Who is John S Hamilton?

Jan 4th, 2012 | By | Category: Jang, The News

John S HamiltonThat was the question that buzzed on Twitter Tuesday as people tried to figure out the identity of the author of a front page story “Special to The News” that is supposed to be by ‘John S Hamilton’ of Woodbridge, Virginia, USA.

At first glance, the article, ‘Understanding the DNA of a BlackBerry set’ appears to be a technical look at how BlackBerry chats can be traced. But as one reads through the piece, something seems very, very off.

The first clue that something was strange was that, despite being an unknown foreigner, this ‘John S Hamilton’ was published on the front page of The News and Daily Jang with no bio or explanation of his qualifications. But that’s really the least of it.

In the second paragraph, the supposed Mr ‘John S Hamilton’ argues that the court’s ability to obtain data from Research in Motion (RIM)…

…will be the key determining factor in whether memogate is consigned to the dustbin of history or is the hammer that nails the coffin shut of those who stand accused of committing such heinous crimes against the state.

“Hammer that nails the coffin shut”? “Such heinous crimes against the state”? This struck many as odd that an American would have such emotional feelings about the case. Reuters journalist Myrae Macdonald reacted on Twitter saying “whoever wrote it needs 2b reminded to avoid giveaway phrases like “such heinous crimes”. Sloppy.” and that “hot on the heels of the Deepak Chopra interview with MI. It all looks very amateur.”

And then there’s the section of the piece supposedly by Mr ‘John S Hamilton’ that admits that even though BBM chats can be faked, nobody would do it because they would not want to get caught.

As a desperate act of last resort, is it possible that BB chat exchanges could be created, existing ones distorted or modified, or even permanently deleted from RIM servers?

Experts interviewed for this article said all were possible, but highly unlikely given the stakes of being discovered as evidence tampering.

Who are the ‘experts interviewed for this article’? This is the first and only time they are mentioned. What are their qualifications? Who are they affiliated with? And how do these experts know what behaviour is likely or unlikely? Is this opinion based on data? Or just a ‘gut’ feeling?

Fasi Zaka noticed that some of the piece by Mr ‘John S Hamilton’ was plagiarised from an article by Daniel Tencer in The Huffington Post about the use of BlackBerry in last year’s London riots.

Here’s a paragraph from the piece supposedly by ‘John S Hamilton’:

RIM’s encrypted communications have ruffled feathers, particularly in repressive governments interested in stopping unwanted political speech. Several countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, threatened to ban BlackBerry services altogether if RIM didn’t give them access to BB chat exchanges, ostensibly for “counter-terrorism purposes”.

And this is from the The Huffington Post article published last August:

RIM’s encrypted communications have ruffled more than a few feathers around the world, particularly among repressive governments interested in suppressing unwanted political speech.

Several countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, threatened to ban the BlackBerry if RIM didn’t give them access to BlackBerry messages. RIM reportedly agreed to provide access.

We could not help but be reminded of a previous instance in which Jang ‘Editor Special Reporting’ Muhammad Saleh Zaafir defended his use of paragraphs copied from Wikipedia by saying they were provided to him by “highly placed defence sources”. Could it be that Mr ‘John S Hamilton’ will also pray his innocence by saying that parts of his article were provided by “highly placed defence sources”?

Of course, the piece also appeared the same day on the front page of Daily Jang for Urdu readers. It is unknown if Mr ‘John S Hamilton’, in addition to being very concerned about ‘heinous crimes against the state’ is also fluent in Urdu, or if he had someone translate the piece for him. Perhaps the Jang editor who approved this piece can kindly inform us?

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Jang has published articles which appear intended to influence the outcome of the memo case that is presently sub judice in the Supreme Court. Some of these articles have been by suspected political operatives, but now the largest media group is publishing pieces about the case by mysterious foreigners?

This mystery raises several important questions:

1. Who is ‘John S Hamilton’?

2. What are his qualifications for writing a technical article about BlackBerry?

3. How did he come to write for The News? Who solicited his piece?

4. Does he have any relationship with either Mansoor Ijaz, Husain Haqqani, or any other figure involved in the memo case?

5. Did ‘John S Hamilton’ write the full piece himself, or did anyone add anything such as ‘heinous crimes against the state’ or the sentences ‘borrowed’ from the Huffington Post article?

6. Why does Mr ‘John S Hamilton’ take such a keen interest in the memo case, and why does he have such strong opinions about the possibility of ‘heinous crimes against the state’

7. Was the piece by Mr ‘John S Hamilton’ intended to influence an issue that is presently sub judice?

It would be most appreciated if Jang Group would clarify the answers to these questions.

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