The WikiLeaks/Bank of America story is significantly more multifaceted than most people probably realize. First, the plot against WikiLeaks originated from two statements that Julian Assange made in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In this article, I’m going to address those statements, Bank of America’s response, and how they led to Aaron Barr’s obsession with Anonymous, almost all of which began mere days before Anonymous launched Operation Payback.
In the next article, I’m going to address WikiLeaks’ failure to publish any Bank of America documents and who was partially to blame. I’m also going to report on one individual who took advantage of Assange’s statements and used them to bolster himself as both a member of Anonymous and a whistleblower. We’ll also discuss @AnonScandinavia (formerly known as @AnonScan) and “his” ties to Bank of America.
Lastly, I’m going to wrap up the #OpISIS 8.8: Winter 2010-2011 sub-series with what Aaron Barr discovered about Anonymous’ so-called “top leadership,” and what that meant in terms of Christopher Doyon a.k.a. Christopher Doyon.
Julian Assange’s 2009 and 2010 Announcements
The WikiLeaks/Bank of America story actually begins in 2009, at a cyber conference in Malaysia where Julian Assange presented an 80-minute presentation about WikiLeaks, source material, and transparency. During his stay in Kuala Lumpur, Assange revealed to Computerworld.com that WikiLeaks was “sitting on 5GB from Bank of America, one of the executive’s hard drives.”
However, this wasn’t the disclosure that sent Bank of America over the edge. What sent them over the edge was what Assange told Forbes Magazine a year later:
We have one related to a [U.S.] bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.
It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume.
With good reason, Bank of America assumed that Assange’s 2010 comments about publishing a U.S. bank “megaleak” was in reference to his earlier 2009 comments made in Malaysia about having five gigabytes of data from a BofA executive in his possession. Immediately after the Forbes’ interview was published, Twitter accounts speculated that WikiLeaks’ target was, indeed, Bank of America.
The following day, media outlets including The Daily Beast, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters reported the same suspicions and throughout the week, other outlets like The New York Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald, covered WikiLeaks’ plan to release “tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year.”
As for Bank of America’s reaction to Assange’s comments, HBGary emails, later hacked and leaked by Anonymous, revealed that their initial response was to mitigate the impending damage by destroying WikiLeak’s trustworthiness and overall reputation.
On December 2, 2010, exactly four days after the Forbes interview was published—and only eight days before Doyon said he first infiltrated Anonymous— John Woods of Hunton & Williams sent an email to then-CEO of HBGary Federal, Aaron Barr, stating:
Richard and I am meeting with senior executives at a large US Bank tomorrow regarding Wikileaks. We want to sell this team as part of what we are talking about. I need a favor. I need five to six slides on Wikileaks – who they are, how they operate and how this group may help this bank. Please advise if you can help get me something ASAP. My call is at noon.
That “large US Bank” was Bank of America because, again, due to Assange’s statements, the bank was clearly looking to do some preemptive damage control. Later that same day, Palantir’s Matthew Steckman wrote to Barr:
Here is the summary of my call:
They are pitching the bank to retain them for an internal investigation around wikileaks. They basically want to sue them to put an injunction on releasing any data. DOJ called the GC of BofA and told them to hire Hunton and Williams, specifically to hire Richard Wyatt who I’m beginning to think is the emperor. They want to present to the bank a team capable of doing a comprehensive investigation into the data leak. Currently they are recommending:
-Hire H&W as outside council on retainer
-Use Palantir for network/cyber/insider threat investigation
-Use Berico/HBGary to analyze wikileaks the organization (people, history, where they are located) Apparently if they can show that wikileaks is hosting data in certain countries it will make prosecution easier.
-Use a team of GD/PWC forensics investigators.
And this is how that infamous Palantir presentation came about. You know, the one where Palantir and HBGary Federal suggested things like feeding the fuel between feuding groups, pushing disinformation, and submitting fake documents to WikiLeaks. Note above how the U.S. Department of Justice was involved in the conspiracy from the very start.
On the evening of December 2nd, Steckman sent Woods and Hunton, Berico Technologies, and Barr the presentation slides for review:
The following day, Steckman thanked Barr for adding a “spotlight” on Glenn Greenwald:
In an interesting turn of events, eleven months after this cabal of conspirators suggested submitting fake documents to WikiLeaks in order to discredit them, Sabu contacted Assange’s assistance, Siggi Thordarson, both of whom were FBI informants by this point, and told him “[W]e ended up owning syrian government central mail server.” He then sent Thordarson the contents of one email that purportedly showed “€2 billion being transferred from the Central Bank of Syria to Russia’s VTB Ban.”
WikiLeaks never published the email—you know, the one that two FBI informants gave to Assange as a teaser and said was legit—and five years later, during the 2016 election season, The Daily Dot inexplicably resurrected the “€2 billion transfer” email, berating Wikileaks for their failure to publish it while spurring on the Russiagate conspiracy. You can find the whole story here:
DDoSecrets’ Emma Best also went after WikiLeaks for their alleged failure to publish all of the Syrian emails, the same Emma Best that works with child porn purveyor and Anonymous hacker, Aubrey Cottle. And according to so-called hacktivist, Ray Johansen, he helped Best put together the DDoSecrets’ platform and he, as well, seems to have a questionable background when it comes to children.
Regardless, years before The Daily Dot published their article and Best blasted WikiLeaks on Twitter, Assange weathered a baffling shitstorm of criticism over the rate at which WikiLeaks was publishing The Syrian Files from none other than members of Anonymous. We’ll get to that like everything else because as you might remember, this entire 8.0 sub-series about Christopher Doyon is being published because:
Four years ago, I published an article called, “Under Attack Part Eight: The Syria Files,” as part of a popular series I wrote about the history of WikiLeaks. In fact, the entire series, along with my hard work, was noticed and promoted by Julian Assange. Since then, multiple well-known, manipulative, and abusive disinfo activists have tried to delegitimize my work by falsely claiming (among a host of other things) that other people wrote the series for me.
Because prominent pro-Assange accounts like @BellaMagnani, which many believe is controlled by Assange’s fiancé, Stella Moris, have publicly made these allegations [while producing exactly zero evidence for their delusional statements], perhaps someone should ask them why the individuals who supposedly penned the Syria Files article purposely tried to insulate one particular hacking group from scrutiny. I mean, if Moris, Ray Johansen’s alter ego “Kaidinn,” and the rest of the disinfo mafia want to credit anyone other than myself for writing it…
My guess is that online personas like @BellaMagnani and “Kaidinn” have no desire to explain the hole they dug for themselves with their false accusations and so I’m more than happy to take responsibility for what I wrote, or rather, for what I didn’t write.
In the article, I mentioned several groups that were reportedly involved in hacking the Syrian emails, however, there was one particular organization that I completely ignored. This was mainly due to the fact that a. I didn’t think they were significant because b. I couldn’t find very much information on them because c. At the time, I didn’t know where to look or who was involved with the group, and d. Google searches made it difficult because the group’s name is identical to much larger and well-known foreign organizations and, as such, searches returned a massively high number of results that bore no connection whatsoever.
In addition, I included a link to a Pastebin that this group wrote and I still ignored the significance. For that, I apologize to my audience. But I’m also curious as to why no one pointed out this group to me after all of these years—especially in light of the fact that the leader claimed that the group’s members included ex-military and former intelligence agents.
That group was the Peoples Liberation Front, also known as the PLF, and I’m interested in why @BellaMagnani, “Kaidinn,” the hacktivist community, and others have long protected it. If you’re not familiar with the PLF and Christopher Doyon a.k.a. “Commander X,” an alleged hacker who became one of the most well-known faces of Anonymous, clear out your calendar because I have a lengthy four-part (approx.) story to tell you that’s both fascinating and astonishingly absurd.
This is how we got here. The Syrian Files.
A few days after Palantir, HBGary Federal, and others put together “The WikiLeaks Threat” presentation, Anonymous launched Operation Payback in response to Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal’s refusal to process donations to WikiLeaks. This is the operation that Doyon said he joined specifically to infiltrate the hacking collective. His words, not mine.
Between January 1-2, 2011, three things happened: Christopher Doyon a.k.a. Commander X arrived in San Francisco, Anonymous launched #OpTunisia, and The New York Times revealed that the Bank of America had gone on the offensive. However, by the end of the month, Aaron Barr had moved well beyond the WikiLeaks and Bank of America situation and had, quite literally, become obsessed with WikiLeaks’ enigmatic relationship with Anonymous.
Barr spied on members of Anonymous in their #OpTunisia IRC channels and on January 29th, he sent an email Tom Conroy:
I am surprised at the level of success I am having on the Anonymous group. I am able to tie IRC Alias to Facebook account to real people. I have laid out the organizations communications and operational structure. Determined the leadership of the organization (mostly – some more work here to go).
Two days later, he already had a meeting scheduled with Booz Hamilton’s Senior Vice President, Bill Wansley, while he continued to search for more ties between WikiLeaks and Anonymous. He advised Wansley that Anonymous was “looking to resurrect operation payback in support of wikileaks.”
So, a job that started with HBGary Federal assisting Palantir and Bank of America in taking down WikiLeaks in order to cover the bank’s arse quickly turned into an Anonymous research project for Barr. One can surmise this was due in part because of #OpPayback, one of Anonymous’ biggest operations that started only days after Barr received that first email about Bank of America on December 2, 2010. However, Barr wasn’t motivated by some sense of morality, he was in it for the money, and both #OpPayback and #OpTunisia surely whet his appetite.
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