Surveillance

Is Journalist Barrett Brown a Political Prisoner? Q and A with Free Barrett Brown's Kevin Gallagher

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Journalist and activist Barrett Brown was sentenced to more than 5 years in prison last month, after pleading guilty to charges related to his role in 2011's "Stratfor hack." The strange and confusing case was triggered when Brown shared a link in an online chat room which pointed to files stolen by the hacker group Anonymous from the intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting. 

Last year, Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller spoke with Kevin Gallagher, the director of Brown's legal defense fund, about the political motivations behind Brown's prosecution.  

"Is Journalist Barrett Brown a Political Prisoner? Q and A with Free Barrett Brown's Kevin Gallagher": Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Jim Epstein. Approximately 9 minutes. 

"It's a politically motivated prosecution… persecution really," says Kevin Gallagher, director of the Free Barrett Brown legal defense fund. "They're very willing and able to prosecute journalists and activists and people who are critical of the state or corporations. And that's really what Barrett was looking into, was this collusion between the government the the private intelligence industry."

Barrett Brown is a journalist and online activist who sometimes spoke on behalf of the "hacktivist" collective known as Anonymous. He ran into trouble with the federal government in 2012 after posting a link to leaked material obtained from a hack of private intelligence agenices Stratfor and HBGary. Although Brown did not perpetrate the hack, the FBI raided his home and seized several of his laptops and and hard drives without charging him.

What really incensed Brown, however, was when the government threatened his mother with an obstruction of justice charge for allegedly hiding one of Brown's laptops from FBI agents. Brown began posting a series of videos to YouTube, which are still publicly available. Because of these videos and some of Brown's online writings, the FBI raided Brown again and arrested and charged him with threatening federal agents in addition to several hacking charges related to posting the link. All told, Brown faced up to 105 years in prison.

Brown has been sitting in prison for the past two years awaiting trial, unable to speak out due to a government gag order. A judge lifted that gag order just last week, and court documents reveal that Brown has accepted a plea deal to three charges: transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, accessory after the fact to unauthorized access to a protected computer, and interfering with the execution of a search warrant.

The judge will hold a change of plea hearing and set a date for Brown's final sentencing tomorrow, where he could face a maximum of 8 1/2 years. To delve deeper into this case and learn what it means for online and press freedom in America, watch Reason TV's interview with Kevin Gallagher above, conducted just a day before the gag order was lifted.

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  1. Will Norma Shearer help him out?

    1. More Proof ISIS is a scam to scare the American people.

      Have they join LRC and the Ron Paul Institute?

    2. And I thought the correct rebuttal to ISIS was to point of Chicago?

      1. +1 for Winston.

        That’s a first.

  2. I usually don’t pile on against targets of the FBI. There are good things (they keep down criminal gangs) and bad things (they behave like the FBI) about them, but they’re often more a threat to liberty than a protector.

    Barrett Brown is a clown. That’s no reason to be jailed, but he’s a clown with criminal tendencies and the story that all he did was “post a link” is a deliberate deflection to distract from what he was actually doing.

    Background: Anonymous is an immature online movement spawned from 4chan that, lacking the requisite good judgment, is easily taken over by famewhores and emotionally damaged people. Brown, to much chuckling by Anons, appointed himself Anonymous spokesman. He’s both a famewhore AND emotionally damaged, but sadly not unique among the lineup of anons who get heavy media coverage.

    Stay tuned for Part 2.

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  4. Part 2:
    What was Barret Brown “sharing”? Billing data of a huge number of innocens, including credit card numbers. This random attack against innocent people comes from the belief that the online magazine Stratfor is a vehicle of the illuminati, or reptilians, or something. Russian nihilists once threw bombs randomly into restaurants on believing that those killed are probably rich and, so, bad. Stratfor’s readers had to be attacked, including having their emails and credit card numbers exposed, since they might have held (well, or read about) political views that people in Anonymous dislike.

    Why would Barret Brown favor this? You’d THINK it’s because he’s a blowhard idiot, but (while that’s a factor) it’s also because he’s an asshole. His youtube channel is full of self-congratulating conspiracy theories (the blowhard idiot part) and also him abusing and even threatening others (this is the asshole part) for not taking his own drug-addled point of view.

    1. Still. The FBI resources used on a single jackass seem high to me, though when he posted a video bragging he was going to “destroy” an FBI agent, wouldn’t it have been incompetent for them to just do nothing when they already had stuff in hand to charge him with? Besides the obvious obstruction charge you might levy against someone broadcasting his intention to retaliate against a law enforcement officer. As someone with no respect and little sympathy for Brown, the sentence also seems high and the charges he was first threatened with are so patently ridiculous that they serve as an example of why we can’t trust the FBI.

      It’s a shame I had to make my first post so long winded. Takeaway message is, don’t make this man out to be a hero. He is neither innocent, nor a nice guy, nor did he have admirable causes, nor did he use honorable methods to further those causes. And if you don’t like the FBI, it’s still stupid and counterproductive to threaten FBI agents by name. Barrett Brown is both counterproductive and stupid.

      1. Barrett Brown is world class dirtbag. You might argue that technically his sentence was excessive, but fortunately this is one of those times karmic law trumped it’s legal counterpart. He got exactly what he deserved.

        And “journalist”? Seriously? They must be setting the bar pretty low these days.

    2. What was Barret Brown “sharing”? Billing data of a huge number of innocens, including credit card numbers.

      WikiLeaks shared that information; he shared a link to the WikiLinks page. There’s a difference.

      1. “WikiLeaks shared that information; he shared a link to the WikiLinks page. There’s a difference.”

        Not sure there’s much of one.
        If I know the location of someone’s personal info that should not be there, me pointing it out to a third party seems close to the one who put it there to begin with.
        Still not sure that makes an asshole a criminal.

        1. While I disagree with you, both in this specific case and in general, you are making a broader philosophical point, whereas I was responding to a specific false claim ([Brown shared b]illing data of a huge number of innocens).

    3. “the online magazine Stratfor is a vehicle of the illuminati, or reptilians, or something” Clearly you are the clown here. You have no idea what Stratfor is or did.

      1. You realize the writer was NOT making that comment, right?

        1. Damn. I was hoping there was an Reptilian Illuminati magazine out there to subscribe to. Then I could leave them in my doctor’s waiting room in revenge for him running late all the time.

        2. I believe jay_dubya is alleging that New signup’s sarcastic characterization is trivializing what jay sees as malicious acts on the part of Stratfor.

          1. Possibly; I’m not sure.

  5. OT: The SJWs just got their MVP this year.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/re…..beautiful/

    1. Olivia Benson would agree.

    2. Of course, there is no media bias when CBS transmutes this:

      “But what is beautiful is the child that could come as a production of this.”

      Into this:

      Republican lawmaker: Childbirth resulting from rape is “beautiful”

      But Stupid Party’s gotta Stupid. If you don’t know by now that you can’t expect fair play from the corporate media, I’m not sure which game you’ve been watching.

    3. Oh FFS, when will The Party of Stupid learn to vet their candidates?

      Yes, I know. It is a rhetorical question.

      1. It’s difficult to vet your candidates when the media will take mild statements they make and twist them into something vastly more radical than was intended.

        Democratic candidates can literally say whatever they want and the media won’t report it.

        1. Democratic candidates can literally say whatever they want and the media won’t report it.

          You didn’t build that!

          Also I doubt the properly vetted candidates are going to be vetted the way libertarians want.

  6. Q. Is Journalist Barrett Brown a Political Prisoner?
    A. Yes.

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