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Erstwhile #Anonymous Spokesman Barrett Brown Scores Six-Figure Book Deal, Raided by FBI, Denounces Snitch

Posted on | March 11, 2012 | 40 Comments

Barrett Brown, blabbering vulgar gibberish into his webcam, March 2011

“The fact that Amazon is now providing money to me and Housh — they’re going to help us get our message out.”
Barrett Brown, November 2011

Longtime readers of the blog will recall that in February 2011, I put up a post with this headline:

Is the FBI Watching Barrett Brown? (And
If They’re Not Already, Shouldn’t They?)

An atheist heroin addict from Texas, Brown had begun promoting himself as public spokesman for the criminal hacker group “Anonymous,” which gained notoriety as a sort of volunteer amateur auxilliary to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks.

This development was bizarre beyond words in two ways:

  1. Brown was generally known to the blogosphere as a sort of D-list troll, a narcissistic braggart with obvious mental-health issues, prone to boasting of his plans to create ‘A Communicational Schematic That Is Superior to Anything Else in Existence’, getting himself banned from group blogs and engaging in such ill-advised stunts as threatening libel suits against his online critics; and
  2. How does one act as “spokesman” for a gang of computer-hacking criminals without becoming complicit in their crimes?

The second point was blindingly obvious: Either Brown was exaggerating his role with “Anonymous” or else he was up to his neck in a very serious international criminal conspiracy.

Yet the mainstream media, in their eagerness to report on the “Anonymous” phenomenon, seemed to take him at face value. Brown appeared on NBC News in an interview with Michael Isikoff who described him as “an underground commander in a new kind of warfare.” 

This was either (a) total bulls–t, or (b) an admission of guilt to several potential federal felony charges, and it didn’t really matter which one it was in terms of its larger signficance, i.e., Barrett Brown had somehow self-promoted his way to Troll Stardom.

By showering attention on this amoral sociopath, NBC (and other media who treated Brown as a legitimate source) were incentivizing the very worst sort of online activity. Delusions of grandeur are a common trait of trolls, who always imagine themselves as heroic figures.

Weren’t the media helping Brown troll his way to fame and fortune? Why would they make a celebrity of a borderline psychotic whose modus operandi is blabbering vulgar gibberish into his webcam?

Well, fast-forward: I last took notice of Brown in June 2011, when British police arrested a “Luzsec” hacker whose crimes raised questions about “Anonymous.” However, I wasn’t paying attention a month later when federal agents arrested 14 members of “Anonymous” (and five other members were arrested overseas) for engaging in denial-of-service attacks against PayPal.

Because I was busy covering the fight for the Republican presidential nomination, Barrett Brown  and “Anonymous” dropped off my radar screen, but it appears our boy has kept busy in recent months.

In November, it was announced that Brown and a dweeb named Gregg Housh had scored a deal (with a reported six-figure advance) for a book to be titled Anonymous: Tales From Inside The Accidental Cyberwar which was “pitched as Barbarians at the Gate for the digital era.”

Let’s pause to examine Brown’s would-be co-author: Housh has been described as a “seventh-grade dropout, devout atheist, and proud computer troll” who once served “three months . . .  in federal prison for copyright infringement via software piracy.”

Now let’s pause to consider whether someone like Housh could, in collaboration with someone like Brown, produce a book that would earn back a six-figure advance payment.

Once you’ve stopped laughing, consider this: The company that gave Brown and Housh this book contract was Amazon, which had been targeted in a denial-of-service attack by Anonymous in December 2010. So it appears that Amazon was willing to pay big money to two members of this criminal gang that had tried to destroy Amazon’s business during the biggest online sales month of the year.

Do you see what I mean incentivizing bad behavior?

Fast-forward again to last week, when law-enforcement agents busted the “Anonymous” offshoot known as “LulzSec”:

Among those charged Tuesday was 27-year-old Jeremy Hammond of Chicago. Investigators said Hammond boasted that he’d snared the personal data of a former U.S. vice president and one-time CIA director as part of an attack in December of Strategic Forecasting Inc. or Stratfor, a global intelligence firm in Austin, Texas, that affected up to 860,000 victims.
The government said Hammond conspired to hack into computer systems used by Stratfor, which describes itself as a subscription-based provider of geopolitical analysis.
It said he and co-conspirators stole credit card information for approximately 60,000 credit card users and used some of the stolen data to make more than $700,000 . . . in unauthorized charges. . . .
Also charged with conspiracy to commit computer hacking were Ryan Ackroyd, 25, of Doncaster, England; Jake Davis, 19, of Lerwick, Scotland; Darren Martyn, 25, of Galway, Ireland, and Donncha O’Cearrbhail, 19, of Birr, Ireland.

The charging documents in the “LulzSec” arrests revealed that this bust was made possible by the cooperation of an “Anonymous” hacker known as “Sabu” who was arrested in June:

Hector Xavier Monsegur, a hacker with the group Anonymous cooperating in a U.S. probe, won’t face prosecution on charges including attempted drug-dealing and illegal gun possesion, according to a plea deal.
The agreement, made public today, stated Monsegur, 28, won’t face federal charges for hacking the website of an online casino, trying to sell five pounds of marijuana, receiving stolen property and gun possession.
The U.S. also said Monsegur won’t be prosecuted for using an employer’s credit card to make $15,000 in unauthorized charges. The government said Monsegur’s hacking activities date back to 1999. . . .

(In other words, this career criminal has evidently been given immunity for a slew of crimes in return for ratting out his accomplices.)

Monsegur, a former member of the Anonymous, Internet Feds and LulzSec hacker groups, began secretly cooperating with U.S. investigators after his arrest on June 7, according to a court transcript. Monsegur began working “around the clock” to inform on his colleagues, prosecutors told a judge. . . .
Monsegur, who pleaded guilty Aug. 15, began cooperating with U.S. authorities, including Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, after his arrest, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Pastore told U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska at a court hearing in August, according to a transcript.
Monsegur, who used the nickname Sabu and is described as an “influential member” of all three hacker groups, admitted to staging cyber-attacks against the websites of the governments of Algeria, Yemen and Zimbabwe, according to a criminal information unsealed March 6. He also said he conducted hacks on Tribune Co. . . . and . . . Fox television, prosecutors said.
“Since literally the day he was arrested, the defendant has been cooperating with the government proactively,” Pastore told Preska at the Aug. 5 hearing, according to the transcript made available yesterday. “The defendant has literally worked around the clock with federal agents. He has been staying up sometimes all night engaging in conversations with co- conspirators that are helping the government to build cases against those co-conspirators.” . . .

I believe the appropriate term here is “LULZ!

The bigger the conspiracy, the greater its vulnerability to snitches. This is a basic fact of criminal activity that the “Anonymous” idiots failed to comprehend, just like they didn’t understand why serious criminals have a basic rule of survival: Don’t roll with punks.

A punk is the kind of foolish coward who, as soon as he’s busted and pressured by cops, will spill his guts and turn informant on everybody he knows in order to avoid the consequences of his own crimes. Experienced criminals are usually quite wary of getting involved with any accomplice they don’t know well enough to judge whether he might be either an active informant or else the kind of gutless punk who would rat them out the minute the cops show up with an arrest warrant.

  • Question: How can anyone ascertain, in a virtual environment, the true character of another person, if that other person is skillful at deception and has strong motives to deceive?
  • Answer: You can’t.
  • Question: Given that hacking is an activity that necessarily involves deception and theft, wouldn’t it be the kind of activity that would attract a lot of pathological liars?
  • Answer: It would.
  • Question: Aren’t most liars and thieves also cowards?
  • Answer: They are.

So as soon as Barrett Brown began boastfully promoting himself as the public spokesman for “Anonymous,” it was as certain as night follows day that this episode would not end well for him. It was therefore a predictable ROTFLMAO moment to read Brown’s account of what happened when the feds showed up  Tuesday:

On the morning of the 6th, three FBI agents came to my mom’s door and asked if I was there. She woke me up and I went down to talk to them. They told me that they’d executed a search warrant at my apartment and that the door had been broken in the process, and then asked me if I had any laptops with me here at my mom’s place that I wanted to give them. I responded in the negative, and they left. At that point I began taking calls and e-mails from the press regarding Sabu, whom I learned was in fact a degenerate pussy traitor who couldn’t face two f–king years in prison, making him the biggest pussy in the history of mankind. . . . At any rate, the Feds came back a couple of hours later with a search warrant for my mom’s place — they fully intended to take a certain laptop, and did.

While this is is funny enough — at his mom’s house! — in its own right, but am I the only one who sees the comedy in Brown’s denunciation of “Sabu” as a “degenerate pussy traitor”?

As court documents make clear, “Sabu” was threatened with a lot more than “two f–king years in prison.” In fact, the feds had enough on him to put him away for the rest of his life.

Beyond that, however, exactly how does Barrett Brown think the feds identified “Sabu” as the ringleader? How did they bust that “LulzSec” hacker in June? How did they bust those 14 “Anonymous” hackers in July? Doesn’t it seem obvious — as it seemed obvious to me as early as February 2011 — that having a self-promoting public spokesman created a distinct vulnerability for this hacker conspiracy?

Look: All it took was for one member of the group to be identified as such by law enforcement, at which point they could get a warrant that would permit them to monitor every communication — e-mail, chat, phone, whatever — in which that person engaged, and . . .

BARRETT BROWN IDENTIFIED HIMSELF!

How stupid do you have to be not to see what that meant?

Certainly, I’m not that stupid, nor am I so stupid that I didn’t realize, when I got an e-mail tip about Brown’s emergence as “Anonymous” spokesman, that the feds probably already had Brown under intense scrutiny. Even if Brown’s publicity-seeking hadn’t been enough to elicit law-enforcement attention, the person who tipped me surely would have tipped the feds before alerting me.

There was always something weirdly suspicious about this episode, and any supporter of “Anonymous” who suspected that Barrett Brown was himself a federal informant . . .

Well, who knows? Maybe he was just too stupid to understand what he was getting himself into, or maybe he was just bulls–tting all along about being privy to the inner workings of “Anonymous.” Maybe he’s lying about the FBI raid, too — or maybe the feds just wanted access to his hard drive in order to be able to add more evidence to what they’d already gotten by wiretapping Brown’s online communications for the past year or more.

Will this jeopardize Barrett Brown’s book deal? Is Brown’s co-author Gregg Housh also a federal suspect, or maybe an FBI informant? Are there many “Anonymous” and WikiLeaks sympathizers who would like to strangle Brown and Housh for cashing in with Amazon? Here is an episode of the left-wing broadcast Democracy Now! in which host Amy Goodman proves herself too stupid to think of asking such important and relevant questions of Housh:

We await further news about the continuing adventures of famed cybergenius Barrett Brown, a troll so obnoxious he managed to get himself banned from Little Green Footballs!

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Comments

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  • Chefmojo

    Stacy, you gotta admit; getting banned from LGF isn’t THAT extraordinary. The meaning of Charles Johnson’s life is having his frequent Red Queen moments. 

  • ThomasD

    “[T]hree FBI agents came to my mom’s door and asked if I was there. She woke me up and I went down to talk to them.”

    ROFLMAO indeed.  The only way that could have been more picture perfect is if he had come up to see the FBI agents.  They probably don’t build houses with basements there.

    As to why he gets big bucks from Amazon, two possibilities are either that it was all a set up, or nothing more than America’s love for all things douchebag (Jersey Shore, etc.)

  • JeffS

     Possibility #3: Amazon is desperate for new books to sell, and is digging deep to get it.

  • http://2012.ak4mc.us/ McGehee

    I knew from the start that one day I would be saying of Barrett Brown, “I scraped him off the bottom of my shoe when…”

  • Taxpayer1234

    I’m betting that the REAL story is he and his pal are using Amazon’s self-publishing (“vanity press”) service, and calling that the “book deal.”

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  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    If you were designing troll miniatures for an online roleplaying game, this is what they would look like….

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

     If they were offered an advance, they’re not.  It COULD be a shakedown: publish our book and we keep Anonymous out of your databases… but would Amazon admit it?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    The Observer piece doesn’t say anything about “six figures” as either the deal or the advance, and frankly nobody without a track record of sales is getting that sort of advance.

    It is supposedly an e-book only deal, which may be the wave of the future for those who aren’t guaranteed bestsellers, but probably carries a royalties-only payout with no advance at all.  Given Brown’s history, the difference between what he says is going to happen and what is really going to happen is a pretty big gap.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

     Now you’re just throwing Barrett against the wall to see if he sticks.

    I hope Stacy has one of his wymyn friends to clean up this mess.

  • MrPaulRevere

    Awesome post Stacy, you flayed that boy six ways to Sunday. I’m sure he’ll show up here to comment on it.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

     They do resemble dice with odd numbers of sides.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

     I’m trying to imagine the looks on the G-Men’s faces when this weasel came down the stairs…

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

     On a library computer.

  • Anamika

    For me, unwaveringly insulting and cynical says there is a problem, an affliction. Most of us have afflictions, so why is Barret Brown so unwelcome in most venues?

    Why is HIS negativity and repetitiveness so unworthy as to get him turfed in so many places, while others can carry on? Is there something special about negativity? Why choose?

    Any number of answers are possible to these and more questions in a similar vein. I settle it — without getting into a lot of detail — with recourse to a few basic notions:

    1. Repetitive is to be discouraged, especially when there are aspects requiring “redeeming value.”

    2. “Redeeming” has to do with running a place where a variety of people will feel reasonably comfortable participating. Barret Brown is as divine as any of us but repetitive and nasty reduces the variety.

    3. As well, Brown needs help as much as anyone, but he affects not to need it, so why bother? Resources are limited.

    4. All things being equal, aesthetics matter. Yes, eye of the beholder and all that, but enough people find repetitive and nasty ugly, so some “redeeming” is needed.

  • http://www.granitegrok.com Mike Rogers

    Let me see. This obnoxious group attacks Amazon. Amazon offers a book deal to the group’s “spokesmen”, the spokesmen step forward, and the trap is closed.
    So, was it Amazon foolishly buying “protection”, or was it sucker bait??
    Since there is so little honor amongst such characters, is the next step hackers turning up dead?

  • http://twitter.com/darthodius Darth Odie

    Lolsec was always a Zionist plot

  • http://twitter.com/darthodius Darth Odie

    LOLsec was always a Zionist Internet inc. plot. 

    Note Hectors crimes were before the creating of LOLsec…  eh hem….

  • gg

    One telling sign in all of this is that Not ONE Defender from Anonymous or the liberal blogs has come forth to either support Barret Brown or plead his case.

    I don’t use the word lightly, but I have come to the nearly irrevocable conclusion that Brown is a TROLL.

    A troll who is hell-bent on self-destruction, in terms of becoming a Persona Non Grata on almost all the places he gets associated with.

    Let’s see what happens to his deal with Amazon that he along with Gregg Housch have apparently bagged.

    If past results are any indication of future outcomes, then it won’t be long before Brown will alienate folks there as well.

    Talk about self-sabotage!

    And “designed to fail”!

    Look no further than Brown for a prime example of both.

  • gg

    Stacy/Smitty/Wombat, why do you needlessly prolong this agony?

    Do you imagine you are doing anyone any good, by perpetually recycling Anamika here in TOM?

    I cannot really believe you are so blind, as to be doing this. It is not just a matter of Anamika’s abuse of you, but of her abuse of other readers of this blog.

    My advice; let Anamika walk away, and stay away.

    Sure, she has celebrity status as a serial abuser.

    And yes, she stands as the poster-troll rep for dullest tool in the shed status.

    But she can start her own blog, and if you are such a big fan of hers, you can join and regale her with your ongoing sycophantic slurpings.

    As it stands, you appear to be Charles Johnson Junior in the regard of not only harboring but encouraging needless and hurtful conflicts between dysfunctional and aggressive ‘members’.

    I for one, am not amused.

    Surely, you can find other ways in which to amuse yourself?

    Or will you again, just say “oops!” when you open the door to a hydrophobic ferret?

    Trust me; it does NOT look good.

    Sincerely,

    gg
     

  • Anamika

    From my POV, ‘gg’ has absolutely NO credibility, at least as he has demonstrated on this blog.

    IMO, ‘gg’ should be put on permanent moderation. And his frequent quitting and rejoining serve only to illustrate how adroitly he got his ass in a jam here, and now expects ‘forgiveness’ for his willful crimes against all that is obscene. What would Satan do?

    I do not (and have not) believe anything he says. His behaviour here is entirely trollish and has been since his first post in the early days of this blog.

    Seldom have I witnessed such a pathetic, ongoing travesty of deep and chronic stupidity, as ‘gg’ has furnished us here.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7E7OB7BMLOMJ6VHFDA7GITJXQY DaveO

    Now for due process. Don’t think Sabu is going to rest easy in Witness Protection though. What he did to us can be done to him.

  • AnonymousDrivel

    First Rule of Anonymous Club: You do not talk about Anonymous Club

    Second Rule of Anonymous Club: You DO NOT  talk about Anonymous Club

  • Taxpayer1234

    I don’t believe anything these twits say, so I’m guessing they are doing whatever they can to make themselves look good.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    I would like to see them hanging for Treason.

  • Warren Rutherford

    Who knows what’s with Amazon? This debacle, and recently hiring Jamie “firewall” Gorelick to its board of directors…
     http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=97664&p=irol-govmanage

  • AnonymousNow

    Hacking always involves “theft”? One in numerous brazenly disingenuous positions taken by writer here. Most of the unsupported positions taken here.by the.writer are bogus, and the writer is providing a false characterization of anonymous. Par for an establishment rag these days.

  • AnonymousNow

    The writer here seems to think anon is a massive criminal conspiracy?! Now thats either the fbi pawning the writers cred, or the writer doing that himself. Try wikipedia for starters.

  • AnonymousNow

    The writer here seems to think anon is a massive criminal conspiracy?! Now thats either the fbi pawning the writers cred, or the writer doing that himself. Try wikipedia for starters.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rob5136 Rob Crawford

    Er, you *do* realize that “Anonymous” admits to being criminal and conspiring, right? I do suspect that the only “massive” is their behinds, though.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rob5136 Rob Crawford

    Theft of service, and trespass is theft of exclusive control over property.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rob5136 Rob Crawford

    Considering Brown is still stalking the streets, isn’t it likely he’s talking to the feds as well?

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  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Chefmojo, getting banned from LGF is the norm.   But not every person banned by Chuckie is normal.  

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    “[T]hree FBI agents came to my mom’s door and asked if I was there. She woke me up and I went down up to talk to them.”
    He has to live in mom’s basement.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    “when this weasel came down up the stairs…”
    mom’s basement = Barrett Brown’s crib

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Anamika/gg:  If Barrett Brown were not a committed masterbator, you would be the perfect girlfriend for him.  

  • hello

    Y u so prejudiced

  • Humanbee

    You write:
    Barrett Brown, blabbering vulgar gibberish into his webcam

    So I hope for something nearly as good as him taking a bath in front of a webcam ; )  

    But he’s seems to just be angry and for a reason…