The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Barrett Brown’s Long, Sad Story

Posted on | October 29, 2019 | 1 Comment

September 2012: Barrett Brown threatens to ‘destroy’ an FBI agent

It’s been a few months since I’ve mentioned this pathetic soul (“Is Barrett Brown Back on the Junk?” July 1), and so I must remind you that Barrett is the journalistic fame-whore who, circa 2010-2011, attempted to cash in on the notoriety of the “Anonymous” hackers. He appointed himself the de facto “spokesman” of that digital anarchist mob and managed to wangle a book deal out of it, but before he could complete the manuscript, Barrett’s craziness did him in. He got raided by the FBI and, when federal prosecutors began pressuring him to cooperate, Barrett flipped out and recorded a series of bizarre YouTube rants in which, among other things, he threatened to “destroy” one of the FBI agents involved in his raid. Well, this was foolish, and in January 2015, Barrett was sentenced to federal prison. He was released in November 2016, and has recently returned to his habit of ranting about conspiracy theories.

Last week, Barrett published a column at CounterPunch in which he mostly quoted his own press clippings, complaining about how he was portrayed by, for example, Adrien Chen in a 2013 Gawker profile. He meanders on for several paragraphs before descending into his favorite swamp, a conspiracy theory involving HBGary that Brown has been hyping since 2011-2012, and which he has never been able to explain with enough clarity to make anyone do whatever it is he imagines should be done to those he has “exposed” as nefarious schemers.

Barrett wants to be relevant — a newsworthy public figure — but his output as an “investigative journalist,” which consists mainly of recycling that 2012 stuff about HBGary, doesn’t justify such notoriety. And so he continues sparring with the shadow of his own diminished reputation.

Did I mention he got permanently banned from Twitter? Last week, Barrett also found time to send a lengthy email to Twitter, which he published under the headline, “An Open Letter To Twitter Regarding The Safe Space It’s Created for Nazis.” His chief grievance seems to be that some of those who complained about his Twitter account are “alt-right” types, and he concludes with this remarkable paragraph:

I’m asking that my account, @BarrettBrown_, be restored immediately — today, the 25th of October, as you’ve had over a month to deal with this since [DailyDot writer David] Gilmour first wrote to you asking for comment- and that I be given the verified status that others in the press have called for me to receive. I’m also asking that @PursuanceProj, which has been suspended twice without explanation, also receive this status, given how vulnerable it’s proven to people who have correctly decided there are no repercussions for making false reports about non-profits and then bragging about what they’ve done in full view of journalists (see below). Finally, I’m asking that a representative from Twitter be made available on an ongoing basis for press to contact directly about the violent threats, doxing, and other ongoing criminal activities. And just as a favor, I’d like to ask that Twitter refrain from lying to the public about having supposedly reached out to me after a previous ban was reversed, as one of your representatives claimed to the press on a recent occasion.

Well, good luck I guess. It’s been more than three years since my @rsmccain account was banned from Twitter without any real explanation, and if Barrett should somehow overturn his permanent suspension there might be hope not only for me but others on the right (“alt-” and otherwise) to also get our accounts reinstated. But I’m not holding my breath, and if Barrett got un-suspended, I’d be surprised.

Barrett Brown’s biggest failure is that he is not consistently productive. You cannot build a career in journalism if you’re not publishing regularly and, given that Barrett can’t seem to quit reliving his past “glories” (such as they were), what does he expect? Also, it should be noted, Barrett has a habit of jumping onto whatever conspiracy-theory bandwagon happens to be rolling through the “progressive” Left, trying to claim credit for other journalists’ work in “exposing” some malfeasance.

Take, for example, the tech firm Palantir. Back in the day, Palantir was part of a proposed alliance known as “Team Themis,” which HBGary’s Aaron Barr wanted to put together to deal with the problem of “Anonymous” hackers. It’s important to emphasize that “Team Themis” never actually existed; it was simply something that Barr had proposed, and because “Anonymous” was able to hack Barr’s email, this became part of a conspiratorial myth that Barrett Brown refuses to turn loose.

Well, the New York Times and others have recently reported about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) using data-collection software from Palantir to locate illegal aliens, and this has become a cause célèbre among open-borders activists. Brown has tried to claim credit for “exposing” the Palantir/ICE connection, but he had nothing to do with this, and is merely trying to attach himself to the story like a parasite. For that matter, Barrett didn’t expose “Team Themis” either; he just became obsessed with it to such an extent that some accounts now incorrectly credit him for a story that was widely reported by other journalists covering tech and security issues at the time.

A lot of people who are by no means “alt-right” have long since seen through Barrett Brown’s “investigative journalist” pretensions, and his critics include other journalists who are weary of Barrett’s self-dramatizing legend of himself as a lonely courageous truth-seeker. Barrett is lazy and undisciplined, and maybe for all we know he’s returned to his heroin addiction. Also, he seems to have blown past another book deadline, demonstrating his characteristic irresponsibility. How long before he turns up on YouTube babbling like a lunatic about the vast conspiracy against him? I only pay attention to his plight because sometimes the demented fame-whore sometimes includes me as one of the conspirators in this imaginary anti-Barrrett Brown plot.



One Response to “Barrett Brown’s Long, Sad Story”

  1. Wednesday Linkage « Bacon Time !!!!!!
    October 30th, 2019 @ 2:01 am

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