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The Barrett Brown case is simply the latest in a string of prosecutions in which the government pursues anyone involved in making information “liberated” from governmental or corporate entities easily accessible to the public.
The Obama administration’s assault on accountability is dual-pronged: attack the messenger (as in the case of Brown, WikiLeaks, even New York Times reporters) and attack the source (Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, etc.). In fact, seven of those sources have been indicted as traitors under the 1917 Espionage Act during the Obama years alone—more than double the “espionage” charges against whistleblowers by all previous presidential administrations combined.
Officially unrelated to these charges is the real nut of the government’s dispute with Brown: his personal initiative known as ProjectPM.
ProjectPM is a crowd-sourced research effort to study e-mails pilfered by Anonymous from military and intelligence contractor HBGary and to post these raw, primary-source documents to a website where readers can edit and contribute further information.
Then, to use these documents to map out the relationships between private contractors and the federal government that form our current national security state.
Although this was an operation taken purely out of revenge against a smug opponent, important data emerged from the leaked e-mails, including evidence that a number of corporate actors, identified in the e-mails as “Team Themis,” were conspiring to commit a range of crimes..
The obvious news here was that federal contractors were concocting such unethical and possibly illegal plans to smear and discredit Americans. But more importantly, they had been solicited to do so by some of America’s most powerful entities who were engaged in an information war against their critics (and, by extension, the public).
The Chamber is the primary DC lobbying arm of America’s largest corporate interests, such as Goldman Sachs, Chevron and Texaco. It lobbies politicians for “pro-business” trade and industrial policy, and spends more money on a yearly basis than any other lobbying organization in the country.
The hackers and ProjectPM researchers soon hit additional paydirt. They discovered that the corporate security cowboys were also pitching a plan of disinformation and sabotage against WikiLeaks, which had publicly claimed it was in possession of a similar document cache from Bank of America (BoA). And these revelations hinted at more to come.
In a nation operating under the rule of law, one might presume that exposure of the “Team Themis” conspiracy would prompt official investigations of some sort, even if the proposed activities were in the planning stages. But the e-mails reveal a different role for the Department of Justice (DOJ).
As one of the leading software contractors for the Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense, as well as the nation’s 16 spy agencies, ManTech International (parent company of HB Gary) has seen its yearly revenue rise by more than 600% between 2001-2010. ManTech is so embedded with the national security state that its employees are often placed inside the military units they support.
And these initiatives appear to be just the tip of the iceberg. Other evidence points to American PR firms using digital sabotage techniques against dissidents from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, whose U.S.-friendly monarchies happened to be their clients.