Obama Administration Secures Gag Order To Prevent Activist From Discussing Online Surveillance

220px-Barrett_Brown_2007In its latest attack on the free speech, the Obama Administration has secured a gag order to prevent activist-journalist Barrett Brown and his lawyers from discussing his work exposing online surveillance by the Administration. On this occasion, however, Eric Holder and the Obama Administration convinced a federal judge to go along. U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay in Dallas Texas has issued a sweeping gag order to prevent not just Brown but his legal team from discussing the online surveillance. The Justice Department insisted on the order to protect Brown. That’s right, they insist that, if Brown discussed the abusive surveillance by the Obama Administration, it would endanger his right to a fair trial.

Federal judges have increasing issued gag orders in cases as a standard measure when it was once used only in rare cases. I have long been a critic of the orders which deny basic free speech rights and deny defendants and their counsel to answer damaging allegations in the public.

This order however is particularly problematic. Brown, 32, is facing 105 years in prison after his arrest last year. He writes on government online spying and has been a vocal critic of the Administration and its attack on privacy. The Obama Administration threw the book at him in a case that reminds many of Aaron Swartz case. Perhaps due to the blowback on the suicide of the Swartz case and criticism of his unrelenting prosecution, the Justice Department has tried to cut off Brown and his team from the media.

The court order prohibits Brown and his defense team, as well as prosecutors, from making “any statement to members of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet (including, but not limited to, bloggers), or other media organization about this case, other than matters of public interest.” The reason is purportedly to protect Brown’s right to an unbiased jury. However, the order prevents him from writing about his own case. I believe such a limitation would have been viewed as inherently abusive by the Framers and tyrannical by writers like Thomas Paine.

Brown had been looking at hacked emails by Anonymous from the computer system of a private security firm, HB Gary. He wrote about an effort to destroy the reputations of WikiLeaks supporters and prominent liberal journalists and activists. In looking at other emails hacked from the private intelligence company Stratfor, Brown posted a link in a chat room that connected users to Stratfor documents. The documents included email addresses and credit card numbers belonging to Stratfor subscribers. He was charged with disseminating stolen information that simply linked to the site — a crime that could transform the Internet and radically reduce sites that challenge the government. If the Obama Administration is successful, it could prosecute anyone linked to sites containing Snowden documents or other exposed surveillance.

The Administration is complaining that Brown is working with the media to “manipulate the public through press and social media comments”. In other words, it has not been successful in suppressing discussion of a case where it could criminalize the simple act of linking to anti-government sites.

The case is extremely important to free speech and the Administration is seeking to establish a new crime that would curtail the use of the Internet to challenge it and future Presidents. It is worth following and talking about . . . except of course for Brown himself who is expected to remain silent as the Administration tries to put him away for 100 years.

Source: Guardian

62 thoughts on “Obama Administration Secures Gag Order To Prevent Activist From Discussing Online Surveillance

  1. The creeping police state. As long as we have a rubber stamp Congress, a rubber spine administration, and SCOTUS justices who are more ideologues than judges, this kind of thing is going to continue.

    A client once gave me a little sign to put on my desk that said, “Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they are not really out to get you.”

  2. Anyone taking any bets on whether the DoJ is going to ask the trial either be closed to the public, or a gag order issued to reporters?

    Years ago, in Mississippi, there was a trial involving a Sheriff and local officials. They tried to stifle media coverage by issuing subpoenas to every TV or print media reporter that came to cover the trial, then invoking the Rule. Reporters were held in witness rooms, not allowed to leave or have access to telephones. I would not put that kind of stunt past Holder and company.

  3. The police/security state has becoming a far reaching monster that now only protects itself. Free speech, rule of law, Constitution, Bill of Rights be damned.

    There is one thing that always strikes me during these times. When government wants to limit the size of a AK-47 magazine to 100 rounds, the 2nd Amendment crowd hits the streets and FOX is chanting Obama is trying to take your guns! But when the 1st Amendment is being destroyed beyond recognition, these same 2nd Amendment hollerers are absent the discussion. I guess as long as you have lots of guns then you are free? To me it’s shocking that bugging everyone’s digital communications and punishing free speech falls silent on the crowd so loud to support more guns. Think about the fact that it’s easier to buy an AK-47 than to speak the truth. A bizarre world they have created….

  4. As a responsible lifetime gun owner, I must “AMEN” voltaic’s chilling appraisal – which is pretty good coming from an Agnostic……

  5. The Strange Case of Barrett Brown
    Amid the outrage over the NSA’s spying program, the jailing of journalist Barrett Brown points to a deeper and very troubling problem.
    By Peter Ludlow
    June 18, 2013

    But it wasn’t Brown’s acid tongue so much as his love of minutiae (and ability to organize and explain minutiae) that would ultimately land him in trouble. Abandoning his book on pundits in favor of a book on Anonymous, he could not have known that delving into the territory of hackers and leaks would ultimately lead to his facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison. In light of the bombshell revelations published by Glenn Greenwald and Barton Gellman about government and corporate spying, Brown’s case is a good—and underreported—reminder of the considerable risk faced by reporters who report on leaks.

    In February 2011, a year after Brown penned his defense of Anonymous, and against the background of its actions during the Arab Spring, Aaron Barr, CEO of the private intelligence company HBGary, claimed to have identified the leadership of the hacktivist collective. (In fact, he only had screen names of a few members). Barr’s boasting provoked a brutal hack of HBGary by a related group called Internet Feds (it would soon change its name to “LulzSec”). Splashy enough to attract the attention of The Colbert Report, the hack defaced and destroyed servers and websites belonging to HBGary. Some 70,000 company e-mails were downloaded and posted online. As a final insult to injury, even the contents of Aaron Barr’s iPad were remotely wiped.

    The HBGary hack may have been designed to humiliate the company, but it had the collateral effect of dropping a gold mine of information into Brown’s lap. One of the first things he discovered was a plan to neutralize Glenn Greenwald’s defense of Wikileaks by undermining them both. (“Without the support of people like Glenn, wikileaks would fold,” read one slide.) The plan called for “disinformation,” exploiting strife within the organization and fomenting external rivalries—“creating messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization,” as well as a plan to submit fake documents and then call out the error.” Greenwald, it was argued, “if pushed,” would “choose professional preservation over cause.”

    Other plans targeted social organizations and advocacy groups. Separate from the plan to target Greenwald and WikiLeaks, HBGary was part of a consortia that submitted a proposal to develop a “persona management” system for the United States Air Force, that would allow one user to control multiple online identities for commenting in social media spaces, thus giving the appearance of grassroots support or opposition to certain policies.

    The data dump from the HBGary hack was so vast that no one person could sort through it alone. So Brown decided to crowdsource the effort. He created a wiki page, called it ProjectPM, and invited other investigative journalists to join in. Under Brown’s leadership, the initiative began to slowly untangle a web of connections between the US government, corporations, lobbyists and a shadowy group of private military and information security consultants.

    One connection was between Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce. WikiLeaks had claimed to possess a large cache of documents belonging to Bank of America. Concerned about this, Bank of America approached the United States Department of Justice. The DOJ directed it to the law and lobbying firm Hunton and Williams, which does legal work for Wells Fargo and General Dynamics and also lobbies for Koch Industries, Americans for Affordable Climate Policy, Gas Processors Association, Entergy among many other firms. The DoJ recommended that Bank of America hire Hunton and Williams, explicitly suggesting Richard Wyatt as the person to work with. Wyatt, famously, was the lead attorney in the Chamber of Commerce’s lawsuit against the Yes Men.

  6. Democrats call for an investigation of law firm, 3 tech companies
    By Dan Eggen
    Monday, February 28, 2011

    A group of House Democrats is calling on Republican leaders to investigate a prominent Washington law firm and three federal technology contractors, who have been shown in hacked e-mails discussing a “disinformation campaign” against foes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    In a letter to be released Tuesday, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and more than a dozen other lawmakers wrote that the e-mails appear “to reveal a conspiracy to use subversive techniques to target Chamber critics,” including “possible illegal actions against citizens engaged in free speech.”

    The lawmakers say it is “deeply troubling” that “tactics developed for use against terrorists may have been unleashed against American citizens.”

    The call for a congressional probe marks the latest development in the controversy over tens of thousands of e-mails stolen from HBGary Federal, whose computer system was attacked in early February by members of a loose collective of unidentified hackers known as Anonymous.

    The e-mails, which are widely available on file-sharing sites, show HBGary Federal, Berico Technologies and Palantir Technologies teaming up with a sales pitch to undermine chamber opponents.

    The companies proposed forming a “corporate information reconnaissance cell” and discussed tactics such as creating online personas to infiltrate activist Web sites; planting false information to embarrass U.S. Chamber Watch and other groups; and trolling for personal information using powerful computer software.

    The e-mails contain test runs in which the firms culled personal information, including family and religious data, on anti-chamber activists.

  7. His reporting on H B Gary is embarrassing for the Chamber of Commerce among others. As well, H B Gary H B Gary Federal and partnering firms spearheaded a plan to embarrass various journalists including Brad Freedman of BradBlog and co-founder of Velvet Revolution. It actually went beyond embarrassment, the plan was to neutralize them by digging up dirt on them and their families and interfering with their work. If you go to BradBlog and search H B Gary there are bunches of articles, these are bad guys and they’re tight as ticks with some major players.

    Stratfor is a prominent player in the intelligence industry and their reps appear on talk/news TV often. One of their folks was on a show just yesterday that I watched, discussing Syria. Organizations like Stratfor and H B Gary are partnered with the US intelligence organizations and law enforcement like DHS and FBI and share intelligence in a cooperative relationship as well as doing work for the government. They are likewise worthy of protection by the administration.

    The Professor’s concern that this kind of prosecution potentially expands the government’s ability to control information dissemination using the Internet is correct. Using copyright to shut down aggregation services and the people that use aggregated information has been pretty successful- remember Kim Dotcom? His business was shut down.

    “In January 2012, the New Zealand Police placed him in custody in response to US charges of criminal copyright infringement in relation to his Megaupload website. Dotcom was accused of costing the entertainment industry $500 million through pirated content uploaded to his file-sharing site, which had 150 million registered users.[14] Dotcom has vigorously denied the charges, and is fighting the attempt to extradite him to the United States” From Wikipedia

    Government is waging a war over data control on two fronts, as the enforcement arm for big media and other commercial interests on the one hand and as a way to limit exposure for themselves and their collaborators in business and commerce on purely political grounds. Various law enforcement agencies at the Federal level have assumed responsibility for any cyber-crime the choose to take jurisdiction of.

    The courts are playing the same role with this private conflict that they do regarding classified information in the public sector. They help the government hide what is going on from the citizenry. This is the functional equivalent of the FISA Court granting a NSL and making the revelation of same by the recipient a crime. Citizen knowledge of what is happening is as unwanted as citizen input about it. It’s a disgusting state of affairs.

    Meanwhile a journalist is looking at a 100 year potential sentence.

    “U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thugs Used ‘Terror Tools’ for Disinfo Scheme Targeting Me, My Family, Other Progressive U.S. Citizens, Groups
    And why they are likely to get away with it…”


    “Cybercrime: An Overview of the
    Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Statute
    and Related Federal Criminal Laws”


  8. Jailed Journalist Barrett Brown Faces 105 Years For Reporting on Hacked Private Intelligence Firms
    Democracy Now

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, for more, we’re joined by Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. He has written extensively on hacktivist actions against people—against private intelligence firms and the surveillance state. His recent article for The Nation is called “The Strange Case of Barrett Brown.”

    Peter Ludlow, welcome to Democracy Now!

    PETER LUDLOW: Hi. Thank you very much.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Talk to us about Barrett Brown, the importance of his case, given all the others that we’ve been dealing with on this show now for many years.

    PETER LUDLOW: Well, yeah, it’s important for two reasons. First of all, it’s showing that, to some extent, all of us could be targets, because the principal reasons that they’re going after him with this sort of claim that he was involved in credit card fraud or something like that, I mean, that’s completely fallacious. I mean, in effect, what he did was take a link from a chat room and copied that link and pasted it into the chat room for Project PM. That is, he took a link that was broadcast widely on the Internet, and it was a link to the Stratfor hack information, and he just brought it to the attention of the editorial board of Project PM. And because there were, for whatever reason, unencrypted credit card numbers and validation codes among those five million other emails, the government is claiming that he was engaged in credit card fraud. They’re claiming that Project PM was a criminal enterprise. And so, basically, for our interest, why this is interesting to us is basically it makes this dangerous to even link to something or to share a link with someone.


    PETER LUDLOW: Go ahead, yeah, please.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, one of the things that you raise is, in some of your writings on this, is the incestuous relationship between the Justice Department, the government and these private firms that are being now targeted by cyber-activists. And could you talk about that, as well?

    PETER LUDLOW: Well, sure. A lot of these private intelligence companies are started by ex-CIA, NSA people. Some people come from those agencies and rotate back into the government. I mean, you even see, with the case of Snowden, he was actually a contractor for a private intelligence company, Booz Allen. And, I mean, people think about the NSA, FBI, CIA, and they think of—those are the people that are doing the surveillance of you and doing this intelligence work, but really, if you look at how much the United States spends on intelligence, 70 percent of that is actually going to these private intelligence contractors. So, you know, if you add up CIA, NSA, FBI, that’s just a tip of the iceberg. So there’s all this sort of spook stuff going on in the private realm. And, yeah, right, a lot of it is very incestuous. There’s a revolving door. And no one is investigating it or even talking about it, as far as I can tell.

  9. I agree with most of the comments here, but there is one problem and that is that he published peoples credit card numbers and other financial info that he stole. That is still a crime in my view.

  10. Publish the entire investigation on non-U.S. heavily mirrored servers. Time for courage, since all the U.S. attorneys in the country traded their spines for… what, exactly? Fame? Christmas cards from the President?

    The lack of courage is one of the worst symptoms of the American disease. second behind only its history.

  11. Firstly, what James said.

    Secondly, “we had to burn the village to save it”. Just an observation about how seriously those in office take their oath to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic . . . especially when they are the enemy.

  12. I believe such a limitation would have been viewed as inherently abusive by the Framers and tyrannical by writers like Thomas Paine. -Jonathan Turley

    “Inherently abusive” and “tyrannical” describes the U.S. well.

  13. Scary case. Who would have suspected that the US Chamber of Commerce would use dirty tricks to try to get its way??
    The DOJ is controlled by large banks and corporations and this case is just another piece of evidence.

  14. There was an interesting article in Rolling Stone on Brown a couple of months ago. I totally agree with the kid’s distain for the creeping fascism that’s going on in this country, but he doesn’t appear to have been the greatest point-man for any movement (save scoring shrooms/LSD at a Phish concert).

  15. From the Free Barrett brown website:


    1. The right to link. The second indictment represents an attempt to criminalize linking. If we allow this to proceed, what does this mean for the rights of internet users worldwide, let alone journalists who link to primary source material? Linking is a basic function of hypertext that gets used every day. It can’t be criminalized. What kind of logic makes a linker responsible for the content and consequences of sharing, leading to false charges of identity theft and fraud?

    2. Reporter’s privilege and free speech. The laptops that Barrett is charged with obstruction for concealing contained journalistic sources and work product, including a book-in-progress. The First Amendment is understood as protecting reporters from revealing confidential information or sources, but we are seeing our constitutional values eroded by DOJ investigations into national security leaks. The FBI raid which led to these charges was based on false information, and there was no crime to investigate. It was nothing more than an attempt to stifle Barrett’s reporting on the private/public partnership in surveillance concerns and inhibit his research.

    3. Press and information freedom. We believe that Barrett is being persecuted because of his work exposing the activities of private security and intelligence companies that do the government’s dirty work and spy on the public. If citizens are not allowed to research the growing surveillance state, what will happen in the future to privacy, transparency and our civil liberties? His case is having chilling effects on those who would seek to shed light on corruption and abuse among government contractors.

    4. Selective prosecution. We think that this case is a prime example of prosecutorial overreach. Despite Aaron Swartz’s suicide, the government is still waging an unjust war on whistleblowers, journalists, and information activists. People are being prosecuted for political acts or merely because the government doesn’t agree with them. Why is Barrett being charged when numerous other people, including established reporters, shared the same link? Moreover, why is the FBI so afraid of the speech of a 5’9″ 150lb writer as to warrant heavily armed raids on his apartment?

  16. Blouise,

    “Hmmm…” (-:

    Yep. Shades of Cass Sunstein, now part of the NSA “review board”, or whatever it’s called.

  17. I hope that the guy can escape to a free country like Russia and spill the beans on this surveillance thing. That judge needs to say Heil Hitler when he takes the bench each day.

  18. Seems to me that the information suggesting that this prosecution is retaliation for investigating government activity should be enough to establish that every aspect of the case and its underlying facts are “matters of public interest” without any further analysis or enquiry.

  19. When we were the exemplary nations back in 1946 we would have prosecuted this Judge and Holder at the Nuremberg trials for these very actions. Google: The Judge’s Trials. Read all about it.

  20. “The Administration is complaining that Brown is working with the media to “manipulate the public through press and social media comments”.”

    In other words, the administration is complaining that speech can be influential, and therefore should not be free. Stunning. This attitude is what the Constitution was supposed to protect against.

    These gag orders can’t be constitutional. Will there be a Supreme Court challenge?

  21. There are a few things that are seriously, seriously wrong with Obama. He has sold himself on the idea that he’s not just an imperial president, he is King! And Democrats like Nancy Pelosi are following behind him as though he is the Pied Piper. What has happened to their abilities to think for themselves? What ever happened to wisdom?

    I shudder to think what our country will be like by the time his term his term has ended. He has used his second term not to be commander in chief but to be the supreme commander of the United States.

    This & other such news is making me distraught; and as I have told you before, someone with my kind of disorder cannot afford that.

    On The bright side, Professor, a Ginger tiger tabby found me and adopted me. I found out from animal control that all I have to do is bring him to a shelter, and they will hold him for 3 days. If it isn’t chipped &/or no one claims him, he’s mine. He told me his name is Oscar ;-) Why after Oscar de la Renta of course. They will neuter him, give him his shots & chip him. And I will still get a gift certificate to a vet to fully check him out & still only have to pay $35. Some of my cat Twitter friends say it’s fate. I am attaching a picture of him. I think you’ll agree that he’s quite handsome. There you go. Talking about Oscar took my mind off this nasty business. And even though I intensely dislike what is happening, at least there are people like you who keep us informed. But I’m sure Big Brother Obama has his eyes closely on you as well. Too bad he no longer has the ability to ascertain a highly ethical human being. However, you are so well established & followed, it would be rather foolish to attempt to touch a hair on your valuable head. I think he realizes that for now. Let’s hope he continues to.

    Love, Maggie

    P.S. sometimes my bipolar disorder gives me an insight into things that other “normal” people lack. Oh, & I accidentally attached a bad picture. I haven’t learned how to unattach it yet without losing everything.

  22. US and UK spy agencies defeat privacy and security on the internet

    • NSA and GCHQ unlock encryption used to protect emails, banking and medical records
    • $250m-a-year US program works covertly with tech companies to insert weaknesses into products
    • Security experts say programs ‘undermine the fabric of the internet’

    latest story is in the Guardian

  23. Revealed: The NSA’s Secret Campaign to Crack, Undermine Internet Security
    by Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times, Jeff Larson, ProPublica, and Scott Shane, The New York Times
    Sep. 5, 2013


    What’s New Here
    •The NSA has secretly and successfully worked to break many types of encryption, the widely used technology that is supposed to make it impossible to read intercepted communications.

    •Referring to the NSA’s efforts, a 2010 British document stated: “Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data are now exploitable.” Another British memo said: “Those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”

    •The NSA has worked with American and foreign tech companies to introduce weaknesses into commercial encryption products, allowing backdoor access to data that users believe is secure.

    •The NSA has deliberately weakened the international encryption standards adopted by developers around the globe.

    The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents.

    The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.

    Many users assume — or have been assured by Internet companies — that their data is safe from prying eyes, including those of the government, and the N.S.A. wants to keep it that way. The agency treats its recent successes in deciphering protected information as among its most closely guarded secrets, restricted to those cleared for a highly classified program code-named Bullrun, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

  24. Elaine,

    If I recall anything about bull run…. Manassas etc….. It was the bloodiest as well as probably the only battle PGT Beauregard won for the confederacy…. I think it’s sad that the NSA is discrediting the civil war this way….IMHO…..

  25. On this occasion, however, Eric Holder and the Obama Administration convinced a federal judge to go along. U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay in Dallas Texas has issued a sweeping gag order to prevent not just Brown but his legal team from discussing the online surveillance. The Justice Department insisted on the order to protect Brown. That’s right, they insist that, if Brown discussed the abusive surveillance by the Obama Administration, it would endanger his right to a fair trial.” – JT

    Anyone ready yet to discuss governmental machinations in the context of madness rather than in the context of law, politics, and economics?

  26. Maybe Brown should move to have the Judge recuse himself. I mean, if the gov’t case is “Brown talked about us!”, and then they get an unnecessary order that says, “Make Brown not talk about us!”, that kind of makes me think the judge has already made his mind up.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  27. Lloyd,

    I’m sorry, I do not understand your angle…. Wasn’t bush white… Gonzales Hispanic…. What’s really different is the names have changed…. Not much else….

    But there are still racist…. You probably haven’t changed…..

  28. A brief understanding of Brown’s intrepid journalism is vital to understanding the travesty of his prosecution. I first heard of Brown when he wrote a great 2010 essay in Vanity Fair defending the journalist Michael Hastings from attacks from fellow journalists over Hastings’ profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone, which ended the general’s career. Brown argued that establishment journalists hate Hastings because he has spent years challenging, rather than serving, political and military officials and the false conventional wisdom they spout.

    In an excellent profile of Brown in the Guardian on Wednesday, Ryan Gallagher describes that “before he crossed paths with the FBI, Brown was a prolific writer who had contributed to publications including Vanity Fair, the Guardian, the Huffington Post and satirical news site the Onion.” He also “had a short stint in politics as the director of communications for an atheist group called Enlighten the Vote, and he co-authored a well-received book mocking creationism, Flock of Dodos.”

    But the work central to his prosecution began in 2009, when Brown created Project PM, “dedicated to investigating private government contractors working in the secretive fields of cybersecurity, intelligence and surveillance.” Brown was then moved by the 2010 disclosures by WikiLeaks and the oppressive treatment of Bradley Manning to devote himself to online activism and transparency projects, including working with the hacktivist collective Anonymous. He has no hacking skills, but used his media savvy to help promote and defend the group, and was often referred to (incorrectly, he insists) as the Anonymous spokesman. He was particularly interested in using what Anonymous leaked for his journalism. As Brown told me several days ago in a telephone interview from the Texan prison where he is being held pending trial, he devoted almost all of his waking hours over the last several years to using these documents to dig into the secret relationships and projects between these intelligence firms and federal agencies.

    The real problems for Brown began in 2011. In February, Anonymous hacked into the computer system of the private security firm HB Gary Federal and then posted thousands of emails containing incriminating and nefarious acts. Among them was a joint proposal by that firm – along with the very well-connected firms of Palantir and Berico – to try to persuade Bank of America and its law firm, Hunton & Williams, to hire them to destroy the reputations and careers of WikiLeaks supporters and, separately, critics of the Chamber of Commerce (as this New York Times article on that episode details, I was named as one of the people whose career they would seek to destroy). HB Gary Federal’s CEO Aaron Barr, who advocated the scheme, was fired as a result of the disclosures, but continues to this day to play a significant role in this public-private axis of computer security and intelligence.

    Brown became obsessed with journalistically investigating every strand exposed by these HB Gary Federal emails and devoted himself to relentlessly exposing this world. He did the same with the 2012 leak of millions of emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, obtained by Anonymous and published by WikiLeaks. As Gallagher describes about Brown’s fixation on these documents:

    “Hackers would sometimes obtain data and then pass it on to him. He would spend days and nights hunkered down in his small uptown Dallas apartment pouring through troves of hacked documents, writing blog posts about US government intelligence contractors and their ‘misplaced power’ while working to garner wider media coverage. . . .

    “Brown was frustrated that mainstream media outlets were not covering stories he felt deserved attention. He would complain that reporters would often approach him and ask about the personalities of some of the more prominent hackers . . . but ignore the deeper issues about governments and private contractors contained in documents that had been hacked.”

    The issues Brown was investigating are complex and serious, and I won’t detail all of that here. In addition to Gallagher’s article, two superb and detailed accounts of Brown’s journalism in these areas have been published by Christian Stork of WhoWhatWhy and Vice’s Patrick McGuire; read those to see how threatening Brown’s work had become to lots of well-connected people. Suffice to say, Brown, using the documents obtained by Anonymous, was digging around – with increasing efficacy – in places which National Security and Surveillance State agencies devote considerable energy to concealing.


  29. Hey Anonymous! You haven’t noticed that the Major Media refuses to hold Obama and Holder to account as compared to the way they scrutinized Bush and his minions? Please! Howling headlines against Bush, often on the mark. Matter of fact coverage, if that, regarding the constant wrong doing of Obama and Holder!

  30. The “Black President” “Black Attorney General” strategy is a strategy of the RULING CLASS faction that put them forward! That faction, of course, is the Rockefeller / Trilateral Commission faction as evidenced by Trilat co-founder (w/David Rockefeller) Zbig’s support of Obama. The RULING CLASS is, thus, effectively shielded from scrutiny as they are not with regular “White” politicians!

  31. Jill, regarding your above postings on NSA/etc. breaking internet encription:

    People still don’t get it (most here do) especially those silly youngsters that wave the warnings off with ‘I don’t have anything to hide -besides, I post everything online’. The government, this one among many, are warring against their own citizens privacy as much as each other. The enemy is privacy in general and the folks that have enjoyed it are us. We are, or our very nature of our idea of privacy, now the enemy by default. I do’t think most people here (though there are some that do) realize how easy it would be, armed with a list of names derived from the information now available to the government, to just round up large, really large, numbers of people in one fell swoop.

    The level of control, for any reason the government deems appropriate, occurring at any time the government deems appropriate going back to when the data was seized and stored, is vast and dangerous as hell.

    One thing I have always liked about your postings is the Cassandra factor- you are the TurlyBlawg Cassandra. You just make your postings (and the over-the -horizon prophesy it implies) and move on to make the next posting. You don’t fight with people. Over the years I have come to view your manner of posting as a mirror which entertains me on many levels. I think that’s valuable. Keep up the good work.

    Good article, as is the Guardian article Jill linked to:

    “….The full extent of the N.S.A.’s decoding capabilities is known only to a limited group of top analysts from the so-called Five Eyes: the N.S.A. and its counterparts in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Only they are cleared for the Bullrun program, the successor to one called Manassas — both names of an American Civil War battle. A parallel GCHQ counterencryption program is called Edgehill, named for the first battle of the English Civil War of the 17th century.

    Unlike some classified information that can be parceled out on a strict “need to know” basis, one document makes clear that with Bullrun, “there will be NO ‘need to know.’ ”

    Only a small cadre of trusted contractors were allowed to join Bullrun. ….”


  32. lloydmillerus: “The “Black President” “Black Attorney General” strategy is a strategy of the RULING CLASS …. effectively shielded from scrutiny as they are not with regular “White” politicians!”

    Oh please, are you so young that you don’t remember the last 13 years (at the least) and the free pass that the lily-white Bush administration got? It’s not about race. Get your head straight, please, informed dissent is valuable and needed.

  33. Professor T why was my comment on the Obama administration gag order victory deleted and not posted? I don’t see how what I’ve written could have breached any decorum.

  34. L.K. Thank you so much for writing to me. I deeply appreciate what you said.

    With regards to people saying they don’t care if the govt. reads their e-mail, listens to their calls– I hear many people say that. I now ask: I wonder how you feel, not about the govt. reading your e-mail etc. but about it breaking the law when it’s doing that?

    In the US our Constitution has the 4th amendment. The govt. is violating that, even the FISA court has said so. So, the question I must ask you is, how do you feel about tearing down the rule of law?

  35. Teejay,

    We’ve been experiencing problems with WordPress. It sometimes wrongly flags posts for the spam or moderation filters, but on occasion it simply “eats” a comment. I checked the filters and your post wasn’t there, so try to repost it. Maybe the WordPress Vortex of Doom won’t eat it this time. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  36. Lotta & Jill,

    I find the Barrett Brown story and stories about our present administration going after journalists and whistle-blowers truly chilling. I think it’s one of the most important issues of our day.

  37. I’m 65. . . I’ve never seen the major media so compliant to an Administration. I suppose you don’t recall the New York Times leading the charge against Bush re: Iraq. Yeah, NYT supported using force in Iraq at first as did the whole DEM(agogue) Party. Your ears are closed.

  38. The idea that Bush got a free pass is absurd. If only Obama would get the same “free pass.” Bush was demonized, often with good reason. Obama is only now beginning to get light criticism in the mainstream media outside Fox and Talk Radio.

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