Barr threatened Anonymous by telling the financial times that "..he had collected information on their core leaders, including many of their real names..."
Now to put that in hacker terms, Anonymous is a hornet's nest and Barr said "I'm gonna stick my penis in that thing"...
As Jim Croce was so good as to enumerate, there are certain things you simply don't do, including tug on Superman's cape and pull the mask off the Lone Ranger. If he wrote it today, one thing that might have made it into the list was don't poke Anonymous.
For those who aren't familiar with the group, Anonymous is a collective entity that grew out of chat boards where people posted pictures from Anime. This group grew into a force that has not only taken on governments and obscenely wealthy religious organizations, but also is responsible for most of the internet memes you're most familiar with.
Their tactics range from juvenile to ingenious and their targets have included a white supremacist, an internet predator, a lady caught throwing a cat into a trashcan, the Church of Scientology and any group that tries to inhibit the free exchange of information on the internet, including at the time of this writing the governments of the African countries trying to keep the word of revolution from getting out of their borders. They were responsible for hacking websites of opponents of Wikileaks and support Wikileaks' efforts to disseminate information that would otherwise remain hidden. They are a voice for the oppressed and dismissed, sometimes a very loud and rude one.
Not every member of Anonymous takes direct action in these causes, but the whole of Anonymous share in their motto: "We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us."
But not just any group worthy of contempt finds themselves in the sights of these nameless, faceless hacktivists. Their name was mentioned in connection with a letter sent to the Westboro Baptist Church, a declaration of war to which the WBC quickly spewed a counter challenge of "Bring it". Anonymous then announced that they were not the source of the letter, that the WBC might be vile but were within their rights and that Anonymous was "busy" and would "keep their application on file". When the WBC pushed the matter further and claimed their websites unassailable, Anonymous hacked one of those websites during a radio interview of one of their members and Shirley Phelps Roper; what they left was another message stating that the WBC should go away. Now.
Most recently, Anonymous is said to have started operations to oppose the Koch brothers for their actions in Wisconsin. Whether those who issued the challenge speak of Anonymous as a whole or are just operating under their banner is unclear. What will come of this conflict less so. On the AnonNews website, a declaration was made to the press that seemed counter to this; in it, Anonymous declares it has no firm position on many things, including the Koch brothers.
But in these last two incidents is a warning: Anonymous is not your personal army. They take up causes, but this a group without leaders. They don't so much have an agenda as, from time to time, some of them agree that it would be interesting to take action. They do it for the lulz, they say; the enjoyment. This isn't to say that making a difference comes secondary to the entertainment value, but that trying to staple a manifesto to Anonymous is like trying to paint a mural on the backs of over 9000 mice at once; they might line up with what you want them to do for a second, but they aren't interested in co-operating just because you ask.
Trying to conscript Anonymous to your cause isn't like trying to make a deal with the devil; the devil has simple objectives that are easily understood and that one can compensate for. Instead, it is more like seeking a pact with one of the gods of old who wear a very human face but who are unfathomable beneath that exterior. They may help you out; they are sympathetic to just causes and have done many definitively good things. Think you can use them as you will, though, and they might fill your computer with kiddy porn, tip off the FBI that you have it and as the Feds pull up, a dozen male prostitutes will show up at your door, paid for with your credit card.
That capriciousness is a great part of their strength. By having no central leadership, they cannot be beheaded. Identify or prosecute any member and another will take their place. They have no address, no customer service line to complain to. They exist in no one country. They have no corporate sponsors to boycott.
Anonymous is not on anyone's side except their own. Sometimes they're not even on their own side. They operate like perhaps no other group on Earth and evade every attempt to put them into a easily defined and understood box.
Mistake them for a few basement dwellers hiding behind their computers, however, and you'll see exactly the mayhem they can cause. Anonymous gets results.
Love them or hate them, the one thing that is consistent about Anonymous, without a doubt, is that they will defy your expectations. Every time.