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.)

Call Me Kuchu: March 12, 2013 in Salem, MA

I just got back from a screening of Call Me Kuchu, a film about Uganda’s LGTB activist community, at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA. I’ve been eager to see this film since I first blogged about it in May 2011, and it lived up to the nearly two years of anticipation.

Boston-area folks: it’s also playing at the Salem Film Fest on March 12, 2013. It’s not available in the States yet, so this might be your only chance to see it for a while.

#ugandaspeaks against #kony2012

Congratulations to @jssozi, @RosebellK, @maureenagena, and @echwalu on taking steps to provide Ugandan perspectives on the LRA. Wishing the team had more northern Ugandan voices, particularly given the complex relationship between southern Uganda (where most of these bloggers are from) and northern Uganda in the context of the LRA conflict.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Ugandan Government!

Uganda’s State Minister for Ethics and Integrity crashed a private conference for gay rights activists in Entebbe today, announcing, “I have closed this conference because it’s illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home.”

The comments on the Daily Monitor article about the incident are largely in support of the minister, including this logical stunner (emphasis mine):

I applaud the minister!! If homosexual was good why so secretive? Uganda should not allow the evil habit to erode our society. Even animals know better. Thumbs up Uganda

#headdesk, on so many fronts that I’m not going to bother to list them. Among them, as helpfully pointed out by the Monitor:

This comes on the heels of a private members bill recently tabled in Parliament by David Bahati that seeks to punish “aggravated homosexuality,” and proposes the death sentence for someone deemed to be a “serial offender.” Although homosexuality is illegal under the penal code, public assembly of gay persons is not a crime. But that would change once Bahati’s bill is signed into law.

A little more background on why gay rights organizers in Uganda are treading carefully—including the fact that “serial offenders” under the new bill would include those who are not themselves gay but neglect to report two gay friends to the police—is here.

Call Me Kuchu: New documentary about Uganda’s LGBT community

Two documentary filmmakers traveled to Uganda last year to help tell the story of Uganda’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community — a community that is besieged by a hostile administration, media, and culture. Their film, Call Me Kuchu (“kuchu” is a slang term for Ugandan LGBTs), centers largely on David Kato, one of Uganda’s most outspoken LGBT activists.

The story behind the film shifted abruptly after Kato was murdered this January. The filmmakers returned to Kampala to document the impact of this loss; the resulting film both celebrates the courage of Kato and the LGBT community and mourns his death. The official description:

Call Me Kuchu examines the astounding courage and determination required not only to battle an oppressive government, but also to maintain religious conviction in the face of the contradicting rhetoric of a powerful national church. As we paint a rare portrait of an activist community and its antagonists, our key question explores the concept of democracy: In a country where a judiciary increasingly recognizes the rights of individual kuchus, yet a popular vote and daily violence threaten to eradicate their rights altogether, can this small but spirited group bring about the political and religious change it seeks?

The filmmakers are looking for funding to help edit the film on Kickstarter. If you’re able to donate — even $1 — please do.