Acting in the name of Anonymous, a handful of activists targeted those [those corporations which complied with US demands and cut off all funding and other services to WikiLeaks] with simple "denial of service" attacks, ones that impeded the operations of those corporate websites for a few hours.
The issue here is not whether Anonymous activists can be rightfully prosecuted: acts of civil disobedience, by definition, are violations of the law designed to protest or create a cost for injustices. The issue is how selectively these cyber-attack laws are enforced: massive cyber-attacks aimed at a group critical of US policy (WikiLeaks) were either perpetrated by the US government or retroactively sanctioned by it, while relatively trivial, largely symbolic attacks in defense of the group were punished with the harshest possible application of law enforcement resources and threats of criminal punishment.
That the US government largely succeeded in using extra-legal and extra-judicial means to cripple an adverse journalistic outlet is a truly consequential episode: nobody, regardless of one's views on WikiLeaks, should want any government to have that power. But the manifestly overzealous prosecutions of Anonymous activists, in stark contrast to the (at best) indifference to the attacks on WikiLeaks, makes all of that even worse. In line with its unprecedented persecution of whistleblowers generally, this is yet another case of the US government exploiting the force of law to entrench its own power and shield its actions from scrutiny.
Indeed. I grew up in a country where the "rule of law" was at least given lip service; we impeached a President for breaking the law, after all. It seems that we live in a different country now (or a different Constitutional order).
NOTE Terry Pratchett, Snuff:
Now Feeney’s voice was a sort of attenuated wheeze: ‘And one day someone will say to you, “Do you know who I am, constable?” to which you will reply, “Yes, sir, or, as it may be, madam, you are the person I am interviewing in connection with the aforesaid crime,” or similar appropriate wording, which should not include such phrases as “You are going down, chummy” or “I’ve got you bang to rights and no mistake”. Ignore, but remember, all threats made. The law is one and immutable. It does not care who anybody is and at that moment you, in a very real way, are it, and therefore nor do you.’