The swift ascent to Internet Fame is generally advanced by the very young. This is fine until the relationship
Lostutter is the man behind #OpRedRoll, the Anonymous operation last December that thrust the rape conversation back into the national spotlight, and led to the convictions of Trenton Mays and Ma’lik Richmond for the rape of a teenage girl in Steubenville, Ohio, after a football party last August. That would be his third operation in December for KnightSec, an Anonymous splinter group targeting social justice issues. Under the guise of KYAnonymous, he was of the key players in two other lesser known Anon ops: #OpHuntHunter, targeting revenge-porn director Hunter Moore, and #OpWestBoro, against the Westboro Baptist Church, when they threated to picket the funerals of the victims of the the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
Steubenville PD Chief William McCafferty spoke to me via e-mail and indicated that Lostutter was involved in “more than just Steubenville”, but would not comment on whether these other operations were related to the FBI’s investigation, or whether Lostutter has been accused of sending the e-mail virus to McCafferty that prompted him to contact the FBI.
Attorney Jason Flores-Williams released a statement on Wednesday indicating that Lostutter is to be charged with three felonies under the Computer Fraud And Abuse Act (CFAA).
“Thru talks with US GOV, we know that Deric will be charged with 3 felonies under CFAA, Can’t say more due to AC privilege. But facing heavy time. Stand together.” – JFW
As of this time, it is uncertain whether the FBI has information relating to #OpHuntHunter or #OpWestBoro. But Williams also made the following statement, which indicates that they just might:
We certainly hope the United States comes to its senses and decides not to indict, and if they do we will aggressively litigate the incident. What’s unique here to me is that it’s not a national security issue. This isn’t at the forefront at the NSA or the CIA. This comes out of the heartland of the country, and this is a person who is just trying to do what is right for the heartland.
‘Terrorist’ is a exceedingly flexible word, one that can be stretched and bent to apply to all manner of people, or illegal activities. For an incredibly chilling example of this, I invite you to read Will Potter’s “Green Is The New Red”, which documents the rebranding of environmental and animal rights activists as so-called “eco-terrorists”. If it turns out that the FBI simultaneously indicts Lostutter on charges across all three operations – Hunter Moore, Westboro, and Steubenville – America could end up with its first offical “cyber-terrorist”, not only creating an exponentially more difficult situation for Lostutter, but also inadvertently declaring war on Anonymous.
Deric maintains his innocence over the RollRedRoll.com hack, citing the fact that someone has claimed responsibility for it already. Noah McHugh, also known as BatCat, is a Department Of Defense contractor who claims that Lostutter reached out to him to perform the hack and publish the site owner’s personal information. McHugh came forward in early February, claiming that he did not fear legal consequences for his actions, and also noting that it was it was “not a government site that was compromised.” McHugh was allegedly arrested in February shortly after his confession, but this has not been confirmed.
According to the FBI’s search warrant for Lostutter’s property, they were interested in seizing any evidence relating to the RollRedRoll.com hack. If the investigation concludes that he is indeed not responsible, the FBI may try and pin the sabotaging of Chief McCafferty’s computer on him instead, if they haven’t already. Not only would this put Lostutter in an even more precarious position, but it could severely damage his credibility in the process, coming off as a needlessly aggressive, misdirected maneuver.
McCafferty was a minor player in the Steubenville rape case, overshadowed by Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdallah, the one leading the rape investigation who openly declared war on Anonymous prior to the first Occupy Steubenville rally back in January. According to most reports, McCafferty had little to do with the rape case after Mays and Richmond were arrested on August 22nd, 2012. The case was picked up by the Attorney General’s office, and the investigation was then spearheaded by Abdallah. Abdallah has a rather cozy relationship with Reno Saccocia, the Steubenville High football coach who failed to bench several players that season who were linked to the rape case. Rumors abounded that Saccocia and Abdallah were allegedly covering for those same players with friends, family, and the authorities.
Lostutter’s case is shaping up to be something much more than an ironic testament to the value society places on hackers versus rapists. Depending on the nature of the charges and the way the FBI presents their case, this could escalate very quickly from prosecuting a whistleblower to prosecuting an enemy of the state, setting a terrifying new precedent for “cyber-terrorism” that would fit quite neatly stacked against numerous “ag-gag” bills, the AP phone hacking scandal, the NSA’s recent seizure of millions of metadata records from Verizon, and the PRISM program.
The line between activist and terrorist is slowly being blurred by our justice system, and Deric Lostutter could very well end up being the first one to cross it in cyberspace. No matter what happens, the future of digital justice is about to get a whole lot more interesting.
(cross-posted at Soapbox Magazine)
UPDATE: It turns out Sheriff Abdallah was not the one who spearheaded the rape investigation with the AG’s office. In a statement made at the beginning of the investigation, McCafferty said the following:
“Shortly after the rape was reported and our single juvenile officer started his investigation…I moved a former juvenile officer from uniform patrol back into juvenile to assist with other cases and allow the main juvenile officer to focus on this case.
The state attorney general has assisted us with two prosecutors and an investigator…The sheriff’s department has assisted us with the confiscating of cell phones. Those phones were promptly turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification. And all of the information we have gathered has been turned over to the two state prosecutors.”
It appears that Steubenville PD’s role in the investigation, while critical, was arguably less controversial than alleged. The fact that the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department was involved in the rounding up of cell phones that might contain evidence lends great plausibility to allegations of a cover up involving Sheriff Abdallah and Steubenville High football coach Reno Saccocia. More on this as it develops.
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