Taking on Syria, Anonymous breaks into Assad's server

Massive e-mail dump reveals media planning in advance of Syrian president's memorable interview with Barbara Walters in December.

Anonymous has released hundreds of e-mails after reportedly hacking into a mail server used by Syrian President Bashar al Assad's office, including one revealing how he was prepped for a much-publicized December interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.

The interview took place amid Syria's increasingly harsh crackdown against civilian protesters. During the interview, Assad repeatedly denied reports of civilian massacres, telling Walters "no government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person."

Leaked documents: Part one
Leaked documents: Part two

But hacking group Anonymous, again showing its skill at accessing seemingly secure government Web sites, apparently broke into the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs and got its hands on a trove of e-mails. Among other things, the e-mails reveal the back-and-forth between Assad's advisers discussing how their boss should handle the expected questions from Walters. (In many cases, the password that some employees used was "12345," according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.)

"It is hugely important and worth mentioning that 'mistakes' have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized 'police force.' American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are 'mistakes' done and now we are 'fixing it,'" Sheherazad Jaafari, a press attache at the Syrian mission to the United Nations, apparently wrote in one e-mail. "It's worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by policemen, police dogs and beatings."

The press attache suggested that Assad tell Walters that "Syria doesn't have a policy to torture people, unlike the USA, where there are courses and schools that specialize in teaching policemen and officers how to torture."

Haaretz has the full story.