Anonymous threatens "virtual blockade" of SOTU

A communiqué makes grand claim that "there will be no State of the Union Address on the web tonight"

Published February 12, 2013 5:33PM (EST)


Anonymous has made a grand claim ahead of Tuesday night's State of the Union address. In a communiqué posted on and spread through Anonymous' social media channels, the hacker collective announced it "will form a virtual blockade between Capitol Hill and the Internet" such that "there will be no State of the Union Address on the web tonight."

What exactly Anonymous has in store for this evening is not detailed in the communiqué, nor is it clear whether hackers could indeed disrupt the feeds screening President Obama's speech online. However, the communiqué took the opportunity to decry the president for some of the worst civil liberties and privacy abuses perpetuated by his administration and to renew the hackers' tribute to the late Aaron Swartz.

The message reads:

Tonight, the President of the United States will appear before a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union Address and tomorrow he plans to sign an executive order for cyber-security as the House Intelligence committee reintroduces the defeated CISPA act which turns private companies into government informants.

He will not be covering the NDAA, an act of outright tyrannical legislation allowing for indefinite detention of citizens completely outside due process and the rule of law. In fact, lawyers for the government have point-blank refused to state whether or not journalists who cover stories or groups the Government disfavors would be subject to this detention.

He will not be covering the extra-judicial and unregulated justifications for targeted killings of citizens by military drones within the borders of America, or the fact that Orwellian newspeak had to be used to make words like “imminent” mean their opposite.

He will not be covering Bradley Manning, 1000 days in detention with no trial for revealing military murders, told that his motive for leaking cannot be taken into consideration, that the Government does not have room for conscience.

He will not be covering the secret interpretations of law that allow for warrant-less wiretapping and surveillance of any US citizen without probably cause of criminal acts, or the use of Catch-22 logic where no-one can complain about being snooped on because the state won’t tell you who they’re snooping on, and if you don’t know you’re being snooped on, you don’t have a right to complain.

We reject the State of the Union.

In a separate communiqué emailed out and picked up by activist publicity group the Sparrow Project, Anonymous again announced plans to disrupt SOTU online. In this email, however, Anonymous note that they plan to allow "subsequent [SOTU] broadcasts will be allowed to pass unhindered" after the live speech has concluded, "So as not to infringe upon the President’s free speech." The statement adds: "This action is being taken to underline a fact that appears to be sorely unrecognized by the Obama Administration — that the Internet is a sovereign territory, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of any nation state."

What precise interventions Anonymous can make during the address remains to be seen, but at this point #OpSOTU, as it is named, is a playful rallying cry to challenge abuses of executive power. The communiqué closes, "For freedom, for Aaron Swartz, for the Internet, and of course, for the lulz."

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Aaron Swartz Anonymous Barack Obama Cispa Hacking Sopa Sotu State Of The Union