As the White House works hammers out draft legislation for immigration reform, a sharp divide between moderate republicans and the Tea Party is hardening in Congress. The Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman and DC bureau chief David Corn discuss the GOP's divide over immigration on MSNBC's Hardball:

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.

Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is an honorary director of the Atlantic Council.

Breitbart News editor-at-large Ben Shapiro created a bit of a stir last week when he alleged that Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee to be the next secretary of defense, may have ties to an organization called "Friends of Hamas."

On Wednesday, after reporters at mainstream publications could find no evidence of any such organization even existing, Shapiro* Breitbart News doubled down: "The mainstream media have ignored the fact that at least one prominent supporter of Hamas has donated money to an organization associated with former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)—namely, the Atlantic Council, which receives support from the Hariri family of Lebanon, whose most prominent member, former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, publicly backs Hamas."


The Atlantic Council is, like many such vaguely named D.C. institutions, a repository for pretty much anyone who has ever held a high-ranking foreign policy position in the federal government. If Shapiro is correct, Hagel should be the least of our worries; every administration since the 1960s has been corrupted by Hamas:

Condoleezza Rice: Bush's second secretary of state—and Atlantic Council honorary director—hid her connections to Hamas by refusing to negotiate with it.

William Webster: The only man to ever helm the CIA and the FBI, Webster served under Presidents Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush and is an honorary director at the Atlantic Council.

Robert Gates: Gates, an honorary director, was George W. Bush's last Secretary of Defense (and President Obama's first).

James A. Baker, III: An honorary director of the Atlantic Council, Baker served as a chief of staff for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Michael Hayden: Another honorary director, Hayden was a CIA director under George W. Bush.

James Woolsey: President Bill Clinton's CIA director is a member of the Atlantic Council's board of directors. You may have seen him at Big Journalism's sister Breitbart publication, Big Peace.

William H. Taft, IV: "Get on the raft with Taft" was the campaign slogan of this Council director's great-grandfather. You know who else used rafts?

George P. Shultz: Reagan's secretary of state for seven years is an Atlantic Council honorary director.

Henry A. Kissinger: President Richard Nixon's Secretary of State sits on the Atlantic Council board of directors, when he's not busy mentoring Sarah Palin on foreign policy and blaming Hamas for obstructing the peace process.

Rupert Murdoch: Murdoch was the winner of the Atlantic Council's 2008 "Atlantic Council Leadership Award," and is CEO of some small, locally-sourced media co-op you probably haven't heard of. He previously expressed his support for Hamas by accusing the "Jewish-owned press" of being "consistently anti-Israel."

Fortunately, opponents of Hagel have settled on an alternative who could presumably be confirmed without much of a fight: former undersecretary of defense Michèle Flournoy. Even former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who sees the threat of terrorism around every corner, supports Flournoy.

The catch: Flournoy sits on the Atlantic Council's board of directors, too.

*This post originally attributed the article to Shapiro.

On Wednesday, by a 38 to 11 vote*, the Montana state Senate passed SB 107, a bill to "generally revise deviate sexual conduct laws." Put another way: They voted to decriminalize homosexuality.

Although the 2002 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas ruled that state laws prohibiting sodomy are unconstitutional, the effect has been slow to sink in. Montana is one of four states, along with Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, that still have laws on the books specifically outlawing gay sex. Ten more states—Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and (obviously) Florida—maintain a blanket prohibition on sodomy for persons of all sexual orientations.

The laws have stayed on the books partly because of institutional inertia; culling unenforceable laws isn't exactly the most urgent issue facing cash-strapped states. But when advocates have generated legislative momentum to repeal the sodomy statutes, they've invariably been thwarted. As I reported in 2011, lawmakers in Texas have repeatedly sought to purge the state's anti-sodomy law from the books without success. (It likely doesn't help matters that GOP Gov. Rick Perry believes Lawrence was wrongly decided.) In 2012, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, also a Republican, formed an Office of the Repealer to delete unnecessary laws from the state books, but pointedly left out his state's invalidated ban on sodomy.

This isn't the only notable LGBT legislation up for consideration. Another bill before the legislature would extend the state's anti-discrimination protections to gays and lesbians for the first time—a more substantive reform that advocates hope would serve as a bulwark against bullying.

But neither proposal stands much chance of becoming law in 2013. As the Billings Gazette notes, a bill to eliminate the sodomy statute passed the Senate in 2011 only to fail in the house. "We are expecting this bill to go to House judiciary, which is a very ideologically driven committee, and we expect it to die in that committee," says Jamee Greer, a lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network, an LGBT equality group. "They're not showing a lot of respect to the LGBT community and I don't expect them to pass 107."

*Among the 10 Republicans voting against it: This guy.

A screenshot of the Priorities USA Action ad "Donnie."

Priorities USA Action, the powerful pro-Obama super-PAC, unloaded $65 million in the 2012 presidential race, battering Republican Mitt Romney with attack ads that depicted him as a profit-chasing, cold-hearted plutocrat with a history of screwing over the middle class. Priorities was the counterexample to the Republican outside groups that spent hundreds of millions with little impact: Its ads were deemed hugely effective, and Priorities played a decisive part in Obama's narrow victory in Ohio last November.

But Priorities isn't shutting down now that Obama is safely ensconced for a second term. Instead, it will raise and spend big money to help the Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential election, a Priorities fundraiser tells Mother Jones. The fundraiser says it is too early to comment on the group's strategy for next year's midterms or the upcoming presidential race, but he confirms that Priorities will remain a fixture in Democratic politics. The super-PAC currently has $3.4 million in the bank.

Former Obama adviser David Axelrod.

David Axelrod, the long-time adviser to President Barack Obama, turned to Twitter on Wednesday morning to fume about the state of money in politics today. In doing so, Axelrod revealed himself to be of the same mind on how to fix our political system as Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, Newt Gingrich, Republican super-attorney Jim Bopp (who brought the Citizens United case), and many movement conservatives.

Here's what Axelrod tweeted:

To be clear, what Axelrod is suggesting is a campaign finance system in which donors rich and not-so-rich can give without limit to the candidates they support. All those unlimited donations, though, would be fully disclosed soon after the donation is made. This is the no-limits-full-disclosure brand of reform, and it is straight out of the Republican/conservative playbook.

Consider this statement made by Mitt Romney in December 2011 on the issue of money in politics:

[W]hat we have right now is unlimited political contributions, but they’re not controlled by the campaigns. They're controlled by unaffiliated or uncoordinated entities, which, in my opinion, is the worst of both worlds. It means that large contributions have a big impact, and it means that the campaign can't control them, so if we're going to have big contributors, wouldn't it be nice to have the campaigns responsible for what those contributors say?

Romney told the Portsmouth Herald editorial board that "the best way" to fix our campaign finance system is "to let people make whatever contributions they want and have it instantly reported and know what conflicts exist so we know where the money is coming from."

Those who favor more regulation of money in politics—banning super-PACs, say, or greater disclosure of dark-money nonprofits—hate this idea. They think it will corrupt the political process, and there's plenty of historical evidence to bolster that claim. Which is why it's surprising to see Axelrod, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive Democrat, essentially endorse the no-limits-full-disclosure approach.

David Donnelly, an advocate for taxpayer-funded public financing of elections and less big money in politics, tweeted back at Axe:

Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson monitors radio transmissions and receives updates from the mobile combat operations center about the progress of the Afghan National Army's clearing operation in Trek Nawa, Afghanistan, Feb. 9, 2013. Johnson is a member of a Camp Pendleton-based Security Forces Assistance Advisor Team, which is mentoring the 1st Brigade, 215 Corps during the two-day operation in southern Helmand Province. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Bobby J. Yarbrough.


Draft immigration legislation being hammered out by the White House was leaked to USA Today over the weekend, and the paper had no trouble finding Republicans who balked at the president's plan. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the members of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" who recently cooperated on a proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, called the White House draft "dead on arrival."

Opponents of immigration reform however, see the exchange as theater—"the point of leaking the bill is to enable Rubio to say that his amnesty plan is waaay different from the dastardly Obama plan," wrote the Center for Immigration Studies' Mark Krikorian at National Review. As a policy matter, Krikorian isn't entirely wrong: Rubio's hometown paper, the Miami Herald, also got ahold of the White House's drafts and concluded that they "closely resemble many of the reforms advanced in 2011 by Obama and, more recently, by Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio." (If you've been reading Mother Jones, that's hardly surprising.)

What may be surprising however, is that Obama's bill sets out a very long road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. As Suzy Khimm writes at the Washington Post, under Obama's proposal, those undocumented immigrants who are eligible for legalization would likely have to wait around 13 years for full citizenship—eight years of temporary legal status before acquiring a green card, then, as is standard under US law, about another five for citizenship. (If a backlog of existing visa applications is cleared before that initial eight years, the total wait could be shorter.) Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of the pro-reform group America's Voice, tells Khimm that Obama's proposal would "delay citizenship another generation."

Compare that with the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986 that was signed by President Ronald Reagan, which allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for green cards after a temporary legal status of just 18 months. Add in the standard five years green-card holders have to wait before seeking citizenship, and under the bill Reagan signed the path to citizenship was half as long as Obama's would be.

So if you're looking for an indication of where America's immigration debate stands in 2013, note that Obama's liberal proposal would be significantly harsher than the law put in place by the patron saint of American conservatism more than 25 years ago. 

Fla. Governor Rick Scott (R), who chopped $300 million out of the higher education budget last year, talks about his plans to boost education spending.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has discovered the hard way that devotion to tea party economics has a significant downside—namely that the voters really hate it.

Elected in 2010 on a wave of tea party anger, Scott took office promising to slash spending, lower taxes and shrink the size and reach of the state government. And that he did. As my latest magazine feature documents, Scott’s first two state budgets cut state funding for everything from environmental protection to education, and he made a show of rejecting millions in federal funding for high-speed rail and health care  programs, just on principle.

Two years and many millions in cuts later, Scott is one of the country’s most unpopular governors. And now that Scott is facing reelection next year, he’s  changing his tune about government spending. The budget he presented to the state legislature this month was nearly $10 billion larger than the one he unveiled (at a tea party rally) in 2011, and the largest ever proposed in Florida history. And for the past two weeks, Scott has been touring the state, campaign-style, highlighting all the  ways he wants to spend more taxpayer money.


No health insurance? No problem!

Stephanie Mencimer's latest Mother Jones cover story showcased the grim impact tea-party-influenced state lawmakers have had in Florida. Under Gov. Rick Scott, the state rejected billions of dollars in federal funding for any kind of Affordable Care Act-related program, with Scott leading the fight against the expansion of Medicaid coverage for the poor. But Scott's certainly not the only governor to balk at the idea of making public health insurance more inclusive. In the last month, Govs. Tom Corbett (R-Penn.), Pat McCrory (R-N.C.), and Scott Walker (R-Wis.) announced their states would not be expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income, uninsured residents, and Koch-funded super-PAC Americans for Prosperity expressed its support for a bill introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature that would reject the expanded Medicaid coverage in state code.

Thirteen state governors are refusing to implement Medicaid expansion, despite the fact that it's being offered with cherries on top: The Affordable Care Act's timeline guarantees that the federal government would pay for 100 percent of the expansion in its first three years, tapering down to 90 percent of the paycheck by 2020. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income groups hovering above the federal poverty line in all states would cut the number of uninsured by nearly half nationwide, provided other features of the ACA are implemented.

Most of these governors argue the expansion would be too expensive, even though including the poor would only increase these states' Medicaid spending by an average of 3 percent over the next decade, and taxpayers will be paying for the federal program anyway. Several of the governors rejecting Medicaid expansion ran for office on anti-Obamacare or tea party platforms, preaching austerity and less federal meddling. Maine's Gov. Paul LePage, whose state would actually see its portion of Medicaid spending reduced by expanding the program, argued that Maine would not be "complicit in the degradation" of the country's health care.

Not all GOP governors are rejecting Medicaid expansion—earlier this month, Michigan's Rick Snyder and Ohio's John Kasich agreed to let newly eligible groups onto their Medicaid rolls, joining GOP governors from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Dakota who support the program's expansion. Pressure for other governors to concede is mounting—even Florida governor Rick Scott now appears to be keeping the state's options open. Update, 6:55 p.m. EST: Scott just announced that he will be supporting Medicaid expansion in Florida, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The announcement came hours after the federal government agreed it would allow the state to privatize the service through a state managed care plan.

Here are the players still holding out:

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Robert Bentley (R-Ala.)

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, Bentley did not mince words: "It is, in my opinion, truly the worst piece of legislation that has ever been passed in my lifetime," the governor said at a luncheon last year. After last year's presidential elections, Bentley also announced he would not be supporting Medicaid expansion—a move that would add more than 300,000 Alabama residents to Medicaid rolls, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation report. Like his fellow Republican governors, Bentley cited the costliness of covering the poor as the reason he was opposed (expanding Medicaid coverage would cost the state some $771 million), but researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham found that opening the program to more low-income groups would actually generate $1.7 billion in state tax revenue over the decade it's implemented, in addition to $20 billion in new income.

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Nathan Deal (R-Ga.)

Georgia has the fifth-highest rate of uninsured residents in the country, and expanding its Medicaid program would accommodate 698,000 new Medicaid enrollees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A report from Harvard Law School reveals that Georgia—like Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas—also has one of the highest rates of new and existing AIDS cases, along with the worst outcomes nationwide, in part because the poor aren't able to access treatment through the state's strict Medicaid eligibility requirements.

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Butch Otter (R-Idaho)

In July 2012, Otter appointed a 14-member committee to weigh the pros and cons of expanding Medicaid coverage to more of Idaho's poor. In November, the panel unanimously agreed that the state should accept expansion, arguing that this reform would save the state the money it bleeds in the state-funded ER costs its uninsured residents can't pay. But in 2013, the governor announced Idaho would not be pursuing Medicaid expansion—despite the fact that the state would only have to spend $261 million to cover up to roughly 100,000 newly eligible Idahoans, receiving $3.7 billion from the federal government over 10 years.

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Bobby Jindal (R-La.)

One of the most outspoken critics of Medicaid expansion, Jindal published an op-ed in the Washington Post in January challenging the president to meet with the Republican governors who would prefer to keep Medicaid coverage "flexible," i.e., thin. With more than 20 percent of its residents uninsured, Louisiana has one of the highest proportions of uninsured in the country, compounded by the fact that the state also maintains some of the nation's tightest Medicaid eligibility requirements.

Hospitals and Democratic lawmakers alike have lobbied Jindal to change his mind—last December, Sen. Mary Landrieu pointed out in a letter to Jindal that Medicaid expansion could actually save the state some $267 million in unpaid care costs. "I know from your many speeches across the nation during the recent Presidential campaign your steadfast opposition to the Affordable care act," Landrieu wrote. "However, the election is over."

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Paul LePage (R-Maine)

Uncompensated care in Maine hospitals has doubled over the past five years, according to a 2012 report from the Portland Press Herald. The state is also one of 10 identified by the Kaiser Family Foundation that would see direct savings from implementing Medicaid expansion, as the federal government would pay more for those currently eligible for the program. But last year, LePage announced that Maine would not be expanding its Medicaid program, writing in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: "Maine will not be complicit in the degradation of our nation's premier health care system."

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Phil Bryant (R-Miss.)

"As governor, I will fight to protect our future," Bryant wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Times last October. "And that means that I will resist any effort to expand Medicaid in this state."

Arguing that Medicaid expansion could result in 1 in 3 Mississippians having Medicaid health insurance, Bryant said he'd rather have 1 in 3 residents "earn health care coverage through good-paying jobs." He also stressed personal responsibility, exercise, diet, and his own crusade to end teen pregnancy—via abstinence education programs. Mississippi has the eighth-highest rate of uninsured people in the country, and, according to Kaiser Family Foundation, some 231,000 Mississippians would newly enroll in Medicaid if expanded. Some state legislators are still hoping to discuss the idea of growing the program through a state Senate bill reauthorizing Medicaid.

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Pat McCrory (R-N.C.)

Last week, McCrory announced he would be throwing his weight behind a bill that would reject Medicaid expansion in his state. "It would be unfair to the taxpayers, unfair to the citizens currently receiving Medicaid and unfair to create a new bureaucracy to implement the system," McCrory said Tuesday. Roughly 1.6 million North Carolinians are uninsured, and the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that more than 500,000 residents would enroll if the state extended more coverage to the poor.

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Mary Fallin (R-Okla.)

While Fallin, like other governors, cited costs as one reason to abstain from Medicaid expansion, the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, argued that the net gain of Medicaid expansion would be positive, with costs "likely to be largely or fully offset by budget savings" in other state agencies like the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 225,000 Oklahomans would be newly eligible for expanded Medicaid, and that the state would spend between $549 to $789 million on the expanded program in its first six years.

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Tom Corbett (R-Pa.)

"Washington is asking us to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act without any clear guidance or reasonable assurances," Corbett told Pennsylvania state legislators during his budget address on February 5. "It would be financially unsustainable for the taxpayers, and I cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion.”

Corbett, who helped file a lawsuit against the ACA while he was state attorney general and running for governor in 2010, is up for reelection in 2014—though only 31 percent of the state thinks he deserves another shot, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. The rate of uninsured residents in Philadelphia and surrounding counties has doubled in a little over a decade, and Medicaid expansion would enroll more than half a million newly eligible Pennsylvanians for the program's coverage.

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Nikki Haley (R-S.C.)

Like Rick Scott, Haley was swept into office on a tide of tea party fervor. In July of 2012, she announced on Facebook that South Carolina would not expand its Medicaid program, though, like several of the other states on this list, South Carolina has one of the higher proportions of uninsured in the country, with more than 20 percent of its population lacking health care coverage.

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Dennis Daugaard (R-S.D.)

Parents of Medicaid-eligible kids who earn more than $9,936 a year make too much to qualify for South Dakota Medicaid. But Daugaard opposes expanding Medicaid to cover more of the state's uninsured adults, explaining to one local radio station: "I want to stress that these are able-bodied adults. They're not disabled: We already cover the disabled. They're not children: We already cover children. These are adults—all of them." According to a 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, accepting Medicaid expansion would enroll some new 44,000 South Dakotans for Medicaid coverage, and cost the state a 3.6 percent increase in its Medicaid expenditure over ten years.

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Rick Perry (R-Texas)

Perry, like Scott and Jindal, has been an early expansion naysayer, though his state has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation. "To expand this program is not unlike adding a thousand people to the Titanic," he told Fox News in July of 2012. Perry argued that expanding Medicaid coverage would bankrupt the state, though by investing $15 billion in the expansion, Texas would receive $100 billion in federal funding and cover 1.8 million newly enrolled residents under the program.

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Scott Walker (R-Wis.)

Wisconsin's tea party governor is the latest to join the anti-Medicaid expansion crew, but is also advocating a novel approach: Instead of expanding his state's Medicaid coverage, which already covered low-income individuals up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line (with an enrollment limit), Walker would hike that Medicaid eligibility back to 100 percent of the FPL, remove the enrollment limit, and set up a health exchange to provide private insurance to other low income groups. As the Washington Post's Sarah Kliff points out, this means that Wisconsin will be turning down the federal government's offer to pay for new Medicaid enrollees.

This article has been revised.

Retired PLA rear admiral Zhang Zhaozong, who inspired UglyGorilla.

In case you missed it, the cybersecurity firm Mandiant just released a bombshell report (pdf) on how nearly 150 sophisticated hacking attempts against American corporations and government agencies over the past decade almost certainly originated from a single Shanghai office building controlled by People's Liberation Army (PLA). The hacking group, dubbed APT1 in the report, launches its attacks from roughly the same address in the city's Pudong New Area as the one used by the PLA's Unit 61398, a probable cyberwar division. But the excellent New York Times exclusive on Mandiant's findings omits some colorful details about the hackers themselves. One of them, for instance, is apparently a Harry Potter fan. Here are profiles of the three Chinese hackers Mandiant outed in its report.

Jack Wang, a.k.a. Wang Dong, a.k.a. UglyGorilla

A profile photo used by UglyGorilla

Back in 2004, the cyberwarfare expert Zhang Zhaozhong was participating in an online Q&A hosted by the website China Military Online. A retired PLA rear admiral, professor at China's National Defense University, and strong advocate of the "informationization" of military units, Zhang had written several works on military tech strategy, including "Network Warfare" and "Winning the Information War." One question for Zhang came from a site user with the handle "Greenfield," who brought up the United States' cyberwar capabilities. "Does China have a similar force?" he asked. "Does China have cyber troops?"

Greenfield would soon become one of those troops, according to Mandiant. When he registered for the China Military site, he gave his real name as "Jack Wang" and the email address—details that would later be associated with the hacker known as UglyGorilla. That October, UglyGorilla registered the hacker zone, a name that, as Bloomberg has reported, "combines two common descriptors of a gorilla, along with sub-domains like 'tree' and 'man.'"

In 2007, UglyGorilla authored the first known sample of a widely used family of Chinese malware and brazenly left his signature in the code: "v1.0 No Doubt to Hack You, Writed by UglyGorilla, 06/29/2007."

DOTA, a.k.a. Rodney, a.k.a. Raith

DOTA may have taken his or her name from the video game "Defense of the Ancients," commonly abbreviated DotA. The name shows up in dozens of email accounts that DOTA created for social engineering and phishing attacks, according to Mandiant. It appears Mandiant was able to hack some of these accounts, allowing them to get DOTA's phone number (a mobile phone in Shanghai) and the username of DOTA's (blank) US-based Facebook account, where DOTA registered as female. Mandiant published a screen-grab of one of DOTA's Gmail accounts:

DOTA appears to speak fluent English and may be a fan of American and British pop culture. The answers to security questions associated with his or her internet accounts—such as, "Who is your favorite teacher?" or "Who is your best childhood friend?"—are often some variation of "Harry" and "Poter."

Mandiant linked some of DOTA's other passwords to a pattern that seems to be associated with Unit 61398, the PLA's cyberwar division.

Mei Qiang, a.k.a. SuperHard

Similar to UglyGorilla, Mei Qiang signs much of his work by embedding his name into the code. His malware is often signed "SuperHard" and his Microsoft hacking tools are altered from "Microsoft corp." to "superhard corp."

SuperHard primarily works on tools used by other Chinese hackers; he's probably employed in APT1's research and development arm, according to Mandiant. He has also volunteered to write Trojan software for money. Mandiant researchers gained access to some of the hacker's internet accounts. They believe he (or she; it's hard to know) used the email address, which, based on Chinese habit, suggests that the user is named Mei Quiang and born in 1982. They also traced SuperHard to Shanghai's Pudong New Area—information that should give US security experts plenty of leads, assuming the hacker hasn't been fired yet.