Anonymous asks people to call Congress; US responds by shutting down wifi at Gitmo

Earlier this evening I saw that the Associated Press and others are reporting that the US military has shut down wifi service, along with access to Facebook and Twitter, at Guantanamo.

According to Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, who spoke with the AP, the shutdown was a response to a May 6 press release from Anonymous, titled “We are closing Guantanamo Bay for good.” The release lists the phone numbers of the White House, US Southern Command, and the Department of Defense, links to a petition to close Guantanamo, and urges readers to “join global actions on the ground and hacktivist protests as well as twitterstorms, email bombs, and fax bombs, in 3 days of nonstop action.”

Unlike in earlier operations, where Anonymous has threatened to “lay waste to…servers” in response to human rights violations in Bahrain or to prevent the State of the Union from being broadcast online, the #OpGTMO press release doesn’t appear to contain any specific hacking-related threats. In fact, I can’t find anything “threatening” at all about this entirely legitimate call to legal civic action.

I’m left wondering: why, exactly, was shutting down wifi and access to social media an appropriate response? (And furthermore, how would these measures—especially blocking Facebook and Twitter—even make a difference, were Anonymous or others to decide to launch a DDoS attack against US military servers?) So far the best commentary I can find on this issue comes from Brittany Hillen at Slashgear:

It is worth noting the press release doesn’t say anything about hacking or cyberattacking the network, instead urging the public to bombard the powers that be with denouncements of the prison’s conditions, actions, and continued existence. As such, it has been pointed out on the Operation Guantanamo’s Twitter account that the base has taken itself offline, with the hacking collective not having to do anything, seemingly fulfilling the purpose it was assumed Anonymous sought to achieve.

There’s no word on when the network will be available again.


(Relatedly: does anyone know what the non-military Internet access options are for military service members on the island? General Internet access in Cuba is fairly dismal, but I’m wondering what other options, if any, exist for the average sailor/Marine.)

The Internet President

Crossposted on The Morningside Post.

Image from Desmond Blog

Barack Obama has been called, by everyone from Columbia Law School professor Eben Moglen to media expert Jeff Jarvis, “the first candidate elected by the internet.” By all accounts, online fundraising was a major factor in propelling Obama to the top, and his new site lets Americans share their vision for the next administration.

Now, as the Presidential transition is in process, Obama’s team is taking Internet awareness one step further. If you’re interested in working in a top position in the White House, the New York Times reports that you’d better be willing to divulge your blog, your Facebook profile, and “all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet” in the past decade.

I gave it a shot, and realized my list would include not just profiles on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn but also accounts with Delicious, Twitter, BigSight, FriendFeed, Dopplr, Metafilter and (and an unfortunate experiment with Xanga at age 14). Will a recently-loved song on Favtape become a “possible source of embarrassment” to me, me family, or the president-elect? Will a two-year-old blog post of awkward photos of George Bush seem less sarcastic than fawning, casting me into the ranks of suspected Republicans?

I don’t have to give up as much as the Big O himself, though. (Side note: calling the president-elect “the Big O” will likely embarrass me, my family and Obama himself. This is the part where I kiss my Secretary of State aspirations goodbye.) Due to security concerns, Obama’s being asked to surrender his beloved BlackBerry before stepping into the Oval Office.

Globally liveblogging the American elections

As I mentioned last week, Columbia University’s international affairs blog, The Morningside Post, is hosting a global liveblog of the election returns today.

Columbia professors David Epstein, Andrew Gelman, Brigitte Nacos and Sharyn O’Halloran will join bloggers from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Singapore, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Russia, India, Switzerland, Canada and Brazil to comment as results come in and to offer opinions and analysis on the election’s domestic and international implications. We’ll also be posting election-related photos, videos and polls throughout the day.

Stop by any time between now and midnight EST (8:00 am Wednesday, Kampala time) to add your thoughts.

Update: For even more international liveblogging, check out the Voices Without Votes coverage of global reactions to the election returns.

jackfruit of the week (10.29.08): the U.S. elections

In six days, Americans will be rid of George Bush.

I’m pausing to let that sink in. It Sounds. So. Good.

Elections haven’t always been a big thing for me. Eight years ago I failed the AP U.S. History test because my teacher spent an entire semester discussing hanging chads instead of Eisenhower and the Space Race. Four years ago I jumped on the Dean bandwagon, supported Kerry and almost stopped talking to my boyfriend, who voted for Bush. Unlike some more liberal friends of mine, though, I didn’t care enough to show up to class on November 5, 2004 wearing this shirt:

We’ve managed (albeit barely) to survive the past four years, and this time around, I’m paying attention. And it’s not just me — the entire world is paying attention:

Martin Perez lives in Parañaque, a suburb of Manila, an ocean and a few time zones from the United States. But when he gets up at 5 a.m. to get ready for work, the high school teacher goes online to read the latest news in the U.S. presidential race, study poll numbers, watch YouTube videos — and blog about the McCain-Obama showdown.

“The Election That Has the Whole World Blogging”, Washington Post

Contributing to the global symphony of opinions is The Morningside Post, which is hosting a liveblog of the election returns. From noon to midnight EST on November 4, visit the site to see running commentary from international affairs and public policy students at ten different universities worldwide, from São Paulo to Singapore.

Also: if you’re an American and you don’t vote, may all of these wishes come true for you.