Like the story of all those freedom fighters and conscientious people who struggle for realizing true democracy and freedom in the United States but are punished because they purportedly threaten the “national security,” the story of Jeremy Hammond is a painful and moving one.
The mainstream media in the United States gave coverage to Jeremy Hammond’s case critically and analyzed it within the borders of their dogmatic stereotypes. They never alluded to the fact that Hammond lost the joy and peace of his youth days in an audacious attempt to defeat tyranny and autocracy and that although his bargain cost him his liberty, he once again attracted the global attentions to the stirring realities hidden behind the sumptuous and luxurious appearance of the American democracy.
Jeremy Hammond is a 28-year-old political and computer activist associated with the Anonymous group who pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to hack the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) computers and stealing its information.
To have a clear idea of the “crime” Hammond has committed, you can recall what Mordechai Vanunu, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have done. They are all whistleblowers who disclose and shed a light on the underground felonies and wrongdoings of their governments.
According to the official accounts of Hammond’s case who is now behind the bars, the Chicago boy was sentenced in November 2013 to 10 years in prison and 3 years of probation for “stealing” the “personal information” of 860,000 customers of Stratfor and handing them over to the Wikileaks website.
However, the non-mainstream sources report that the Stratfor information revealed by Hammond make known the intricate and troubling relationship between private corporations and government agencies involved in security and intelligence. These emails show how the intelligence contractors employ government agents and neo-conservative journalists to spy on people for different purposes.
According to FreeJeremy.net, the website established to petition for the release of Jeremy Hammond, “some examples of the continuing revelations from the thousands of hacked emails show that Stratfor was hired by: Dow Chemical to spy on people seeking redress for the victims of the Bhopal environmental disaster; the Texas Department of Public Safety to infiltrate the activist community of Occupy Austin, and by Coca Cola to gather intelligence on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).”
It’s conceivable that the U.S. judicial system has been monitoring the activities of Hammond for a relatively long time. In August 2004, he was arrested in New York while taking part in a drum-banging protest during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Massive rallies and demonstrations were held at that time to protest the Republican Party’s nomination of George W. Bush for the 2004 presidential elections. It’s reported that around 1,800 protesters were arrested during the protests, a record high for such events in the United States, and Jeremy Hammond was one of them.
On September 12, 2005, Hammond was again arrested while taking part in protests organized by the University of Illinois students.
Three months later, he was again arrested while protesting the Neo-Nazi groups at the National Socialist Movement on December 10, 2005. The U.S. Federal Court had previously banned protests against the Neo-Nazi groups and movements in a bid to make sure that they enjoy freedom in the United States. Neo-Nazism is a known movement, but the irony is that the Europeans and American call Neo-Nazi every scholar, university professor, author or researcher who tries to investigate or possibly question the documented history of the World War II and the Holocaust. Today, the term Neo-Nazi is used as an instrument of silencing the critics of the actions and policies of Israel. The same goes with “anti-Semitist”!
On December 7, 2006, Jeremy was arrested and sentenced to two years in federal prison and three years’ probation after being convicted of breaking into the computer systems of Protest Warrior, a conservative advocacy group that supported the Iraq War, George W. Bush and Israel before becoming defunct. It was assessed by the court that his infiltration into the computer systems of Protest Warrior had caused $2.5 million in damages.
Jeremy Hammond’s “criminal record” also includes his being sentenced to 18 months of probation and 130 hours of community service in November 2010 after being arrested on September 29, 2009 for tearing down a banner showing the words “Chicago 2016” to protest the Chicago bid for hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The Huffington Post journalist Vivien Lesnik Weisman who conducted an exclusive interview with Jeremy Hammond in the Manhattan Correctional Center on September 10 and was the first journalist who could meet Jeremy in jail after his incarceration in March 2012, notes that the crackdown on the “hacktivists” and whistleblowers is an effort aimed at restricting the methods of civil disobedience and personal liberties of the American citizens. She wrote that one of many revelations made by Hammond is that Stratfor, under the government’s pressure, has been spying on the Occupy Wall Street movement activists. OWS was a movement that seriously challenged the foundations of the U.S. imperial power, began as a set of sporadic rallies to protest the economic irregularity and instability in the United States, and expanded to become a nationwide condemnation of the U.S. military adventures and its foreign policy.
It’s laughable that the United States regularly quashes, detains and condemns the whistleblowers that reveal the furtive activities of its horrendous intelligence apparatus, but never investigates the illegal restrictions imposed on the people’s freedoms under the guise of combating terrorism, and conspicuously violates freedom of speech under the grandiloquent names of different “Acts” and regulations.
According to prominent American journalist Chris Hedges, Hammond’s actions are providing “chilling evidence that anti-terrorism laws are being routinely used by the federal government to criminalize nonviolent, democratic dissent and falsely link dissidents to international terrorist organizations” and the mass detention of political activists and protesters in different demonstrations, rallies and congregations by the FBI attests to his claim. Monitoring and controlling the correspondences and phone conversations of those people whom the U.S. government considers as “persona non grata” is another testimony that the United States government is using the pretext of combating terrorism to reverse all the values which the Founding Fathers had laid out in the Constitution.
Hammond made a truly deep statement in his interview with the Huffington Post: “I have tried everything from voting petitions to peaceful protest and have found that those in power do not want the truth to be exposed. When we speak truth to power we are ignored at best and brutally suppressed at worst. We are confronting a power structure that does not respect its own system of checks and balances, never mind the rights of its own citizens or the international community.”
Perhaps he is in a better position to opine on the status of the society he is living in. He knows how intricate, unhealthy and unreliable this political system is. He understands the futility of the slogan of combating terrorism and the lethal American project of War on Terrorism which is simply aimed at suppressing the dissident, both at home and abroad.
Snowden has fled his country and sought refuge in Russia, Bradley Manning has been detained and vilified as someone with gender identity disorder and the fate of Julian Assange residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London is unpredictable. Who knows what will happen to the 28-year-old Hammond? Let’s struggle for the dignity of these freedom warriors to whom we should be thankful for their unassuming efforts for revealing the truths which we might be otherwise totally unaware of. However, truth will prevail, even if the whistleblowers are detained and sentenced to silence.
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