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    Default Barret Brown

    Jailed Journalist Barrett Brown Faces 105 Years For Reporting on Hacked Private Intelligence Firms :hitler:

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    Media Analysis, Hacktivism, Anonymous, journalism

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    Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. He has written extensively on hacktivist actions against private intelligence firms and the surveillance state. His recent article for The Nation is called "The Strange Case of Barrett Brown."





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    Journalist Barrett Brown spent his 300th day behind bars this week on a range of charges filed after he used information obtained by the hacker group Anonymous to report on the operations of private intelligence firms. Brown faces 17 charges ranging from threatening an FBI agent to credit card fraud for posting a link online to a document that contained stolen credit card data. But according to his supporters, Brown is being unfairly targeted for daring to investigate the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors. Using information Anonymous took from the firm HBGary Federal, Brown helped discover a secret plan to tarnish the reputations of WikiLeaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian. Brown similarly analyzed and wrote about the millions of internal company emails from Stratfor Global Intelligence that were leaked in 2011. We speak to Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, whose article "The Strange Case of Barrett Brown" recently appeared in The Nation. "Considering that the person who carried out the actual Stratfor hack had several priors and is facing a maximum of 10 years, the inescapable conclusion is that the problem is not with the hack itself but with Brown’s journalism," Ludlow argues. He adds that the case against Brown could suggest criminality "to even link to something or share a link with someone."


    Transcript

    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As NSA leaker Edward Snowden remains at a Moscow airport, Army whistleblower Bradley Manning is on trial, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, today we look at the strange story of another man tied to the world of cyber-activism who faces over a hundred years in prison. His name is Barrett Brown. He’s an investigative reporter with ties to the hacking collective Anonymous. He has spent the past 300 days in jail and has been denied bail. He faces 17 charges, ranging from threatening an FBI agent to credit card fraud for posting a link online to a document that contained stolen credit card data. But according to his supporters, Brown is being unfairly targeted for daring to investigate the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors.
    AMY GOODMAN: Before Brown’s path crossed with the FBI, he frequently contributed to Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, The Guardian and other news outlets. In 2009, Brown created Project PM, which was, quote, "dedicated to investigating private government contractors working in the secretive fields of cybersecurity, intelligence and surveillance." He was particularly interested in the documents leaked by WikiLeaks and Anonymous. In the documentary We Are Legion, Barrett Brown explains the importance of information obtained by hackers.
    BARRETT BROWN: Some of the most important things that have been—have had the most far-reaching influence and have been the most important in terms of what’s been discovered, not just by Anonymous, but by the media in the aftermath, is the result of hacking. That information can’t be obtained by institutional journalistic process, or it can’t be obtained or won’t be obtained by a congressional committee or a federal oversight committee. For the most part, that information has to be, you know, obtained by hackers.
    AMY GOODMAN: In 2011, the group Anonymous hacked into the computer system of the private security firm HBGary Federal and disclosed thousands of internal emails. Barrett Brown has not been accused of being involved in the hack, but he did read and analyze the documents, eventually crowdsourcing the effort through Project PM. One of the first things he discovered was a plan to tarnish the reputations of WikiLeaks and sympathetic journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian. Brown similarly analyzed and wrote about the millions of internal company emails for Stratfor Global Intelligence that were leaked on Christmas Eve 2011. Shortly thereafter, the FBI acquired a warrant for Brown’s laptop and authority to seize any information from his communications—or, in journalism parlance, his sources. In September 2012, a troupe of armed agents surged into Brown’s apartment in Dallas, Texas, and handcuffed him face down on the floor. He has been in prison ever since.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, for more, we’re joined by Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. He has written extensively on hacktivist actions against people—against private intelligence firms and the surveillance state. His recent article for The Nation is called "The Strange Case of Barrett Brown."
    Peter Ludlow, welcome to Democracy Now!
    PETER LUDLOW: Hi. Thank you very much.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Talk to us about Barrett Brown, the importance of his case, given all the others that we’ve been dealing with on this show now for many years.
    PETER LUDLOW: Well, yeah, it’s important for two reasons. First of all, it’s showing that, to some extent, all of us could be targets, because the principal reasons that they’re going after him with this sort of claim that he was involved in credit card fraud or something like that, I mean, that’s completely fallacious. I mean, in effect, what he did was take a link from a chat room and copied that link and pasted it into the chat room for Project PM. That is, he took a link that was broadcast widely on the Internet, and it was a link to the Stratfor hack information, and he just brought it to the attention of the editorial board of Project PM. And because there were, for whatever reason, unencrypted credit card numbers and validation codes among those five million other emails, the government is claiming that he was engaged in credit card fraud. They’re claiming that Project PM was a criminal enterprise. And so, basically, for our interest, why this is interesting to us is basically it makes this dangerous to even link to something or to share a link with someone.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And—
    PETER LUDLOW: Go ahead, yeah, please.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, one of the things that you raise is, in some of your writings on this, is the incestuous relationship between the Justice Department, the government and these private firms that are being now targeted by cyber-activists. And could you talk about that, as well?
    PETER LUDLOW: Well, sure. A lot of these private intelligence companies are started by ex-CIA, NSA people. Some people come from those agencies and rotate back into the government. I mean, you even see, with the case of Snowden, he was actually a contractor for a private intelligence company, Booz Allen. And, I mean, people think about the NSA, FBI, CIA, and they think of—those are the people that are doing the surveillance of you and doing this intelligence work, but really, if you look at how much the United States spends on intelligence, 70 percent of that is actually going to these private intelligence contractors. So, you know, if you add up CIA, NSA, FBI, that’s just a tip of the iceberg. So there’s all this sort of spook stuff going on in the private realm. And, yeah, right, a lot of it is very incestuous. There’s a revolving door. And no one is investigating it or even talking about it, as far as I can tell.
    AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to Barrett Brown in his own words. In March 2012, Democracy Now! spoke with Barrett soon after his house was raided.
    BARRETT BROWN: On March 5th, I received a tip that I was about to be raided by the FBI. I left my apartment here in Dallas, went to my mom’s residence here in the same city. Next morning, three FBI agents arrived at my mom’s place. I went out and talked to them. They said my apartment had just been raided. The door was damaged. They would take care of that. And that they also asked me if I had any laptops with me that I wanted to give them. I said no.
    A few hours later, the FBI returned to my mom’s house with another warrant, this time for her house, and detained the both of us for three hours while they searched the residence. They found several laptops I had stashed somewhere in the house and left the search warrants and left another one in my apartment, which I got when I came back here a little after, the next day or so.
    The warrants themselves refer to the information that they’re seeking as regarding Anonymous, of course, a few other things of that nature, and also two companies: HBGary and Endgame Systems. Both of these are intelligence contracting companies that Anonymous had a run-in with in February of 2011, during which a number of emails were taken from HBGary, in particular, which themselves revealed a number of conspiracies being perpetuated by those companies in conjunction with Justice Department and several other institutions, including Bank of America, against WikiLeaks and against several journalists.
    The time since, I’ve spent a lot of time going over those emails, researching them, conducting other research, otherwise trying to expose a number of things that have been discovered by virtue of those emails from HBGary having been taken. I sincerely believe that my activities on that front contributed to me being raided the other day and will no doubt contribute to any further action that the FBI decides to take. I would just also note the Justice Department itself is very much intertwined with this issue, and has been for a while, and in no way can conduct a fair investigation against me, based on what I’ve revealed, what I’ve helped to sort of emphasize about them.
    AMY GOODMAN: That was Barrett Brown in his own words just after the raid.
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: Peter Ludlow, talk about what he had released. Talk about what he got from HBGary and how this links to Glenn Greenwald.
    PETER LUDLOW: Sure. Well, what they uncovered was—I mean, it’s actually a little bit subtle, right? Because it begins with the Bank of America being concerned that WikiLeaks had information on it. Bank of America goes to the United States Department of Justice. The Department of Justice leads them to Hunton & Williams, the big law fix-it firm in the D.C. area, who in turn hooks them up with a group of private intelligence contractors that went under the umbrella Team Themis. And Team Themis had a number of proposals and projects that were exposed in all of this. They included running kind of a psyops operation against the Chamber Watch, which is a group that sort of monitors the Chamber of Commerce, and it was an attempt to undermine it and Glenn Greenwald and other individuals. And, I mean, there were many, many plans that they had, many, many things, but some of the documents released showed that they were saying they were going to create fake documents, leak them to Greenwald, and then, when Greenwald eventually released them, they would expose it as a fraud and attempt to undermine him in that way. And they had a similar plan for Chamber Watch, as well.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And their concern with Greenwald was that he was giving—that his defense of WikiLeaks was giving legitimacy to WikiLeaks—
    PETER LUDLOW: That was—yeah. That was the concern.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —it didn’t deserve.
    PETER LUDLOW: That was the concern, yeah. And they actually said in there, "Well, he’s just a professional journalist, and he’ll fold under pressure immediately. I mean, apparently they were wrong about that. So, yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: There were also emails found where these private security firms were assessing the damage that Jeremy Scahill’s books had done to Blackwater?
    PETER LUDLOW: Well, actually, those—I ran across that in the Stratfor leaks, and that was kind of interesting, because they were monitoring—they were monitoring this because they were concerned that Blackwater was going to get into the private intelligence business themselves. And they were commenting on Scahill. They go, "Well, yeah, Scahill, you know, I don’t care much for his politics, but he’s really got these guys figured out, yeah?" So that was a little compliment for Scahill, I think.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But the amazing thing in all of this is the degree to which these private security firms are engaging in attempts to influence what’s going on in the public debate on—
    PETER LUDLOW: Oh, yeah.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —on intelligence.
    PETER LUDLOW: Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, one of the most crazy things in the whole thing was when Coca-Cola approached Stratfor, and they were concerned about PETA, you know, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. And why, I’m not entirely sure, but one of the people in Stratfor said, "Well, the FBI has a classified file on PETA. I’ll see if I can get it for you." Now, that little story sums up a lot of stuff that’s wrong about this. First of all, why are private—why is Coca-Cola going to a private intelligence company for this? Why is—why did the private intelligence company feel that they had immediate access to a classified file by the FBI? And why did the FBI have a classified file, to begin with? I mean—but, to me, the creepiest part of that very creepy little story is the fact that the guy at Stratfor felt that he had access to this classified file by the FBI. And the Barrett Brown case revealed something like this, as well. It’s almost like the FBI has become just another private security firm, that it’s become like a private cop for these companies, as it were. And, I mean, that’s part because of the revolving door. It’s part because they get pressed into service for companies that want inside information on activist organizations like PETA.
    AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to take break—
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: —and then come back to this conversation. We’re talking to Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, has written extensively on hacktivist actions against private intelligence firms. The piece he most recently wrote is for The Nation, and it’s called "The Strange Case of Barrett Brown." When we come back, I want to ask you how it’s possible he faces a hundred years in prison.
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: It makes us think about Aaron Swartz.
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: He didn’t face anything like that, but he faced decades in prison.
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: He ultimately committed suicide—
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah, yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: —before prosecution. Stay with us.
    [break]
    AMY GOODMAN: Peter Ludlow is our guest, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, has been tracking the case of Barrett Brown and wrote a Nation piece about him, "The Strange Case of Barrett Brown." So, the FBI raids his home, and he ultimately is arrested. He faces 100 years in prison?
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah, if you add up all the charges and if he serves them sequentially, it will be 105 years in prison. Yeah, that’s right.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the decision for no bail?
    PETER LUDLOW: That’s a mystery to me.
    AMY GOODMAN: He’s been in jail now for 300 days.
    PETER LUDLOW: Three hundred days, yeah, over 300 days, no bail. For a while they were—they had frozen his—the contributions to his legal fund, too.
    AMY GOODMAN: Well, that sounds like WikiLeaks.
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: Meaning that’s what happened to Wiki—well, WikiLeaks, they had all these different corporations like PayPal refuse to allow money to go to them.
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah, right.
    AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to an interview Barrett Brown did with NBC’s Michael Isikoff serving as a spokesperson for Anonymous.
    BARRETT BROWN: Our people break laws, just like all people break laws. When we break laws, we do so in the service of civil disobedience. We do so ethically. We do it against targets who have asked for it.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: You go against targets that have asked for it.
    BARRETT BROWN: Yes.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: What do you mean?
    BARRETT BROWN: Targets who have engaged in a manner that is either unethical and contrary to the—sort of the values of this age, information freedom. Just, I mean—and sometimes just plain common sense, in the case of them going after journalists, going after WikiLeaks, in the way that they were planning to do so.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: But you can attack websites.
    BARRETT BROWN: Yes, we can attack websites. We can DDoS them. We can sometimes hack them. We can sometimes take over the websites themselves, put messages up, as we did today with Westboro and as we did with—with the company HBGary and other federal contractors during that attack.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: You can—you can—
    BARRETT BROWN: Take it over, debase it.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: —take over the websites of government contractors.
    BARRETT BROWN: And governments, of course. In Tunisia and in Libya, Algeria and Egypt and Iran, we either took down or replaced government websites. We replaced them with messages from us to the people of those nations, explaining what we’re doing and why and what we’ll provide if they choose to revolt.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Are you worried you’re going to get prosecuted?
    BARRETT BROWN: I’m not worried about it, but I am going to get prosecuted at some point, yes.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Because you’re involved in hacking activity.
    BARRETT BROWN: Because they could do whatever they want to anyone they want.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: But you’re not worried?
    BARRETT BROWN: No, because, again, like I said, I’m well protected right now.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: What do you mean, well protected?
    BARRETT BROWN: I’ve got a lot of lawyers. I’ve got a lot of higher-up people. I’ve got people to talk to who will—who support us. And if they come after me, they’re going to find that they’re not going to like everything that they see.
    AMY GOODMAN: That’s Barrett Brown talking to NBC’s Michael Isikoff. Well, the fact is, Barrett Brown has been in prison now for 300 days, and he faces decades in prison. Can you explain—that’s when he was an Anonymous spokesperson—what Anonymous is? And then also talk about the groups he exposed, like Endgame and others, though he wasn’t the only one to do that.
    PETER LUDLOW: Sure. I have to think he was a little bit optimistic there in his claims about how he was all lawyered up there. But he was a—he was related to Anonymous, which is—it’s not a group, per se. You know, you or I could claim to be members of Anonymous. It’s more like a flag that you fly if you choose to. And so, there was a loosely knit group of hacktivists. Some of them were intersecting. They carried out hacks against—as he says, against various private intelligence contractors and other kinds of targets. He’s quite right that during the Arab Spring and the Tunisian uprising and so forth, members of Anonymous did a lot of work in keeping protesters online and in minimizing the effectiveness of the governments in the Middle East in that time.
    And then you asked about—
    AMY GOODMAN: Endgame.
    PETER LUDLOW: —things like Endgame Systems, for example. Yeah, Endgame is a very interesting thing. I mean, Endgame is this kind of very secretive private intelligence company. And you even see in the HBGary hack, you see these messages where someone from Endgame says in an email, "We don’t ever want to see our name in a press release from you guys." And what makes it particularly interesting is, if you read the search warrant that’s issued to Barrett when he’s busted, it says, "Well, we’re looking for stuff related to HBGary and Endgame Systems." You know, like, why Endgame Systems?
    And this is a corporation that’s involved in what are called "zero-day exploits." Now, what’s a zero-day exploit? Basically, what that means is that there are certain security flaws in the software that we have and that we use, and sometimes the company doesn’t know about it. Sometimes it’s known about it for seven days, and they’ve had seven days to work on it. A zero-day exploit is one that the software company doesn’t know about. And Endgame Systems packages these things and sells them. So, for example, they have one where you get—it’s a subscription for like $2.5 million a year, and you get these exploits. So it’s things that a hacker would do, but because they’re a business and they’re making money for it, it’s—apparently it’s OK, right? And it seems that the Justice Department is kind of running interference for these guys. And there’s a—I mean, you don’t have to take my word for it. There’s a great article in Businessweek on this in which they talk about the guys from Endgame, you know, running—setting up slides and showing you targets in airports, telling you what the computers are running there, and what kind of the—what the vulnerabilities are and so forth.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And who runs Endgame? Where are they based?
    PETER LUDLOW: They’re based in Atlanta, Georgia, I believe. Someone recently posted a video on YouTube in which he walked into the place and—just to see what was going on there. And the people—I think it’s an ex—it’s started by an ex-intelligence person and by a security guy at IBM.
    AMY GOODMAN: And, very quickly, Project PM?
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah. Project PM is basically Barrett’s—I mean, one of the genius things about Barrett was that he wanted to crowdsource all this information, because you get a hack of Stratfor and it’s five million emails, and how do you sort through all that? So he had a number of friends and acquaintances, including Michael Hastings, by the way, who were members of Project PM.
    AMY GOODMAN: Michael Hastings, the reporter who just died in a fiery car crash.
    PETER LUDLOW: The reporter who just died in the suspicious car accident, yeah, exactly right. And so, they would—he would basically crowdsource this. And so, the case where he copied that link, he was basically notifying the members of Project PM where they could find the information from the Stratfor hack.
    AMY GOODMAN: So, what’s the schedule of—we just have 30 seconds—
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: —of what will happen to Barrett Brown right now? He’s in jail in Texas.
    PETER LUDLOW: Yeah. I mean, he’s got a great legal team. Charles Swift is one of them, the guy from the judge advocate general’s thing that took that Gitmo case all the way to the Supreme Court.
    AMY GOODMAN: From the JAG.
    PETER LUDLOW: Ahmed Ghappour, who’s at University of Texas Law School. There’s a group of individuals with freebarrettbrown.org who are raising money for him there, and they’re available if you have questions and so forth.
    AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll certainly follow this case, Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. He’s written extensively on hacktivist actions against private intelligence firms and the surveillance state. His most recent piece is in The Nation; it’s called "The Strange Case of Barrett Brown." We will link to it at democracynow.org.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #2

    Default Barret Brown

    Meet the Journalist Who Connects the Dots Between Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and the NSA


    Barrett Brown is a journalist imprisoned without bail, facing over 100 years of potential jail time, much of it for posting an http link to a public forum. He had been writing about several private intelligence companies and set up a Wikipedia-like site, ProjectPM, for crowdsourced analysis of the documents released by Anonymous after several hacking attacks. Some people are petitioningfor Brown's freedom from what they view as a politically targeted prosecution, but this article will concentrate on what the information Brown has uncovered can do to explain how PRISM and related spying programs may be used against Americans. The official government line has been that PRISM is targeted at foreign terrorists, but it's just as likely that the program will be used to frustrate expressions of political opinion at home.
    The procedure the NSA used in 2007 to avoid targeting U.S. persons for surveillance was straightforward — and disturbing. The agency maintained a database of "telephone numbers and electronic communications accounts/addresses/identifiers that the NSA has reason to believe are being used by United States persons." In the absence of specific information about the target, it was presumed to be a non-U.S. person on whom they could conduct surveillance. In other words, Americans had a right not to have the contents of their communications intercepted — provided the NSA knew who they were. Though communications between people from the U.S. were generally "minimized," the identity database itself includes IP and MAC addresses cross-referenced against other available databases. The minimization procedures also had exceptions that included "evidence of a crime that has been, is being, or is about to be committed" and "information needed to assess a communication security vulnerability,", such as encrypted content or data "retained for cryptanalytic, traffic analytic, or signal exploitation purposes". Together these practices encompassed a substantial database of communications by American citizens.
    The potential use of such a database is illustrated in hacked documents that Barrett Brownreported in the Guardian in 2011. If genuine, the document describes a proposal by "Team Themis" members Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies to "combat the Wikileaks threat." It cites a number of goals: "Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization." To further these goals, WikiLeaks'mainmedia contacts were identified, including a half-dozen American citizens such as Glenn Greenwald and Jacob Appelbaum.
    Brown's work has repeatedly appeared in the Guardian, and the documents were published after Anonymous hacks in which he played no part. Nonetheless, he has been cast by some sources as an "Anonymous spokesman" for doing so, a claim which he fervently denies. For Brown, the mere act of citing his source so that others could collaborate in reporting their contents was found to be reason for very serious felony charges. Glenn Greenwald or any other journalist, simply by reporting on the issues, faces the risk of being targeted for disruption. Meanwhile, the Team Themis companies and their competitors also vied for a lucrative contract from the Air Force to shape opinion from the other end — a "persona management" scheme to create multiple false online personas to comment in social media spaces.
    There is no indication that Team Themis' Wikileaks proposal was ever funded or carried out. It offers at best a tiny window into a sprawling, secretive private industry where dozens of firms offer their special expertise to the market. Some of the players are listed among Wikileaks' "Spy Files", Namebase, Sourcewatch, or detailed at Brown's ProjectPM. For example, ProjectPM had completed an entry for Booz Allen Hamilton several months before Edward Snowden took employment there. The last company Brown investigated before his arrest, Endgame Systems, was recently featured in a New York Times article about companies that sell zero-day exploits to governments.
    While the American public has been learning more about the spying programs underway, the scope of these programs continues to increase. According to Snowden, the Bush-era NSA program described above was ended in 2011, replaced by a "One End Foreign" definition and codenamed EvilOlive, which permits twice as many communications to be intercepted.
    http://www.policymic.com/articles/54531/meet-the-journalist-who-connects-the-dots-between-wikileaks-edward-snowden-and-the-ns
    a

    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  3. #3

    Default Endgame: the link between Barratt Brown & Michael Hastings and why they were targeted

    Endgame: the link between Barratt Brown & Michael Hastings and why they were targeted

    Posted on July 17, 2013 by admin

    Barrett Brown is a journalist who has been arrested and is in jail on remand, facing charges that could result in life imprisonment for merely carrying out his investigative work. Michael Hastings was an investigative journalist who wrote for Rolling Stone but who died tragically in a car crash, which occurred under mysterious circumstances. What links them, apart from investigative journalism? Answer: both were working on the same story, but from different angles. And the story? The surveillance programs managed by a company called Endgame. The article below is by Jill Simpson and Jim March and was first published on June 24th by http://freepress.org but we have decided it’s of such major significance it needs wider publicity so are republishing it. We’ve also added some contextual information on other investigations Brown and Hastings were conducting, as well as links to articles by and on Brown and links to videos investigating the car crash that killed Hastings. The adjacent images are of Barrett and Michael.
    A. Introduction
    1. Barrett Brown
    Barrett Brown is charged with basically helping to disseminate information from Stratfor – a private company engaged in intelligence gathering for the business community, which researcher Jeremy Hammond is accused of hacking. (Here are the main charges against Brown.) Here are the files hacked by anons and which Barrett Brown is accused of analysing. The following is a summary of the investigative projects Brown was investigating…
    1. Echelon 2. The PRISM system exposed by Edward Snowden is part of the Echelonnetwork (as exposed by Duncan Campbell in an article in the New Statesman) or, more correctly, Echelon 2 (the latter is being researched by Project Blue Cabinet and was previously researched by Project PM ).
    2. Endgame. Another investigation Project PM was involved with in conjunction with Project Blue Cabinet was regarding Endgame , a company that specialises in hacking on behalf of NSA. Endgame also offers its intelligence clients — e.g. Cyber Command, NSA, CIA and MI6, etc — a unique map, called Bonesaw, showing exactly where targets are located. Both Bonesaw and Endgame were exposed in a recent article as part of the fallout from the Snowden revelations. Further details on Endgame (and Bonesaw) are in the main article below.
    3. Persona Management. In a 17 March 2011 article in the Guardian it was revealed that a Persona Management program had been set up to organise sock puppets, or fake identities, on the Internet via Twitter and Facebook etc, to glean information as well as provide disinformation. “Centcom [Central Command, part of NSA] confirmed that the $2.76m contract was awarded to Ntrepid, a newly formed corporation registered in Los Angeles. It would not disclose whether the multiple persona project is already in operation or discuss any related contracts.” At the time Project PM was also investigating persona development/management as well as helping to expose the wider activities of Ntrepid.
    4. Other investigations. TrapWire is a surveillance system that was first revealed by Wikileaks some nine months back and since then there have been numerous articles published about it (see links to some of these by Darker Net at the end of this article). According to Richard Hollis Helms, the founder of Trapwire, “It can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation… The application can do things like “type” individuals so if people say “medium build,” you know exactly what that means from that observer.” Through the systematic reporting of suspicious events and the correlation of those events… operations can be identified, appropriate countermeasures employed and steps taken to apprehend the perpetrators. Brown had been researchingTrapWire and it’s links to Cubic Corporation and spin-offs such as Abraxas andAnonymizer (proxy email system to entrap activists). Note: Brown learned about Cubic by visiting Telecomix IRC Blue Cabinet chan
    See also, two recent articles on Barrett Brown: here and here . Here is a recent article by Barrett Brown on the aftermath of the Snowden revelations.
    2. Michael Hastings
    Michael Hastings died in a car crash under mysterious circumstances. Hastings was a target by the US establishment if only because he helped destroy the career of General McChrystal. This article summarises some of the many investigations Hastings was involved with. He was also, reportedly, working on a major story about the CIA. A number of video are available that examine the crash: see here and here . This article provides a good overview on the circumstances. There there was the Endgame story…
    B. The Other Side Of The Snowden/Hastings/Barrett Brown Cases
    NOTE from authors: all data in this report is from publicly available sources as of Monday June 24th 2013 and will be footnoted as to origins wherever possible. It will not be possible to label us as “hackers” based on this report or anything else.
    The final moves in a chess game are called the “endgame”. It has come to the attention of American whistleblowers and election integrity specialists that the CIA, NSA and White House have designed the ultimate final “endgame” for the free world as we know it – with a group of computer “security specialists”.
    One key component of this is a corporate office called Endgame1 based in Atlanta Georgia (at the old Biltmore Hotel building, 817 W. Peachtree NW suite 770).2 This company is a private spin-off from the major intelligence source X-Force that was founded originally by Chris Klaus whose career dates to at least 1994 when he founded Internet Security Systems, a private “white hat” counter-hacker group.3
    The X-Force was a team of elite cyber-security specialists who operated within ISS in an Atlanta office and made daily reports to the intelligence community and White House about Internet security and malicious software threats. They were allegedly defensive in nature, at least when they started out, and protective of US security. One of their members was Christopher Rouland who was a famous hacker who got caught attacking the Pentagon’s systems by US Airforce cyber-cop Jim Christy who gave him a “break” so long as he would work from then forward as a “white hat” cybersleuth for the US government.4
    “White hat” in this context means defensive Internet security – fighting the “black hat” attackers. We write this in part to show that Rouland and his company Endgame have in fact gone back to “black hat” with the approval of the Federal government, doing (and facilitating for others) the sorts of attacks that the Pentagon, the NSA and the like don’t want their fingers found in.
    For a quick look at just how paranoid Endgame seems to be, this video taken from a micro-camera mounted on glasses showed what happened when we went to take a look:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr5LIgZvx_8
    Rouland took over the X-Force and ISS operations from Klaus for a period of time until ISS and X-Force were bought out as a package by IBM.5 Rouland either decided not to continue with IBM or his criminal record excluded him; for whatever reason he switched a few years ago and co-founded a new private corporation called “Endgame” with the generous funding of Chris Darby who is the CEO of In-Q-Tel, an independent strategy investment firm that supports the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader intelligence community.6 Darby still sits on Endgame’s board of directors.7
    One key member of the board of directors at Endgame is retired Lt. General Kenneth A. Minihan8 whose claim to fame is that he was the 14th director of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. He is a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a founder of the National Information Assurance Program which is a United States government initiative to meet the security testing needs for information technology for both consumers and producers that is operated by the NSA and was originally a joint effort between the NSA and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). The goal of the National Information Assurance Program (NIAP) was to ensure that consumer and business software products comply with the “Common Criteria Evaluation Standard”. In 1994 the Federal government had already passed “CALEA” (“Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act”) which mandated back-door intelligence
    access to consumer and business internet systems and products.9 This back-door access could then be “double checked” by the updates that Minihan oversaw under NIAP and/or the “Common Criteria” and we strongly suspect they are privately used by Endgame and created by Klaus’ boys under X-Force.
    In a 2003 interview Chris Klaus started by saying that attacks against Linux would be an increasing area of concern before devoting the rest of the interview to threats against Microsoft Windows. Microsoft had by that time been deep enough “in bed” with the NSA to put back doors into the Microsoft Windows NT operating system, the ancestor of all subsequent versions including those in use now.10 Klaus was, by 2003, attempting to steer people away from Linux knowing it would be harder to plant “software taps” into Linux due to the open-source nature of the code – basically geeks can peer under the hood of Linux and might detect data taps.11 Microsoft keeps the innards of Windows secret via trade secret and copyright laws and hence taps can go undetected longer which has allowed Endgame, ISS and X-Force to write reports and software tools to exploit foreign governments around the world. This interview in 2003 is therefore indicative of where Klaus’ head was at – he was already a partner with the NSA, involved in the X-Force and reporting to the White House daily – and wanted to make sure US/NSA access to foreign and domestic online systems remained available by panning Linux in 2003 when it was in it’s infancy but clearly an upand-coming “threat” to the intelligence communities around the world.12
    Klaus had dreamed this up while serving on the National Common Criteria task force. This set of software back doors allowed him and his ISS to continue their leadership roles in President George W. Bush’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council and the FBI’s “Infraguard” program along with their cyberprotection and information warfare contracts with the Department of Defense and the US Department of Justice. Klaus was selected for this job as co-chair of the NCC by the Business Software Alliance (a trade group with Microsoft as the largest and leading “partner”), the Information Technology Association of America, the US Chamber of Commerce, TechNet and Tom Ridge, then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. As co-chair of the Technical Standards and Common Criteria task force in 2003 it was Klaus’ job to bring together experts from government, the private sector and academia to provide a national strategy to “secure cyberspace” for President George W. Bush so that the Department of Homeland Security could implement a plan to protect the United States from domestic and foreign threats, online or otherwise.13
    Klaus testified in 2003 before the House Government Reform, Subcommittee on Technology, Intergovernment Relations and the Census committee about his industry experience as being the first commercial vulnerability assessment inventor and the first inventor of intrusion detection products, and how it would be cost-effective to develop a “criteria and certification” process for software products to help defend against threats.14 This federal control thereby allowing the insertion of back doors into that software at the same time via federal control over certification so that the US could spy on every foreign and domestic person, government or organization in the world.
    This is also where Klaus and his X-Force boys including Mr. Rouland made their funding connections with the Intelligence community including the director of the DIA, Gen. Minihan, and why In-Q-Tel chose these folks to run a private version of all this in Endgame.
    It might be added that Mr. Rouland was the designer of the www.senate.gov website and infrastructure which would have potentially allowed him to plant taps.15 Let us be clear: the senate.gov site is more than a website, it is a communication infrastructure for the Senators and their staffers and taps into that by somebody we know for a fact started out as a criminal should be of serious concern to all. We know that another contractor by the name of Mike Connell did work on the equivalent House side (doing portions for various committees and individual Republican house member websites)16 and Connell died in a plane crash shortly after being called to testify in an Ohio electronic voting case.17 So there’s a pattern of sketchy people doing things to the most important computers in the nation.
    The “services” offered by Endgame include offensive and defensive vulnerability research including software called Bonesaw supporting the detection and mitigation of cyber threats. This basically means that they cover both offensive and defensive aspects of computer security. What they can do is show what computers exist at specific locations and show the user of “Bonesaw” what software vulnerabilities are on those computers, making attacks easy against citizen, business or government systems across the planet.18 Bonesaw has information in it about both threats and targets and can connect the two, for the low, low price of $2.5million per customer per 25 exploits according to Emails found by Anonymous in 2011.19 What an “exploit” allows is either reading from or alteration of an online system, which could even possibly blow up a power plant or other critical physical infrastructure.
    “Zero day” exploits (meaning “security holes” or “flaws in a given system” are particularly dangerous because they haven’t yet been reported to (or discovery by) anybody who has the job of patching them. So the people who can defend against the attack have “zero days” in which to do something about it. Ethical “white hat” hacking behavior on encountering any such flaw is to report it to whoever needs to fix it – say, Cisco for a flaw in their large routers. If Cisco doesn’t respond or doesn’t do anything significant about the issue, a public release is warranted because that is the action most likely to make Cisco (in this example) managers wake up and do something – at which point it is no longer a “zero day” exploit. Anybody who continues to hide and either exploits or facilitates the usage of a zero day exploit cannot portray themselves as “one of the good guys” – period, end of discussion.20
    In this context Endgame long ago “went over to the dark side” of the computer security world.
    This was first brought to light by Barrett Brown, the journalist and alleged leader of Anonymous who is currently being prosecuted by the US government for “hacking”. It is contended in recent reports that he was arrested shortly after looking into the Endgame operation in Atlanta and exposing what Bonesaw is and can do.21
    The organization “Free Barrett Brown” consisting of Brown’s supporters wrote a condolence message on the recent death of intelligence reporter Michael Hastings that also confirms that Hastings was working on the Brown case, including Brown’s initial (aborted by arrest) reporting on Endgame.22 Hastings, prior to his untimely death, posted on his Twitter account to his friend Ron Brynaert that he was going to be working on Barrett Brown’s story and to “get ready for your mind to be blown”.23
    However, before going underground Michael Hastings’ car exploded and his engine was blown sixty feet in a fiery crash in Los Angeles. Many journalists on the left in the US have assumed foul play in the Hastings crash and recently an Email was released by one of Hastings’ friends in the military that suggests Hastings was onto a major case and about to go underground after learning he was being investigated and under surveillance by people he assumed were FBI.
    Clearly the FBI worked with the creators of Bonesaw and their supporters in the intelligence infrastructure who had no desire to see any of this come to light. In fact, when HBGary was researching people on the left who were writing about misconduct at the US Chamber of Commerce, Christopher Rouland ordered an Endgame employee to write an Email to HBGary that stated “please let HBGary know we don’t want to see our name in an Email” as was recently reported by Nation magazine in an article about Barrett Brown. Brown, according to Nation magazine, published as a reporter the Email from the Stratfor data dump that Anonymous made available. Brown and his “Project PM” which Michael Hastings was also a part of became fascinated with Endgame.
    It appears Endgame desired to remain under the radar as was exhibited by an exchange between HBGary’s Aaron Barr and Brian Masterson at Xteron brought to light by Barrett Brown’s reporting where he reproduced these Email exchanges:
    Aaron Barr to Brian Masterson of Xetron: “But they are awfully cagey about their data. They keep telling me that if their name gets out in the press they are done. Why?”
    CEO Chris Rouland to employee John Farrell: “Please let HBgary know we don’t ever want to see our name in a press release.”
    John Farrell to Aaron Barr: “Chris wanted me to pass this along. We’ve been very careful NOT to have public face on our company. Please ensure Palantir and your other partners understand we’re purposefully trying to maintain a very low profile. Chris is very cautious based on feedback we’ve received from our government clients. If you want to reconsider working with us based on this, we fully understand.”
    Aaron Barr to John Farrell: “I will make sure your [sic] a ‘silent’ partner and will ensure we are careful about such sensitivities going forward.”http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/Endgame_Systems

    Clearly this reporting by Brown showed Endgame to be particularly secretive even by the standards of private intelligence community corporations. This set of exchanges by Email show that Endgame was working with HBGary’s Aaron Barr who became famous for attempting to “out” Anonymous, who then in turn dumped and spread data from HBGary, Stratfor and others, but did not successfully raid Endgame, to show that HBGary and the like were investigating individuals who were trying to show that the US Chamber of Commerce was working with foreign countries, corporations and promoting them through foreign “American Chamber of Commerce” (AmCham) branches over actual American businesses. This is not surprising considering that Chris Klaus served on a board with the US Chamber of Commerce, and Barrett Brown attempted to expose the whole rotten mess which has come to be known as “Team Themis” made up of HBGary, Palantir and Berico, with Endgame providing “unusually accurate report on WikiLeaks and Anonymous”.24
    What is at stake here is that the United States government has outsourced the most evil elements of national security: the ability to hack into computer systems across the world, foreign and domestic, private or government owned. The organizations they outsourced this to then set about monetizing the process, selling it to the highest bidder. This process could also allow corporations and the financial and political elites to create acts of war that appear to have come from the US Government due to the severely interconnected nature of the intelligence community, split between private companies and actual government agencies with alleged oversight of sorts. Edward Snowden’s access to NSA data while an employee of a private company for only four months (Booz Allen Hamilton, owned in large part by the Carlyle group which has long ties to the Bush family) illustrates the extent of the problem.
    While Snowden was in Hong Kong he stated that the US Government had been attacking foreign systems of governments we are allegedly at peace with. Clearly these systems and exploits have their roots in the NSA and CIA and the private firm Endgame. What is interesting to progressive civil libertarians in the United States is that the “white hats” may have become “black hats” while nobody was watching (or able to watch until now). The question becomes: are Barrett Brown, Julian Assange and Eric Snowden the “white hats” who have been exposing criminal activities of the “black hats” at Endgame and their allies? It is clear that the political chess game is indeed in play and that the Endgame team currently is ahead on points but being exposed.
    In conclusion: Who is actually being protected, the citizens or the “security state” or the multi-national corporations? Endgame is admitting to facilitating computer crime against overseas targets at a minimum (and likely domestic) – even the foreign attacks violate US law and if you and I did it we would be prosecuted under a number of federal statutes that prohibit, among other things, attacks against “those computers used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication” including overseas.
    The US Department of Justice has a good overview of federal computer crimes and their possible prosecutions at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/docs/ccmanual.pd f – by their own marketing materials Endgame, HBGary and the rest of the privatized intelligence services violate enormous sections of it on a daily basis or conspire to facilitate (for profit) violations by others. Reporters, critics and at least some members of congress have called for the investigation and prosecution of HBGary25 and we think it obvious that investigating Endgame is even more vital. Endgame has contracts with various elements of the US federal government’s intelligence infrastructure including the US DOJ’s “National Security Division – Counterespionage Section”.26 Among other problems, part of what Endgame does can be described as acts of war (hence their own reference to “WOPR”?), without even the minimal oversight that the NSA and other actual government agents and agencies are subjected to. It is time for President Obama to appoint a special prosecutor to determine if the NSA and CIA have outsourced criminal activities to private “hacker groups” such as Endgame since the DOJ has a clear conflict of interest as an employer of Endgame. It is also time for Congress to investigate whether government contractors such as Endgame who are tied to the intelligence community are selling computer exploits against foreign and domestic targets to the highest bidder.

    Jill Simpson is a practicing attorney in rural Northern Alabama and a noted whistleblower in several political/legal scandals including the political prosecution of AL Gov. Don Siegelman. She is also a seminary student and social justice activist with a focus on election reform and the reforms needed to end political prosecutions once and for all at the US Department of Justice. Jim March is a computer technical support/system administration/technical writing professional with a long history of interest and activism in electronic voting issues. He has previously served on the board of the Southern Arizona ACLU and is now living in Northern Alabama. Simpson and March researched the “Orca” Republican election monitoring process, the Scytl election systems relating to military overseas voting and the “OpSec” PR program last year for a coalition of California progressives, traveling across the country to various places where election misdeeds were
    occurring. Their research on the problems with the Military Overseas Voting Act (“MOVE”) are summarized at:http://electionprotectionaction.org/...%20article.pdf
    Notes:
    1 http://www.endgamesystems.com
    2 http://www.superpages.com/bp/Atlanta-GA/Endgame-Systems-LLC-L2239339339.htm
    3 http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1696&dat=19981110&id=UxsbAAAAIBAJ&s jid=FEkEAAAAIBAJ&pg=
    4219,1551099
    – this shows that as of 1998 the “X-Force” was an elite division of ISS.
    4 http://attrition.org/errata/media/pd.008.html
    5 www.businessweek.com/magazine/cyber-weapons-the-new-arms-race-07212011.html#p4
    6 http://www.crunchbase.com/person/chris-darby
    7 http://www.endgamesystems.com/about-us/ – or if that page disappears we have a PDF printout of it as of June 23rd 2013
    archived at: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6Fh3F6hufhDRmt1WFdGZnNrcFk/edit?usp=sharing
    8 See footnote 7 where he is referenced…
    9 The “Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act” mandates that “ISPs” (Internet Service Providers) install taps for law enforcement. What most people don’t realize is that any website that stores information for you is an “ISP” by the Federal Government’s definitions, so that includes Gmail, Google Docs, Youtube, Facebook, Yahoo and many more we don’t usually think of as “ISPs”. Put another way: the definition of “ISP” has grown significantly since 1994 to include online services not even considered plausible in 1994, such as Facebook.
    10 http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/06/microsoft-programmed-in-nsa-backdoor-in-windows-by-1999.html and
    http://techrights.org/2013/06/15/nsa-and-microsoft/ – this is not a deep secret although Snowden may have succeeded in getting people to pay attention…
    11 Linux is “open source”. In 1993 a Finnish computer science student by the name of Linus Torvalds wrote the first “kernel” (think “core”) of what came to be called “Linus’ Unix” or “Linux”. He gave it away free so long as anybody doing modifications or extensions of it also gave those aware free – including the human readable “source code” showing how it was done. It basically spiraled out of control from there and now has tens of thousands of contributors who all have access to the “how it works” info; Linus still manages the key Kernel component, screening and approving (and occasionally writing) modifications. With that many eyes on the ball, pulling a fast one isn’t easy. In comparison, as few as one product manager and one coder can slip something ugly into Windows. For those curious about the details and permutations see generallyhttp://www.gnu.org/licenses – and also the “Creative Commons” movement: http://creativecommons.org
    12 http://www.technewsworld.com/story/32288.html – note the opening paragraph in particular regarding Linux.
    13 http://www.technewsworld.com/story/32288.html
    14http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Internet+Security+Systems%27+Founder+and+Chief+Tec hnology+Officer,…-
    a0131654799

    15 http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Chris-Rouland/6976439
    16 http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Mike_Connell – third paragraph
    17http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Republ...case_0929.html
    18 http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130115/C4ISR01/301150007/Nathaniel-Fick-Former-CNAS-Chief-Heads-Cyber-Targeting-Firm
    19http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/01/zero_day_exploits_should_the_hacker_gray_market
    _be_regulated.html and
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine...212011.html#p4
    20 http://www.zerodayinitiative.com/about/ – this is a good overview of the process for “ethical hacking” and the reporting of major exploits including zero day security holes. However, while they claim that for-profit use of zero-day exploits is limited to “a very small minority” of security researchers, the kind of cash Endgame and their competitors can throw at the people who can find exploits has possibly affected the percentage who have “turned black hat”.
    21 http://www.thenation.com/article/174851/strange-case-barrett-brown#axzz2XBSWGd2B
    22 http://freebarrettbrown.org/michael-hastings-death-barrett-brown/ – this message references Hastings’ work on “Project PM” which included Endgame: http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/Endgame_Systems
    23 https://twitter.com/mmhastings/status/294534049094053888 – in context, this was about “minds blowing” over Hastings’ review of the Barrett Brown situation and Project PM, of which Endgame was a major part:
    http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/Main_Page – note highlighting of Endgame entry towards the bottom of the screen.
    24 http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/Endgame_Systems
    25 http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2011/03/17/congress-opens-investigation-into-hbgary-scandal
    26 http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/docs/ccmanual.pdf – Note page 12 (PDF page 18) for the reference to this DOJ unit. There’s even a phone number for them (202-514-1187) and a description there of how prosecutions of certain classes of computer crime must be “pre-cleared” by that division – is that to ensure that the crimes in question are not committed by a sanctioned agency, person or company? Additionally, many activists are now questioning whether the DOJ refused to prosecute HBGary and the other “Team Themis” companies for crimes they committed because their partner Endgame worked with HBGary to target Glenn Greenwald, members of Anonymous and various other activists.
    http://darkernet.in/endgame-the-link...were-targeted/
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

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    Barrett Brown is a journalist imprisoned without bail, facing over 100 years of potential jail time, much of it for posting an http link to a public forum. He had been writing about several private intelligence companies and set up a Wikipedia-like site, ProjectPM, for crowdsourced analysis of the documents released by Anonymous after several hacking attacks. Some people are petitioningfor Brown's freedom from what they view as a politically targeted prosecution, but this article will concentrate on what the information Brown has uncovered can do to explain how PRISM and related spying programs may be used against Americans. The official government line has been that PRISM is targeted at foreign terrorists, but it's just as likely that the program will be used to frustrate expressions of political opinion at home.
    The procedure the NSA used in 2007 to avoid targeting U.S. persons for surveillance was straightforward — and disturbing. The agency maintained a database of "telephone numbers and electronic communications accounts/addresses/identifiers that the NSA has reason to believe are being used by United States persons." In the absence of specific information about the target, it was presumed to be a non-U.S. person on whom they could conduct surveillance. In other words, Americans had a right not to have the contents of their communications intercepted — provided the NSA knew who they were. Though communications between people from the U.S. were generally "minimized," the identity database itself includes IP and MAC addresses cross-referenced against other available databases. The minimization procedures also had exceptions that included "evidence of a crime that has been, is being, or is about to be committed" and "information needed to assess a communication security vulnerability,", such as encrypted content or data "retained for cryptanalytic, traffic analytic, or signal exploitation purposes". Together these practices encompassed a substantial database of communications by American citizens.
    The potential use of such a database is illustrated in hacked documents that Barrett Brownreported in the Guardian in 2011. If genuine, the document describes a proposal by "Team Themis" members Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies to "combat the Wikileaks threat." It cites a number of goals: "Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization." To further these goals, WikiLeaks'mainmedia contacts were identified, including a half-dozen American citizens such as Glenn Greenwald and Jacob Appelbaum.
    Brown's work has repeatedly appeared in the Guardian, and the documents were published after Anonymous hacks in which he played no part. Nonetheless, he has been cast by some sources as an "Anonymous spokesman" for doing so, a claim which he fervently denies. For Brown, the mere act of citing his source so that others could collaborate in reporting their contents was found to be reason for very serious felony charges. Glenn Greenwald or any other journalist, simply by reporting on the issues, faces the risk of being targeted for disruption. Meanwhile, the Team Themis companies and their competitors also vied for a lucrative contract from the Air Force to shape opinion from the other end — a "persona management" scheme to create multiple false online personas to comment in social media spaces.
    There is no indication that Team Themis' Wikileaks proposal was ever funded or carried out. It offers at best a tiny window into a sprawling, secretive private industry where dozens of firms offer their special expertise to the market. Some of the players are listed among Wikileaks' "Spy Files", Namebase, Sourcewatch, or detailed at Brown's ProjectPM. For example, ProjectPM had completed an entry for Booz Allen Hamilton several months before Edward Snowden took employment there. The last company Brown investigated before his arrest, Endgame Systems, was recently featured in a New York Times article about companies that sell zero-day exploits to governments.
    While the American public has been learning more about the spying programs underway, the scope of these programs continues to increase. According to Snowden, the Bush-era NSA program described above was ended in 2011, replaced by a "One End Foreign" definition and codenamed EvilOlive, which permits twice as many communications to be intercepted.
    http://www.policymic.com/articles/54...en-and-the-nsa
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

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    The Saga Of Barrett Brown: Inside Anonymous And The War On Secrecy

    By Christian Stork on Feb 21, 2013

    Alleged “hacktivist” Barrett Brown, the 31-year old mislabeled “spokesman” for the shadowy hacker collective known as Anonymous, faces federal charges that could put him away for over a hundred years. Did he engage in a spree of murders? Run a child-sex ring? Not quite.His crime: making leaked e-mails accessible to the public—documents that shine a light on the shadowy world of intelligence contracting in the post-9/11 era.
    A critically acclaimed author and provocative journalist, Brown cannot be too easily dismissed as some unruly malcontent typing away in the back of a gritty espresso lounge. He is eccentric. And he was clearly high on something, if only his own hubris, when he made a threatening video that put him in the feds’ crosshairs. But that’s not the real reason for the government’s overreaction. Evidence indicates it has a lot more to do with sending a message to the community he comes from, which the government sees—correctly—as a threat.
    The Barrett Brown case is simply the latest in a string of prosecutions in which the government pursues anyone involved in making information “liberated” from governmental or corporate entities easily accessible to the public. Those targeted are not necessarily accused of the illegal entry itself (the “hack”) or violating contracts (as in the case of a “leak”). These are people performing a function analogous to that of a newspaper—yet they can face prison sentences longer than those prescribed for murderers, rapists, and terrorists.
    NSA
    whistleblower Thomas Drake
    The Obama administration’s assault on accountability is dual-pronged: attack the messenger (as in the case of Brown, WikiLeaks, even New York Times reporters) and attack the source (Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, etc.). In fact, seven of those sources have been indicted as traitors under the 1917 Espionage Act during the Obama years alone—more than double the “espionage” charges against whistleblowers by all previous presidential administrations combined.
    The Espionage Act is a draconian relic from World War I designed to prevent infiltration by foreign agents, like those of the Kaiser’s Germany. It has a sordid history as an instrument against American dissenters who leak to the media, including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, but has been used sparingly hitherto—until Barack Obama’s administration.

    The government’s position is that revealing this information to the media enables “enemies” to see it. Thus, whoever blows the whistle is “aiding the enemy.” But in these cases, the enemy is the American people.
    ***
    Brown, in federal custody since September 2012, has been jousting with the feds for quite some time.
    Round one of his travails began on March 6, 2012, when FBI agents raided his Dallas apartment, looking for evidence related to the 2011 hack of e-mails belonging to Stratfor—a private firm with substantial links to the American intelligence community. Brown sought refuge at his mother’s, but Special Agents arrived there as well, later in the evening. Although the feds found no incriminating evidence, they continued to harass Brown and his family, threatening to file obstruction of justice charges against Brown’s mother for hosting her son during the raid. This prompted Brown to record an ominous YouTube video threatening the Special Agent in charge of the investigation. He was arrested that evening and held for weeks without indictment, under the claim he was an imminent threat to the agent’s safety. In early October 2012, he was finally charged on a number of counts related to harassment of a federal officer.
    CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou
    In December of that year, while still in custody, he was indicted on an additional charge: “trafficking” in stolen material. Had he been shipping purloined goods across state lines? Hardly. His “trafficking,” according to the government, consisted of posting a link in a chat room.
    On January 23 of this year came the coup de grâce. Brown was hit with a third round of federal charges—this time for allegedly concealing evidence during that initial March 2012 raid on his apartment
    Officially unrelated to these charges is the real nut of the government’s dispute with Brown: his personal initiative known as ProjectPM.
    Barrett’s Baby
    ProjectPM is a crowd-sourced research effort with several aims. First, to study 75,000+ e-mails pilfered by Anonymous from military and intelligence contractor, HBGary Federal, and its parent company HBGary. Second, to post these raw, primary-source documents to a website where readers can edit and contribute further information. Third, to use these documents to map out the relationships between private contractors and the federal government that form our current national security state.
    Brown’s work is a potential bonanza for journalists, as one of the few efforts to come to grips with the explosive growth of the private intelligence industry in the last decade.
    From February 2011 until Barrett’s arrest in September 2012, ProjectPM had publicly identified the following revelations within the hacked e-mails:
    - A conspiracy by lobbying and cybersecurity firms to engage in a disinformation and sabotage campaign against critics of the Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America.
    - An operational mass surveillance and data-mining program targeting the Arab world.
    - An unnamed project to utilize online “Persona Management with the intent of manipulating information or perception, conducting data mining, [and] infiltrating social organizations.”
    - The employment of American PR firms to discredit and sabotage dissidents from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.
    ***
    It isn’t hard to see the parallel with the case of free-information activist Aaron Swartz.On January 17, WhoWhatWhy wrote about the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, whose avid prosecution of Swartz preceded his suicide, and focused attention on federal tactics and objectives. At the time he took his life Swartz was facing a potential sentence exceeding 50 years—for attempting to release scholarly articles to the public. We laid out a number of other non-hacker related instances of prosecutorial overreach by Ms. Ortiz. The article concluded that Swartz’s treatment wasn’t anomalous, but “a symptom of the entire disease” that underlies America’s singular status as the world’s jailer—of those who anger formidable interests, and those without friends in the right places. Brown’s case is even more egregious: As even the government itself concedes, ProjectPM comes under the definition of the legitimate practice of journalism. Brown simply harnessed information gathered from someone else’s “criminal” hack. Then he used it to expose the foul and potentially illegal activities of some of the world’s leading corporations—in partnership with secretive sectors of the government.
    Brown punctured a wall of secrecy, constructed over the past decade, that shields the state from accountability to its citizens. For that, he is threatened with a century behind bars.
    His tale deserves to be told, not just because of the injustice involved. It also shows the awesome power of the Internet in adjusting the balance sheet between the big guys and the small ones. And the lengths the insiders will go to keep their advantage.
    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
    In a YouTube “confession” on September 12, 2012, Barrett Brown begins by explaining why he is “angry at the FBI.” A wiry redhead, Brown speaks in a sonorous baritone with a hint of Southern twang. After nervously admitting that he has a “case of the giggles” and is a recovering heroin addict, he composes himself and chronicles the story of ProjectPM and his assorted run-ins with the FBI.
    Brown describes a March 2012 FBI raid on his residence in connection with alleged activities of the Internet hacker group Anonymous. With visible anger, he grouses that the criminal investigation now extends beyond him to an uninvolved member of his family.
    Having received a vague warning the day prior, Brown sought haven at his mother’s house while government agents raided his apartment. Once the FBI realized the laptop they were seeking was not at Brown’s flat, they headed to Mrs. Brown’s place, confronted her son, and—according to Brown—asked if he had any laptops he “wanted to give them.” When he responded in the negative, they left in a huff, only to return later with another search warrant—this time confiscating the sought-after laptop. As the investigation continued over the next few months, the feds could find no evidence on that laptop or anywhere else that related to criminal activity. That’s when they initiated a charge of obstruction of justice against his mother.
    In his video, Brown lashed out, announcing unquestionably ominous sounding plans.
    “I know what’s legal, I know what’s been done to me… And if it’s legal when it’s done to me, it’s going to be legal when it’s done to FBI Agent Robert Smith—who is a criminal.”
    “That’s why [FBI special agent] Robert Smith’s life is over. And when I say his life is over, I’m not saying I’m going to kill him, but I am going to ruin his life and look into his fucking kids… How do you like them apples?”
    The FBI didn’t. Later that evening, special agents, interrupting a video-chat session he was having, took Brown away in handcuffs. He was held without charge for several weeks until the Justice Department unveiled the first of three indictments against him. Thus began his ordeal, and his time in custody, now approaching half a year. In the YouTube recording, Brown does not explicitly advocate violence against FBI Agent Smith, although his menacing fury does seem at the very least cause for investigation. But for purposes of comparison, it is worth noting that not long ago a Houston man received just 42 months for threatening to blow up FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. And a Pennsylvania man was recently sentenced to just a year and a half for threatening to kill an FBI agent. Aside from “threatening a federal officer,” the most serious charges against Brown were laid down in the second indictment, handed up by a grand jury in December 2012. These charges related to the Stratfor hack.
    The name Stratfor will be familiar to our readers. It has been in the news in the past. WhoWhatWhy recently produced an exclusive investigation with new revelations on General David Petraeus’s career-ending affair—based on documents obtained by the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaksfrom the same Stratfor e-mail reserve to which Brown linked.
    Brown was never indicted for the infiltration, per se. Instead, he was charged with “trafficking” in stolen material and “access device fraud”—as mentioned, for posting, in a chat room, a link to the e-mail cache. Apparently, buried in the thousands of e-mails was the private credit card information of a number of Stratfor employees.

    It was not clear how Brown’s act was singular. That same link had been previously posted innumerable times across the Internet.
    All of this raises suspicions about some larger agenda in the government’s Javert-like pursuit of this young man. To understand that, we might well start by looking at how Brown came to be on the government’s radar in the first place.


    Humble Beginnings
    As an Internet muckraker, Brown had a penchant for “pulling the string” wherever it might lead. He was quick to take on established interests and orthodoxies, picking apart cherished truths if just to see their adherents scowl. Eventually this predilection led him to become bound up with agroup that made Time Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential “People” of 2012: the hackers’ collective known as Anonymous.
    The media, in referring to Anonymous, usually suggest that it is far more concrete an entity than it actually is, with “members” and a chain of command. In fact, Anonymous has no more “organization” than a group of strangers with shared interests in, say, a Harry Potter chat room. As a result, responsibility for any action attributed to Anonymous is, by its very nature, diffuse and untraceable.
    What originally united “members” was immersion in a Net-centric subculture that prizes personal liberty and anonymity, if simply to exercise the right to “prank” people online. From this amorphous origin evolved a network of rebellious scofflaws and bored teenagers, along with a share of idealistic activists. The potential to mobilize these individuals to act in concert for a commonly defined goal is what gives Anonymous its power. Over time, a few of these digital rapscallions came to share a belief that this power can— and should— be used as a democratizing force.
    Some trace the “group’s” beginning back to 2003 on the imageboard 4chan.org—a forum for discussing Japanese comics. “These were just kids … interested in arcane Japanese web culture and, of course, pictures of boobs,” says Tim Rogers—author of a D Magazine cover story on Brown’s Anonymous links. “They harassed people in online role-playing games and indulged in other forms of online pranking.”
    Then, as now, users (now often known as “Anons”) would communicate using Internet Relay Chats (IRCs), a now ubiquitous staple of the Internet. For laymen, an IRC can best be understood like any other chat room (among other things, enabling live text messaging, privately or within groups, as well as data transfer capabilities.) Whether for digital pranking, discussing the Japanese animecraze, or coordinating resistance to repressive regimes, the ability to communicate and organize via IRCs has been apparent since the chats first appeared in the late 1980s. For example, during the 1991 “August Putsch” by Communist hardliners against Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, IRCs were used to disseminate information during an internal media blackout.
    What eventually became Anonymous’s IRCs didn’t begin as places to plan ”hacktivism.” They were simply digital hangouts where computer geeks could gather to discuss modes of pranking in online gaming communities. And as anyone who’s ever surveyed a comment forum can attest, anonymity gives users the nerve to say things that, for fear of reputational damage or social stigma, they otherwise never would. This admittedly mean-spirited ethos was a staple of the culture in IRCs.
    “One of the things that Anonymous was at that time was an outlet [for Anons] to vent a little,’” explains Gregg Housh—a once-active member of Anonymous and confidant of Brown’s. “Sociopaths seem to fit naturally into that world,” Housh says. “[It] wasn’t about activism.”As an aficionado of such activities in the online role-playing game Second Life—allegedly creating swarms of digital dildos with which to barrage other people’s online houses until their computers crashed—Barrett Brown was able to parlay his way into the often-sophomoric Anonymous fraternity.
    Not So Anonymous
    As a freelance writer by day, and online prankster by night, Barrett Brown found himself at home among his new cohorts in the Anonymous IRCs.
    Although Brown is routinely referred to as a “self-proclaimed Anonymous spokesman,” he conceded in an interview with NBCNewsonMarch 8, 2011 that he was no such thing: “I can’t speak on behalf of Anonymous, because there’s no one who can authorize me to do that.”
    Brown was dubbed a “spokesman” for the collective because he was one of a few willing to speak on record, using his real name, about Anonymous activities to the media. Brown is what some Anons refer to, almost admiringly, as a “namefag.” As Tim Rogers explains: “The term is not intrinsically derogatory. It just means that one has publicly identified oneself with Anonymous, using the name on one’s birth certificate.”
    A Young Barrett Brown
    “I liken him more to an embedded journalist or media liaison,” explains a close friend of Brown’s, Kevin Gallagher. The two met in New York City during the summer of 2012 at the HOPE9 Conference (HOPE stands for Hackers on Planet Earth), and have remained close. Since his arrest in September, Gallagher says, “[Brown] calls me on average once every two weeks.”
    According to Gallagher, Brown wasn’t much of a hacker. He was “unabashedly lacking [the] skills” to access protected databases or participate in the big activities coordinated through certain Anonymous IRCs. Brown simply acted as a go-to source for media when big Anonymous operations were conducted. It was a dangerous position to put oneself into, and few did.
    Ironically, Anonymous itself had security issues. “Toward the end of his freedom he seemed to be growing disappointed with the people in Anonymous,” Gallagher told WhoWhatWhy. “[Brown had] seen Anonymous become infiltrated [and] co-opted, and people choosing to become informants.”
    Indeed, FBI infiltration and cooptation were able to sow discord within the ranks of Anonymous. This can be seen in the case of “Sabu”—an alleged ringleader of LulzSec (a highly active subgroup of Anonymous that coordinated many of the larger, illegal actions) turned government informant. In August of 2011 he pled guilty to 12 criminal charges, and began working with the FBI to trace other LulzSec members.
    After the Sabu matter exploded publicly, many members of LulzSec were arrested in the following months, and the inner circle of hackers comprising Anonymous began to fragment. But that disruption did little to lessen the underlying esprit—a strong sense of individual empowerment that came from an ability to act collectively and yet still maintain personal privacy. That diffusion of power and knowledge hindered many attempts at infiltration by law enforcement.
    Simply put, few Anons actually know anything about one another, so there are few opportunities to rat each other out. It’s a setup that the Mafia would appreciate. With this inherently hard-to-dismantle “structure,” Anonymous continues to make its presence felt: on February 11 of this year, the state of Alabama’s website was hacked in retaliation for allegedly “racist” state immigration legislation. Personal information that was being stored by the state on 46,000 citizens was collected and supposedly deleted.
    From Dennis the Menace to Robin Hood
    In the latter half of the past decade, Brown, a University of Texas-Austin dropout, worked as a freelance columnist producing copy for the likes ofNew York Press, Vanity Fair, Huffington Post and The Onion. Channeling H.L. Mencken, Brown co-authored a 2007 book titled Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Easter Bunny. Matt Taibbi, known for his stinging critiques of the financial industry inRolling Stone, had this to say about it: “With their painstaking attention to historical detail and amusingly violent writing style, Brown and [his co-author] Alston have given the religious right exactly the righteous, merciless fragging it deserves.”
    Brown’s commentary had always been attuned to civil liberties, the erosion of Constitutional rights, what he saw as an inept or complicit media structure— and the impact of the Internet on all of these issues.
    As one might expect from this pedigree, Brown began writing quite favorably about WikiLeaks and other pro-public-accountability forms of digital protest. Brown claimed to have been in contact with a number of the activists who, in 2008, launched the first coordinated action associated with Anonymous: Operation Chanology. It began with a bizarre interview that appeared on YouTube, showing actor Tom Cruise extolling Scientology, that was leaked by a disaffected former church member. The Church claimed copyright violation, asserting the video was solely intended for internal distribution to church members and threatened YouTube with litigation.
    When YouTube removed the video, Anonymous posted a video of their own decrying censorship. Then Anonymous launched a sustained campaign of (the now familiar) denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Scientology websites, together with prank calls to Scientology offices worldwide and barrages of “black faxes” that tie up receiving machines and deplete their ink reserves. Anonymous’s brand of mischievous activism was born.
    The Church of Scientology fought back by publicly naming one of the publishers of Anonymous’s response video in a civil suit. That publisher was Gregg Housh. Since he had already been outed, Housh was then willing to assume the role of a go-to spokesperson (or “namefag”) for those seeking answers about the hacker collective.
    “I remember when we first started [targeting Scientology],” recalls Housh. “I got to this weird point only a few weeks into [the operation], where some of the teenage ex-scientologists had started convincing me of just how evil this organization was… We started thinking about this as an actual cause. From then on it just kept going.”
    Housh is describing his transformation into a “moralfag,” jargon for Anons who see Anonymous as a tool for doing good and for holding powerful people and organizations accountable to “the people.”
    “I was told very clearly that we needed to stop ruining [Anonymous’s] ‘bad name,’” Housh claims, referring to the immature, joker ethos that pervaded the collective at that time. “I was staring at my screen, and just thought, ‘God damn it. This is wrong.’”
    All this took place before Housh and Brown met. What happened next, though, would thrust Brown into the spotlight, where he would eventually find himself in the crosshairs of the federal government.


    Operation Payback
    In 2010, WikiLeaks began publishing a cache of hundreds of thousands of leaked unclassified yet sensitive State Department memos. Rattled, the U.S. government went into damage-control mode. It launched a high-stakes media campaign, aiming to set WikiLeaks apart from traditional media entities (like magazines and newspapers who published the same material) in order to criminalize its actions. U.S. lawmakers and government-friendly pundits accused the website and its founder, Julian Assange, of everything from “treason” (despite his not being an American citizen) to acting as a “high-tech terrorist.”
    Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) used the power of his office to pressure PayPal to freeze WikiLeaks’s account, to persuade Amazon to boot the site off its servers, and to get Visa and MasterCard to stop processing donations. All this despite First Amendment free-speech protections—and though neither WikiLeaks nor anyone associated with the group had been charged with, much less convicted of, a crime.
    In response, Anonymous began to organize Operation Payback. As with the campaign against the Church of Scientology, Anonymous employed what is called a Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC). That’s a piece of installed software which connects your computer to a botnet—a network of computers that can be linked to obey instructions from one central authority.
    As Tim Rogers describes it:

    Until Anonymous came along, botnets were generally assembled by bad guys, organizations like the Russian mafia, Chinese hackers. They build botnets on the sly, installing malware on computers that turns them into zombies without their owners’ knowledge. Each zombie can fire thousands of requests per second at a target website. So while you’re working on that cover sheet for your TPS report, your computer is part of a joint effort to overwhelm a company’s server and crash its website. That effort to crash a site is called a Distributed Denial of Service attack, or DDoS. The bad guys use DDoS attacks to extort money, but they can also use their botnets to send spam and steal people’s identities. In 2009, the antivirus software firm Symantec said it had detected nearly 7 million botnets on the internet [sic].
    Anonymous was the first group to build an operationalvoluntary botnet. By running the LOIC on your computer, you are, essentially, declaring your allegiance to Anonymous. You donate part of your computer’s processing power to the cause. That cause—or, if you prefer, the target—is determined by rough consensus among Anons.
    On December 8, 2010, Anonymous’s LOIC targeted the websites of MasterCard and Visa, crashing both within minutes. Although it’s impossible to pinpoint how many people were in on Operation Payback, sources familiar with the attack say the LOIC was downloaded tens of thousands of times. With the media clamoring for answers, and Gregg Housh’s name already in the public domain, he did just short of 40 interviews within two days.
    Housh had become familiar with Brown earlier in February of 2010, after Brown published a piece on the Huffington Post defending the actions of Anonymous members against the government of Australia during so-called “Operation Titstorm.” The Australian government had been attempting to ban certain forms of Internet pornography and to institute a filtering regime with which all web-hosting and search services would have to comply. In addition to the banned material, a leaked version of the proposed blacklist showed sites that had no relation to adult content. Web titans like Yahoo! and Google were against the measure. And Anonymous saw it as threatening to free speech.
    While clearly supportive of the work of Anonymous, Brown’s piece was the most accurate media account of the group’s structure, aims and methods at the time:
    Ten years ago it would have been infeasible for tens of thousands of individuals with no physical connection or central leadership to conceive, announce, and implement a massive act of civil disobedience against a significant Western power, crippling a portion of its online infrastructure in the process – and to do all of this in a matter of days, and without anyone involved having to contend with the tear-gas-and-horseback response with which states have traditionally been in the habit of contending with mass action. But such a thing as this is happening today, and having been done once will almost certainly be done again – repeatedly, increasingly, and with potentially significant consequences for the nation-state and implications regarding that which will perhaps someday come to replace it.
    Anonymous’ current campaign is the second of its kind; the first, in 2008, targeted the Church of Scientology with DDOS attacks, a series of in-the-flesh protests outside Scientology centers worldwide, the theft and dissemination of sensitive documents, and a variety of other steps – all coordinated, or not, in a decentralized fashion that provides for no names, ranks, or central direction.
    Housh was impressed with Brown’s assessment of Anonymous and called him up. Before then, “[Brown] wasn’t on any of our IRC’s, he wasn’t hanging out with Anons, he wasn’t ‘one of us,’” Housh notes. But still, Barrett Brown got it. Brown was able to take the heat off Housh, and eventually assumed Housh’s position as a media “spokesman” for Anonymous.
    Barrett Brown, spokesperson
    “In some ways, I blame myself for [the current position of] Barrett,” Housh confesses.
    The danger was greater still. As “namefags,” Housh and Brown began feeling the heat now from both sides. Some Anons resented the work they were doing. Housh claims that certain Anons even handed over fake chat logs to the FBI in an effort to “prove” that he in fact ran Anonymous.
    Arab E-Spring
    The Arab Spring uprisings of early 2011 gave many of the idealists in Anonymous an opportunity to assert control of the brand and usher in a whole new understanding of their work. Already “namefags,” Housh and Brown continued their rise in prominence as “moralfags.” Brown was reportedly on the frontlines of Anonymous’s work in North Africa and the Middle East: taking control of and defacing the websites of oppressive governments, as well as authoring manuals on street fighting and first aid.
    “During that initial stuff in Tunisia, the one thing we figured out sitting there talking to Tunisians on the ground was that a lot of the people in the streets didn’t know what they were doing,” says Housh.
    “We had the ability to do some quick research and figure out what you’re supposed to be doing…[such as] wearing thin cotton garments that would tear easily when grabbed by police, or make for quick first-aid material…they would put [the information] together in PDF’s. Barrett was the driving force in making these.”
    It was that new guiding ethos of ”doing good”—exemplified by Anonymous’s actions during the Arab Spring—that motivated Operation Payback. Anonymous saw financial companies that were willing to process payments to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), America’s oldest domestic terrorist organization, but not to a group ostensibly publishing government material for the public good.
    In the minds of participating Anons, the decision by Joe Lieberman’s office to extra-judicially pressure those companies (and for them to comply) was fundamentally unconstitutional, insofar as donating money to organizations of one’s choice is considered free speech—an interpretation that still holds in American jurisprudence. Following Operation Payback, in January 2011 the FBI issued more than 40 search warrants in a probe of the attacks; these yielded no arrests.
    But the drama was far from over. Anonymous’s stature was rising; it was increasingly seen as a group that, through its mastery of the Internet, could operate beyond the reach of government and Washington’s “cyber security” experts.
    Stirring The Hornet’s Nest
    It was at this point that the Financial Times published an article quoting Aaron Barr, CEO of a company called HBGary Federal and a “private security researcher,” in which he claimed to have identified three top members of Anonymous. When he announced plans to “out” them at an upcoming conference that month, it seemed that Anonymous had met its match.
    However, Brown and Housh claimed that HBGary merely had pseudonyms, and that publicizing them would only result in people with similar names being wrongly targeted for FBI raids. Regardless, Anonymous sent out a press release (reportedly in conjunction with Brown) that acknowledged its “downfall.” The press release was clearly written with a sly grin befitting Guy Fawkes’s visage and a tongue firmly planted in the author’s cheek.
    One day after the FT piece was published, the internal servers and websites of HBGary Federal and its parent company, HBGary, were hacked, defaced, and destroyed. Upwards of 75,000 e-mails were compromised and put up for public scrutiny. One terabyte of data(1,000 GB) from HBGary’s backup servers was wiped, as well as the contents of its CEO Aaron Barr’s iPad, while all of his personal information was put on the Internet. HBGary Federal’s website was replaced with a message from the hackers: “Now the Anonymous hand is bitch-slapping you in the face.” Later that month, Barr resigned.
    Although this was an operation taken purely out of revenge against a smug opponent, important data emerged from the leaked e-mails, including evidence that a number of corporate actors, identified in the e-mails as “Team Themis,” were conspiring to commit a range of crimes..
    This cabal involved three cyber security firms—HBGary Federal, Palantir Technologies, and Berico Technologies—all of whom are federal contractors for military and intelligence work.
    The e-mails document a coordinated plan to pitch a “disinformation campaign” against critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – a campaign with serious implications for the exercise of free speech.
    The obvious news here was that federal contractors were concocting such unethical and possibly illegal plans to smear and discredit Americans. But more importantly, they had been solicited to do so by some of America’s most powerful entities who were engaged in an information war against their critics (and, by extension, the public).
    The Chamber is the primary DC lobbying arm of America’s largest corporate interests, such as Goldman Sachs, Chevron and Texaco. It lobbies politicians for “pro-business” trade and industrial policy, and spends more money on a yearly basis than any other lobbying organization in the country.
    ***
    HBGary’s chief Aaron Barr may have been vanquished, but since a cursory examination had yielded information as incriminating as the Team Themis conspiracy, who knew what else was in there? The HBGary hack made clear that Anonymous needed minds like Brown’s to parse the vast resulting trove. “We brought Barrett in after that,” Housh recollects. And, according to Housh, Brown then created ProjectPM. While ProjectPM had conceptually been around since 2009 as a method of “improving problems of information flow in various contexts,” it then became what it is now—a repository for studying the revealing communiques of HBGary and its associates.
    The hackers and ProjectPM researchers soon hit additional paydirt. They discovered that the corporate security cowboys were also pitching a plan of disinformation and sabotage against WikiLeaks, which had publicly claimed it was in possession of a similar document cache from Bank of America (BoA). And these revelations hinted at more to come.
    But because there was no formal mechanism for searching through the HBGary e-mails, most of the leaked documents remained unviewed and uncategorized. Brown saw this as the perfect opportunity to continue his work as a journalistic “moralfag”—digging deeper into the shadowy world of HBGary and the government’s legion of private contractors.
    It’s worth noting that the seemingly reckless security firms weren’t just wild-eyed freelancers. They had in each case been recruited by a formidable middle-man. It was the classic “cut-out:” create deniability for the brand name corporations when the dirty work gets done.
    In both cases, these three companies were recruited by the law firm and lobbying giant Hunton & Williams (H&W), which counts both the Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America among its clientele. H&W also legally represents entities such as Wells Fargo, Altria (formerly Philip Morris), Cingular, and weapons-maker General Dynamics. It lobbies on behalf of Koch Industries, Americans for Affordable Climate Policy (a coal industry front group), Gas Processors Association, Entergy (a nuclear power conglomerate), and U.S. Sugar Corp, among others.
    So Anonymous and Brown were exposing the nefarious, if not clearly illegal, deeds of some of the world’s most powerful interests—outfits not known to turn the other cheek. It is this kind of challenge that may begin to explain why the full wrath of the federal government would be turned against the likes of Barrett Brown and his phalanx of idealistic hackers.


    A Private Government
    In a nation operating under the rule of law, one might presume that exposure of the “Team Themis” conspiracy would prompt official investigations of some sort, even if the proposed activities were in the planning stages. But the e-mails reveal a different role for the Department of Justice (DOJ).
    At issue was the cache of documents from Bank of America that WikiLeaks was allegedly sitting on. BoA was understandably desperate to prevent their release, or at least mitigate the fallout from any revelations they contained. The big bank had a lot at stake: as of 2010, when these events were unfolding, Forbes ranked BoA as the world’s third-biggest corporation. It was also one of the Big Four publicly-insured “too big to fail” banking monoliths that dominate American finance (and politics).
    As recipients of over $45 billion in the 2009 bank bailout via TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program) and given a federal insurance guarantee for nearly $120 billion, BoA was already facing a PR nightmare. It’s unclear what was in the cache of documents obtained by WikiLeaks, but it was enough to rattle BoA’s legal department, who approached the Justice Department on what to do next.
    DOJ, under the supervision of Attorney General Eric Holder, recommended that BoA solicit the services of, you guessed it, Hunton & Williams.
    The discussions between Team Themis and H&W involved some sordid and possibly illegal pursuits. One proposed method of underminingWikiLeaks was to “submit fake documents and then call out the error,” seemingly a plan to commit forgery and fraud—both felonies under the US code. Similar tactics to destroy WikiLeaks’ credibility were delineated in a 2008 Pentagon memo, which labeled the whistleblowing websitean “enemy of the state.”
    A ProjectPM researcher,Lauren Pespisa, told WhoWhatWhy in correspondence, “Team Themis was a collection of government intelligence contractors…hired by private clients to go after WikiLeaks, as well as labor unions who opposed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—using offensive cyberwar techniques. They targeted many journalists and supporters of Wikileaks in order to discredit the organization, using methods most Americans would find reprehensible, and threatening to individual privacy.”
    Indeed, in an e-mail from Aaron Barr of HBGary Federal to Matthew Steckman of Palantir Technologies, Barr makes the case for subvertingWikiLeaks and its supporters in the “liberal” media–and discusses plans to “attack” then-Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald.
    Other tactics discussed in the e-mails include “cyber attacks against the [WikiLeaks] infrastructure to get data on document submitters,” noting that it “would kill the project.” Thus, the corporate representatives were advocating precisely the behavior the federal government has been on a crusade to prosecute—when others are doing it.
    The conspiracy also called for “sustained pressure” through a “media campaign” to create “concern and doubt amongst moderates,” while discouraging whistleblowers by generating “concern over the security of the infrastructure,” and creating “exposure stories.”
    Coordinating a propaganda campaign on behalf of clients is what firms like Hunton & Williams get paid for. But H&W explicitly solicited companies that have the technological means to violate the privacy of their targets, and quite possibly the law. The ability to “discredit” a journalist, as proposed, presumably hinges in part on blackmail material—just the type one can find in a substantive hack.
    The Team Themis firms solicited by H&W all do sensitive military and intelligence contracting work for the government, and in many cases are creations of the government sectors for which they work. Berico Technologies, founded in 2006 by military veterans, lists among its products the Biometric Automated Toolset (BAT), the “Army’s flagship product for biometrics.”
    Another—Palantir Technologies—was founded in 2004 with funds from the venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, to develop software for fraud detection. In-Q-Tel is a non-profit investment firm chartered in 1999 at the request of the CIA director. In-Q-Tel’s investment is run through In-Q-Tel Interface Center (QIC), an office within the CIA. Trustees from In-Q-Tel hold executive level positions at companies such as Netscape, Sun Microsystems, Time Warner, Federal Express, ATT Wireless, and New Enterprise Associates. Most of its current investments are in the biotechnology and IT/communications industries.
    HBGary Federal was the offshoot of HBGary that did direct work for the government. While privately formed by Greg Hoglund in 2003, a computer security specialist, HBGary was then acquired by ManTech International in early 2012. As one of the leading software contractors for the Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense, as well as the nation’s 16 spy agencies, ManTech International has seen its yearly revenue rise by more than 600% between 2001-2010. ManTech is so embedded with the national security state that its employees are often placed inside the military units they support.
    Flipping the COIN
    The growth and ambition of the US military over the past decade has required a congruent growth in information operations against “enemy” populations. In this vein, the HBGary e-mails also discuss a project known as Romas/COIN. Renamed “Odyssey” in 2011, Romas/COIN was a contract originally held by defense giant Northrup Grumman.
    The program was a military initiative to mine and store massive amounts of data from all across the Arab world: phone calls, social media interactions, Internet searches, among other data streams. The e-mails discuss collaboration by over a dozen firms—all with their own niche skills—to displace Northrup and win a “re-compete” for the contract. The e-mails even identify household names like Google and Apple as collaborators in the scheme.
    Although the re-compete was eventually cancelled, and replaced with a new contract for the program known as “Odyssey,” there’s no reason to suspect the project has been discontinued. Two days prior to the HBGary hack, on February 3, 2011, key members of the firm consortium met with the contracting officer for Odyssey at a location known as “HQ.” The trail runs dry after the e-mail hack, which clearly derailed their potential (or at least HBGary’s) to bid on the contract. As history shows us, the employment of technologies in theaters of war always precedes their domestic importation: from the telegraph and telephone in colonial Philippines to drones in Pakistan and Yemen. So it should come as no surprise that this type of data mining is hardly novel or confined to a particular government agency.
    National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower William Binney has gone on record stating that NSA is actively creating dossiers on every single American citizen. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a former officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA, the Pentagon’s spy agency), has noted that when he served in the late-1990s his agency was actively utilizing such data-mining technology: “What we did then would take a year, you can do that in a minute [or] a matter of seconds now.”
    Digital Puppeteers
    In an age of online organization and activism, how do governments discourage private citizens from such uses of the Internet? Well, a tyrant can use the mailed fist and just shut off access to it. But the more refined autocrat would simply exploit the medium to create perception of public support fortheir position. Enter: Project “Metal Gear.”
    Metal Gear is the term given by ProjectPM’s editors to “describe any methodology or apparatus…[used] with the intent of manipulating information or perception, conducting data mining, or infiltrating social organizations.” Crucially, it involves the ability to deploy fake online personas controlled en masse by a human operator—a phalanx of Facebook marionettes to sway public opinion.
    This tactic of “sockpuppeting” is hardly new. PR firms are known to routinely employ fake personas to sell products or influence viewers in online forums. But the latest software developments here are astounding, allowing for a single operator to control up to fifty online personas (at least in the case of the United States Air Force’s [USAF] contract for the technology). As detailed in this 2007 patent, communications between the persona and its human targets can be regulated by software-based filters that assist in “maintaining situational integrity”—the puppeteer need not even move his fingers!
    And these initiatives appear to be just the tip of the iceberg. Other evidence points to American PR firms using digital sabotage techniques against dissidents from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, whose U.S.-friendly monarchies happened to be their clients.
    Through ProjectPM, Brown was starting to map out the web of links and business arrangements among all these private cybersecurity contractors, not to mention the non-stop revolving door for key personnel between firms and the government for which they contract. But all that spadework ended when FBI agents stormed his residence on September 12, 2012.
    The Mission, Not The Man
    Perhaps the greatest irony in this case is the charge against Barrett Brown for “concealing evidence.” As his saga demonstrates, his real crime seems to have been revealing evidence.
    Brown has been a point man in the ongoing effort to inform the American people about the consequences of the massive growth in the intelligence and military-industrial complexes since 9/11—and of the “secret government” at the heart of our weakened democracy.
    Brown comprehended that the few avenues available to ordinary citizens for holding state actors accountable can be easily circumvented through a kind of deceptive privatization. He understood the importance of highlighting the inherently corrupt relationship between the state and the corporation. This included non-state entities handling dirty “official” business on a deniable basis, and the state serving as an enforcement arm for big capital.
    With much ado in recent days about Chinese cyber espionage, the government is using this new “Yellow Peril” as an opportunity to mount a full court press against the ability of any group to maneuver on the Internet in ways that might threaten corporate and state interests. The White House just announced a new administration-wide strategy to identify and prevent the theft of trade secrets, labeling WikiLeaks, LulzSec, and associated “hacktivist” groups as dangerous in this regard.
    “Disgruntled insiders [may leak] information about corporate trade secrets or critical U.S. technology to ‘hacktivist’ groups,” the document warns. The language is instructive; it makes no distinction between groups that may be receiving such leaked information to sell to the highest bidder — and groups that want to release the information to the American people in order to blow the whistle on ‘insider’ waste, fraud, abuse, or illegality.
    Brown, and those close to him, also understand what the government was truly after when they stumbled into his life in March of 2012. The charges against Brown for harassing a government official, obstructing justice and concealing evidence may seem unrelated to his journalistic work, but the initial search warrant issued for his home on March 6, 2012, cast an ominously wide net. “The entities listed [there] are all things ProjectPM was looking into,” Gallagher confirms. “ProjectPM is [now] mostly defunct without [him].”
    Citing the extraordinary charges and the zeal with which the feds are operating, Brown’s supporters have set up a website to collect donations and fund a proper legal defense for him. With Brown in custody, much of his work has stalled. “[ProjectPM] was Barrett’s baby,” Lauren Pespisa laments. Although other websites such as Telecomix’ Blue Cabinet Wiki are attempting to pick up and expand on ProjectPM’s work, “that IRC has been suffering massive DDoS [attacks] and is very quiet. I fear ProjectPM may have been something special, I haven’t seen anything replace it yet.”
    http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/02/21/the-saga-of-barrett-brown/

    P
    lease consider a donation to Russ' web site to keep him and other writers in rent and food They do good work.

    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  6. #6

    Default Interesting reading

    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  7. #7

    Default

    Month before hacktivist Barrett Brown’s trial date in downtown Dallas, attorneys wrestle over delay, gag order


    By Robert Wilonsky
    rwilonsky@dallasnews.com
    12:49 pm on August 9, 2013 | Permalink



    The federal trial of journalist-turned-hacktivist Barrett Brown is currently scheduled to begin in a downtown Dallas courtroom next month — a year after he was arrested in his Dallas apartment while in the midst of an online chat. That date may change: Some point soon, possibly before day’s end, a federal judge will rule on a request made by Brown’s attorneys to push the start date to February of next year.
    The federal government vehemently opposes an extension, and has also asked the judge to “[restrict] the parties['] use of the media.” Brown’s attorneys call the government’s move nothing short of a gag order.
    Charlie Swift, best known as the attorney who defended Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver, and UT Law School’s Ahmed Ghappour took Brown’s case in April. Said Ghappour at the time, this case, which could land Brown behind bars for more than 100 years, “is one of those cases that will set standards with respect to the First Amendment.” It’s also a complicated one involving myriad counts of alleged criminal conduct, including threatening an FBI agent, conspiring to release the personal information of a U.S. government employee, identity theft and hyperlinking to “a document full of credit card numbers and their authentication codes that was stolen from the security company Stratfor” after it was hacked by Anonymous in 2011, as Vice explained earlier this year.
    Since his arrest and detention in Mansfield, Brown has been the subject of myriad pieces heralding him as, among other things, a “political prisoner of the information revolution,” per the U.K. Guardian‘s July headline. “If he is convicted,” read a recent post on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website, “it could have dire consequences for press freedom.”
    As far as the government’s concerned, enough is enough.
    “Since May 1, 2013, the government has reason to believe that Brown’s attorney coordinates and/or approves the use of the media,” says the feds’ opposition to the extension, filed earlier this week. “Most of the publicity about Brown thus far contain gross fabrications and substantially false recitations of facts and law which may harm both the government and the defense during jury selection.”
    Swift and Ghappour vehemently disagree, per their Thursday filing.
    “Mr. Brown has made no statements to the media since undersigned counsel appeared on the case,” according to their filing — including the late Michael Hastings. “Second, Mr. Brown’s counsel have not made any statements to the media, except to state matters of public record or to explain the steps of the legal process. Third, although Mr. Brown’s purported associates may be making statements about this case, those statements were not attributed to (and, at least as of May 1, 2013, are not properly attributable to) Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown and his counsel are well aware of the importance of maintaining a large potential jury pool in the Northern District of Texas, and at least since May 1, 2013, neither Mr. Brown nor his counsel have engaged in any acts that could even arguably be characterized as effectively undermining or interfering with the selection of impartial jury members. Therefore, the government’s request for a gag order should be flatly rejected as unwarranted.”
    As for Swift and Ghappour’s request to delay, due in large part to the amount of electronic data involved in this case and the need for a “forensic vendor,” the government says Brown’s legal team has has “adequate time to prepare for trial.” The feds also contend he did not waive his right to a speedy trial.
    Via email Thursday evening, Swift said that while he appreciates the government’s efforts to ensure everyone, including Brown, receive get those speedy trials guaranteed under law, “We are concerned with having sufficient time to prepare in order to ensure that Mr. Brown receives a fair trial.”
    Both sides’ arguments are below.
    Fight Over Barrett Brown Continuance and Gag Order by Robert Wilonsky

    Documents at link here
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  8. #8

    Default this little known case only gets worse and worse.....

    A federal judge has imposed a sweeping gag order on Barrett Brown, a journalist covering online surveillance who has spent nearly a year behind bars. Brown faces 17 charges ranging from threatening an FBI agent to credit card fraud for posting a link online to a document that contained stolen credit card data. Supporters say he is being unfairly targeted for investigating the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors. On Wednesday, a federal court granted prosecutors’ request to prevent Brown and his attorneys from discussing his case with the media. The order forbids "any statement to members of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet (including, but not limited to, bloggers), or other media organization about this case, other than matters of public interest." Brown faces up to 100 years behind bars.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  9. #9

    Default This case is more important, and deserves more attention than most are giving it!

    US stops jailed activist Barrett Brown from discussing leaks prosecution

    Federal court order prohibits Brown from talking to the media in what critics say is latest in crackdown on investigative journalism


    Brown's lawyer says the gagging order is a breach of Brown's first amendment rights. Photograph: Nikki Loehr

    A federal court in Dallas, Texas has imposed a gag order on the jailed activist-journalist Barrett Brown and his legal team that prevents them from talking to the media about his prosecution in which he faces up to 100 years in prison for alleged offences relating to his work exposing online surveillance.
    The court order, imposed by the district court for the northern district of Texas at the request of the US government, prohibits the defendant and his defence team, as well as prosecutors, from making "any statement to members of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet (including, but not limited to, bloggers), or other media organization about this case, other than matters of public interest."
    It goes on to warn Brown and his lawyers that "no person covered by this order shall circumvent its effect by actions that indirectly, but deliberately, bring about a violation of this order".
    According to Dell Cameron of Vice magazine, who attended the hearing, the government argued that the gag order was needed in order to protect Brown from prejudicing his right to a fair trial by making comments to reporters.
    But media observers seen the hearing in the opposite light: as the latest in a succession of prosecutorial moves under the Obama administration to crack-down on investigative journalism, official leaking, hacking and online activism.
    Brown's lead defence attorney, Ahmed Ghappour, has countered in court filings, the most recent of which was lodged with the court Wednesday, that the government's request for a gag order is unfounded as it is based on false accusations and misrepresentations.
    The lawyer says the gagging order is a breach of Brown's first amendment rights as an author who continues to write from his prison cell on issues unconnected to his own case for the Guardian and other media outlets.
    In his memo to the court for today's hearing, Ghappour writes that Brown's July article for the Guardian "contains no statements whatsoever about this trial, the charges underlying the indictment, the alleged acts underlying the three indictments against Mr Brown, or even facts arguably related to this prosecution."
    The gag order does give Brown some room to carry on his journalistic work from prison. It says that he will be allowed to continue publishing articles on topics "not related to the counts on which he stands indicted".
    Following the imposition of the order, Ghappour told the Guardian: "The defense's overriding concern is that Mr Brown continue to be able to exercise his first amendment right as a journalist. The order preserves that ability."
    The lawyer adds that since the current defence team took over in May, Brown has made only three statements to the media, two of which where articles that did not concern his trial while the third ran no risk of tainting the jury pool. "Defendant believes that a gag order is unwarranted because there is no substantial, or even reasonable, likelihood of prejudice to a fair trial based on statements made by defendant or his counsel since May 1, 2013."
    Brown, 32, was arrested in Dallas on 12 September last year and has been in prison ever since, charged with 17 counts that include threatening a federal agent, concealing evidence and disseminating stolen information. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 100 years in custody.
    Before his arrest, Brown became known as a specialist writer on the US government's use of private military contractors and cybersecurity firms to conduct online snooping on the public. He was regularly quoted by the media as an expert on Anonymous, the loose affiliation of hackers that caused headaches for the US government and several corporate giants, and was frequently referred to as the group's spokesperson, though he says the connection was overblown.
    In 2011, through the research site he set up called Project PM, he investigated thousands of emails that had been hacked by Anonymous from the computer system of a private security firm, HB Gary Federal. His work helped to reveal that the firm had proposed a dark arts effort to besmirch the reputations of WikiLeaks supporters and prominent liberal journalists and activists including the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald.
    In 2012, Brown similarly pored over millions of emails hacked by Anonymous from the private intelligence company Stratfor. It was during his work on the Stratfor hack that Brown committed his most serious offence, according to US prosecutors – he posted a link in a chat room that connected users to Stratfor documents that had been released online.
    The released documents included a list of email addresses and credit card numbers belonging to Stratfor subscribers. For posting that link, Brown is accused of disseminating stolen information – a charge with media commentators have warned criminalises the very act of linking.
    As Geoffrey King, Internet Advocacy Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, has put it, the Barrett Brown case "could criminalize the routine journalistic practice of linking to documents publicly available on the internet, which would seem to be protected by the first amendment to the US constitution under current doctrine".
    In its motion to the Dallas district court, US prosecutors accuse Brown and his associates of having "solicited the services of the media or media-types to discuss his case" and of continuing to "manipulate the public through press and social media comments".
    It further accuses Ghappour of "co-ordinating" and "approving" the use of the media, and alleges that between them they have spread "gross fabrications and substantially false recitations of facts and law which may harm both the government and the defence during jury selection".
    But Ghappour in his legal response has pointed out that several of the specific accusations raised by the government are inaccurate. Prosecutors refer to an article in the Guardian by Greenwald published on 21 March 2013 based partly on an interview between the journalist and Brown, yet as Ghappour points out that piece was posted on the Guardian website before the accused's current legal team had been appointed.
    Under his legal advice, Ghappour writes, Brown has maintained "radio silence" over his case and has given no further interviews, thus negating the government's case for a gagging order.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  10. #10

    Default

    When Posting a Website Link is a Crime

    By Alfredo Lopez
    You're probably not familiar with Barrett Brown.

    As news coverage of surveillance, internet intrusion and thegovernment's intense battle against privacy and privilegedcommunications seeps into the public consciousness, the names Julian Assange,Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden are almosthousehold terms. But Brown's name, the government's case against him, and the implications that flowfrom it are seldom reported and, as a result, not well known.

    That is itself a crime. The Texas-based journalist is sitting injail awaiting trial on three different indictments and facing asentence of over a century if convicted in a case sooutrageous and frightening it rivals the cases and plights ofthose better-known information distributors.

    Brown is charged, essentially, with doing something everyone(including myself right now) does on the Internet: heposted a link.


    Barrett Brown: What was his crime? by Alphaville Herald

    Barrett Brown: What was his crime? by Alphaville Herald


    The Brown case raises all kinds of issues around freedom ofexpression and information, but, perhaps most importantly, ituncovers a deeper and more dangerous aspect of the ObamaAdministration's information policy. Brown's case illustrates that,in addition to targeting the use of the Internet for spreadinginformation, the administration is targeting the very act of informationdistribution. That includes the work that journalists routinely do, but it also includes the information sharing you and I do on theInternet almost as a reflex.

    It also reveals a world the government definitely doesn't want youto know about: the murky, possibly sometimes illegal, world ofinter-connection between the government and a network of secretiveinformation and cyber-security companies. That was the world Brownbroke into and that, in the end, is probably his "crime".

    So intense is the government's desire to keep this under wraps thaton September 4 federal prosecutors convinced the federal court to impose a gag order that forbidsBrown, who is currently in prison but actively writing from there,from saying or writing anything about his case that isn't in thepublic record. In short, he can't tell us what he actually did andwhy: the information we all need to know.

    Barrett Brown is a well-known and respected journalist whosearticles have appeared in all kinds of publications. He has written awell-regarded book called "Flock of Dodos: Behind ModernCreationism, Intelligent Design and the Easter Bunny" and isregarded as a solid authority on surveillance and people'srights.

    He also is a good example of the "activist journalist" who usesreporting as a tool for organizing and resistance. He was, for atime, the most visible "spokesperson" for the progressive hackercollective "Anonymous," although he apparently gave that role upbefore his "crimes," and at least some of the Anonymous participantswere happy when he did. And in 2010, he formed an online collectivenamed Project PM to investigate documents unearthed by Anonymous andothers.

    That's where the troubling story starts.

    In 2011, Brown began examining a selection of about five milliondocuments Wikileaks published involving a security company calledStratfor Global Intelligence. The emails had all kinds ofinformation, including the names, addresses and credit card numbers ofpeople with whom Stratfor was involved. But that was a smallpercentage of the material and Brown appears to have ignored it.What caught his interest, and what comprised most of the files,were documents and emails that reveal a very close andinappropriate relationship between Stratfor, several other securitycontractors and several agencies of the government (including theNSA).

    The emails paint a picture of constant information sharing with thegovernment giving the contractors vast amounts of data frominvestigations and cases at the companies' request. Of course, thefederal officials got plenty in exchange as these securityconsultancies shared anything they discovered with their governmentpartners when the feds requested it. It's almost as if thesecompanies were operating as federal agencies.

    The point, of course, is that they're not federal agencies, and thenormal restrictions and oversight that apply to governmentintelligence people, as weak as they are turning out to be, areirrelevant to these companies. They don't report to Congress, go tocourt for subpeonas and don't files reports for Congress (and thepublic) to peruse. As far as most of us know, they don't exist, and because this type of relationship dances on the edge of illegality,they work hard to keep that curtain of secrecy intact.

    Brown and other Project PM activists were working to change that byunraveling the relationships and naming some names. To do theunraveling, they employed a practice frequently used by on-linejournalists known as "crowdsourcing" in which a person posts someinformation (usually too much for one person to analyze alone) andinvites a group of people to dive in and collaborate on theanalysis. Brown launched the crowdsourcing by posting a link to theWikileaks documents on Stratfor in a chat room Project PM wasusing.

    That was all the government needed. Prosecutors immediately startedhitting Brown with indictments, focusing primarily, not on theinformation they obviously wanted to protect, but on the spreadingof illegally obtained credit card information. They charged himwith a dozen counts of "identity theft" and then things got evenworse.

    At some point, responding to the pressure (friends say), Brownbegan using heroin, and his behavior became erratic. In March, 2012,the F.B.I. tried to serve a warrant on him when he was at hismother's house. The F.B.I. accused his mother of trying to hide hislaptop, and prosecutors charged her with obstruction of justice. Shepleaded guilty this past March and is awaiting sentencing. Soonafter the raid, Brown posted a video on Youtube threatening to ruinthe lives of the agent who led the investigation and his family.While the threat was not about physical harm and was clearly justfrustrating rant, the FBI takes threats against its agentsseriously, and it slapped him with yet another indictment.

    In total, Brown is facing 105 years if convicted of the 17 chargesagainst him.

    There are many questions raised by this case, all summarized withone question: "what exactly did this guy do wrong?".

    That significant issue isn't being discussed much publicly partlybecause few journalists are really covering the case. While therehave been some articles of late, they don't come close to themaelstrom of analysis and argument the Snowden revelations,Wikileaks or the Manning case have provoked.

    Part of the reason may be Brown himself. He is, by even his friends(and his own) account, not an easy man to get along with. Even themost polite descriptions of his conduct and personality point to anobsessiveness that can easily become nasty and an ego that can beoverwhelming.

    Adrian Chen, a technology writer for Gawker, was less thandiplomatic. "...Barrett Brown is also a megalomaniacal troll. Notto mention a real a**hole," Chen wrote. "As the self-appointed Face of Anonymous, he put asmuch bad information in the public sphere as good, once starting abogus "war" with the Zetas drug cartel for attention. Yeah, some ofthe charges against Brown give me shivers as a journalist. But ithas been amazing, the way the story of Barrett Brown, the truthcrusader, has been whitewashed to fit into the Information Martyrmold."

    Then there is the more "general" issue that has been infused intomany of the most recent information debates: many mainstreamjournalists simply don't consider people like Brown part of their profession. Forthem, these "new journalists" are either activists (and therefore"biased") or untrained in journalistic practice and thereforeamateurs. That myopic perspective excludes most of the topcontemporary information distributors from the traditionalconstitutional protections journalists have. The logic goes thatBrown isn't a real journalist so his problems have nothing to dowith the concept of a "free press".

    But none of that detracts from the facts of the case and theimportance it has. It's not about whether we like Barrett Brown(many actually do) or consider him a real journalist (which he is);it's about how the charges against him set a horrifying precedentfor all of us.

    And that's the answer to "why?"

    It has nothing to do with credit card theft. Prosecutorsacknowledge that Brown didn't pay any attention to the cardinformation. In fact, like any self-respecting Internet journalist,he has long denounced the theft of all personal information, including card numbers. They don't even accuse him of having stolenit or hacked Stratfor's documents. Besides, Chicago-based hacker, Jeremy Hammond, who actually pleaded guilty to participating in theoriginal Stratfor hack, faces a possible sentence of only ten yearsin jail.

    In fact, Brown's true "crime" isn't even the use of this sourcematerial which publications all over the world have reported on foryears now.

    Rather, as the United States attorney's office explained in itspress release, "By transferring and posting the hyperlink, Browncaused the data to be made available to other persons online,without the knowledge and authorization of Stratfor and the cardholders."

    There we have it. Brown's real "crime" is that he posted a linkanyone could get to and therefore released to the public files thatimplicated the government in possibly illegal activity. What's ontrial here is the use of links: the "hypertext" protocol that iswhat makes the Internet special and what gives it the ability toallow everyone in the world to share information.

    "The big reason this matters is that he transferred a link,something all of us do every single day, and ended up being chargedfor it," Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation toldthe New York Times. "I think that this administration is tryingto prosecute the release of information in any way it can."

    To make this personal, do you use links? Or, a less absurdquestion, are you sure the links you post don't include criminalinformation? Today, there are an estimated 4500 federal criminalstatures and that means that, at some point in your life, you'veprobably violated federal law without knowing it. The same is trueof the people who posted the material you are linking to. Asridiculous as it may seem, based on the Brown prosecution, youcould be charged with a crime without having any involvement in itby linking to material posted by people who have no idea theycommitted a crime.

    For example, here's the link to theStratfor files. While it indicates that these linked documentshave now been cleansed of credit card information, I can't be sureof that. Nor do I know that other information the governmentconsiders illegal (or may in the future) isn't in there. I haven'tread all the documents. But based on what prosecutors are saying,if these files do contain information they eventually considerillegal, I could be charged with spreading it.

    On the one hand, they attack privacy, which makes the Internetuseful for us. Now they're attacking links, the protocol that makesthe Internet...well, the Internet. That's something we can't affordto lose

    For those who might want to do something about this, there's awebsite ofpeople trying to organize a campaign in his support.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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