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Brown sits down across from his co-counsel, a young civil-liberties lawyer named Ahmed Ghappour, and raises a triumphant fist holding several sheets of notebook paper. "Penned it out," he says. "After 10 months, I'm finally getting the hang of these archaic tools." He hands the article, titled "The Cyber-Intelligence Complex and Its Useful Idiots," to his lawyer with instructions to send it to his editor at The Guardian. Brown used to write for the British daily, but since he's been in prison, it's written about him and his strange legal ordeal that has had him locked up for nearly a year while he awaits trial next month. Should he be found guilty of all the charges the federal government is bringing against him – 17 counts, ranging from obstruction of justice to threatening a federal officer to identity fraud – he'll face more than 100 years in prison.
Given the serious nature of his predicament, Brown, 32, seems shockingly relaxed. "I'm not worried or panicked," he says. "It's not even clear to me that I've committed a crime." He describes his time here as a break from the drug-fueled mania of his prior life, a sort of digital and chemical fast in which he's kicked opiates and indulged his pre-cyber whims – hours spent on the role-playing game GURPS and tearing through the prison's collection of what he calls "English manor-house literature."
Brown has been called many things during his brief public career – satirist, journalist, author, Anonymous spokesman, atheist, "moral fag," "fame whore," scourge of the national surveillance state. His commitment to investigating the murky networks that make up America's post-9/11 intelligence establishment set in motion the chain of events that culminated in a guns-drawn raid of his Dallas apartment last September. "For a long time, the one thing I was happy not to see in here was a computer," says Brown. "It appears as though the Internet has gotten me into some trouble."
Encountering Barrett Brown's story in passing, it is tempting to group him with other Anonymous associates who have popped up in the news for cutting pleas and changing sides. Brown's case, however, is a thing apart. Although he knew some of those involved in high-profile "hacktivism," he is no hacker. His situation is closer to the runaway prosecution that destroyed Aaron Swartz, the programmer-activist who committed suicide in the face of criminal charges similar to those now being leveled at Brown. But unlike Swartz, who illegally downloaded a large cache of academic articles, Brown never broke into a server; he never even leaked a document. His primary laptop, sought in two armed FBI raids, was a miniature Sony netbook that he used for legal communication, research and an obscene amount of video-game playing. The most serious charges against him relate not to hacking or theft, but to copying and pasting a link to data that had been hacked and released by others.
Having previously been raided by the FBI on March 6, 2012 and not arrested or charged, on September 12, 2012 Barrett Brown was again raided and this time arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation while he was online participating in a Tinychat session. He was subsequently denied bail and detained without charge and adequate medical treatment for over two weeks while in the custody of US Marshals.
In the first week of October 2012, he was finally indicted on three counts. related to alleged activities or postings on popular websites such as Twitter and YouTube. On December 4, 2012 Barrett was indicted by a federal grand jury on twelve additional counts related to data from the Stratfor breach. Despite his lack of direct involvement in the operation and stated opposition to it, he faces these charges simply for allegedly pasting a hyperlink online. On January 23rd, 2013 he was indicted a third time on two more counts, relating to the March 2012 FBI raid(s) on his apartment and his mother’s house. Barrett has pleaded not guilty in all three cases. He is currently incarcerated while awaiting trial in Mansfield, TX.
Interesting. First I've heard of him. Now I gotta read up on him. If "they" want you in prison for then rest of your life then "they" will see that you do. If I was him I would be scared. To trust the judicial system is a big mistake.
In early December 2011, a young Chicago Anon named Jeremy Hammond cracked Stratfor's server and downloaded some 5 million internal documents. With the apparent blessing and supervision of the FBI, Sabu provided the server for Hammond to store the docs
Brown's haughty dismissal of the new crop of hacktivists was not a feeling shared by the FBI. The government continued to see Anonymous as a major and growing threat. And in the summer of 2011, it acquired a key piece in its operation to destroy the network. On the night of June 7th, four months after the HBGary hack, two federal agents visited the Jacob Riis publichousing project on Manhattan's Lower East Side and introduced themselves to a 27-year-old unemployed hacker named Hector Monsegur, known inside Anonymous as "Sabu." As a leader of an Anonymous offshoot called Lulzsec, he had hacked a number of state and corporate servers. In early 2011, he made some rookie errors that led the FBI to his door: Facing the prospect of being indicted on 12 counts of criminal conspiracy, Sabu rolled over on his old hacker associates. He signed a cooperation agreement and began feeding the FBI information on Anonymous plots. The biggest of these involved a private global intelligence contractor located in Barrett Brown's backyard, the Austin-based Stratfor.
Lol the justice system is a joke...
"The United States Federal Courts are not your friend. The court system as it's set up today is not setup as a tool for justice, it's setup as a tool for retribution. Anyone that they want, they can get." ~ Chip Tatum (@ 76 min.)