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Was the Hacking of Ottawa Trucker Convoy Donors a US-Canadian Intelligence Operation?

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(The Grayzone) Aubrey Cottle, the hacker claiming credit for stealing convoy donor info, has boasted of work with the FBI and Canadian law enforcement. The data was published by DDoSecrets, an anti-Wikileaks non-profit whose founder has disclosed “work in national security/counter-intelligence.”

On February 13th, the names and personal details of almost 100,000 individuals who donated sums to support the Canadian truckers’ protest against vaccine mandates through the crowdfunding site GiveSendGo appeared online via Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), an online archive seeking to easily connect journalists and researchers with leaked information.

The mainstream media used the trove to frame the convoy as essentially foreign-funded, and harass small donors from average backgrounds. Numerous fascinating nuggets, such as the gifting of $215,000 by a donor whose identity, email, IP address and ZIP code was not recorded by the website, unlike every other giver, were in the process ignored.

The hack-and-leak represented just the latest broadside against the convoy activists. Hours later, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau activated the Emergencies Act for the very first time in Canadian history, an unprecedented move effectively suspending the civil rights of the protesters and granting federal law enforcement the power to seize their bank accounts without a court order.

An alleged founder of hacktivist collective Anonymous, Canadian Aubrey Cottle, took credit for the hack of the convoy donors’ information in the form of an online “manifesto” and accompanying video overlaying a clip from the Disney musical Frozen. Echoing Liberal Canadian politicians, Cottle accused the convoy of holding Ottawa “hostage for weeks while terrorizing the peaceful citizens who live there.”

The hacker went on to baselessly allege the donations were being used “to fund an insurrection,” and that individuals who had contributed had also bankrolled the January 6th, 2021 riot at the US Capitol.

Next, Cottle warned without evidence that the global “convoy movement” could be “a cover for a type of Trojan Horse attack where extremists and militia groups arrive in large numbers with weapons,” as “large convoys of trucks moving in capital cities will look normal given the theme of these world wide protests.”

It was a characteristically volatile outburst from the eccentric hacker, who has been praised in mainstream media for taking on the far-right despite his history of overtly anti-Semitic commentary.

Operating in broad daylight for many years, the prolific cyber-warrior has somehow been able to function freely without any legal repercussions.

Cottle’s impunity may stem in part from his apparently intimate relationship with a variety of intelligence services. In 2007, Cottle was reportedly visited at home by a representative of Canada’s Security Intelligence Service, the nation’s equivalent to the CIA, which wished to exploit his hacking nous to battle “al-Qaeda and terrorist groups.” He allegedly declined the offer after some consideration.

Nonetheless, Cottle claims to have “often…dealt with feds” such as the FBI and Royal Canadian Mountain Police. His activities include running “child porn honeypot operations” involving multiple sites that “still give [him] nightmares.”

“I’ve done work for the fbi before and i give zero fucks,” Cottle wrote on Twitter on January 20, 2017.

As the right-wing outlet American Greatness noted, Cottle has boasted that he has been “lucky” enough to be granted “the blessing of alphabet agencies” – slang for intelligence services – to “weaponize Anonymous” for “antiterrorism” purposes.

Further indications of Cottle’s ties to law enforcement arrived in July 2021 when journalist Barrett Brown released documents revealing how the hacker had collaborated with notorious neo-Nazi cyber-activist “weev” to conduct major hacks that could be blamed on Antifa. Brown suggests this “just happened” via GiveSendGo.

Cottle has recently taken to Twitter to praise the Canadian government for activating the Emergencies Act. The hacker declared that “THEY F***ED AROUND AND FOUND OUT.” Though his Twitter account has since been locked, he has continued to brag about his GiveSendGo hack in a series of bizarre videos.

In another possible hint of national security state involvement, a non-profit self-styled whistleblower site called Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets, has taken possession of the information supposedly obtained by Cottle, and begun distributing it to mainstream media outlets.

Besides targeting right-wing websites, DDoSecrets has previously been implicated in hacking operations against the Russian government. Its founder, Emma Best, has disclosed a record of “work in national security/counter-intelligence” in court documents. Further, Best is a vitriolic antagonist of Julian Assange and has gone to extreme lengths to paint him as an asset of the Kremlin.

Emma Best of DDoSecrets

DDoSecrets’ founder smears Assange, implicates Wikileaks

Before its role in publicizing the GiveSendGo donors list, DDoSecrets published lists of GiveSendGo donors to causes such as the heavily-FBI penetrated Proud Boys, Kyle Rittenhouse, and an effort to fight “voter fraud” in the 2020 US Presidential election.

Clearly aligned with liberal and Democratic Party objectives, DDoSecrets has also been a key hosting ground for terabytes of hacked data on private and public communications between members of militias, neo-Nazi and far-right groups hacked from social networks Gab and Parler, which Cottle claims to have obtained themself. Data scraped from Parler, including video from the January 6th riot, was subsequently used in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump in February 20201.

DDoSecrets is a largely opaque outfit. Operated by an almost entirely anonymous or pseudonymous team living across the globe, its founder, Emma Best, is the group’s most prominent public-facing member. A former WikiLeaks collaborator and prolific Freedom of Information requester, Best’s dissident bona fides seem on the surface to be beyond doubt.

In 2016, after hammering the FBI with seemingly endless FOI demands, the Bureau appears to have considered prosecuting Best for “vexsome” activities. Five years later, it outright banned Best from filing such requests at all, but the decision was later overturned. Best also played a pivotal role in compelling the CIA to publish its 13 million-strong declassified document archive online in 2017.

Likewise, DDoSecrets’ June 2020 release of 269 gigabytes of sensitive US law enforcement fusion center data – dubbed “BlueLeaks” – exposed all manner of abuses, corruption, criminality and excesses on the part of American police forces, leading to official investigations, and the seizure of servers hosting the information in Germany by local authorities.

So why have mainstream media enthusiastically embraced DDoSecrets while advancing the Western security state’s crusade against WikiLeaks?

The latter organization has faced condemnation, censure, and designation by the CIA as a “non-state hostile intelligence agency,” leading to the Agency hatching plots to kidnap or even kill its founder, Julian Assange, while subjecting his collaborators to intensive surveillance and harassment.

By contrast, in 2019, the same year Julian Assange was arrested in London’s Ecuadorian embassy and hauled off to Belmarsh Prison to face extradition to the US, the federally funded Congressional Research Service recognized Best’s organization as a legitimate “transparency collective” – and not long after the IRS granted it 501(c)(3) non-profit status.

The repeated hailing by mainstream and US government sources of DDoSecrets as a WikiLeaks successor – or even its replacement – is all the more perverse given that Best has repeatedly published private Twitter communications between the Wikileaks collaborators.

The contents of these private discussions were dished out to corporate news outlets like Buzzfeed, which presented them as proof Assange was deliberately seeking to secure the election of Donald Trump, and knowingly collaborating with Russian intelligence to do so.

Numerous interviews conducted by Best over the years amplified the fraudulent narratives used to frame Assange as a Russian asset. In the eyes of many, they have played a role in justifying or minimizing his life-threatening incarceration in Britain’s Gitmo on trumped up, bogus charges.

A handful of independent journalists have been harshly critical of Best as a result, wondering how the public interest was served by publishing private communications that implicated Wikileaks in a security state intrigue. The DDoSecrets founder has consistently attempted to parry criticism by claiming their actions were not an attempt to attack or undermine Assange, and were “curated for relevance.”

However, Best overwhelmingly curated comments and interactions painting Assange and WikiLeaks in the worst possible light, which inevitably proved extremely alluring to a hostile media. Any exculpatory content included in the leaks was summarily and unsurprisingly ignored.

What’s more, the DDoSecrets founder’s own surging contempt for Assange is unambiguous. Over the years, Best has branded Assange as among things a “cowardly, transphobic, antisemitic trash person made of tepid mayo and a bleached wig.”

Read the full story at The Grayzone.


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About Matt Agorist

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.