Feeling Friendly This Week? Beware

Are you feeling friendly? Perhaps you’d like to meet Holly Weber, below, or others like her on their Facebook, Linked In and Twitter accounts.

Or maybe recent news has prompted you to get active in politics -- or even to protest in some way? Authorities have recently arrested hundreds of environmentalists outside the White Holly WeberHouse protesting the Obama administation's approval so far of a trans-continental pipeline for tar sands oil, with scores of the protesters jailed for up to two days under harsh, punitive conditions pending their hearings. Much larger mass protests against Democrats and Republicans are shaping up this fall in the city because of public opposition to the major parties on such issues as jobs, Social Security and Medicare, war spending, taxes and civil liberties.

Be careful, whatever your views. New evidence emerged in Washington in late August of sophisticated avatar,

.This is part of a series of high-tech YouTube videos this summer encouraging viewers to sign up as members of Anonymous via the Web.

In response, a video entitled

with similar high-tech trappings (including Guy Fawkes masks), warns against the previous videos. The FBI has been arresting Anonymous members since early this year on charges they illegally retaliated against PayPal, VISA and other companies that cut off services to WikiLeaks. So, who made The Plan recruitment video? Secret agents? As for its 365,000 recent viewers? Those who provide their data online may not be thinking any more clearly than those who think that "Holly Weber" suddenly wants to be their friend.

See below for our Project research guide on why you should care about this. See also our new contest: "Find the Missing White Girl."

Will the Real Holly Weber Please Stand Up?

For starters, the fictitious Weber is not the CSI actress and Maxim model of the same age by that name, shown at right in a photo by Luke Force via Wikipedia. Instead, emailsHolly Weber stolen by Anonymous in February from an IT contractor named HBGary Federal suggest that its CEO, Aaron Barr, created a Weber avatar. Reporter Lee Fang of the progressive website ThinkProgress last week broke the story as a new twist to a scandal that Anonymous and ThinkProgress exposed last February. The gist was that HBGary Federal was part of a larger plot to sabotage communications by reporters, liberals, bloggers, unions and others. Here's Fang's recap:

Earlier this year, ThinkProgress obtained 75,000 private emails from the defense contractor HBGary Federal via the hacktivist group called Anonymous. The emails led to two shocking revelations.

First, that an assortment of private military firms collectively called “Team Themis” had been tapped by Bank of America to conduct a cyber war against reporters sympathetically covering the WikiLeaks revelations. And second, that late in 2010, the same set of firms began work separately for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a Republican-aligned corporate lobbying group, to develop a similar campaign of sabotage against progressive organizations, including the SEIU and ThinkProgress.

You may think this has little to do with you. But like it or not, you are involved with avatars as a U.S. taxpayer even if you avoid social media entirely.

Former Navy and National Security Agency analyst Wayne Madsen reported on Feb. 21, for example, an Air Force bid solicitation last year for contractors to create social media avatars for 500 fictitious people. Here is the Air Force language excerpted from bid invitation No: RTB220610: “Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly [sic] consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.” Madsen reprinted the government requirements in full on his subscription-only site. His headline was, “Beware the government's avatars, especially fear your own.”

To be sure, that Air Force contract for social media avatars was relatively modest in size. But we know from other sources that scant oversight exists for the public to know the total scope of such efforts or similar practices. The Defense Department last month refused a request from two U.S. senators to learn more about surveillance on U.S. citizens, as described here: Administration rebuffs Wyden, Udall on surveillance query. Such individual congressional inquiries -- feeble though results are in practice these days -- occur sporadically because leaders of both parties are extremely reluctant to probe government surveillance more vigorously. That's understandable for a number of reasons, including national security and the possibility that some in government have their own secrets on record in someone's files.

In the summer of 2008, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama illustrated that bipartisan consensus against oversight: He campaigned in Democratic primaries against immunity for telecom companies that violated customer privacy. But he voted for immunity soon after he in effect secured the Democratic nomination following the end of Hillary Clinton's active campaign.

Cass SunsteinObama went on to name his close friend, Harvard Law School constitutional scholar Cass Sunstein, as White House regulatory czar at the Office of Management and Budget. This was after Sunstein, among other things during an illustrious career, co-authored Conspiracy Theories, a 2008 paper advocating disruptive communications tactics similar to those involved in the HBGary scandal. The paper bemoans, from the perspective of government leaders, the willingness of millions of Americans to believe in conspiracies. Sunstein, at left in a photo via Wikipedia, proposed five solutions, including forbidding conspiracies or taxing them. For now, however, he argues that the best of these options for government leaders is secretly to hire agents -- some of whom might be reporters or academics, or pretend to be such neutral analysts -- to influence political circles where bad ideas are discussed.

In Obama Confidant's Spine-Chilling Proposal, Salon columnist and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald described Sunstein's approach as follows:

So Sunstein isn't calling right now for proposals (1) and (2) -- having Government "ban conspiracy theorizing" or "impose some kind of tax on those who" do it -- but he says "each will have a place under imaginable conditions." I'd love to know the "conditions" under which the government-enforced banning of conspiracy theories or the imposition of taxes on those who advocate them will "have a place." That would require, at a bare minimum, a repeal of the First Amendment. Anyone who believes this should, for that reason alone, be barred from any meaningful government position.

More currently, the federal government and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been extremely unhappy with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks exposed many secret State Department cables and threatened such important Chamber members as the Bank of America with disclosure of financial irregularities.

Karl RoveOn Aug. 7, 2010, former Bush strategist Karl Rove went on Fox News to call for Assange’s death because of the disclosures. In calling for such an extraordinary punishment before any country had even charged Assange with a crime, Rove was more than a mere pundit. A close friend and longtime colleague of Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue, Rove boasted on his website that his clients have included Sweden’s governing party. As it happens, Assange visited Sweden later in August 2010 for a speech. He then bedded two attendees who separately invited him to stay with them in their apartments during his trip. The women then alleged sexual misconduct. Assange turned himself in and has been essentially under house arrest in the United Kingdom since then. He is appealing Sweden's effort to return him to the country for more questioning and potential prosecution.

IT activists from the mysterious group Anonymous entered the dispute to support Assange and progressive groups, such as the ThinkProgress, who fear retaliation for publishing secrets released by WikiLeaks.

Aaron BarrThis, then, was the context last February when Anonymous revealed a trove of documents illegally hacked from HBGary Federal, a spin-off from the privately held, Sacramento-based contractor HBGary. As first reported by progressive blogsites, the documents showed that HBGary Federal planned to pitch Hunton & Williams, a law firm that represents the Chamber of Commerce, on how to disrupt the communications of critics by such tactics as hiring bloggers at $250 an hour for sabotage. Someone at the Justice Department itself had reportedly recommended HBGary Federal, although it has not been reported whether the DOJ official knew of the project's details.

HBGary Federal's CEO Barr, at left and based in Washington, took the lead for the company, as we reported for Connecticut Watchdog last February in, Spy vs. Spy As Hackers Square Off Over DC Dirty Tricks. The Chamber and its law firm have denied improper conduct. HBGary failed to respond to our request for comment last February, but last Friday referred us to HBGary Federal COO Ted Vera. We'll update this report with whatever comments he makes.

In the meantime, the model (or perhaps political activist?) who served as the proto-type for "Holly Weber" remains, in effect, anonymous. Lee Fang told me by phone on Friday that he doesn't know who she is and would like to know. By coincidence, earlier that day I moderated "Deadline," a niche cable TV talk show that included two former major market TV correspondents. They complained that television news these days ignores serious issues facing society. Instead, they said, TV focuses on such staples as "The Missing White Girl" story. In that genre, ratings-conscious producers focus the nation continually on the tragedies afflicting that tiny demographic.

Why not go with the flow, and have a contest? Let's find "Holly Weber." That way, so she can go on to real fame by telling her story, whether on Face the Nation, Comedy Central -- or in a real-life sequel to Avatar. At this point, nobody else is saying much. The public needs any help it can get now in understanding privacy threats that may permanently disrupt our political process. And as they say, a friend in need is a friend indeed.  


Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
Below are source materials for this column. See the full article by clicking the link.

 

HBGary Federal Seeks Contract to Work With Chamber of Commerce Law Firm

Justice Integrity Project, Plot Used Fake Facebook/Twitter ‘Friend’ To Target Corporate Critics? Andrew Kreig, Aug. 19, 2011. ThinkProgress reports on appalling tactics used by government-affiliated security contractors against critics. Contractors created Holly Weber, a fictitious Facebook and Twitter "friend," as part of their plot to sabotage communications by reporters, liberals, bloggers and others who criticize major corporate clients.

ThinkProgress, Revealed: Fake Facebook Identity Used By Military Contractors Plotting To Hack Progressive Organizations, Lee Fang, Aug 18, 2011. Earlier this year, ThinkProgress obtained 75,000 private emails from the defense contractor HBGary Federal via the hacktivist group called Anonymous.

Connecticut Watchdog, Spy vs. Spy As Hackers Square Off Over DC Dirty Tricks, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 16, 2011. The mainstream media is paying increasing attention to a shocking scandal last week arising from retribution by pro-WikiLeaks hackers against government contractors apparently caught trying to sell political dirty tricks services to hurt critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Bank of America.

Dark Reading, HBGary Launches HBGary Federal, HBGary spins off U.S. government cybersecurity services group to provide cybersecurity services to U.S. government agencies, Karen M. Burke, Dec. 7, 2009. HBGary, Inc., the leader in enterprise malware detection and analysis, today announced the spin-off of its U.S. government cybersecurity services group. The new company, known as HBGary Federal, will focus on delivering HBGary's best-in-class malware analysis and incident response products and expert classified services to the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community and other U.S. government agencies to meet their unique, extremely dynamic cybersecurity challenges and requirements. In addition, HBGary CEO and founder Greg Hoglund announced that cybersecurity experts and former Northrop Grumman employees and military veterans, Aaron Barr and Ted Vera, will operate and lead HBGary Federal. Mr. Barr will serve as CEO and Mr. Vera will serve as President and COO working in HBGary Federal's Washington D.C. and Colorado Springs offices, respectively.

 

Recent Cyber-Security Government News

Barack ObamaWashington Post, Pentagon may expand cyber-security program, Ellen Nakashima, Aug. 20, 2011. The Pentagon is exploring whether to expand a pilot program that protects the networks of defense contractors to include other companies, and even those in industries that serve mainly civilians. But some private sector officials are not sure that the Defense Department should lead the effort. Speaking at a conference in Baltimore this week, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said that the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Cyber Pilot, which currently involves 20 large defense companies, is already showing signs of success. It relies on classified threat “signatures” or data that can help detect malicious code before it penetrates a network. The signatures and other data that help detect threats are provided by the National Security Agency, which collects electronic data on foreign adversaries and operates under the auspices of the Pentagon. The signatures are loaded into devices run by the Internet service providers, including AT&T and Verizon, which provide Internet services to the companies.

Washington Post, Report on ‘Operation Shady RAT’ identifies widespread cyber-spying, Ellen Nakashima, Aug. 2, 2011. A leading computer security firm has used logs produced by a single server to trace the hacking of more than 70 corporations and government organizations over many months, and experts familiar with the analysis say the snooping probably originated in China.

Washington Post, Administration rebuffs Wyden, Udall on surveillance query, Ellen Nakashima, July 27, 2011. The Obama administration continued Wednesday to resist the efforts of two Democratic senators to learn more about the government’s interpretation of domestic surveillance law, stating that “it is not reasonably possible” to identify the number of Americans whose communications may have been monitored under the statute. In a letter to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Kathleen Turner, director of legislative affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, also said that a joint oversight team “has not found indications of any intentional or willful attempts to violate or circumvent” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA, which was amended in 2008.

 

Critiques of Obama Initiatives

Wayne MadsenWayne Madsen Report, Beware the government's avatars, especially fear your own, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 20, 2011 (Subscription required). The Department of Homeland Security is conducting massive spying on Internet users through a program called "Avatar Identity." The Avatar Identity Program appears to coincide with another Air Force project to solicit "persona management software" to create virtual users on the Internet in order to conduct perception management campaigns to inundate chat rooms, letter to the editor, and on-line polls to sway public opinion on key issues. The computer security firm HB Gary Federal worked in a program to create and manage "sock puppet" Internet users to infiltrate websites to create confusion and propagate disinformation. The program was to be used to attack WikiLeaks and apparently was linked to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Bank of America, the bank's chief law firm Hunton & Williams, and two other technology firms that later withdrew from participation: Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies. More ominous is the report the Department of Justice recommended the use of HBGary Federal, Palantir, and Berico to engage in the sock-puppet operation. The program matches recommendations from White House Office of Information Regulatory Affairs chief Cass Sunstein, who has referred to such operations as "cognitive infiltration."

Glenn GreenwaldSalon, Obama Confidant's Spine-Chilling Proposal, Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 15, 2010. Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama's closest confidants. Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs." In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites -- as well as other activist groups -- which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. Greenwald continues:

Sunstein advocates that the Government's stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups." He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called "independent" credible voices to bolster the Government's messaging (on the ground that those who don't believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false "conspiracy theories," which they define to mean: "an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role."

UPDATE: Just to get a sense for what an extremist Cass Sunstein is (which itself is ironic, given that his paper calls for "cognitive infiltration of extremist groups," as the Abstract puts it), marvel at this paragraph: [Editor's note: The paper, for which a subscription is necessary to read, proposes five ways for the government to halt conspiracies.] So Sunstein isn't calling right now for proposals (1) and (2) -- having Government "ban conspiracy theorizing" or "impose some kind of tax on those who" do it -- but he says "each will have a place under imaginable conditions." I'd love to know the "conditions" under which the government-enforced banning of conspiracy theories or the imposition of taxes on those who advocate them will "have a place." That would require, at a bare minimum, a repeal of the First Amendment. Anyone who believes this should, for that reason alone, be barred from any meaningful government position.

Harvard Law and University of Chicago Law School Working Papers, Conspiracy Theories, Cass R. Sunstein & Adrian Vermeule, Jan. 15, 2008. (Editor's Note: Subscription required for more than the Abstract, excerpted as follows.) Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law. Conspiracy theorists are not likely to be persuaded by an attempt to dispel their theories; they may even characterize that very attempt as further proof of the conspiracy.


WikiLeaks Schism & Dueling “Anonymous” Videos

OpEd News, OpenLeaks Founder Destroys Cache of Unreleased WikiLeaks Documents, Kevin Gosztola, Aug. 21, 2011. Daniel Domscheit-Berg, founder of OpenLeaks who defected from the media organization WikiLeaks last year, has apparently destroyed a cache of documents he stole from WikiLeaks when he left the organization. According to reporter Holger Stark of the German news organization Der Spiegel, Domscheit-Berg told Stark some time on August 20 that the cache was gone forever.

Anonymous,

] El grupo de activistas lanzó un ataque contra Facebook, según ellos por estar cansados de que vendan información al mejor postor.

Anonymous,

">Anonymous Message to the Website “The Plan.” (422 views as of Aug. 21, 2011, uploaded Aug. 3.) Excerpt: This is a message to the anonymous collective using what-is-theplan.org. Your website and forum "What is the Plan" has come under scrutiny from anonymous. You cannot claim to protect the anonymity of users by forcing them to create an account to gain access to the forums. Please understand that you cannot have an elite staff which controls any undisclosed portion of this site. Anonymous has no leaders. Anonymous has no ranks.

Anonymous:

, Uploaded to YouTube June 14, 2011. (363,786 views as of Aug. 21, 2011.) Tagline: “Become a member and join us as we initiate a movement for real change.”

 

FBI Raids on Anonymous

CBS News /AP, FBI raids multiple sites in Anonymous hack probe, Video with CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, July 19, 2011. The FBI has conducted more than a dozen raids and made more than a dozen arrests across the United States in connection with the Anonymous computer hacking investigation, U.S. government officials tells CBS News. The officials described the sweep as a "major" law enforcement operation and say there have been 14 arrests nationwide.  FBI agents conducted raids at four New York residences as well as locations in California, New Jersey and Florida Tuesday in connection with the investigation. Agents seized computers and computer accessories under search warrants at four homes of suspected hackers in Baldwin and Merrick both on Long island, in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The allegations are that the network of hackers allegedly carried out distributed denial of service attacks on numerous victims including corporations and their websites. Anonymous to launch social networking site.  The amorphous, loosely organized group of hackers sympathetic to WikiLeaks has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against corporate and government websites around the world. The news comes as Anonymous claimed a cyberattack that shut down the website of Rupert Murdoch's Times newspaper.

Tech Talk, "Anonymous" to launch social networking site AnonPlus, Chenda Ngak, July 19, 2011. The Los Angeles Times reported that the hacker group, Anonymous, has been kicked off of the new social network. The controversial group also lost access to their other Google accounts, including their Gmail. The group's Tumblr blog posted a screen shot of the Google+ suspension notice for a profile named Your Anon News. The search engine giant only noted that Your Anon News violated the "Community Standards."

The Alyona Show, RT (Russia Today),

Alyona Minkovski interviews Anonymous representative, April 22, 2011. (194,448 views as of Aug. 21, 2011.)

CNET News, FBI issues warrants over pro-WikiLeaks attacks, Lance Whitney, Jan. 28, 2011. The FBI is on the hunt for the hackers responsible for a recent wave of cyberattacks launched in defense of WikiLeaks. FBI agents yesterday executed more than 40 search warrants in the United States as part of their ongoing investigation. Pointing to the group Anonymous, which has taken responsibility for the attacks, the FBI said that the distributed denial of service (DDoS) assaults were facilitated by software the group makes available as free downloads. Late last year, PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, and other companies were hit by DDoS attacks triggered by activists in support of WikiLeaks after the companies cut off sources of funding to the whistle-blowing site.  The FBI apparently started its investigation after it was contacted by PayPal in December and was able to trace two of the IP addresses provided by PayPal to physical locations, one of which was in Texas where the agency seized a server.

 

Assange Accusers, Prosecution & Karl Rove

Naomi WolfProfessors blog, Julian Assange’s sex-crime accusers deserve to be named, Naomi Wolf, right, July 5, 2011. The shielding of sex-crime accusers is a Victorian relic. Women are moral adults and should be treated as such, As Swedish prosecutors' sex-crime allegations against Julian Assange play out, one aspect of the case merits serious scrutiny. We know Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, by name. But his two accusers are consistently identified only as "Miss A" and "Miss W" in the media, and their images are blurred. In the UK it is against the law to name an accuser in a sex-crime case once a complaint has been made; elsewhere – in the US, and much of Europe – media convention demands that accusers get the same protection. This is bad law and bad policy. Motivated by good intentions, the outcome harms women.

Professors blogg, The affair Irmeli Krans in the case of Sweden against Assange…Expressens "scoop" an alibi, Dr. Marcello Ferrada-Noli, April 18, 2011. The Swedish newspaper Expressen -- a right-wing tabloid of the Swedish establishment's press -- convinced the world in March it had a “scoop” of breaking-news in the Assange case. The paper reported that the police officer Irmeli Krans who interrogated one of the Assange-accusers was a friend of the main accuser-instigator. But this fact was already known by everybody who cared to read the proceedings of the police investigation. So it was simply one of the many irregularities in the case ignored by the mainstream Swedish media, much like the continuing cover-up of the rigged documentary about Julian Assange broadcast the State-owned National Television, SvT 1. Expressen's so called scoop was to create an alibi, an exception, within an overall cover-up that otherwise is performed by the Swedish mainstream media in regard to the affair Assange.

Washington Post, No secret is safe, even for WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, Jeffrey Rosen, April 17, 2011. For an organization devoted to exposing the secrets of others, Wiki­Leaks, under the leadership of Julian Assange, has been aggressively protective of its own secrets. Now Daniel Domscheit-Berg has pulled back the curtain with a memoir about his three years as Assange’s spokesman. Although he began as an idealistic supporter of Wiki­Leaks’s whistle-blowing mission, Domscheit-Berg left the organization because he was dismayed by Assange’s paranoid resistance to transparency, lack of political neutrality, and addiction to concentrating power in his own hands — anti-democratic vices that Wiki­Leaks was founded to oppose.

Weekly Standard, When Daniel Met Julian: The rise and fall of WikiLeaks, Jonathan V. Last, April 25, 2011. During a span of 22 months the website WikiLeaks.org morphed from a digital anarchist demonstration project into a semisuccessful international campaign against the American government.

Expressen, Interrogator in the Assange Case Friend with Woman Accusing WikiLeaks Founder, March 10, 2011. The police interrogator in the Julian Assange-investigation is a friend of one of the two women who is accusing the Wikileaks founder of sexual assault, Expressen can now reveal.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Swedish police under scrutiny in Assange case, March 10, 2011. Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer says a newspaper report casts doubt on whether the sex abuse investigation against the WikiLeaks founder was carried out in an impartial manner. Swedish tabloid Expressen reported Thursday that a police officer involved in the initial phase of the probe had personal and political links to one of the two women accusing Assange of sexual misconduct. Expressen also said the officer, Irmeli Krans, described Assange as a "bubble ready to burst" on her personal Facebook page. "If this information is correct, then one should carefully consider whether the nature of the investigation is such that he can be assured a fair trial," Assange's lawyer Bjoern Hurtig told The Associated Press.

Professors blogg, Opinion censorship in Swedish media: Link-search engine NOT the cause, Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, March 12, 2011. Swedes should start by protesting and demand a fair media report on this and all issues affecting the Nation. The public should own the truth. Those in power should own the shame. Twingly unequivocally admits that a Swedish newspaper would censure publications whose content is estimated as inappropriate. The question is still who authored the request for censuring BOTH Naomi Wolf’s and Andrew Kreig’s articles on the theme Karl Rove, Assange and Sweden published in the Swedish-based Professors blog?

Thomas BodstromConnecticut Watchdog, Partner at Firm Counseling Assange's Accusers Helped the CIA In Rendition for Torture, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 12, 2011. Best-selling spy thriller author Thomas Bodström, left, ─ an attorney who represents the two Swedish women making the notorious sex charges against WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange ─ knows better than most people that truth is stranger than fiction.

Connecticut Watchdog, Swedish Pundit Assails WikiLeaks, Downplays Rove Ties, Andrew Kreig, Jan 9, 2011.

Huffington Post, Rove Suspected In Swedish-U.S. Political Prosecution of WikiLeaks, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 19, 2010.

 

Alabama Interlude: Video of Sheriff's Free Football Tickets Sting

Legal Schnauzer, Lure of Football Tickets Helps Nab Deadbeat Dads, Roger Shuler, Aug. 11, 2011. In football-crazed Alabama, nothing gets the public's attention like the annual Iron Bowl game between the University of Alabama and Auburn University. Officials in Lee County, Alabama, home to Auburn, figured the thought of winning free tickets to the big game would be irresistible to quite a few folks. They figured right. A sting operation featuring fake Iron Bowl tickets helped the Lee County Sheriff's Office apprehend a dozen individuals with outstanding warrants for unpaid child support. Those arrested owed some $270,000.