I have warned you time and again to be careful about attributing any significance to factual claims made by anonymous people. A couple of days ago, the Daily Caller reported on an anonymous claim taking credit for supposedly hacking Karl Rove’s ORCA system. Even though the Caller article points out that there is no proof for the claim, and later specifically notes facts that contradict it, the claim somehow became a story on their site. Indeed, the Caller tells its readers that the claim was made by a “mysterious hacktivist group” — when it could just as easily be a single lying loser behind a keyboard. More on who that loser might be in a moment. Here is the Caller:
A mysterious hacktivist group called The Protectors says it is responsible for Project ORCA’s technical failures on Election Day, even though it has offered no proof to support the claim.
Velvet Revolution and Justice Through Music, both activist organizations founded by convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin, had offered a million dollar bounty to tech savvy people prior to Election Day to prove instances of tampering with voting machines.
Kimberlin, who has been extensively profiled by The Blaze and Time, made his foray into election-reform politics in order to prove that Republicans stole the 2004 presidential election.
The Protectors are attempting to claim that reward, stating in a letter to Velvet Revolution — dated Nov. 8, and allegedly received by Velvet Revolution on Nov. 12 — that the group sabotaged the Romney campaign’s efforts to win the presidency.
With all due respect, Daily Caller editors, how do we know this letter is the product of a “mysterious hacktivist group”? How do we know it’s not just some douchebag sitting around making a claim to draw attention?
Let’s look at a couple of red flags. We already know from the first sentence of the article that there is “no proof” for the claim. And this paragraph also suggests that the claim is B.S.:
The timeline The Protectors offered in the letter to Velvet Revolution, however, contradicts accounts from both the Romney campaign and ORCA volunteers.
But the reasons to doubt the claim run much deeper.
The email came in to the mailbox of Brett Kimberlin’s Velvet Revolution. To the extent that gullible media outlets report the story, that tends to raise the profile of Velvet Revolution. Cui bono? Why, Brett Kimberlin and his associate Neal Rauhauser, who has heavily promoted the story (and claimed to have received advanced notice of the action) on his gibberish-filled stalker blog. (No links for gibberish-filled stalker blogs.)
But here’s the part that really got my attention: the letter to Velvet Revolution ends this way:
We may just put all our evidence into a tidy little package and give it to a painfully bored nemesis hanging out in a certain embassy in London.
“Tidy little package.”
Anyone who has followed Neal Rauhauser for any length of time sees the words “tidy little package” and chuckles — or perhaps laughs out loud, as I just did. You see, Rauhauser loves to use the word “tidy” in connection with compilations of evidence. It’s a verbal tic that is noticed by everyone who has read the guy’s ravings for any length of time.
Just a few examples:
[UPDATE: See the bottom of this post for an example of Rauhauser using this exact phrase.]
Coincidentally enough, the Gaped Crusader (who has many startling similarities to Rauhauser including an IP address) loves the word “tidy” as well:
By contrast, I did a search, and it turns out that in nearly 10 years of blogging, I have never used the word “tidy” in a post, even once. Until this one.
I have a memory of Rauhauser using the precise phrase “tidy little package,” but can find only circumstantial evidence of it. I can’t find a screenshot of it, but Mike Stack and I used to discuss Neal’s use of the phrase, and Mike has used it on his own blog as a quote or paraphrase of Rauhauser. [UPDATE: See the bottom of this post for an example of Rauhauser using this precise phrase.]
Rauhauser’s defenders will claim that I am basing all this on one word, which I clearly am not. There’s his connection to Velvet Revolution, the email being sent to Velvet Revolution, the use of a characteristic word or phrase, and the fact that he is trying to use the traffic to his blog to promote his insane conspiracy theories about me. It’s not proof he did it, but there’s plenty here to make a knowledgeable observer go: hmmmmm.
But forget Neal Rauhauser. The main point of my post is to caution people about believing anonymous sources. Here is ironclad proof that when you credulously repeat claims of anonymous people who offer no proof, you risk looking like a moron. The hacker group Anonymous has a little inside joke where they go around using the number “over 9000” to describe things. “Know your meme” explains:
“Over 9000” is a popular catchphrase derived from the Japanese manga anime series Dragon Ball Z that is typically used as an innumerable quantifier to describe a large number of something like “several”, “lots”, “butt loads” and even the metric “ass tonne”.
As Parmy Olson explained in her book about the hacker group Anonymous, members of that group repeat this meme often — and sucker in news agencies in the process.
Just this month, at least two news organizations have fallen prey to the joke:
The vice prime minister of Israel, Silvan Shalom, has had his Twitter account hacked, with pro-Palestine messages posted on his micro-blogging.
Meanwhile, Anonymous has ramped up its cyber war on Israel, claiming to have leaked over 9000 documents belonging to Israeli officials.
Wow, some person claiming to be from a hacking group claims to have leaked “over 9000” documents? That’s news, better report it! Here’s another slightly more cautious story from a couple of weeks ago:
A worldwide day of protests and cyber attacks against governments, banks and security firms has been launched by Hacker collective Anonymous to mark Guy Fawkes Day. Hundreds of people marched in London, while another rally hit Washington, DC.
Around 200 Anonymous supporters, according to RT’s London Bureau, assembled in London’s Trafalgar Square for Operation Vendetta, a march to the Houses of Parliament. The group itself claims over 9,000 people joined the action.
Another outlandish claim of “over 9000” something or another being dutifully reported, albeit with some skepticism.
When it comes to Rove’s ORCA failure, anonymous reports claiming hacking are worthless. Indeed, the only story worth reporting is the possibility that the person behind this silly claim is a single loser behind a keyboard with an unusually close connection to Brett Kimberlin.
UPDATE: A tipster provides this link to Rauhauser using the “tidy little package” phrase verbatim using his Stranded Wind persona.