Over the weekend, a number of mainstream media outlets began reporting that the Anonymous-affiliated group Operation KKK had started early on its planned November 5 release of names of members of the Ku Klux Klan, based on a two-document dump on pastebin that has been attributed to an alleged hacker identified by the handle Amped Attacks.
The list includes several city mayors and Republican U.S. senators. However, some of the individuals listed in the dump sparked immediate questions about the legitimacy of the information. For example, openly-gay Democratic Lexington, Ky. Mayor Jim Gray and liberal Democratic Knoxville, Tenn. Mayor Madeline Rogero, who comes from a biracial family, made the list.
After Amped Attacks leaked the data, the Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account that originally announced that a leak of KKK members would take place on November 5 disavowed Amped Attacks’ leak in a tweet seen below.
Amped Attacks also released a tweet distancing itself from Anonymous.
Techcrunch reports that Amped Attacks said, “I worked for nine days to gather and verify all the information that was gathered before its release. I got the information from several KKK websites when I [hacked] them and was able to dump their database. I went through many emails that was signed up with these sites and a few of the emails that sparked my interest was the ones of the politicians in question there would be no reason for them to be signed up on any KKK website unless they supported it or was involved in it.”
Amped Attacks’ analysis of the hacked email lists appears to ignore the possibility that someone else keyed some of the names or contact information into them. Gizmodo notes that Amped Attacks says that the lists’ signup procedures include an email verification step but failed to provide specific proof of that.
Gizmodo also spoke with one of the alleged KKK members on the list who works for a company that provides consultation service to police unions. That individual said that her business email had probably been added to a KKK email list by a now-incarcerated former administrative-level jail employee who had been convicted of wiretapping her and some of her colleagues. According to the wiretapping trial’s transcript, prosecutors connected the jail employee’s harassment of union members to a prank in which one of the victim’s names had been involuntarily placed on a KKK mailing list.
According to The Washington Post, the KKK’s membership has collapsed in recent years and includes “at most” 4,000 to 6,000 members spread across loosely-connected subgroups.
Operation KKK reportedly still plans to release its list of KKK members on November 5.
The group also released a video press release promoting the November 5 leak, which can be seen below.
Social media commenters have pointed out the fact that the release of poorly-vetted information just days before Operation KKK’s planned leak could have the effect, intended or unintended, of damaging the credibility of the upcoming release of alleged KKK members’ identities.