The only justice in the world is we're all going to die - Chicago savant Thursday August 26, 2004
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DEFCON 12: Feds Yes, Anarchy No.

EFF gets a soaking

By Doug Mohney: Tuesday 03 August 2004, 15:27

DEFCON 12, the longest running hacker conference in creation, was a little more laid back this year despite selling out all of their 4,000 badges on the first day. People seemed to be less angry and the queues to get into speeches moved along rather promptly. Even the always-amusing cultural contrasts were turned down a bit, but the Jesus Phreakers still had a table next to the more titillating Culture Junkie in the vendor’s room.

DEFCON 12's de facto guest of honor was Robert Morris, National Security Agency’s Chief Scientist from 1986 to 1994. With his scraggly beard and unfiltered Camels, Morris would have blended in well with the retirees pumping quarters in the slot machines over at Sam’s Town. Morris was quite happy wandering about talking to the gawking youth and dropping hints that he didn’t really like John Ashcroft.

Morris was one of a group of current and former U.S. government employees that appeared on the “Meet the Fed” panel on Saturday afternoon. It was the first time in several years Feds had officially spoken at DEFCON and the panelists used the first half of their presentation as an ad hoc recruiting pitch. Uncle Sam wants talented and clean (i.e. no arrests or documented bad behavior) computer security people. "You can get up to 70 or 75 percent of your students loans forgiven," repeated one official. The U.S. government has a large number of open computer sec positions to fill and has a tough time retaining employees. Robert MorrisEntry-level employees join up, learn the ropes, and then end up departing 3 to 4 years later for more lucrative private sector positions.

The warm welcome and love the Feds felt was nothing compared to the reception one self-styled “Revolutionary Hacker Anarchist” calling himself “Crimethinc” got during his presentation on “Electronic Civil Disobedience.” Starting out as an introduction into the theory of hacker activism, the talk quickly degenerated into comedy with a full-blown rant against Capitalist Pigs combine with a Very Public description of how the Republican National Committee and various corporate web sites would supposedly be attacked one week before the convention and the day of the convention. He finished off his rant by encouraging destructive property actions against buses and harassment of RNC convention delegates in New York City. “We will have a list of the hotels they are staying at and the Broadway plays they are attending,” stated Crimethinc.

His finish turned the audience against him and earned him two reprimands from DEFCON staff, first a short “You crossed the line, you can’t say THAT,” from red-shirted DEFCON “goon” staff, followed by a more eloquent and perhaps unprecedented statement from “Priest,” a long-time DEFCON staffer/legend. Priest very clearly stated that DEFCON staff and planers in no way, shape, or form encouraged the views of Crimethinc, or breaking the law and went on to emphasize that if people wish to protest injustice, they should do so within the law. The young Crimethinc was quickly escorted off the stage to a holding area by a pair of DEFCON staffers as several angry audience members rushed the stage to confront him. “He should be beaten in front of the Bellagio,” remarked one frustrated woman. (The Bellagio is among the most elegant casino/hotels on the Vegas Strip).

On a more upbeat note, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was raking in the dollars from a fishbowl for donations at their table in the vendor area and a dunking booth outside. DEFCON organizer Jeff Moss took his turn in the booth getting wet for the EFF. µ

Jeff Moss


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