Posted on | September 9, 2013 | 37 Comments
Barrett Brown explains his
‘informational schematic,’ December, 2010
Excuse me for dwelling on Barrett Brown today, but amid a coordinated media push to beatify Saint Barrett of the Blessed Suboxone, it’s important to keep pushing back, even if some readers are getting bored by this celebrity criminal douchebag. Here’s a key section from Alexander Zaitchik’s Rolling Stone profile of Barrett:
The biggest fish flopping in Brown’s net was the story of a cluster of contractors known as Team Themis. The origins of Team Themis dated to Bank of America’s alarm over Julian Assange’s 2010 claim to possess documents that “could take down a bank or two.” The Department of Justice recommended Bank of America retain the services of the white-shoe D.C. law firm Hunton & Williams and the high-powered intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. On behalf of Bank of America, Hunton & Williams turned to the large and growing world of InfoSec subcontractors to come up with a plan, settling on HBGary and two dataintelligence shops, Berico Technologies and Palantir Technologies.
The Themis three were also preparing a proposal for Hunton & Williams on behalf of another client, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The leaked HBGary documents revealed that Themis was exploring ways of discrediting and disrupting the activities of organized labor and its allies for the Chamber. The potential money at stake in these contracts was considerable. According to Wired, the trio proposed that the Chamber create a $2-million-a-month sort of cyber special-forces team “of the kind developed and utilized by the Joint Special Operations Command.” They also suggested targeting a range of left-of-center organizations, including the SEIU, watchdog groups like U.S. Chamber Watch, and the Center for American Progress. (The Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America have denied ever hiring Team Themis or having any knowledge of the proposals.)
In pursuit of the Chamber and Bank of America contracts, the Themis three devised multipronged campaigns amounting to a private-sector information-age COINTELPRO, the FBI’s program to infiltrate and undermine “subversive” groups between 1956 and 1971. Among the Themis ideas presented to Hunton & Williams: “Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization. Submit fake documents and then call out the error.”
This is something I’ve repeated over and over, but let me repeat it once again: NONE OF THIS EVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
That is to say, what was revealed by the HBGary hack was a series of e-mails in which Aaron Barr (as part of Team Themis) proposed to engage in various outlandish schemes against the enemies of the Chamber of Commerce, however:
- These were merely proposals made in e-mails in an effort by HBGary (in cooperation with Berrico and Palantir) to win a contact through a law firm working for the Chamber of Commerce;
- Neither the law firm nor the Chamber of Commerce ever approved a contract with “Team Themis” for this work; and therefore
- None of the shenanigans proposed in the e-mails were ever more than “stuff somebody wrote in e-mails.”
Barrett Brown’s obsession with Team Themis was fundamentally misguided. Aaron Barr’s wacky “Super Spy” ideas were never carried out by HBGary, by any of HBGary’s Team Themis partners, or by anyone acting on behest of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Furthermore, the idea that this Team Themis stuff was the subject of important “investigative journalism” by Barrett Brown and his grandiose Project PM group is ridiculous. Go read Nate Anderson’s excellent February 2011 Wired article, “Spy Games: Inside the Convoluted Plot to Bring Down WikiLeaks.”
That’s 4,400 words and Anderson was able to publish that rather exhaustive account within a few days of the HBGary hack. Barrett Brown then spent the next 18 months digging through the HBGary e-mails with his Project PM friends . . . for what?
Where was the big payoff? What did Brown uncover from those e-mails that meaningfully advanced the story beyond what Nate Anderson did in February 2011? To borrow Dorothy Parker’s famous putdown of Oakland, there was no “there” there.
Yet if you examine the transcripts of Barrett Brown’s September 2012 video meltdown – Transcript 1, Transcript 2, Transcript 3 – you find that, in his paranoid state, Brown acted as if Aaron Barr had committed horrible crimes and as if the very existence of Team Themis (an ad hoc collaboration that, in fact, ended in February 2011) justified Brown’s insane plans for revenge:
Then later, you know, more things happened. Among them, on February fifth, an article appeared in the fucking Financial Times, saying that, uh, this Aaron Barr fellow had found the identities of all these Anons, and knew their leader and their co-founder . . .
So we wrote a little funny press release, me and Topiary and a few other people, uh a couple in there I forgot we all kind of collaborated on it; put it out on my DailyKos account and on the AnonOps deals and blah-blah. And then the next day they hacked HBGary . . .
Anyway, so Aaron Barr resigned a month later after what was found, including the Team Themis stuff. Now, HBGary, that term, that got out a lot. What, what didn’t quite make as much press, but made a few, was that all of these, this conspiracy directed against us, that involved me for some reason even though I was doing nothing even remotely wrong. . . .
Wait just a doggone minute there, Barrett. You can’t just make an off-hand reference to “me and Topiary and a few other people” and not explain that “Topiary” (a/k/a Jake Davis) is a criminal hacker indicted on federal conspiracy charges. You say that you collabored with this criminal hacker in authoring the Feb. 5, 2011, press release published under your name at Daily Kos, mocking Aaron Barr and “then the next day they hacked HBGary.” Gosh, what a coincidence.
Just hanging out in the IRC chats with your buddies, “doing nothing even remotely wrong,” writing press releases about Aaron Barr the day before he got hacked. And then the next day, within an hour of the hacking, you report the news at Daily Kos, subsequently updating with yet another “Anonymous” press release.
Because you were “doing nothing even remotely wrong,” obviously, despite this highly suggestive evidence that you had advance knowledge of their plans and your own admission that you were in communication with the criminal ”Topiary” (a/k/a Jake Davis) “and a few other people.” Please, Mr. Brown, tell us more:
HBGary, uh, they got upset, and they went to the FBI . . . now they’re talkin’ to the FBI — we don’t know exactly what was said, and in fact I knew very little about their response and what they were doing until about two months ago, when another hack occurred. . . . It was a hack of a woman named Jennifer Emick. Jennifer Emick is a FBI informant. . . .
I can tell you that at the same time that she was an FBI informant, and in fact paid for supplies, given assignments, actively worked with by an agent named Daniel Borsuk, who’s gonna wish he never — anyway, uh, during that same time, she was being paid, or rather was supposed to be paid, by HBGary for her services. I don’t know if the FBI knew that, but they know it now, because I know it, and they monitor me.
Let us stipulate that Barrett Brown is crazy, and we can’t believe a word he says. With that in mind, what he is saying is that Jennifer Emick was both paid by HBGary and was an informant working with FBI Agent Daniel Borsuk. True or not, the point is that somehow, in Barrett Brown’s mind, the role of Jennifer Emick explains why the FBI served a search warrant on him in March 2012.
Does that make sense, or does it violate Occam’s Razor? Because see, as I’m looking at it, the FBI’s interest in Barrett Brown probably had something to do with his demonstrably close relationship with the criminal ”Topiary” (a/k/a Jake Davis) “and a few other people.” But please, do continue with your explanation, Barrett Brown:
[T]here was very little for me to use to show what’s been happening to me, uh, vis-a-vis the Justice Department, um, since early 2011, when I was involved in exposing something that they put together, Team Themis, uh, in which they had some companies go after WikiLeaks and also Glenn Greenwald, the US citizen who’s a journalist who, uh, is the enemy of the state now apparently, um, plus other activist groups on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and all that, but Holder’s Justice Department did not investigate that, there were no raids. . . .
Every little news circus I create from here on out directs the media and the public to the criminal conspiracy that was never investigated last year involving Team Themis and the Justice Department, Eric Holder’s little fuckin’ Justice Department, already fuckin’ under a cloud, you know, not relative to the Bush administration but still almost as bad, ah, you know, and uh that helps, so I have no choice left but to defend my family, myself, my girlfriend, uh, my reputation, my work, my activism, my ideas, and the revelations that my friends are going to prison so that we can have a chance to get out for other people, so that they would matter. And frankly, you know, it was pretty obvious I was gonna be dead before I was forty or so, so I wouldn’t mind going out with two FBI sidearms and a fuckin’ Egyptian pharoah. Adios.
Right. There was a “criminal conspiracy . . . involving Team Themis and the Justice Department,” rather than, say, a criminal conspiracy involving actual criminals, among them the hacker ”Topiary” (a/k/a Jake Davis) “and a few other people.”
What Barrett Brown has done, you see, is to turn reality upside down, so that the HBGary e-mails sent by Aaron Barr were a “criminal conspiracy.” The failure of the Justice Department to prosecute Barr and his Team Themis cohorts for the federal crime of sending e-mails is, according to Barrett Brown, proof that the Justice Department itself was part of this “criminal conspiracy.”
The fact that Team Themis was assembled to attempt to get contracts to protect clients against Anonymous hackers — well, that’s just evil, to Barrett Brown, whose mind can’t seem to grasp the concept that hacking into other people’s computers is actually a crime.
Speaking of crime, perhaps readers didn’t notice when Alexander Zaitchik described how Team Themis “suggested targeting a range of left-of-center organizations, including . . . watchdog groups like U.S. Chamber Watch” — does that name ring a bell?
The reference is to U.S. Chamber Watch, a wholly owned project of Brett Kimberlin’s Velvet Revolution! Of course, at that point, I’d never heard of Brett Kimberlin or Velvet Revolution, but it’s kind of weird how, over the course of several months in 2011 and 2012, these divergent threads came together. In September 2011, Neal Rauhauser e-mailed Barrett Brown’s colleague Gregg Housh to coordinate “Occupy” activism on behalf of Velvet Revolution. And in September 2012, Rauhauser as “Carlito2000″ got Barrett Brown agitated about Jennifer Emick.
So while Barrett Brown is being celebrated as a journalistic hero by the New York Times and Rolling Stone, I’m being sued by the convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin for “DEFAMATION, MALICIOUS PROSECUTION, HARASSMENT, STALKING, CONSPIRACY, INVASION OF PRIVACY AND INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS” and yet — checking my e-mail inbox again — no, neither David Carr of the New York Times nor Alexander Zaitchik of Rolling Stone seems to find that story interesting.
Just a coincidence, I’m sure . . .
- Sept. 9: Barrett Brown, Special Snowflake
- Sept. 9: The Barrett Brown Whitewash Continues
- Aug. 19: Barrett Brown Inspires a Bizarre Campaign for Douchebag Rights
- Aug. 18: Barrett Brown’s Overblown Ego
- July 28: Barrett Brown: Madness Foreshadowed
- July 13: Maniac Rights? ‘Democracy Now’ Whitewashes Barrett Brown’s Crimes