Final Update: Lulzsec Hack of the Sun
It’s only fitting, since the Guardian were one of the few major papers involved in disseminating the Wikileaks emails and breaking the Phone Hacking scandal, that they should be the first to report a Lulzsec hack of News International:
The LulzSec collective hacked the Sun’s website and redirected it to another hacked page falsely reporting that Rupert Murdoch had been found dead.
LulzSec also claimed to be “sitting on their [the Sun’s] emails” and that they would release the emails on Tuesday. They tweeted what they claimed was Rebekah Brooks’s email address at the Sun, and said they knew her password combination.
Just in (0.30 BST): A retweet from the Editor of the Guardian says all News International sites down now
RT @jamesrbuk: Okay, www.thetimes.co.uk, thetimes.co.uk, www.thesun.co.uk and thesun.co.uk all down for me now #lulzsec
Ouch. That’s gotta hurt. It’s coming at them from all angles now.
Update: Sean Hoare’s Death
I go out to gym for a couple of hours, and what happens? More incredible twists and turns
The whistleblower who connected the Prime Minister’s Press officer to the Hacking Scandal in an NYT investigation has been found dead in his home in Watford (just up the road). Police are saying the death of the former NOTW journalist is ‘not suspicious’, though obviously suspicions will be high. As a friend of mine tweets
Sean Hoare’s death like Pincipal Skinner’s line from the Simpsons “There’s nothing sinister here, groundsman Willie has simply disappeared.”
As the editor of the Guardian has just tweeted, Hoare had already been interviewed under caution as a suspect in the case. Must have been tough on him, since he was also a major contributor to this article on the growing scandal only last week.
A former show-business reporter for The News of the World, Sean Hoare, who was fired in 2005, said that when he worked there, pinging cost the paper nearly $500 on each occasion. He first found out how the practice worked, he said, when he was scrambling to find someone and was told that one of the news desk editors, Greg Miskiw, could help. Mr. Miskiw asked for the person’s cellphone number, and returned later with information showing the person’s precise location in Scotland, Mr. Hoare said. Mr. Miskiw, who faces questioning by police on a separate matter, did not return calls for comment.
My guess is that he was driven to suicide by events, but of course all kinds of speculations are going to take root given the billions of dollars involved, political and business careers: what a horrible mess for him and his family.
Sean Hoare was a key figure in this scandal actually reaching the public and causing the outcry we see now: a brave man. May he Rest in Peace.
Other developments Today in the UK
So what David Cameron calls a ‘firestorm’, unleashed by the Murdoch hacking scandal, burns out of control. It has made Cameron cut short his African visit: led to a rare emergency recall of Parliament for Wednesday, and James Murdoch looks set to leave the BSkyB board. More importantly, in a seismic unprecedented series of events for the Metropolitan Police (which supervises many elements of national policing), the scandal has today claimed the scalp of our second most senior police officer John Yates.
Cameron’s Firewalls Fall
Basically, Britain has lost its two senior police officers because of the revolving door of interest between News International and the Metropolitan Police. These officers were supposed to have investigated the initial hacking claims five years ago.
However, Yates’ predecessor Andy Hayman left the Met to join News International. Meanwhile Yates and Stephenson recruited a former deputy editor of the News of the World, Neil Wallis, as their press advisor. You can see the problem…
And this is where the flames lick the Prime Minister’s feet.
1. Stephenson and Yates resigned because of their professional employment of a Deputy Editor of the News of the World.
2. Cameron employed the Editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, as his Press Spokesman
3. Shouldn’t Cameron resign?
As Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, has just said (1600 BST) in a fiery feisty performance in the House of Commons
People will look at this and think it’s one rule for the police and another for the prime minister.
Developments Stateside: DOJ and Newscorp/News America Dark Arts
It appears the DOJ are already in contact with British police: US DoJ sounds out Serious Fraud Office on News International
The interest of the Washington-based DoJ stems from the US nationality of the News of the World’s and News International’s parent company, News Corporation. It is illegal for any US company to pay bribes to overseas officials, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
More importantly, the New York Times has already begun to dig deeper into the nefarious behaviour of Newscorps other arms:
In the case of News America Marketing, its obscure but profitable in-store and newspaper insert marketing business, the News Corporation has paid out about $655 million to make embarrassing charges of corporate espionage and anticompetitive behavior go away.
I have to thank fellow Kossack Dweb8231 for some great investigative work here as he/she has dug deeper into lawsuits against News America, their bullying tactics, and the nightmare for a whistleblower when dealing with their non-disclosure agreements.
There’s plenty of mining to be done, and many diaries yet to be written, about the pernicious black arts of Newscorp and affiliates in the US.
But let’s explore the bigger ideological battle going on – and how one of our senior politicians has finally been brave enough to stand up to the modal monopolies and restrictive practices affecting not only the media, or politics, but also our whole Anglo Saxon financial system.
Murdoch’s Consent Factory
Just in case anyone’s in doubt about the connection between news coverage, media ownership, and political pressure, check out the career of one Rupert Murdoch, who has always cannily touted his ‘anti elitist’ rhetoric to secure his dynasty. Murdoch is a Chomskyite: he believes his media organs can manufacture consent, and in the UK, Australia and the US, he’s pushing back with the same theme: in the Australian:
“What we are witnessing in Britain is a media coup led by a tiny gaggle of illiberal liberals”.
Or, as dweb8231 diaries today in ‘Unsighed WSJ Editorial Attacks Guardian and BBC’, the ideological is at the forefront in the minds of the editors of The Wall Street Journal:
“We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw.”
Ideology often sounds like a dry thing, and having been immersed in the Marxist critical theory for years, I find it often too jargon filled and despairing to actually motivate people. But there’s little doubt about the analysis, as this crisis has laid bare.
Newscorp have always clothed their commercial interests in the language of freedom and free markets. I’ve already diaried in detail his son’s James ideological speech two years ago when he laid out his plan to defeat the BBC quoting Orwell and Darwin. The vested interests defending closed markets and privilege are very passionate about their ideas – for obvious reasons. But until recently, Britain has lacked a passionate voice that could connect to the wider population about the abuse of power here.
But as Yeats once said “Great passion leads to abstraction”. In a crisis, an idea – a portable, simple, killer idea – can be much more powerful than spin, image manipulation or the optic of lobbying. Finally, this morning the leader of our opposition has attack Murdoch’s crude monopoly power with passion and force.
An Impassioned Fightback
Some key quotes on the banking comparison from the full transcript:
” I said earlier that the crisis in our media had something in common with what happened in politics and banking.
Of course, there are differences; not least that nobody responsible for the banking crisis appears likely to end up in prison.
Yet that should not obscure the similarities.
The banking crisis too was a story of vaulting power and of shameful failures of responsibility.
It was the closed culture of recklessness and excess in the banks that completely disconnected them from the reality of most peoples’ lives.
It allowed some executives to receive vast salaries and bonuses which often did not reflect the contribution they made or the way they were putting our entire economy at risk.
Powerful people who answered to nobody.
And when they were in crisis, they turned to the rest of us to rescue them.
They were too big to fail and all of us bailed them out.
Yet they have now returned to business as usual.
Still getting the big bonuses.
Still not lending the money to the firms and entrepreneurs that will create the jobs we need in the future. “
“It is one of the great failures of our politics that this power went unchallenged for so long.”
Just so you know – Ed Miliband has done well during this scandal. Two weeks ago there were questions about his leadership. He seemed adrift, returning to old triangulating ways of New Labour, hitting out at benefit claimants and strikes. But when the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone was revealed, he made an amazingly brave step. He did what no politician has dared to do in thirty years, and directly confronted Murdoch and his minions at News International: at every stage he’s led the debate – the call for Brooks’ resignation, the setting up of a public enquiry, an end to the Newscorp take over of BSkyB, and even today calling for Parliament to be extended till Wednesday. At every stage he has been on the front foot – and has transformed from what someone called an ‘insignificant flea’ to a ‘killer bee’. And today he has made a bold connection
What is the reason for this? One of the top left wing thinkers here, Anthony Painter, puts it down to his background: Ed is the son of the Marxist Thinker Ralph Miliband who believed in an early version of Chomsky’s manufacture of consensus. Painter thinks The phone-hacking crisis calls for Ed Miliband to prove his dad wrong
Ralph Miliband spotted the dangers of corporate power subjugating the state. We have to hope he was wrong about its inevitability. In fact, let’s prove that he was wrong. If there is one person who stands at the edge of this Rubicon it’s Ed Miliband. After this morning’s press conference, there is little doubt that he is now setting the political pace of this issue. He’s found his voice, and it’s a determined one. His challenge is now to use his voice wisely — to break up a concentration of over-weaning media power.
Some Background on Miliband
Of course the family background doesn’t explain why Ed’s older brother, David Miliband, more senior in both years and experience, and originally expected to be a shoo-in for Labour Party leader, was much more entrammelled in the New Labour courtship of News International. Had he been leader now – and he was but for a whisker of votes – this saga would be almost as difficult for Labour as for the Tories. As a reader on the New Statesman blog puts it:
It’s the Blairites – Tony Blair, David Cameron, Peter Mandelson, George Osborne, and Michael Gove etc – who are going to be most affected because they are closest to News International. No more “heir to Blair” talk! These are the losers.
I voted for Ed in the leadership campaign this time last year, having rejoined the Labour Party after a 15 year absence. One of the reasons I did so was that Ed, out of all the viable candidates, had an analysis that addressed the fundamental problems of the economy. We’d been too reliant on banking services as a sector of our economy, and ridden an asset bubble which had created an unhealthy dependence of property prices and private debt. Only Ed seemed to get that the days of Thatcher/Reaganomics were truly over, and the left needed no longer triangulate around some unassailable truth or all powerful sector.
I think he’s shown exactly the same kind of insight and leadership when it comes to the other bastion of privilege in our country: the media industry, and its distorting influence on the political process. In simple words, and without the alienating jargon the left often uses, he’s managed to sketch out a connected vision of how unaccountable power has built up in both politics, media and finance.
It sounds abstract: but it isn’t. As Yeats said: “Great passion leads to abstraction.” And in a major crisis nothing is as powerful as a big idea. In Ed’s case it’s quite simply the hacking scandal and the banking collapse shows a shirking of responsibility.
It is large concentrations of power that lead to abuses and to neglect of responsibility.