Posted on | September 9, 2013 | 58 Comments
Sept. 12, 2012: Barrett Brown rants about his plan to ‘destroy’ an FBI agent
“In late 2010, thousands of hacktivists joined a mass digital assault on the websites of VISA, MasterCard, and PayPal to protest their treatment of WikiLeaks. Other targets were wide ranging — the websites of corporations from Sony Entertainment and Fox to the Vatican and the Church of Scientology were hacked, defaced, and embarrassed — and the message was that no one was safe.”
– Parmy Olson, We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
“I know what’s legal, because I know what’s been done to me and if it’s legal when it’s done to me it’s going to be legal when it’s done to f–king FBI Agent Robert Smith, who is a criminal, who is involved in a criminal conspiracy. . . . Uh, anyway, so that’s why 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, because Aaron Barr did the same thing, and he didn’t get raided for it. How do ya like them apples?”
– Barrett Brown, Sept. 12, 2012
In December 2011, approximately five million e-mails from Stratfor Global Intelligence, an intelligence contractor, were hacked by Anonymous and posted on WikiLeaks. The files contained revelations about close and perhaps inappropriate ties between government security agencies and private contractors. In a chat room for Project PM, Mr. Brown posted a link to it.
Among the millions of Stratfor files were data containing credit cards and security codes, part of the vast trove of internal company documents. The credit card data was of no interest or use to Mr. Brown, but it was of great interest to the government. In December 2012 he was charged with 12 counts related to identity theft. Over all he faces 17 charges — including three related to the purported threat of the F.B.I. officer and two obstruction of justice counts — that carry a possible sentence of 105 years, and he awaits trial in a jail in Mansfield, Tex.
According to one of the indictments, by linking to the files, Mr. Brown “provided access to data stolen from company Stratfor Global Intelligence to include in excess of 5,000 credit card account numbers, the card holders’ identification information, and the authentication features for the credit cards.” . . .
Journalists from other news organizations link to stolen information frequently. Just last week, The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica collaborated on a significant article about the National Security Agency’s effort to defeat encryption technologies. The article was based on, and linked to, documents that were stolen by Edward J. Snowden, a private contractor working for the government who this summer leaked millions of pages of documents to the reporter Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian along with Barton Gellman of The Washington Post.
By trying to criminalize linking, the federal authorities in the Northern District of Texas — Mr. Brown lives in Dallas — are suggesting that to share information online is the same as possessing it or even stealing it. . . .
You can read the whole thing, which includes more context than have some of the pro-Barrett Brown stories circulating on the Left, much of which doesn’t even mentions his threats against FBI Special Agent Robert Smith. So at least David Carr didn’t completely whitewash the case, but he is still presenting a defense brief that, by focusing on the Stratfor-related indictment — which is only one of three sets of indictments in the case — attempts to portray Barrett Brown as just another journalist doing what other journalists do, so as to elicit sympathy for Brown among journalists who (we must certainly hope) do not do anything remotely like what Barrett Brown actually did.
Let’s start with this: What does FBI stand for? Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI investigates crimes and, if federal crimes have been committed, citizens are obligated to assist the FBI in its investigations. Barrett Brown was first raided by the FBI in March 2012 as part of their investigation into the so-called “LulzSec” hacking cell, a splinter of Anonymous. From Wikipedia:
A federal indictment against members contends that, prior to forming the hacking collective known as LulzSec, the six members were all part of another collective called Internet Feds, a group in rivalry with Anonymous. Under this name, the group attacked websites belonging to Fine Gael, HBGary, and Fox Broadcasting Company. This includes the alleged incident in which e-mail messages were stolen from HBGary accounts. In May 2011, following the publicity surrounding the HBGary hacks, six members of Internet Feds founded the group LulzSec.
You can go read the entire article and my point is this: LulzSec was a criminal conspiracy, and at least six of its members have been prosecuted for their illegal activities. Barrett Brown deliberately associated himself with this conspiracy and, as part of their investigation of LulzSec, the FBI obtained a search warrant to seize Barrett Brown’s computer equipment, although he was neither arrested nor charged with any crime at the time of the March 2012 raid.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was . . . investigating.
That’s their job. That’s what they do.
Rather than to cooperate with this investigation, however, Barrett Brown attempted to obstruct it, to hide the computers for which the FBI had obtained warrants. Barrett’s mother has, in fact, already pleaded guilty to having helped him in that effort.
Has the FBI told us everything they found on Barrett Brown’s computers? I don’t know, nor are they obligated to do so. Perhaps those computers yielded information relevant to ongoing investigations. Whether or not Brown illegally “provided access” to stolen data from Stratfor, and whether he should be sent to prison for doing so, is for a federal jury to decide — but Barrett Brown and his lawyers evidently don’t want to take their case to a jury.
His lawyers have twice postponed Brown’s trial, while self-evidently attempting to use media accounts to pressure prosecutors either to drop the charges or to offer a more lenient plea bargain. And the journalists who are assisting them in this propaganda campaign are, from my perspective, unindicted co-conspirators in Barrett Brown’s scheme to elude justice for his criminal activities.
Glory days: Barrett Brown interviewed by Michael Isikoff, 2011
“A self-described anarchist, [Barrett] Brown claims he’s policing wrongdoing, at least as Anonymous describes it. . . .
“[Brown said:] ‘When we break laws, we do so in service of civil disobedience.’”
– NBC Nightly News, March 8, 2011
Once again, I ask any sane law-abiding person to examine the three YouTube video rants that led to Barrett Brown’s September 2012 arrest:
- Meltdown Video 1 – 15:03 (transcript)
- Meltdown Video 2 – 15:03 (transcript)
- Meltdown Video 3 — 13:30 (transcript)
If you examine that and dismiss it as the demented ravings of a lunatic, OK, but a judge ruled that Barrett Brown is at least sane enough to stand trial, and Brown’s lawyers have not yet suggested they are contemplating an insanity defense. But the fact that Barrett Brown was ranting like a madman does not mean that we cannot discern a worldview in his incoherent obscene gibberish:
The other part of what’s absurd about this is it’s fucking insane, and because of it, and because of what I found out about how this came about, how this came to be that my fucking mom is now being threatened by a fucking US D.A. and a fucking chickenshit little faggot cocksucker, ah, little FBI agent, little Robert Smith that we’re investigating now. Uh, I’ve, you know, got to find out, thanks to a hack — thanks to another fuckin’ stroke of luck, thank god — that HBGary since mid-Febuary had hired an FBI informant who was already an FBI informant, already had been bitching to the FBI about this other nonsense about Gregg Housh for fuckin’ years. A paid IB, uh, FBI informant, who the FBI pur–purchased supplies for or paid, you know, gave some money to buy supplies cause she was so helpful to them in making shit up and thinking up reasons to raid Barrett Brown and get his information that they wanted for other reasons. Uh, that she was in the employ of fucking HBGary, and working straight with Greg Hoglund, the fucking CEO who’s already been caught, already been caught last year, by my fucking friends, some of whom are, you know, friends and, and acquaintances. [laughs] Really… Well-wishers, they sort of, contemporary, by my contemporaries who I don’t really like that much. Uh, when they hacked into their server, already fucking caught the fucking guys in another fucking conspiracy, including one that involves setting up on fraud charges fucking activists, who had done nothing to anyone except criticize the Chamber of Commerce.
It was a “conspiracy,” you see. In this conspiracy, according to Barrett Brown, the FBI was in league with HBGary and an FBI informant was “making up shit” to justify the FBI’s raid of Barrett Brown.
Hackers are good people, says Barrett Brown.
FBI informants are bad people, says Barrett Brown.
So when hackers illegally obtain information by hacking HBGary’s accounts, and an FBI informant assists federal agents investigating that crime, such assistance is wrong, says Barrett Brown.
Barrett Brown’s anti-social attitude — the typical outlaw mentality of the criminal who rationalizes his wrongdoing by asserting that the laws are unjust and that therefore law enforcement is engaged in victimizing the innocent — is not in itself a crime. But it may be a motive for crime, and once you understand Barrett Brown’s criminal worldview, you understand why he was ranting as if he were a victim:
I know what’s legal, because I know what’s been done to me and if it’s legal when it’s done to me it’s going to be legal when it’s done to fuckin’ FBI Agent Robert Smith, who is a criminal, who is involved in a criminal conspiracy that has thank god been revealed, part of which was evident, uh, months and months ago because I told the fucking FBI Agent Daniel Borsuk, who gave me a fake name when his fucking little Jennifer Emick fuckin’ informant, HBGary employees, was bragging about this shit and gave me the number, I guess he wanted to talk to me and see what I’d say.
Get it? The crime against HBGary was not a crime, in Barrett Brown’s mind. Therefore the investigation of that crime was an injustice, anyone who assisted either HBGary or the FBI in that investigation was “a criminal . . . involved in a criminal conspiracy” and, in his depraved mind, Barrett Brown had appointed himself the judge, jury and executioner who was going to bring these criminals to justice.
Quod erat demonstrandum.
This sociopathic inversion of reality, where criminals are heroes and agents of law enforcement are villains, is the outlaw mob mentality by which Anonymous hackers justified their illegal activities.
The fact that several of those hackers are now in federal prison apparently has not sufficed to convince some people that this criminal worldview is dangerous. David Carr of the New York Times should be ashamed of himself for endorsing it.
UPDATE: “Barrett Brown, Special Snowflake.”
- 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