Posted on | September 16, 2012 | 35 Comments
Barrett Brown calmly explains why he’s going to ‘destroy’ an FBI agent
“In an interview with Defense Technology International [March 1], prominent Anonymous front man Barrett Brown alluded to the significance of the HB Gary hacking in the movement.”
— Mandy Nagy (aka “Liberty Chick”), Breitbart.com, “FBI Bust, Aided by ‘Anonymous’ Snitch, Reveals Left-Hacker Alliance,” March 9, 2012
“I got to find out, thanks to a hack — thanks to another f–king stroke of luck, thank God — that HB Gary, since mid-February, had hired an FBI informant . . . making up reasons to raid Barrett Brown and get his information.”
— Barrett Brown, “Why I’m Going to Destroy FBI Agent Robert Smith Part Three,” YouTube.com, Sept. 12, 2012
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
— II Thessalonians, 2:11-12 (KJV)
* WARNING: INTENSIVE WEIRDNESS! *
Do Not Read This If You Can’t Handle
Full-Strength Industrial-Grade Crazy
The latest bizarre turn in the strange saga of Barrett Brown came to my attention Wednesday evening while I was on the phone with a friend talking about the (equally bizarre) attacks against me by Larry Sinclair, notorious for his claim of having once been Barack Obama’s gay lover.
Damn, I get some of the weirdest enemies, don’t I?
So I was on the phone talking about this and related stuff, and I’m not quite sure how the name Barrett Brown came up, but my friend said, “Have you seen his latest videos?”
When I said I had not, my friend said, “Oh, man, you’ve got to go check it out. It’s funny as hell. He’s talking all kinds of crazy stuff about the FBI and HBGary. It’s hilarious.”
This aroused my curiosity. When last I encountered Brown, it was Tuesday, Sept. 4, and I’d just gotten a call from Charlotte, informing me that they were waiting for me to come pick up my media credentials for the Democratic National Convention. The day before, Brown had gotten up in my face on Twitter, threatening to sue me for having reported the widespread suspicion that he was cooperating with authorities investigating the “Anonymous” hacker conspiracy.
Now, this is simply a fact: A lot of the Anonymous people never trusted Barrett Brown, regarding him as an untrustworthy egomaniacal fame-seeker trying to cash in. He did a TV interview with Michael Isikoff of NBC and announced a book deal with Gregg Housh, and did all of this while promoting himself as the official spokesman for Anonymous, whose members are . . . well, anonymous, and with good reason, because the cops would very much like to put a lot of them in prison.
After the FBI raided — but did not arrest — Brown in March, he became completely radioactive, especially after court documents in the “LulzSec” case (a rogue splinter of Anonymous) showed the feds were getting information from “unindicted co-conspirators.”
Hackers are generally smart enough to add 2 + 2, and if Brown’s get-out-of-jail-free card was contingent on him becoming an FBI informant, he had a serious problem, because none of his hacker buddies trusted him as far as they could throw him.
All of this was just plain fact, and when Brown threatened to sue me for having reported it, I laughed off his threat as absurd. I sent him an e-mail reply that ended with this advice:
You don’t need a lawyer, Barrett. You need a psychiatrist, or perhaps a priest to exorcise your demons. You are traveling a road to destruction, as harmful to yourself as to any of your chosen enemies. Get help.
Evidently, Brown refused to heed this advice. And so Wednesday when my friend told me about Barrett’s latest “hilarious” video, I was curious — and shocked by what I saw when I clicked on his YouTube channel. Are you sure you can handle the intense craziness? Because this is 13 minutes of absolute 100% bugfucking nuts:
Somebody should transcribe that before it’s deleted. You may not get all the references — HB Gary is the security firm that got hacked by LulzSec, Aaron Barr is the executive whose e-mails were stolen in the hacking, and Jennifer Emick is the former Anonymous member who identified LulzSec leader Sabu. A lot of this “Team Themis” stuff that Barrett Brown was ranting about shows up, by the way, in Neal Rauhauser’s conspiracy-theory document “Andrew Breitbart’s ISR Cell?”
Rauhauser sent that to the FBI in February after weeks of ominous warnings about a “Kookpocalypse.” And it is almost certainly not a coincidence that Barrett popped up on Twitter a couple weeks ago threatening both me and Patterico. Rauhauser’s own connections to Anonymous are extensively documented, but the exact nature and extent of his collaboration with Barrett Brown is unknown.
Being a paranoid conspiracy theorist is not illegal, and Brown’s tinfoil-hat rantings about HB Gary and Jen Emick were just so much noise. But his threats to “destroy” FBI agent Robert Smith? Yeah, the feds don’t take that kind of talk lightly:
Dallas law enforcement authorities have arrested self-professed Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown in what appears to have been a dramatic raid of his apartment late Wednesday night.
Barrett was having a live online video chat session with a few others when law enforcement officers can be heard storming into the room and shouting at him to comply with their commands to submit to his arrest. . . .
A spokeswoman for the Dallas County Sheriff’s office confirmed the arrest and said Brown was booked into the county jail at around 11 p.m. CT and has since been transferred to an FBI facility. A spokeswoman from the FBI field office in Dallas said the agency had no comment on the arrest. . . .
No official reason has been offered yet as to why Barrett was arrested. But it may be connected to a YouTube video Barrett released yesterday in which he appears to threaten an FBI agent named Robert Smith. In the rambling 13-minute expletive-laced video, Barrett accuses Smith of getting his mother into trouble on obstruction of justice charges over a laptop that Barrett had attempted to conceal from authorities. . . .
You can read the whole thing, which actually has video of the raid, which went down while Barrett was having an online video chat with his fellow crazies. Hilarious? Not at all.
Brown is mentally ill, but he’s also young and handsome and intelligent, which permitted him to attract a sort of fan club of enablers who encouraged his anti-social deviance and — hey! — it’s all just fun and games until somebody goes to federal prison.
What did Barrett Brown think he was doing? How has he come to this sorry end? He was playing at being an “investigative journalist,” hoping to achieve fame and fortune by exposing those corrupt evildoers using his amazing Internet skilz.
The White Knight rides forth in shining armor on his noble steed to slay the dangerous dragon!
It’s a common enough amateur fantasy nowadays, and these cyber-Walter Mitty types magnify their dragons — “Islamophobic extremist” Aaron Walker, “convicted felon” Ali Akbar, “racist neo-Confederate” Stacy McCain — in order to inflate their own glory as the triumphant White Knight. The Narcissist as Self-Imagined Hero — they’re a dime a dozen nowadays. When his long-awaited exposé of the evildoers falls flat, when the long-promised triumph doesn’t result in fame and fortune, the narcissist can’t comprehend his own failure.
“Who the hell is Jen Emick?”
You see? There is a tiny fringe of kooks who are obsessed with Jen Emick, Aaron Barr, HB Gary, yadda yadda, and a guy like Barrett Brown plays to that kook fringe, imagining that their fixation with these things represents a potential worldwide interest.
If only Barrett can prove what the fringe kooks believe — that the villains they hate are part of a vast Watergate-sized scandal — then he can imagine the unspeakable glory that awaits.
Yeah, and who the hell is Jen Emick?
You see the grandiosity, paranoia and persecution complex in e-mails Brown sent to the Daily Caller before his arrest:
“Yesterday began releasing revelations from stolen e-mails and other research on Holder/HBGary/Endgame Systems conspiracy against myself and potentially other activists associated with the transparency movement,” he wrote to TheDC late Wednesday afternoon. . . .
“My previous leaks … got me banned from Daily Kos last week after 8 years of writing there,” Brown told TheDC.
This is not merely bovine excrement, it’s delusional. Once you understand paranoia as a narcissistic disorder, you see that Barrett’s fantasy of becoming a latter-day Sy Hersh involves a vast chasm between his grandiose ambition and his actual abilities.
Barrett Brown is not as smart as he thinks he is. More to the point, Stephen Hawking is not as smart as Barrett Brown thinks he is.
Delusions of grandeur are symptomatic of a damaged ego, but we’ll leave aside the armchair analysis and deal with the reality: Barrett Brown went chasing a dream of eternal glory, and had contempt for lesser mortals who were merely trying to make a living as reporters or bloggers, and he actually had a better-than-average run, as such things go. He got himself interviewed by NBC News, was quoted by multiple publications as the spokesman for Anonymous, and even scored a book deal.
And it’s all fun and games until somebody goes to federal prison.
Probably there’s a Moral of the Story, but I’m too tired and depressed to figure it out today. All this swirling craziness — thank you, savage Islamic movie critics! — has pretty much ruined my entire week. Remember, I’m supposed to be covering a presidential campaign, instead of writing 1,500-word dissertations about Internet fame junkies.
Larry Sinclair called up a Mormon housewife in Colorado to tell her what an evil person I am. And how was your week, huh?
On the other hand, I’m not being held without bail in Texas, so maybe I’m doing a little better than Barrett Brown.