Anonymous protests execution by calling for phone-DOSsing of Supreme Court

Hactivist group fights better online than offline, but in this case is using the wrong weapon

Making very clear it can pay at least partial attention to more than one protest at a time (having more than one head does that), hactivist group Anonymous is trying to launch a phone-based DDOS attack on the Supreme Court.

In an attempt to derail at the last moment the execution of Georgia death-row inmate Tory Davis, Anonymous (via @YourAnonNews) began calling for those opposed to the execution to call the phone bank at the U.S. Supreme Court, which once ordered a Georgia court to more closely examine the possibility of Davis' innocence, but has not heard an appeal.

The failure of appeals for Davis – convicted of the 1989 murder of a Savannah, Ga. Police officer, though defenders claim he had merely tried to stop a fight near the Burger King parking lot in which he worked as a security guard – set off protests in Atlanta after Georgia's parole board confirmed an earlier refusal of clemency.

Davis' attorneys tried to present "evidence previously unavailable" that they said, shows his conviction was based on "misleading and materially inaccurate evidence."

Davis was convicted based on the testimony of fellow inmates that he'd confessed to the murder and ballistic evidence linking him to the murder weapon.

Several of those witnesses have changed their stories, some of the ballistic evidence had been discredited, as had the testimony of a woman who said she was an eyewitness, weakening the evidence for his conviction, according to anti-death-penalty groups, including Amnesty International, which claims "the case against him has fallen apart."

Davis' lawyers are in court today in Georgia's Butts County for a final appeal. If they're refused there may be time to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Time is running out, however; Davis is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 7 p.m. tonight.

It's not clear what YourAnonNews hopes to accomplish by phone-DOSsing the Supreme court, other than to annoy the justices.

Pointing out the contradiction of police in New York chasing Anons who are protesting economic exploitation with the death penalty in a case opponents said should have been overturned, would have more influence on more people who might join protests against the execution than those who would join an operation to harrass the Supreme Court:

U.S. Government kills innocent #TroyDavis while peaceful protestors are being arrested for practicing First Amendment rights. -- YourAnonNews, Sept. 23

That particular response to the urge to join the protest shows my suggestion in an earlier blog that Anonymous go back to hacking its protests rather than trying to gather people in the street, as it did in San Francisco and is currently doing in New York, was missing an element.

Anonymous is a large, semi-cooperative communications network, more than a single cohesive group, like Amnesty International.

As such it's good at organizing, publicizing, informing and coordinating protest effort online – even independent of its tendency to go illegal with DDOS attacks and other tactics when it's really ticked off.

If there are a lot of Anons who agree about the Davis verdict, they should use that prominence and loud voice to call for more opposition to it, not run ineffective operations against a court that's not even involved in the case right now.

If phone-DOSsing the Supreme Court is the best response from those in Anonymous protesting Davis' execution, it's possible that some situations just don't have the kind of leverage points of which Anonymous can take advantage.

More likely the instincts of an organization formed around hackers has Anonymous a little confused about which weapons to use in which battles, as well as which battles it's actually in.

Joining a fight on its last day doesn't give Anonymous the time it usually takes to argue among itself about the right thing to do, the most effective thing to do or whether to do anything at all.

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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