for you. I don’t listen to bullies. In my life I have never backed away from a fight because the other guy said some nasty things about me, and I don’t plan to start.” The sound bite “I don’t listen to bullies” reached viral status on YouTube, with thousands of comments and over 2 million views. It spawned a remix, in the style of 80s motivational anti-bullying movies, entitled “Mitt Says… Don’t Listen to Bullies! Or Anyone Else!” Political analysts dove to deeper meanings, seeing a similarity between Anonymous’ campaign and the aggressive fact-checking culture following the GOP Convention in Tampa. A few opinion and editorial pages suggested that seeing criticism as bullying would be a detriment to a presidency. An equal number praised his strength. The problem lay in the acknowledgement, however. A practically gleeful Chris Matthews said the next morning, “By addressing the problem, he made it legitimate. He should have treated it like a joke, something to not take seriously. By talking about it, people will think about it and it’s as if he admitted defeat to a bunch of pimply teenagers jerking off in their basements!” For Anonymous, this was akin to victory. Romney had officially recognized them as a threat and responded to them, which in turn would make others realize how little they had looked into his lies. Oracle was deemed a success, and Romney’s conference did little to <HE SAID HE SAID>   <page = 123 19


/* HEADING */ heading {color:blue;font-family:Times, serif}

<!--Who was behind Oracle?--> Were there a few intrepid, active, angry individuals behind this? Was it simply a mass? Or, most likely, was it an outcry of an entire subcultural group waiting for the opportunity to mean something? As the internet evolves, and more people become accustomed to it, how do the veins of traditions and subtraditions begin to splinter people off into their own groups?â&#x20AC;Ś

Lacking a face doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t preclude a desire for honesty and truth in government. <introduction>

micaela bROdy12

He Said, He Said  

Hypothetical book following the fictional Operation Oracle.