The Pentagon has asked for an investigation into threats made by the Anonymous hacking collective against officials at Quantico, the Marine brig that is holding accused WikiLeaker Pfc. Bradley Manning.
The probe was requested following news reports that members of Anonymous were discussing ways to avenge the 23-year-old Manning, who is being forced to strip naked each night while held in solitary confinement and stand at attention in the morning. According to a report published on Monday by Forbes, Anonymous griefers have singled out Department of Defense Press Secretary Geoff Morell and Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes as targets.
The goal of the campaign, dubbed “Operation Bradical,” is to “dox” the two officials, which Forbes says is Anonymous lingo for compiling crowdsourced documentation about the individuals with the goal of using it for mass harassment. Reporting the individuals to the police for drug or sex offenses, tricking their ISPs into canceling service, and “messing with their social security numbers” are all on the table, according to the report.
According to a report published on Tuesday by AFP, Pentagon officials have alerted law enforcement agencies to the reported threats.
While Anonymous is best known for orchestrating DDoS, or distributed denial of service, attacks on the websites of groups its members criticize, the group recently perpetrated a devastating hack against the servers of security firm HBGary. The breach, which exposed tens of thousands of proprietary emails discussing the private matters of clients, came shortly after HBGary CEO Aaron Barr, told The Financial Times he planned to unmask the leaders of Anonymous in the next few days.
Barr resigned in response to the attacks.
According to Forbes, Operation Bradical demands that Manning be given “sheets, blankets, any religious texts he desires, adequate reading material, clothes, and a ball.”
According to a blog post published on Saturday by Manning's attorney:
The Brig has stripped PFC Manning of all of his clothing for the past three nights, and they intend to continue this practice indefinitely. Each night, Brig guards force PFC Manning to relinquish all of his clothing. He then lies in a cold jail cell naked until the following morning, when he is required to endure the humiliation of standing naked at attention for the morning roll call. According to Marine spokesperson, First Lieutenant Brian Villiard, the decision to strip him naked every night is for PFC Manning's own protection. Villiard stated that it would be "inappropriate" to explain what prompted these actions "because to discuss the details would be a violation of PFC Manning's privacy."
Manning, who has been incarcerated since July, has spent much of that time under suicide watch or prevention-of-injury designations. Among other things, they require him to be confined to a 6-by-12-foot cell with a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet for about 23 hours a day, and heavily restrict him from reading or exercising. Guards check on him every five minutes by asking him if he's OK. Manning is required to respond in some affirmative manner.
Pentagon officials say the treatment is not for punitive reasons. ®