“Blow Out That Cherry Bomb”
There were other odd things going on at work as well. On January 11, 2010 or so, right after the time that (I now believe) NSA hacked all those fortune 500 computers and spoofed a Chinese IP address in order to blame them, frighten everyone, and hand their buddy contractors more millions of tax dollars , my boss’ PC got hacked.
Besides working on the operations side, I had been the main “IT guy.” This meant it was to some extent my fault (even if it were a federal agency ultimately responsible, though that was not what I was thinking at the time). It had been a computer worm infection and I traced the IP address back to a Ford Motor Company facility in Dearborn, Michigan.
I called a number there and the connection was so poor we had to scream at each other to be heard. I’m sure that thrilled my boss, too, whose office was next to mine without a door between them.
The man on the other end said to email them. Here’s the email I sent:
Received: from d5kv4821 (pool-162-83-221-202.nycmny.btas.verizon.net [188.8.131.52])
by mx.google.com with ESMTPS id 26sm1768108qwa.40.2010.01.12.09.10.27
Tue, 12 Jan 2010 09:10:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Christopher C. Knall
Subject: Worm originating from 184.108.40.206
Date: 2010-01-12 17:11:42 +0000
Just wanted to let you know that the computer at the address in the subject line infected one of our PCs with several trojans and worms (or rather tried to). Spoke to someone on the phone at 313-###-#### and he said I should email you at Abuse [at] Ford.com.
Thanks and hope you get it isolated quickly.
contact info, etc.
My boss’ computer was toast. We had to buy him another one. That may have been the day we saw the crazed Tea Bagger. Don’t remember.
At one point my boss hinted that he did think that something nefarious was going on and, lacking any other explanation, assumed it had to do with Squidgate. While technically correct (that is, one party tried to get me to figure out what was going on with psychoactive NLWs and related methods and means while another tried to derail that effort), it was not anything Peter did. A country that respects anything at all, human dignity, the law, God, would not engage in this behavior and deserves to be exposed for the phony-baloney sham that it is perpetrating.
That’s why I don’t regret it. Not at all. Nor Plamegate or any of the other things I tried to help with and as let’s say–I don’t know–a community organizer might do.
After Peter’s arrest, weeks of harassment, the Conway fire, things starting to look bad on both the work and home fronts, I was sitting in a local deli on my birthday, January 3, 2010. I had come in and one of the owners had said, “Here. Sit down.”
He put me in a chair behind the counter but not far from the cash register. There was one of those tall scratch-off gambling ticket dispensers in front of me which meant I couldn’t really see the patrons very well until they were right up at the cash register.
I was sitting there composing more letters in my head. I thought that maybe I could still put some pressure on and get the case dropped before the trial began. Also, there was the fire and the harassment, the visit by that strange USAISC to the website, the guys in the truck with the fake fire smoke, and much, much more. I was livid.
I was, while doing this, pulling off a piece of tape that was stuck to the counter. Using your hands sometimes frees up your unconscious to come up with better ideas.
Suddenly there was a slam on the deli counter. I had, sort of, noticed this person earlier though I thought it was a plastic laundry detergent container he had been carrying. It wasn’t. It was the same general shape, but it was kitty litter.
Peter Watts had been collecting donations for feeding stray cats for years via a PayPal account and when he suddenly needed cash to hire a defense attorney, that fund found a second use. He rescued cats as I had rescued dogs. Some frequent or infrequent poster on Peter’s blog even posted a video of a dog licking a cat and saying, “Aw, look, doggy loves kitty” or something like that after I started a website to help bring attention to the issue.
So, it was possible that this was a friend of Peter’s. Pete had also said, on his attorney’s advice, had to sort of keep any contact with those who supported him to a minimum. That might explain why this was a quick hello and nothing further.
There was also, he wrote on his blog (though I never saw what he referred to myself) some people claiming on the web that Watts had somehow engineered his own arrest in order to get publicity.
Recall again the woman who claimed to be a public relations consultant who he’d met in the bar just previous to leaving Canada in November 2009. That kind of event happened again in 2011 in Minneapolis to a writer that I met there. They were repeating a pattern, though I suspect that they were aware that I’d notice.
Or maybe not. Maybe this is the 21st century equivalent of burning books. We are there, folks, or damn close to it. I am far from being the only one saying so .
After the slam, I looked at the bottle. This might also be some kind of trap, but if it was, I thought it a silly one. I made no secret of my support of Peter, in fact would have, if I thought it would help, have screamed it from the tops of sky scrapers. So why fake someone saying “Hello” from Peter? What was the angle? It seemed harmless, especially when compared to many other more disturbing events.
I looked at what else he had. There was a completely black paper coffee cup (a large or tall or venti or whatever sizes are called these days) but no markings.
Then I scanned upwards.
The guy was cute. Not “perfect” model cute (though his skin was inhumanly perfect) but cute. He was looking at me expectedly. There was also what appeared to be a certain naiveté that I found charming.
He also, in the face, looked like Adrienne. I was taken aback by that for a few seconds. Then I recalled what year it was and that Adrienne was older than this guy now, who must have been about…
I never finished that thought. Something else jumped in with, “Seventeen! No, twenty-two! No, seventeen! No, twenty-two!” That was when I knew that there was some kind of technology that allowed words to be projected into someone’s head. I’d never heard of voice-to-skull, but I knew those were not my thoughts. Wasn’t what I would have thought. It was as close to a brain “hijacking” as I can recall.
I also felt stunned. I was speechless for a moment.
Looking closer, I noticed other differences between this guy and Adrienne. The hair wasn’t the right color, the nose was a bit longer, and his ears stuck out a little,
Deciding it really didn’t matter if this were a trap or not, I had after all not broken the law so why worry about some operative playing a silly game? And at the same time why risk insulting a possible friend of Peter’s? Everything pointed to being friendly.
I smiled, looked him (almost in the eyes) and said, “Happy New Year.”
He smiled back and returned the greeting. I had thought this the strangest thing yet because I didn’t know at all what to think of it. I didn’t know it, but had just been hit with the psychological equivalent of that special move that the Bride uses on Bill at the end of part 2 of Kill Bill.
It is nearly impossible for me to describe what all that forty-five seconds (if it was that long) wound up meaning. There were so many things. There was a picture of Watts in the Port Huron Michigan paper from the preliminary examination that, somehow, this guy reminded me of.
Every time I thought about that odd event over the next few weeks, I’d push it away. It was clearly not something I could solve and I had bigger problems. Peter Watts might go to jail. After that was taken care of, I’d find out who his friend was. I thought.
Instead I had just had the seeds planted for being brainwashed on the one hand and, God help me, so utterly, helplessly in love that it both drove me insane and kept me moving when everything else said to quit and when there wasn’t anyone else in my corner.
There was a point a few weeks later, when I had just been locked out of work without explanation, that I said to my partner, “Ok, I’ve done all I can for Peter. I’m done.”
It was as if I could almost hear a pack of banshees just outside my range of hearing. Things would heat up to the point that I would feel compelled to go to the trial just to try to figure out what the hell was happening. Quitting wasn’t going to be allowed. Someone wasn’t going to let me stay home.
Oh. Yeah. And I wanted to see if I could figure out who had saved my life (and later I realized had helped to destroy it) in one fell swoop by buying kitty litter in a deli.
It was going to be a rougher ride that I thought possible. Rougher than I thought that I was capable of surviving. I thought I had a mysterious friend though. Sadly, I was probably very, very wrong.
1 Müller-Maguhn, Andy, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Michael Sontheimer, and Christian Grothoff, “MAP OF THE STARS: The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies,” Firstlook/The Intercept, 12 September 2014:
When asked if there are any reasons that would prompt England, a European Union partner country, to take such an aggressive approach to Stellar, Steffen shrugged his shoulders, perplexed. “Our customer traffic doesn’t run across conventional fiber optic lines,” he said. “In the eyes of intelligence services, we are apparently seen as difficult to access.” Still, he said, “that doesn’t give anyone the right to break in.”
“A cyber attack of this nature is a clear criminal offense under German law,” he continued. “I want to know why we were a target and exactly how the attack against us was conducted—if for no other reason than to be able to protect myself and my customers from this happening again.” Steffen wrote a letter to the British ambassador in Berlin asking for an explanation, but says he never received an answer.
2 Mondalek, Mark, “The Present & Forthcoming Police State in Modern Day America,” Boiling Frogs Post, 17 August 2013: