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Thread: Barret Brown

  1. #11

    Default Abu Ghraib Whistleblower Gets Life Sentence~!


    On September 23, 2013, famed defense counsel and Abu Ghraib whistleblower Paul Bergrin was sentenced to multiple life terms as a result of his conviction on murder conspiracy, narcotics distribution and other charges. Bergrin, 57, had represented numerous high profile clients, but is arguably best known for his activities in Iraq where as a JAG lawyer he was one of the first people to expose the systematic torture and human rights abuses at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

    by google images

    Former high profile defense counsel Paul Bergrin was tried and sentenced in response to his whistleblowing at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib.

    Bergrin's trial perhaps best stands for the proposition that the current U.S. regime does not take embarrassment lightly. It is an era in which a heralded whistleblower like Daniel Ellsberg would have likely found himself indefinitely detained as a result of his heroic efforts, precisely what Bergrin was facing. The sentencing hearing was conducted by USDJ Dennis Cavanaugh, installed to oversee the case after Bergrin's original trial judge, USDJ William J. Martini, was removed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for failing to conduct Bergrin's original trial in a manner satisfactory to the government.
    The first trial, overseen by Martini, ended with a hung jury. Martini quipped afterwards that had he been on the jury, he would have voted for acquittal. The government immediately sought and ultimately received an order of recusal and had Cavanaugh, a reliably pro-government jurist, installed to oversee the retrial. From that point on the trial's outcome was a foregone conclusion and Bergrin was hastily convicted on all 23 counts for which he was tried.

    by google images

    USDJ William Martini was forcibly removed from Bergrin's criminal proceedings after repeated complaints from government prosecutors.
    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. #12

    Default Government moves to dismiss bulk of its case against Barrett Brown

    The U.S. attorney’s office filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the bulk of its criminal case against a Dallas man who has claimed to be the spokesman for the hacking group Anonymous. Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to dismiss all but one of the 12 charges against Barrett Brown in a case accusing him of trafficking in data, including credit card numbers, that was stolen from private intelligence firm Stratfor.
    He did so by posting a link to the data online, according to his indictment. He had faced charges of aggravated identity theft and device fraud in a case that has received national attention for its free speech implications.
    On Tuesday, Brown’s defense team filed a 48-page motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming the government failed to show any proof that Brown committed a crime.
    The defense motion said the link Brown posted had already been made public, and that the government’s case was a clear violation of the Constitutional right of free speech.
    “The activities prohibited include those of everyday members of the public desiring to conduct research on the Internet, cyber security researchers who wish to analyze and prevent cyber-attacks and journalists who wish to perform routine press activities such as newsgathering and verification of sources,” said defense attorney Ahmed Ghappour in the motion.
    The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.
    Brown, who has been in federal custody since his arrest in 2012, still faces two other federal cases against him.
    He is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice by concealing evidence, stemming from an FBI raid on his Dallas apartment in 2012. Brown also faces charges related to alleged threats he made against an FBI agent.
    If convicted on all counts, Brown had faced the possibility of up to 105 years in federal prison.
    The government obtained limits on pretrial publicity in the cases, noting that Brown has been the subject of articles in print and online, including one in Rolling Stone.
    "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. #13


    Prosecutors: Barrett Brown and Anonymous ‘secretly plotted the overthrow of the government’

    Published time: February 26, 2014 22:47 Get short URL

    AFP Photo / Gabriel Bouys

    War on Anonymous Tags
    Anonymous, Assange, Court, Crime, Hacking, Internet, Law, USA, WikiLeaks

    Has the hacktivist group Anonymous been secretly plotting to overthrow the United States government? Federal prosecutors seem to think so, but attorneys for a Texas man on trial for alleged computer crimes say such isn’t the case.
    The amorphous, internationally-spread group of hackers and activists isn’t actually on trial — in this instance, at least — but secret documents filed in a related matter being heard by the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas suggest that the government interprets Anonymous as being anything but harmless.
    Last week, attorneys for imprisoned author, activist and journalist Barrett Brown asked the court that they be able to reply to arguments made earlier this month by federal prosecutors in the case against their client — a 32-year-old Dallas, TX man expected to stand trial in May to face several felony counts, including making internet threats, retaliating against a federal official, fraud, identity theft and concealment of evidence. Brown has been in the custody of law enforcement since being arrested in September 2012.
    Of argument, his attorneys wrote in the Feb. 21 filing, are statements the prosecution made earlier this month when they replied to a January 31 motion in which the defense asked the court to dismiss one of three indictments against Brown.
    The government predictably opposed the defense’s request two weeks later on Feb. 14, but — like much of the nearly two-year-old case— that paperwork is not included among the publicly available files hosted on the online, federal PACER court system, which supporters of Brown presume means it was filed under seal. Whatever its contents, though, the prosecution’s filing compelled the defense to request permission from the court to respond. Now according to that latest, public document, information about the prosecution’s case — as well as their secret interpretation of Anonymous — is widely available.

    It’s impossible to tell exactly how the government opposed the defense’s request in that likely-sealed Valentine’s Day response, but attorneys for Brown had argued earlier that the court should dismiss allegations that their client made internet threats and retaliated against a federal officer because they claimed “no reasonable jury could find the alleged statements to constitute a true threat.” According to the newest motion, it’s now known that the government wrote in response that Brown’s “past association with Anonymous is crucial to understanding the significance of his threatening comments and conduct,” all but equating the hacktivist group with a streetgang capable of causing immense fear in a public official — in this case, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Smith, whom Brown berated in a series of internet videos uploaded to YouTube shortly before his September 2012 arrest.
    Robert Smith's life is over. And when I say his life is over I don't say I'm gonna go kill him, but I am gonna ruin his life and look into his fuckin' kids,” Brown said in one video cited by the prosecution in previous court documents.
    But the government hasn’t establish a connection between Anonymous and “any form of violent conduct,” the defense fired back last week, nor was Brown ever accused of conspiring with the group to carry out the alleged threats.
    [T]he government alleges no meaningful nexus between an association with Anonymous and any form of violent conduct,” the defense argued. “Nor is Mr. Brown charged as a ‘member’ of ‘Anonymous.’ Nor does the Indictment allege any conspiracy between Mr. Brown and ‘Anonymous,’ let alone one to threaten the physical assault of [Smith]. Nor does the government allege that Mr. Brown’s affiliation with ‘Anonymous’ … was in any way violent in nature, or that he conveyed such information to [Smith].”
    “As such, the government fails to show a reasonable basis upon which a juror could find that ‘Anonymous’ was a violent group or partook in violent activities.”
    Later, the government apparently also said that the defendant’s “continued association with…known hackers leaves no doubt that Brown was more than capable of obtaining whatever information he sought.”
    The government is aware that they can't succeed in convicting Brown for his speech, so in order to prevent a just dismissal of the charges they are implying his guilt by association,” the group Free Barrett Brown responded in a statement published on Wednesday.
    In fact, Brown publicly tried to distance himself from Anonymous in recent years, despite previously being relied on by the media as a poster boy of sorts for the movement, largely due to his willingness to discuss the relatively inaccessible group’s operations and mindset in the public eye.
    This would be a good time to note, particularly for the benefit of certain journalists, that I am not and never have been the spokesman for Anonymous, nor its ‘public face’ or, worse, ‘self-proclaimed’ ‘face’ or ‘spokesperson’ or ‘leader,’” Brown wrote from prison shortly after his arrest. Prior to then he appeared on RT America and other networks numerous times to discuss a variety of topics, particularly ones involving Anonymous and their publicly-known online operations, and was co-authoring a book on the group at the time he was apprehended.
    Now according to what his attorneys have revealed about the prosecution’s previously-secret response, the US government considered Anonymous to be something far dissimilar to what Brown brought to the table during those appearances. Quoting from that the prosecution’s paperwork, the defense says the government believes Brown and Anonymous “secretly plotted the overthrow of the government.”
    “This is exactly the type of political hyperbole that the First Amendment was meant to protect,” the defense counsel lashed back with. “As such, Mr. Brown’s alleged affiliation with ‘Anonymous’ is entirely unrelated to whether Mr. Brown’s statements constituted a threat of physical harm to [Smith].”
    Supporters of Brown, such as those involved in the legal-defense fund established to help with his case, quickly condemned the government’s new-fangled interpretation of Anonymous.
    “This is not just incredibly silly, as the majority of Anonymous are citizens engaged in ordinary, constitutionally-protected political expression, but lays bare the cartoon level of ridiculousness that has been the hallmark of this prosecution,” added the support group, which has raised roughly $85,000 for Brown since he was first imprisoned.
    According to the group, the prosecution argued during previous hearings that any relationship between Brown and Anonymous was "inadmissible and prejudicial.” Today, they group wrote, the government considers it “crucial.”
    Gregg Housh, an activist who has been associated with Anonymous since 2008, told RT’s Andrew Blake that he doesn’t think the government’s newly unearthed comments about the group he’s watched since its infancy “reflect reality.”
    Hacktivists and Anonymous specifically are not violent people with violent intent. For the most part they are highly motivated political activists who care a lot about right and wrong,” explained Housh, a friend of Brown’s.
    On their part, the prosecution has introduced evidence which shows Brown’s alleged intent to harm Agent Smith — and perhaps an attempt to wrangle self-identifying members of Anonymous into his plan. Tweets posted by Brown before his arrest and cited in the first criminal indictment includes ones where he encouraged followers to learn to shoot, stock up ammo and, in one micromessage, overthrow the US government.
    Kids! Overthrow the US government lol
    — Barrett Brown (@BarrettBrownLOL) September 6, 2012
    That tweet though — likely the impetus for the prosecution’s latest claims—should likely be taken with a grain of salt. In it Brown concluded his alleged plea with the internet abbreviation “LOL” and then linked to a music video of 80s rock group Blondie.
    Other tweets authored by Brown before his arrest and cited by the prosecution are challenged by the defense earlier this month when they first filed a motion to dismiss. The tweet described in that motion by the defense as “perhaps most vicious of all” should be disregarded, they argued, because it wasn’t a threat made by Brown but rather the reiteration of a comment made by a mainstream media pundit.

    The comment, the defense wrote, “appears to advocate for the extrajudicial killing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (not the alleged victim [Smith]).” Its originator, Fox News commentator Bob Beckel, “to wit, remains unindicted,” the defense acknowledged.
    Judge Sam. A. Lindsay approved the defense’s request to reply to the government’s response to the defendant’s motion to dismiss on Tuesday this week, and has given Brown’s attorneys until March 7 to file their response.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    "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.

  4. #14


    Quote Originally Posted by Magda Hassan View Post
    Brown, who has been in federal custody since his arrest in 2012, still faces two other federal cases against him.
    He is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice by concealing evidence, stemming from an FBI raid on his Dallas apartment in 2012. Brown also faces charges related to alleged threats he made against an FBI agent.
    Sounds to me like these could well be contrived charges? A simple "fuck you" to the FBI agent by Brown would be enough, I imagine, to result in the "threats" he is charged with. And the concealed evidence could easily be a piece of paper kept in a drawer at home.

    Meanwhile, dropping so many charges is odd isn't it?

    I simply do not buy, as yet, the Anonymous plotted to overthrow the government allegation. For it to stand, there would have to be really strong evidence. Time will tell, I suppose.

    For me, there is just so much that could have been contrived about this. I suppose what I'm saying is that I simply don't trust the FBI - based on some of their past actions.
    The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
    Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

  5. #15

    Default Its not over yet by a long shot.....70 year long shot!

    Quote Originally Posted by Magda Hassan View Post
    The U.S. attorney’s office filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the bulk of its criminal case against a Dallas man who has claimed to be the spokesman for the hacking group Anonymous. Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to dismiss all but one of the 12 charges against Barrett Brown in a case accusing him of trafficking in data, including credit card numbers, that was stolen from private intelligence firm Stratfor.
    He did so by posting a link to the data online, according to his indictment. He had faced charges of aggravated identity theft and device fraud in a case that has received national attention for its free speech implications.
    On Tuesday, Brown’s defense team filed a 48-page motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming the government failed to show any proof that Brown committed a crime.
    The defense motion said the link Brown posted had already been made public, and that the government’s case was a clear violation of the Constitutional right of free speech.
    “The activities prohibited include those of everyday members of the public desiring to conduct research on the Internet, cyber security researchers who wish to analyze and prevent cyber-attacks and journalists who wish to perform routine press activities such as newsgathering and verification of sources,” said defense attorney Ahmed Ghappour in the motion.
    The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.
    Brown, who has been in federal custody since his arrest in 2012, still faces two other federal cases against him.
    He is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice by concealing evidence, stemming from an FBI raid on his Dallas apartment in 2012. Brown also faces charges related to alleged threats he made against an FBI agent.
    If convicted on all counts, Brown had faced the possibility of up to 105 years in federal prison.
    The government obtained limits on pretrial publicity in the cases, noting that Brown has been the subject of articles in print and online, including one in Rolling Stone.
    Federal prosecutors have dropped a number of key charges against Barrett Brown, an activist-journalist covering online surveillance who has spent more than a year behind bars. Supporters say Brown has been unfairly targeted for investigating the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors. On Wednesday, prosecutors dropped 11 of 17 counts, including a charge for posting a weblink online to a document that contained stolen credit card data. All of the dropped charges relate to the hacking of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, which unearthed how the firm monitors activists and spies for corporate clients. The dropping of charges came just one day after Brown’s attorneys filed a motion to have the same counts dropped, arguing posting a weblink is protected by freedom of speech. Brown still faces up to 70 years in prison.
    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

  6. #16


    EFF Statement on Dismissal of 11 Charges Against Barrett Brown

    The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas today filed a motion to dismiss 11 charges against Barrett Brown in a criminal prosecution that would have had massive implications for journalism and the right of ordinary people to share links. EFF has written extensively about the case and had planned to file an amicus brief on Monday on behalf of several reporters groups arguing for the dismissal of the indictment.
    Brown, an independent journalist, was prosecuted after he shared a link to thousands of pages of stolen documents in an attempt to crowdsource the review of those documents—a common technique for many journalists. The records came from the US government contractor, Stratfor Global Intelligence and documented discussions of assassination, rendition and how to undermine journalists and foreign governments. They also included thousands of stolen credit card numbers. Brown had no involvement in the hack, but was charged nonetheless with identity theft.
    In response to the decision by the federal prosecutor’s office to drop some, but not all of Brown's charges, EFF issued the following statement:
    "We are relieved that federal prosecutors have decided to drop these charges against Barrett Brown. In prosecuting Brown, the government sought to criminalize a routine practice of journalism—linking to external sources—which is a textbook violation of free speech protected by the First Amendment. Although this motion is good news for Brown, the unnecessary and unwarranted prosecution has already done much damage; not only has it harmed Brown, the prosecution—and the threat of prosecution it raised for all journalists—has chilled speech on the Internet. We hope that this dismissal of charges indicates a change in the Department of Justice priorities. If not, we will be ready to step in and defend free speech.”
    EFF plans to publish its draft brief and deeper analysis later this week.


    "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. #17

    Default Possibly related.....

    Senate staffers slipped secret CIA documents from agency’s headquarters

    By Jonathan S. Landay, Ali Watkins and Marisa Taylor
    McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 5, 2014 Updated 21 hours ago

    WASHINGTON — Congressional aides involved in preparing the Senate Intelligence Committee’s unreleased study of the CIA’s secret interrogation and detention program walked out of the spy agency’s fortress-like headquarters with classified documents that the CIA contended they weren’t authorized to have, McClatchy has learned.
    After the CIA confronted the panel in January about the removal of the material last fall, panel staff concluded that the agency had monitored computers they’d been given to use in a high-security research room at the CIA campus in Langley, Va., a McClatchy investigation found.
    It remained unclear Wednesday if the monitoring, the unauthorized removal of classified material or another matter were the subject of a recent CIA request to the Justice Department for an investigation into alleged malfeasance in connection with the committee’s top-secret study.
    The documents removed from the agency included a draft of an internal CIA review that at least one lawmaker has publicly said showed that agency leaders misled the Intelligence Committee in disputing some of the committee report’s findings, according to a knowledgeable person who requested anonymity because of the matter’s extraordinary sensitivity.
    In a combative statement issued Wednesday evening, CIA Director John Brennan chastised unidentified senators for making “spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts.”
    “I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or legislative branch,” he said in an apparent reference to the request for a Justice Department investigation. “Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and congressional overseers.”
    The removal of the documents is the focus of an intense legal dispute between the CIA and its congressional overseers, said several people who also cited the matter’s sensitivity in asking to remain anonymous.
    Some committee members regard the monitoring as a possible violation of the law and contend that their oversight powers give them the right to the documents that were removed. On the other hand, the CIA considers the removal as a massive security breach because the agency doesn’t believe that the committee had a right to those particular materials.
    “Even if the agency is technically correct on the legalities, it’s a real asinine thing to pick a fight with your oversight committee like this,” said a U.S. official who was among those who spoke to McClatchy. “You’ve got to be asking yourself why the agency would be willing to take such a risk. The documents must be so damned loaded.”
    White House officials have held at least one closed-door meeting with committee members about the monitoring and the removal of the documents, said the first knowledgeable person.
    White House officials were trying to determine how the materials that were taken from CIA headquarters found their way into a database into which millions of pages of top-secret reports, emails and other documents were made available to panel staff after being vetted by CIA officials and contractors, said the knowledgeable person.
    The extraordinary battle has created an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the spy agency and its congressional overseers and raises significant implications for the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of the government. It also has fueled uncertainty over how much of the committee’s report will ever be made public.
    “The CIA has gone to just about any lengths you can imagine to make sure that the detention and interrogation report won’t be released,” said Sen. Mark Heinrich, D-N.M., a Senate Intelligence Committee member who has pushed hard for the release of the report.
    “As furious as I am about these allegations, I want to keep focused on getting that report out to the people so that they can read the truth and make up their own minds as to who made those decisions and why,” he said.
    The committee has the legal power to decide through a simple majority vote to release whatever portions of the study it deems should be made public. If the executive branch continues to resist the release of the information, the committee’s action must then be approved by the full Senate.
    In voting in December 2012 to approve the final draft, the panel gave the CIA three months in which to respond to the findings and recommend what parts should be kept secret. It has now been 15 months since the committee approved the report.
    Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declined to comment while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill except to confirm that CIA Inspector General David Buckley was looking into whether the agency had monitored her staff’s computers.
    White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment, referring questions to the Justice Department and to the CIA.
    “As a general matter, we are in touch with the committee,” Carney said, adding that the White House has told Feinstein that “the summary and conclusions” of the panel’s report “should be declassified with any redactions necessary to protect national security.”
    While eating lunch during a visit to New Britain, Conn., with four New England governors, Obama was asked by a reporter if he had any reaction to the allegation that the CIA monitored Intelligence Committee computers.
    “I’m going to try to make sure I don’t spill anything on my tie,” he responded.
    The 6,300-page report lays out in exhaustive detail what lawmakers have publicly described as a scathing indictment of the CIA’s use during the Bush administration of waterboarding and other harsh techniques to interrogate suspected terrorists detained in secret “black site” prisons overseas.
    The study, which took four years to complete at a cost of $40 million, also found that the CIA misled the White House, Congress and the public over the value of the intelligence produced by the program, according to the lawmakers.
    Many experts and foreign governments have condemned the techniques as torture. The Bush administration, which insisted that the techniques were legal, shut down the program in 2006 and Obama banned the use of waterboarding – which he described as torture – after assuming office in 2009.
    The CIA disputed significant portions of the committee’s findings in its official response to the report, which it submitted in June, three months after the deadline set by the committee. The agency also disputes that it conducted an internal review of the detention and interrogation program, asserting that it only compiled summaries of documents provided to the committee and not an analytical report.
    Several months after the CIA submitted its official response to the committee report, aides discovered in the database of top-secret documents at CIA headquarters a draft of an internal review ordered by former CIA Director Leon Panetta of the materials released to the panel, said the knowledgeable person.
    They determined that it showed that the CIA leadership disputed report findings that they knew were corroborated by the so-called Panetta review, said the knowledgeable person.
    The aides printed the material, walked out of CIA headquarters with it and took it to Capitol Hill, said the knowledgeable person.
    “All this goes back to what is the technical structure here,” said the U.S. official who confirmed the unauthorized removal. “If I was a Senate staffer and I was given access to documents on the system, I would have a laptop that’s cleared. I would be allowed to look at these documents. But with these sorts of things, there’s generally an agreement that you can’t download or take them.”
    The CIA discovered the security breach and brought it to the committee’s attention in January, leading to a determination that the agency recorded the staffers’ use of the computers in the high-security research room, and then confirmed the breach by reviewing the usage data, said the knowledgeable person.
    Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., a member of the Intelligence Committee who has led calls for the release of the report, disclosed at a hearing in December the existence of the Panetta review without saying how the committee had learned of it. He contended that the review broadly corroborated the committee’s findings and questioned why it was dramatically different from the CIA’s official response.
    Udall repeated his contentions in a letter that he sent Tuesday to Obama in which he called on the president to remove from the CIA and give to the White House control over how much of the committee report should be made public.
    “This internal CIA review corroborates some of the important findings of the committee study and acknowledges significant mistakes and errors made during the course of the CIA program – mistakes and errors that the CIA’s official June 27, 2013, response to the committee study denies or minimizes,” Udall wrote.
    Udall also appeared to refer in the letter to the computer monitoring, writing that Obama knew that the “CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review.”
    Udall and Heinrich have called on the CIA to submit the completed Panetta review to the committee, and Udall says he will maintain a procedural hold on the nomination of Caroline Krass to be the new CIA general counsel until the document is provided.

    Read more here:
    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

  8. #18


    Journalists on Trial: Upcoming Barrett Brown Case is an Assault on First Amendment Rights

    By Katie Ruck April 3rd, 2014

    By Katie RuckMintPress News, April 2, 2014
    On April 28, the U.S. government’s trial against journalist Barrett Brown will open in Texas. The outcome of the trial could not only impact the freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of association in the United States, but also a journalist’s ability to disclose information that is illegally obtained, such as the information National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden provided to journalist Glenn Greenwald and others.

    Brown is currently facing some 70 years in prison for threatening the family of an FBI officer who raided his mother’s home and allegedly attempting to hide the evidence on his laptops from federal investigators.
    In March, however, he was facing a sentence of more than 100 years. On March 5, federal prosecutors decided to dismiss 11 of the 17 charges against Brown, including a charge that he was directly involved in a data breach of the U.S. intelligence contractor commonly known as Stratfor. The dismissal of those 11 charges cut about 35 years off Brown’s potential prison sentence, which was an improvement but still not enough for Brown’s supporters.
    This particular charge was the most controversial Brown faced, since his attorneys — Ahmed Ghappour and Charles Swift — argued that the journalist merely linked to the stolen documents that contained 860,000 email addresses and passwords, as well as the credit card information of more than 60,000 people, in order to expose the tangled web between government contractors and the agencies for which they work.
    “Republishing a hyperlink does not itself move, convey, select, place or otherwise transfer, a file or document from one location to another,” Brown’s attorney argued.
    Brown’s punishment for a crime he didn’t commit was particularly puzzling, given that it is known who did publish the stolen Stratfor documents. Anonymous hacktivist Jeremy Hammond is the one who actually stole that information. He’s spending 10 years in prison for his involvement, prompting some to ask why Brown could face such a long sentence.
    Even the remaining charges Brown faces related to his threats against an FBI officer seem overly harsh, considering that in 2010, a man who threatened to blow up the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building in Washington, D.C., was only sentenced to 3-and-a-half years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. And in 2012, a man in Pennsylvania was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he threatened to kill an FBI agent.
    Brown reportedly only threatened an FBI agent in a non-violent manner in September 2012 after the FBI went after his mother in order to build a case against him for posting links to documents that were once classified on his website, ProjectPM.
    Brown’s harsh sentencing may be a result of his open support for the online hacktivist group Anonymous. He advocated for the group, but was not a spokesperson for it, as some media outlets have reported.
    Brown’s advocacy journalism has not only led to a conversation about the role of the press in a democracy, but it has also prompted some such as attorney Jason Flores-Williams to compare the government’s “over-prosecution” of Brown to the Red Scare of the 1950s.
    Since a judge placed a gag order on Brown last year prohibiting him from communicating with the press about his case, it could be argued that is why Brown’s case has failed to attract the attention of the mass media and the majority of the American public.
    But even if Brown was allowed to talk to the press, which he has sort of done through his lawyers and activists, it’s not known how far the government would go to prevent the truth from coming out. However, based on the government’s treatment of whistleblowers such as Snowden and Pfc. Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, it’s likely the public has a fairly good sense of what the government may do to keep information from surfacing.
    How the justice system treats Brown could either result in a further decline of U.S. press freedoms or the promotion of legislation to ensure protection for journalists.
    “If independent journalists like Brown cannot publish the truth without becoming a target of extremely selective and vindictive prosecution, the concept of freedom of the press which is vital for democracy is as good as dead,” said Kevin Gallagher, founder and director of the Free Barrett Brown organization.
    Due to the rampant censorship of the press in the U.S., Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced in its annual Press Freedom Index that the U.S. fell 15 spots in 2014, from 32nd place to 46th, for most press freedoms. This drop was reportedly one of the most dramatic declines in freedoms of any nation included in the index. The only other “first-world” countries to appear lower on the list than the U.S. were Italy and Japan.
    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. #19



    By Rashed Mian

    By Rashed MianApril 4, 2014
    Egyptian authorities barreled through the hotel room door of three Al Jazeera journalists in Cairo last December, arresting the trio for spreading what they deemed were lies.

    Detained and held without formal charges for more than a month, the United States government publicly condemned their arrest, urging the captors to release the journalists and allow them to report on the country’s upheaval without fear of reprisal.
    “These figures, regardless of affiliation, should be protected and permitted to do their jobs freely in Egypt,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a press briefing in February.
    Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed were later charged with spreading false news and assisting the Muslim Brotherhood, the political organization that rose to power following the ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, who has largely been silenced following a military power grab and is now branded a terrorist organization—meaning a journalist’s interaction with members of the group could be considered a pseudo-terrorist act.
    Greste, an Australian reporter for Al Jazeera, Fahmy, the network’s Cairo bureau chief, and Mohammed, a producer for Al Jazeera English, remain behind bars.
    Sadly, they’re not alone.
    As of April 1, 161 journalists were imprisoned across the globe by dictatorships, repressive regimes, and even one bastion of democratic principles, according to Reporters Without Borders, an international nonprofit group that monitors press freedoms.
    China holds the dubious distinction of having the most journalists currently jailed with 30, followed by Eritrea (28), Iran (20), Syria (19), Turkey (11), Uzbekistan (9), and 24 other countries in the single digits, including the United States—yet many are unaware.
    Sitting in a Dallas jail awaiting his court hearing after reportedly reaching a plea deal April 3 that could potentially drop his potential sentence to a maximum of five years, down from more than a century, is Barrett Brown, a North Dallas-born journalist, prolific writer and satirist. His adversarial form of reporting and dogged pursuit of the truth, especially involving the shadowy private security and surveillance firms that act as proxies for the U.S. government, gained him notoriety among like-minded activists, journalists and concerned citizens increasingly anxious about the ever-growing surveillance state. Brown, to his liking or not, became the public face of the hacking collective Anonymous—though he has denied ever being its official spokesperson.
    Brown, a University of Texas dropout from a military family, has been incredibly outspoken about Anonymous’ attacks, given the veil of secrecy surrounding the hacking confederate. He has touted Anonymous’ intrusion of state websites, including Egypt, Tunisia and Iran, and the hacking collective’s defense of WikiLeaks after several financial institutions suspended business with the nonprofit document dumpsite following a series of high-profile leaks. At one point, Brown even called on hackers and non-hackers alike to join the movement to help break down walls built by tyrannical regimes and shady corporations.
    In a post titled “Yes, you should join Anonymous,” Brown sought to debunk several misconceptions about the Internet activists, including whether only hackers make up Anonymous (the answer, he said, was no), and if its operations were limited to only hacking.
    “Very few Anonymous participants are actually hackers themselves, and very little of our work actually involves hacking,” he explained. “Increasingly, Anonymous is in the business of fighting tyranny and advocating liberty by other means, almost all of which involve information.”
    Brown, in defense of Anonymous, admitted that the collective does, in fact, break the law. But he prefaced that by sarcastically asking: “Have you ever lied to the American people about the reasons for the war to which you plan on sending that same young fellow, and spent so much time publicly attacking those who question your competence that you just plain forgot to write up a viable plan by which to conduct the war itself, thereby causing the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of people?”
    His conclusion: “Three of those things will get you arrested, and the fourth will get you re-elected.”
    Less than a year later, the FBI came knocking at his—and his mother’s—door.
    While Greste, Fahmy, and Mohammed’s arrest have deservedly led to a global outcry for their freedoms, even sparking the Twitter hashtag, #FreeAJStaff, the plight of an American journalist, indicted by his own government, has barely been told, aside from some coverage in several alternative news organizations, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
    Instead, several high-profile journalists, including famed former Times foreign correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, the beneficiary of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency (NSA) leaks documenting mass surveillance, and celebrated linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky, among others, have publicly stated their support for Brown.
    A number of press organizations and civil rights groups concerned that Brown’s prosecution could chill free speech have also condemned the case—admonishing federal authorities in Dallas for charging the journalist for essentially sharing a link of already publicly available information, albeit hacked material (which the government hasn’t claimed he took part in obtaining) that contained more than 5,000 stolen credit card account numbers and other identifying information and authentication features, according to court documents.
    The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas alleged that Brown transferred (copy and pasted) the hyperlink from an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to another chat service he operated through his website Project PM, a wiki blogger site he created to crowd-source documents—which allows people from across the globe to access documents and assist with his reporting. Much of what he and others analyzed was obtained illegally by Anonymous and posted on WikiLeaks, which quickly became the scourge of many governments, including the United States, since it started publishing top-secret documents in the latter part of the last decade. It is widely known that a grand jury was empaneled several years ago with regards to WikiLeaks, and which, according to the judge in pre-court martial hearings of Chelsea Manning, has the same journalistic standing as The New York Times.
    Up until early March, Brown was facing more than 100 years in prison for trafficking stolen authentication features, access device fraud and identity theft—all related to his sharing of a link, plus other charges not associated with his computer activity. One day after Brown’s attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the controversial charges, prosecutors inexplicably dropped counts one and three through 12—reportedly lowering his potential prison time to approximately 65 years behind bars.
    “The criminalization of Mr. Brown’s speech (by republishing the hyperlink) is an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment because it regulates pure political speech based on its content,” his lawyers wrote in the motion.
    Brown, whose work has appeared in the Guardian, Huffington Post and Vanity Fair, among other media outlets, until April 3, remained accused of concealing two laptops and threatening an FBI agent and his family in a series of now infamous, and seemingly indefensible, YouTube rants; he faced 70 years in prison until his recently reported plea deal was reached.
    That Brown was facing decades in a federal prison before his maximum sentence dropped considerably is the perfect example of the extent to which the government will go to protect information from getting out, says Kevin Gallagher, the founder and director of the movement, Free Barrett Brown:
    “Barrett Brown’s situation constitutes a case-in-point for the threat of what could happen to a journalist who exposes information that the government doesn’t like,” Gallagher said. “Anyone who wants to see what the FBI can do to repress and silence critical journalists, need only study what happened to him.”
    (The Press was unable to interview Brown’s attorneys—or even make contact with them—due to a court-imposed gag order initiated by the prosecution. Instead, we relied on interviews with several supporters, friends, press freedom groups and an analysis of court documents to shed light on Brown’s case.)
    Outraged at the government, both for seizing his laptops, which contained information about his journalism and a future book, while not charging him until six months after the raid at his mother’s house had occurred, and for threats of obstruction of justice directed at his mom—which she eventually pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to probation for—Brown lashed out, albeit very publicly on the world’s most popular video sharing site, YouTube.
    Caleb Pritchard, a childhood friend of his since the third grade, described Brown’s outburst as a “slow burn” over several months.
    “It finally got to the point where Barrett just snapped,” Pritchard tells the Press, “but I think at first he was just trying to figure out what the fuck was going on.”
    Sometimes displaying a menacing grin, taking sporadic drags of a cigarette and interrupting his own profanity-laced cringe-inducing rant by releasing several belches, Brown called FBI Special Agent Robert Smith a “chicken shit little faggot cock sucker,” and allegedly threatened to “look into his fucking kids.” Federal agents swooped in with an arrest warrant and took him into custody several hours after the tirades hit the Web.
    Those videos, seen by hundreds of thousands, can still be viewed on YouTube and are cited several times in the government’s first indictment, filed in October 2012.
    The FBI’s seizing of Brown’s laptops without charging him until his arrest on Sept. 12, 2012 is deeply concerning, say his supporters, who argue that by doing so the government was free to scrutinize his journalistic material—including sources, documents and research. Additionally, they continue, his facing more than 100 years in prison—before some of the charges were dropped—stinks of another troubling example of prosecutors overcharging defendants. That the hacker, 28-year-old Chicago-native Jeremy Hammond—who was actually charged with the computer attack related to Brown’s early link-sharing accusation—was sentenced to 10 years in prison, is proof enough, they say, of something far more sinister afoot.
    The government’s critics also point to a list of items the federal authorities sought to seize during the raid, which consisted of “evidence, contraband, fruits, and instrumentalities of criminal violations,” according to the search warrant obtained by the late BuzzFeed/Rolling Stone muckraker Michael Hastings. FBI agents were seeking recordings from government contractors, including HB Gary, Infragard, and Endgame Systems, as well as information related to Anonymous, the hacking group Lulzec,, among other Internet entities. They were also looking for any computers or hard drives containing the aforementioned material.
    Thus, federal authorities’ pursuit of Brown is exemplary of the extent to which the U.S. government is willing to go to chill free speech and journalism, his supporters say.
    When lumped in with the revelations of mass surveillance and the unprecedented number of Espionage Act charges against whistleblowers by the Obama Administration; the seizing of Associated Press phone records as part of a leak probe into an AP story regarding a CIA investigation in Yemen that disrupted a bomb plot; labeling Fox News reporter James Rosen a co-conspirator in a case in which a U.S. State Department adviser, Stephen Kim, was later indicted for allegedly revealing information about a North Korean nuclear test; going to great lengths to subpoena Times reporter James Risen to testify about his sources in a book he wrote; the conviction of whistleblower Chelsea Manning; and possibly the most chilling of them all, Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the government the authority to indefinitely detain people allegedly associated with terrorism; Brown’s case is exemplary of the disturbing—and evolving—portrait of a government obsessed with controlling the flow of information and endeavoring to decide for itself what the American public is granted permission to see, while at the same time cracking down on what appears to be the biggest threat to this cause: journalists, whistleblowers and dissenters.
    Alexa O’Brien, the journalist who published crucial transcripts of the Manning court martial proceedings and created a searchable database that included documents of United States v. Pfc. (then) Bradley Manning, has a gloomy view of what she and many others consider the deterioration of freedom of information, or right to know, and the escalation of government intrusion.
    “If the simplest aims of life are dissent, if the simplest act of Barrett Brown publishing information about what private security contractors are doing with taxpayer money, then if not wanting to murder unlawfully is dissent [referring to extra-legal drone assassinations], if being incapable of believing lies after you learned the fact—something that Barrett and any journalist or any member of the public can understand—then the system is a problem,” O’Brien tells the Pressvia Skype from Germany.
    “The policies and the laws are a problem because it’s built for the ignorant and the uninformed, and it’s unsustainable,” she continues. “It stifles the very creativity that is so natural to human beings. We have to think about this with a broader view that has been presented to us: When the ideas in our head and the genes in our body become property of private cooperation…we need to expand our view of the commons and we need to look toward strengthening our fundamental rights, because right now we’re building a system that is counter to the very aims of life.”
    Brown was increasingly becoming a threat to that system. Then he was arrested.
    Photo taken in the fall of 2000 of Brown in his friend Caleb Pritchard’s dorm room studies reading a newspaper. (Photo credit: Caleb Pritchard)
    “Guerilla Cyberwar”

    In December 2010, several of the world’s largest financial companies—Bank of America, Visa and MasterCard—as well as Internet payment provider PayPal, cut off all payments to WikiLeaks just as the U.S. government was ratcheting up its rhetoric against the whistleblower site founded by Julian Assange in 2006.
    A series of leaks—the Collateral Murder video unveiled during an April 5, 2010 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., showing cockpit footage from two U.S. Apache helicopter attacks that killed two Reuters journalists and other men mistaken for insurgents; more than 75,000 secret U.S. military reports concerning the Afghan War released in the summer of 2010; and the largest-ever leak at the time, known as the Iraq Logs, in October 2010—sparked a massive outcry from U.S. government officials, who condemned the unsanctioned disclosures for damaging the country’s interests and putting “innocent lives at risk,” according to a statement released by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Cali.) office at the time.
    “Mr. Assange claims to be a journalist and would no doubt rely on the First Amendment to defend his actions,” the statement read. “But he is no journalist: He is an agitator intent on damaging our government, whose policies he happens to disagree with, regardless of who gets hurt.”
    Hers and other statements were enough for the financial institutions to cut off funding to WikiLeaks.
    In response, Anonymous launched “Operation Payback/Avenge Assange,” which amounted to a series of coordinated Web-strikes targeting institutions that ditched WikiLeaks amid growing government outrage. They were out for revenge.
    It was the first of a number of hacks catapulting Anonymous into the public consciousness, and the savvy computer hackers were just getting started.
    Brown, in an interview with NBC News, described those and future attacks as “guerilla cyberwar,” adding, “It’s sort of an unconventional, asymmetrical act of warfare that we’re involved in. And we didn’t necessarily start it. I mean, this fire has been burning.”
    Perhaps, Anonymous’ most notable hack, and one that led a group of Democratic representatives calling on their Republican counterparts to immediately conduct hearings into three federal defense and intelligence agency data security contractors, and one law firm, for “possible illegal actions against citizens engaged in free speech,” was its targeting of private contractor HBGary.
    Anonymous set its virtual scopes on the company after Aaron Barr, the then-CEO of its subsidiary, HBGary Federal, boasted to the Financial Times in February 2011 that he was close to exposing the leaders behind the confederation of computer hackers.
    What followed was a precise, tactical assault on HBGary that resulted in the release of 70,000 emails and eventually led to Barr’s resignation.
    Brown and others analyzed the emails and learned that HBGary was one-third of a consortium that also included Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies, collectively called Team Themis. The trio was recruited, according to the emails, by the law firm Hunton & Williams, which was working with two clients—Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—to discredit WikiLeaks and its supporters, such as journalist Glenn Greenwald.
    “I think we need to highlight people like Glenn Greenwald,” Barr wrote in an email leaked by Anonymous and posted on WikiLeaks. “Glenn was critical in the Amazon to OVH transition and helped Wikileaks provide access to information during the transition. It is this level of support we need to attack. These are established professionals [sic] that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals. Without the support of people like Glenn Wikileaks would fold.”
    Barr, in another email, explains that one particular strategy would be to go after WikiLeaks’ financials, which Team Themis deemed one of the website’s major weaknesses.
    “Obvious when attacking any adversary you attack their week [sic] points,” he wrote. “In this case their strength is their global following and volunteer staff. This allows them to have a very loose organization, probably little if any direction or coordination is actually passed it is just inferred as part of the cause. Julien pronounces and the minions follow. Larger infrastructure is fairly pointless to attack because they have so many other points so many other organizations that are willing to distribute the information and help them get new hosting services. Weak points. Financial. They are under increasing financial pressure because authorities are blocking their funding sources. Need to help enumerate these. Also need to get people to understand that if they support the organization we will come after them.”
    The HBGary email correspondence also suggested discrediting U.S. Chamber of Commerce critics like U.S. Chamber Watch, Change to Win, the Center for American Progress and others, by supplying fake documents, hoping they’d take the bait and eventually call out the error. The ill-fated proposal also included creating a phony “insider persona and generate communications with CtW (Change to Win).”
    These proposals, generated by government contractors, raised a few eyebrows in Washington, D.C., and among more than a dozen Democratic congressmen, who in a joint letter to government agencies speculated if any of the tactics were in violation of the law.
    “The published correspondence appears to reveal a conspiracy to use subversive techniques to target Chamber critics,” the group of elected officials wrote. “The techniques may have been developed at U.S. government expense to target terrorists and other security threats.”
    As is the norm in the nation’s capital, nothing came out of their request for hearings.
    But Anonymous—and Brown’s work—wasn’t complete.
    In June 2011, Brown wrote on his Project PM site that in the haul of HBGary emails he uncovered a “sophisticated campaign of mass surveillance and data mining against the Arab world, allowing the intelligence community to monitor the habits, conversations, and activity of millions of individuals at once,” known in U.S. intelligence quarters as Romas/COIN.
    What Brown exposed on his Project PM site was massive surveillance, not by any U.S. government agency, which has generated quite the attention across the globe since the infamous (and still flowing) leaked NSA documents provided to Greenwald by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in May 2013, but instead developed and orchestrated by contractors that essentially work in the shadows, do not have to answer to the American public and are not subject to government oversight.
    “The new revelation provides for a disturbing picture, particularly when viewed in a wider context,” Brown wrote. “Unprecedented surveillance capabilities are being produced by an industry that works in secret on applications that are nonetheless funded by the American public—and which in some cases are used against that very same public.”
    It was around this time that Brown’s star began to shine the brightest.
    He had gone from writing satirical pieces, such as “Christ Announces His Bid for President,” resigning from his post as “savior to over 1 billion Christians,” and political pieces, like “The Trouble with Charles Krauthammer,” which slammed the conservative pundit for flip-flopping on the importance of Obama’s identity prior to his first presidential bid, to swimming in troves of leaked documents that many in the media, especially the mainstream, weren’t reporting on.
    That these leaks and sometimes the stories he published were not getting the attention Brown thought they deserved frustrated him, says Gallagher ofFree Barrett Brown, who became “intrigued” with Brown’s work around 2010 and eventually met him at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference in New York City in the summer of 2012.
    “I just felt that like his work was really important,” Gallagher tells the Press. The Project PM stuff was getting at corruption in the private intelligence contracting industry and that [is an] issue that no one is really focusing on. I mean all the Snowden leaks are about governmental state surveillance, people don’t discuss how it gets outsourced to private companies.”
    “My sense was that Project PM was kind of where the actual important work was happening,” he adds, “and the majority of people in Anonymous were just trolling or having fun; but Project PM—he was actually trying to get shit done. He was trying to do stuff. He was trying to change the media.”
    It’s unclear when exactly the government began looking into Brown’s affairs, but he and Anonymous in November 2011 attracted the attention of a potentially far more dangerous adversary: the violent Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas.
    Anonymous successfully obtained the names of Los Zetas collaborators, according to Brown, who appeared to be in the beginning stages of working with others to assess the thousands of emails they obtained.
    The perils of investigating the cartel, like many others in Mexico, became all-too real when a kidnapped Anonymous member was released with a foreboding note warning of potential murders of “ten civilians for every name published,”Brown posted on Paste Bin on Nov. 4, 2011. Apparently the threat had its intended effect. Brown noted that the names wouldn’t be published, but in an earlier post he dismissed those who suggested he refrain from naming potential criminals. “No individual living in the free world should refrain from working to fight injustice simply because there is a possibility of retaliation,” he wrote—vowing to go after other cartels.
    Brown’s insistence to continue his work, despite the apparent legal or other life-altering ramifications, was nothing new. One friend, Nikki Loehr, who briefly dated Brown and who is on the shortlist of people he can correspond with through email from jail, says he never really understood the consequences of his actions, despite the possibility of far-reaching ramifications to himself and others around him.
    His crusade, which really started in earnest in early 2010, reached its climax on Dec. 25, 2011, when Brown allegedly transmitted a link already published online from the just-released documents from Texas-based global intelligence firm Stratfor, which the government said also contained more than 5,000 credit card account numbers.
    Instrumental in the hack was Jeremy Hammond, who went by several nicknames online: Anarchaos, sup_g, burn, yohoho, POW, tylerknowsthis and crediblethreat.
    According to court documents, Hammond—who was rounded up in March 2012 along with five other alleged hackers aligned with Anonymous—along with his alleged co-conspirators, “mounted a cyber assault” on the intelligence firm’s website from December 2011 until the their arrest.
    The digital heist, prosecutors said, netted approximately 60,000 credit card numbers belonging to Stratfor clients, including their names and addresses, plus security codes and expiration dates. Additionally, about 860,000 records—including usernames, encrypted passwords, email addresses—belonging to the firm’s clients were grabbed, court documents say. (The hackers, according to a statement posted by Stratfor CEO George Friedman several weeks later, also managed to deface the company’s website and “published a triumphant note” declaring that credit card info had been stolen.)
    What prosecutors didn’t mention, however, was that the emails also reportedly shed light on Stratfor’s inner workings, including revelations that it provided confidential intelligence to corporations and government agencies. Ironically, the emails, according to a WikiLeaks press release, also revealed the existence of a sealed indictment against Assange: “Not for Pub—We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect,” stated a purported email from Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security.
    Interestingly, the government knew that hack was going on as it was happening.
    According to court filings in Brown’s case, the government knew about “and, through their confidential informant were orchestrating” the hack, as early as Dec. 6, even though the entire episode lasted until Dec. 24.
    Back in Dallas, Brown, also aware of the hack, was working at his computer when he allegedly transferred a hyperlink from one Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to another one affiliated with his crowdsourcing site.
    Who knew on Christmas Day 2011 that three months later FBI agents would be executing a search warrant on his apartment and mother’s house partly due to him simply copying and pasting of a link.
    No sleep till Brooklyn

    It was in the third grade at Preston Hollow Elementary School in Dallas when Caleb Pritchard first got a glimpse of Barrett Brown’s humor.
    Pritchard’s teacher had instructed the class to take out a biography from the library and write a report on the subject. So he walked through the aisles of the library and, for whatever reason, pulled out a book about Adolf Hitler. In short time, he had completed a written report and created an illustration of the Nazi leader. And then the project ended up being displayed along the walls of the school hallway.
    “Apparently it was so bad and grotesque,” Pritchard says of his drawing, “[Brown] said: ‘Adolph Hitler? More like Rudolph Hitler.’”
    “And we were fast friends from then on.”
    By the time the two North Dallas kids met, Brown’s parents had already been divorced. Brown was living with his mother and grandmother at the time, and the family moved three times but stayed in the area.
    The two classmates, who ironically attended the same elementary school as George W. Bush’s twin daughters, usually came to the same conclusions about life and society and also shared an affinity for satire. Brown was also big into video games and books—the latter of which mostly occupies his time in jail.
    An admirer of MAD magazine, Brown and Pritchard would often rollerblade to the local Borders bookstore and pick up the latest issue of The Harvard Lampoon and “laugh our asses off,” Pritchard recalls.
    By the time they reached Middle School, Brown had begun immersing himself in books about communism.
    “[Brown] touted himself as a communist anarchist,” Pritchard says.
    Then it was onto Ayn Rand, and eventually, libertarianism. His view of the world kept evolving.
    “To me it just seems like a natural progression,” Pritchard says. “There’s a common core of anti-authoritarianism involved. One thing Barrett doesn’t like is authority.”
    The pair ended up enrolling at University of Texas but Brown spent only a couple of semesters at the journalism school there before dropping out; he was then free to roam.
    “Perhaps [he] doesn’t fit into the usual model of the typical student who’s ready just to sit there in a middle-class university and give some guy thousands of dollars in tuition to rubber stamp you and get the diploma and get out,” his buddy says.
    “In a more sane world he would’ve been a lawyer if he could’ve sat through law school and gone through all the bureaucratic loopholes to get that degree,” he adds, “because the guy, he can analyze anything from any point of view and just zero-in on things that no one else would ever figure out. And completely out-argue anybody about anything. It’s fucking frustrating sometimes.”
    Despite being raised in a military family, Brown apparently never felt the pull to serve, but he had all the trappings of a fearless soldier committed to a higher cause. His thin frame belied his mettle and zeal, say friends.
    After briefly dipping his toe into the realm of higher education, Brown pursued his true passion—writing—and ended up taking whatever freelance work he could: blurbs for bars and restaurants for the local alternative weekly and even some satire columns.
    It wasn’t until he left Dallas for a three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn—where he started reading William Gibson and his cyberpunk musings—did Brown begin seeing the Internet in a whole new light, developing a deeper understanding of its full potential.
    But that wasn’t all he was into.
    By the time Pritchard had arrived in New York he discovered that his longtime friend had become hooked on heroin. Brown had “always been carefree about his indulgences,” Pritchard says, but he was mostly smoking pot, drinking alcohol and even experimenting with pills, so his new hobby didn’t come as a total shock.
    “I’ve seen him do far things worse to his body before, so I’m not really going to worry about it,” Pritchard says, recalling his mindset at the time. “If anybody can be a junkie and be wacky about it, it’s this guy right here…If you know the guy, it’s not anything to be terribly concerned about unless you’re his mother or something.”
    There was also the time Brown smoked crack with some homeless guys in a basement beneath Brooklyn row houses. Still, Pritchard trusted his friend, who had an addictive personality and was rarely seen without a cigarette.
    Brown did, however, try several times to quit heroin cold turkey, says Pritchard—once, before joining his father across the globe for an African Safari—and would roll around in his bed as he battled withdrawal.
    “It was a very masochistic display to look at this person and not jab a needle in his vein to make him not hurt as bad as he was because the addiction got to him,” his friend says.
    Brown and Pritchard also lived with another roommate, but since neither of them earned a considerable income, they decided to rent out the apartment to some drug dealers who had just been kicked out of their safe house down the block. The pot dealers seemingly fit right in; smoking weed and playing X-Box until they bid ado at around 10 p.m. every night and returned to their wives.
    “Typical New York experience, I figured,” says Pritchard with a hint of sarcasm.
    With money running dry and their job prospects quickly disappearing thanks to the Great Recession, Brown and Pritchard decided to pack up in pursuit of a more stable life in their home state.
    During the time Brown spent in Brooklyn and over the course of the next few years, he was dabbling in all sorts of projects. He published his first book, “Flock of Dodos,” in April 2007 and contributed to a number of outlets—including Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Vanity Fair—and even served as the communications director for Enlighten the Vote, a political action committee that worked to get Atheists elected to public office.
    But it was in early 2010, when Anonymous infiltrated several Australian government websites in protest of Internet censorship, when Brown’s interests in the cyber-industrial complex took form.
    In March 2010, Brown announced the creation of Project PM and he was well on his way to exposing through “civil disobedience” the shadowy—and burgeoning—relationship between private security contractors and the U.S. government.
    Little did he know just how hard Uncle Sam would fight to keep those contractors’ secrets safe. He soon found out.
    Barrett Brown, of Dallas, is the only journalist currently jailed in America, according to press freedoms group Reporters Without Borders. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
    War on Dissent

    Following his arrest, Brown received considerable backing from some of the most prominent press groups and journalists around the world. Many, astonished that the action of sharing a link could be criminalized, decried the charges against Brown and shouted that his prosecution was the latest salvo in the government’s war on information and whistleblowers.
    “It’s good that they dropped it [most of the charges against Brown] but the precedent…without a court ruling on it they could go after someone else for doing something similar in the future,” says Hanni Fakhoury, staff attorney with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Whether they will or not I’m not sure, I’m hopeful that they won’t.”
    He continues: “The thought that if you report on something and post a link that involve documents you’re not really supposed to have, which is a big part of journalism, especially investigative journalism; if you think that you can potentially get charged, just the threat of getting charged is enough to chill that journalistic practice. It sends a real scary message to those people who do this for a living.”
    Under President Obama, who in his first days in office promised an open and transparent government, more people (eight in total) have been charged under the Espionage Act of 1917—a World War I-era law initially created to prosecute spies—than all other administrations combined.
    “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government,” Obama wrote in a memorandum signed Jan. 21, 2009. “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.”
    Thirteen months later, NSA Senior Executive Thomas Drake was charged under the Espionage Act for unlawful retention of classified information after exposing the spy agency’s Trailblazer project, a domestic surveillance program, to a Baltimore Sun journalist. He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor was sentenced to 240 hours of community service.
    One month after that, FBI translator Shamai Leibowitz became the subject of the Obama Department of Justice’s second Espionage Act case for sharing classified information about FBI wiretaps to a blogger; he was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
    More charges emerged against former military and government employees who sought to expose the truth. Before that year’s end, three more people were charged under the act, including Manning, who leaked 250,000 documents to WikiLeaks in addition to the Collateral Murder video. None of the people involved in killing the two innocent Reuters journalist were ever prosecuted. Yet Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison—though she wasn’t convicted on the Espionage Act charges.
    Two other cases that emerged in 2010 provide further insight into this so-called “Information War.”
    One year earlier, U.S. State Department adviser Stephen Kim allegedly met with Fox News reporter James Rosen and allegedly shared top-secret information with him regarding North Korea’s nuclear test plans in response to sanctions, which Rosen reported on the network’s website. The FBI reportedly obtained the reporter’s emails and went as far as to label him a potential co-conspirator, drawing tremendous outcry from press groups.
    “U.S. government efforts to prosecute leakers by obtaining information from journalists has a chilling effect domestically and sends a terrible message to journalists around the world who are fighting to resist government intrusion,” nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Executive Director Joel Simon said last May when Rosen’s link to Kim was first reported.
    A case of equally great concern among press groups involves former CIA analyst Jeffrey Sterling, who was indicted in December 2010 and is accused by the government of being the source of allegedly classified information the Times’James Risen discloses in his book “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” revealing “a failed attempt by the CIA to have a former Russian scientist provide flawed nuclear weapons blueprints to Iran,” according to court documents from Risen’s federal appeal’s court hearing.
    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District declined to hear his appeal. Risen is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court.
    Judge Roger L. Gregory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District wrote the dissenting opining and criticized his colleagues for reading “narrowly the law governing the protection of a reporter from revealing his sources, a decision that is, in my view, contrary to the will and wisdom of our Founders.”
    “Democracy without information about the activities of the government is hardly a democracy,” Gregory added.
    Appearing at a panel at the Times Center last month, Risen reportedly told the audience the Obama Administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”
    These examples, and the ongoing Espionage Act charges brought against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, are emblematic of the current war on whistleblowers, press freedom groups and advocates say.
    “Snowden may make people look twice at who is being prosecuted for espionage and try to look at what these cases are really about,” Jesselyn Radack, one of the lawyers representing Snowden, and the Washington-based Government Accountability Project’s National Security & Human Rights director, tells the Press.
    “The only way people get informed is by newspapers,” she adds, “and in particular, by sources for newspapers, and when those dry up or get burned, then really democracy is threatened even further.”
    When The Washington Post reported last month that a 6,300-page classified Senate Intelligence Report concluded that the CIA misled the government about its interrogation program, citing anonymous “current and former U.S. officials,” Radack blasted the government for essentially picking and choosing what it considers a leak.
    The story “is a classic illustration of the government’s blatant double-standard on leaks. Since drowning detainees in ice water is an ‘authorized leak’ [referring to the alleged CIA torture technique never disclosed to the government] by ‘US officials,’ no one will be prosecuted for espionage,” she wrote in a statement to the Press. “In contrast, my client John Kiriakou is in jail for revealing that the CIA was engaged in waterboarding.”
    Nonprofit Reporters without Borders, which since 2002 has released annual reports dubbed the “Press Freedom Index,” provides the clearest indication as to how 180 countries treat journalists. It recently dropped the United States in its rankings, from 32 to 46, due to the war on whistleblowers and Brown’s prosecution.
    “In 2013, it’s clear now that the whistleblowers are the enemies of the U.S. And it’s really interesting, because rather than pursuing journalists,” they are instead going after their sources, Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, tells the Press.
    “Before Obama took office, only three whistleblowers have been charged,” she adds. “That really reminds us that leaks are really crucial, are the lifeblood of investigative journalists given that nearly all information related to national security is considered secret and classified, so that’s why we really see this war on whistleblowers [as] a clear strategy. This crackdown against whistleblowers is clearly designed to restrict all but officially approved versions of the events.”
    “It’s kind of the idea,” she continues, “everything which is not presented in a press conference is a leak.”
    That is why journalists who report on leaks say their work is more important now than ever. But the threat of prosecution is very real, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.
    Meanwhile, Brown remains behind bars, biding his time voraciously reading books and articles sent to him by friends, family and supporters. It’s unclear if Brown, who has been silenced ever since a court-imposed gag order in September, will ever again pursue his journalism when he’s eventually released. Regardless, many are thankful for his work.
    “We live in an era about increased secrecy about what the government is doing both in terms of the surveillance practices, both domestically and within the NSA,” says the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Fakhoury. “And I think that we rely on investigative journalist to report on these things, and…if the government would be more transparent and open about what it was doing there wouldn’t be the need to hack into computer systems and report on these things in illicit ways.”
    “They go hand-in-hand,” he adds. “More transparency will lead to the same end-result, but without the collateral consequences of credit card numbers getting leaked and all that. I’m not saying leaking hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers is appropriate, absolutely not, it’s just a matter of: How do we reconcile these two things? I understand the government has to keep some things under wraps, but when they do it excessively you’re going to peak people’s curiosity, and then this is how that curiosity gets dealt with.”
    First Indictment Against Barrett Brown

    Second Indictment Against Barrett Brown

    Third Indictment Against Barrett Brown

    Barrett Brown First Superseding Indictment

    Barrett Brown Lawyer Motion

    Barrett Brown Gag Order Request

    Jeremy Hammond Indictment
    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. #20


    DALLAS, Tx.—Barrett Brown entered the federal courtroom shackled, with a slight swagger in his step and squinting into the light. He took his seat next to his defense team and quietly set about flipping through a stack of loose-leaf papers and then began writing. When asked by the judge if he knew why he was in court that day, Tuesday, Brown – who has spent two years in federal custody – leaned into the microphone and with a warbly Texas accent, said clearly and plainly, “I am to be sentenced today.” And then he returned to his papers.
    Wearing a prison-issued orange uniform, the 33-year-old Brown scribbled for hours as a federal prosecutor attempted to portray him, not as a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Guardian, Vanity Fair and the Dallas-based Dmagazine, but instead as a spokesman, strategist and contributor to the hacktivist collective Anonymous. It was the final phase of a criminal prosecution that at one point threatened Brown with more than 100 years in prison, as a result of his work on thousands of files hacked by Anonymous from the servers of HBGary Federal and Stratfor, security intelligence firms and government contractors. Through the online collective he founded, called Project PM, Brown analyzed and reported on the thousands of pages of leaked documents. The HBGary hack revealed a coordinated campaign to target and smear advocates for WikiLeaks and the Chamber of Commerce, while the Stratfor hack provided a rare window into the shadowy world of defense contractors.
    The hearing followed a plea deal negotiated with prosecutors last spring, in which Brown agreed to plead guilty to charges related to threats he made in a YouTube video against an FBI agent named Robert Smith, as well as to a misdemeanor obstruction charge for attempting to conceal two laptops when FBI agents arrived at his mother’s home to execute a search warrant. A third charge, accessory after the fact, stemmed from an offer Brown made to the hacker Jeremy Hammond, to contact Stratfor to see if the firm wanted redactions of the hacked materials. Brown faced up to 8 ½ years in prison for these charges.
    But in court, the question of who Barrett Brown really is—and the real nature of his work—consumed and drew out what typically would be a brief sentencing hearing at the U.S. District courthouse near Dealey Plaza. The YouTube video represents the most serious charge against him; in it, Brown says he is suffering symptoms of withdrawal from Suboxone, the drug he used to control his heroin addiction, and becomes angry when discussing the FBI raid on his mother’s home and the government’s related charges against her. He threatens to “look into” FBI Agent Smith’s kids and “ruin” his life.
    Yet the video was not presented in court. U.S. Attorney Candina Heath instructed Agent Smith to read excerpts from some 60 exhibits, mainly excerpts from chat conversations and emails found on Brown’s computers. In them, Brown described himself as a “former journalist,” a “pseudo journalist” and strategist for Anonymous. The government seized on statements by Brown saying his wiki, Project PM, “laundered people for Anonymous.” One private chat said that Project PM had been divided into two groups, with one faction, led by Brown, dedicated to “revolutionary” activities.
    The prosecution has been extraordinary for several reasons, chief among them the unusual secrecy surrounding the evidence used against him. That secrecy was on full display at Tuesday’s hearing, as much of the evidence referenced by the prosecutors was inaccessible to the public. The evidence that was discussed was often selectively disclosed by prosecutors, who tore from their original context lengthy chats and emails to depict Brown as a malicious hacker rather than a journalist.
    The proceeding itself far more resembled an aggressive prosecution than it did a standard sentencing hearing. Prosecutors repeatedly attacked Brown based on allegations that had long ago been dismissed, seemingly attempting to malign his character based on charges that he no longer faces and for which he was never convicted.
    Brown’s defense attorneys objected to much of the material presented by prosecutors, saying it was not relevant to the charges against him. The full transcripts of the cited chats and emails taken from Brown’s laptops have not been made public, as many of the documents related to the case have been placed under court seal. Reviewing the voluminous files took much of the day, prompting Judge Sam A. Lindsay to announce that Brown’s sentencing hearing would be continued to January 22.
    The decision was met with visible dismay from family and supporters, angered that Brown, who has already spent two years in jail, will have to spend at least another holiday season with his fate undecided. Abetted by a deliberate prosecution strategy to make the proceedings as protracted as possible, the judge pushed off sentencing for weeks, seemingly in no rush to resolve the charges against a defendant who has lingered in jail.
    More alarming were old claims resurrected by prosecutors about a link Brown posted in a chatroom and then on a file sharing website. The link led to a cache of credit card information exposed by the hack; prosecutors claimed that posting the link constituted complicity with the hack itself—as well as subsequent exploitation of the credit cards. “It doesn’t matter the number of hands it passes as long as they know its stolen property,” argued Heath, the prosecutor. Each one, she said, “steals it further.”
    Prosecutors said that 113 identifiable victims had suffered credit card fraud totaling some $18,000 in the days after Brown posted the link. Despite extensive discussion by prosecutors about the material, it remained unclear that any fraud occurred as a result of Brown’s linking to the data.
    Defense attorneys reiterated their argument that by posting a link, Brown had simply pointed in the direction of the data, which was available on another site and in the public domain. It was the attempt to criminalize his posting of a link to this data that made Brown’s case a cause célèbre among journalists and press freedom activists following his arrest in September 2012.
    The prosecution’s claim about the link “has serious repercussions to journalists, researchers, people who link to public information,” Cadeddu told the court. “The government’s argument should chill the bones of every journalist and every researcher.”
    “Looking at that as criminal conduct would probably bring an end to all digital journalism, period,” defense attorney Ahmed Ghappour, who directs the Liberty, Security and Technology Clinic, at the University of California Hastings College of Law told me. “There would be no reporting on leaks.”
    Marlo P. Cadeddu emphasized that Brown had been unaware the cache contained credit card documents, citing a chat transcript in which he wrote, “what’s exactly is in that download?” Elsewhere, Brown wrote that “the emails will reveal a great deal about a lot of important subjects including wrongdoing by states and institutions,” specifying “mass surveillance [and] cutting edge disinformation techniques.”
    During the sentencing hearing, Judge Lindsay noted that the court had received over 100 letters from Brown supporters. (That includes The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald, who along with a number of his First Look Media colleagues, is a vocal supporter of Brown and has written critically about the prosecution.) In the final hour of the hearing, Judge Lindsey said that both sides had presented material of “minimal value.” Instead, the day had been devoted to dueling images of Brown. There was Brown the investigative journalist and author, committed to exposing institutional malfeasance and the cyber industrial complex. There was Brown who in messages and chats described his work as part of a revolution, an asymmetrical cyber war and his role as that of an Anonymous strategist, propagandist, and pseudo journalist. And then there was Brown the self-described troll.
    The last descriptor posed the greatest potential conundrum, giving the defense leverage by introducing the possibility that statements made by Brown such as “Anonymous is mine” were simply part of a culture that revels in pranks and projecting a mischievous public persona.
    Citing chat logs and emails, Agent Smith, who acknowledged that he was not part of the investigation into the Stratfor and HBGary hacks, testified that there was evidence some hackers had become angry at Brown for taking undue credit for hacks and for being “self-aggrandizing” in his role with Anonymous.
    Smith also said that Brown lacked hacking skills—not the only suggestion that Brown lacked technical prowess. At one point, a reference was made to Jeremy Hammond, who orchestrated the Stratfor hack, admonishing Brown for failing to use encrypted messaging. Quinn Norton, a journalist who became embroiled in the aggressive—and ultimately tragic—federal prosecution of Aaron Swartz, testified that Brown was well-known among members of Anonymous (known as “Anons”), but when asked whether he occupied a high status within the group, she explained that status was related to skills and Brown, evidently lacked high currency skills. She also echoed Smith’s assessment that Anons had resented that he tried to take credit for operations he did not participate in. On one occasion, she said, Brown had been criticized and booted from an Internet Relay Chat.
    At the end of the day, it remained unclear whether the arguments and evidence will even influence the ultimate sentence. As the hearing concluded, Brown tucked away the loose-leaf pages he had spent the day working on. His words will be reserved for another day. After the marshals shackled him, he nodded in the direction of his family and shuffled out of the courtroom with a bit less swagger but with the same squint in his eye, returning to a jail cell he has occupied for more than two years.
    "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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