"We targeted your police and government servers, and as a result of this journey through the nether of your servers, we have stumbled across a treasure trove of data belonging to people in the state of Alabama. Unlike you, we are not criminals. We believe in protecting citizens' personal data. Because of your police being lazy when it comes to data security, we have acquired the following information of over 46,000 citizens of the state of Alabama:
- Full Legal Names
- Social Security Numbers
- License Plate Numbers
- Date of Births
- Phone Numbers
- Criminal Records
…Because of the possible cost of lives and money to regular citizens, we are deleting this data and are seeking to make it known that you not only have shown zero regard for immigrants, but for the very citizens that live in the great state of Alabama." – Anonymous affiliates CabinCr3w, Feb. 10, 2012.
That treatment – an overt acknowledgement of fault, explanation of the reasons behind an attack, warnings or reassurances aimed at those who might become collateral-damage casualties through identity theft or other data-theft issues – is the way Anonymous typically handles high-profile hacks like the one on CIA.gov.
It's not typical for Anon news sources to claim a strike, deny their involvement, then claim it again. The confusion might just be due to the unstructured structure of Anonymous, under which just a few participants in Anon discussions could launch an attack without involving anyone else and still call it an "Anonymous" operation.
Or it could just be that Anonymous has so many operations going on at once – attacks or campaigns of various kinds in Greece, Mexico, Syria, the U.S. Occupy movement, the #AntiSec attacks on law enforcement, campaigns against censorship or anti-piracy laws in Australia, Europe and the U.S., and an ongoing campaign to set up proxy servers to allow unfettered Internet access to people in Chad, Egypt, China and other countries with authoritarian and overly-censorious governments.
It could be, with all that going, details might have just slipped through the cracks, leaving even leaders among the Anon uncertain about whether Anonymous did or did not attack and take down the most prominent covert-intelligence and operations organization in the world.
That's what happens when the club you start up grows from a comfortable little group of anarchists whose only common denominators are opposition to authority and groupthink grows into an a global political player with a presence in the most intense political fights of every country in which it operates.