Government’s Final Onslaught Delays Barrett Brown’s Sentencing - WhoWhatWhy

Government’s Final Onslaught Delays Barrett Brown’s Sentencing

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Barrett Brown

Barrett Brown

Even with a conviction secured by a plea deal, prosecutors doubled down against a brash journalist who dared to expose the national security machinery and threaten an FBI agent.

Hacktivist writer Barrett Brown’s sentencing in Dallas on Dec. 16 was supposed to be a one-day affair, ending with the handing down of a prison term of not more than eight-and-a-half years.

But prosecutors surprised the court and Brown’s defense team with hundreds of pages of evidence and exhibits to push for the longest prison term possible.

The sudden onslaught and ensuing testimony prompted Judge Sam A. Lindsay to order Brown to return on Jan. 22 to find out his fate.

Brown, 33, a feisty, confrontational figure, published incendiary findings about what private intelligence contractors were doing. His work, still largely ignored by the mainstream media, came before NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations made government surveillance a household topic.

His reports based on hacked e-mails were nothing short of astonishing. Working through his virtual research syndicate Project PM, Brown described:

• The mass monitoring of social media networks

• A “cyber-intelligence complex” of breathtaking expanse

• Disinformation operations against Wikileaks and its supporters on behalf of Bank of America

• How analysts can control multiple fake online identities

As he continued to dig, Brown brought the hacktivist collective Anonymous to widespread attention by demonstrating what hacktivists and journalists could accomplish together. But Brown’s arrest in September 2012, after he made a series of hyperbolic rants against FBI Agent Robert Smith on YouTube, muted the  fireworks.

An Easy Target

Brown’s instinctive defiance of authority and swaggering proclamations made him an easy target. The prosecution initially had alleged that he and Anonymous “secretly plotted the overthrow of the government.”

Prosecutor Candina Heath took full advantage of Brown’s bombast when questioning Smith, the FBI agent, on Tuesday. At one point, she asked Smith to read a statement from Brown in which he had said, in part, “my anarchism is my own.”

Originally facing 105 years in prison, and as a welter of public criticism grew over the government’s conduct in the case, Brown on April 29 took a dramatically lowered plea deal that allowed for a maximum sentence of eight-and-a-half-years.

By then, prosecutors had already dropped the most severe charges Brown faced: those relating to his sharing of an Internet link containing stolen credit-card data, which the hackers of Stratfor had already posted publicly.

That accusation in particular brought sharp criticism from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others. Those groups and others submitted a friend-of-the-court brief challenging the government’s charges as a violation of the First Amendment.

Chilling 21st Century Journalism

And nothing in the case is more important, in terms of what’s at stake for journalists or anyone interested in reading hacked information in the digital age.

The government argued that the information was stolen property, and that Brown acted as a sort of digital “fence” by giving it to others. Heath told the court that “once credit card data is stolen, it remains a stolen item … (Brown) took data he knew to be stolen and purposefully trafficked it.”

The defense likened the credit-card data to a car that was stolen by someone else and left in a parking lot. All Brown did was say “go to the lot and look at the car. Mr. Brown didn’t get in the car and drive the car around,” defense lawyer Marlo Cadeddu told the court.

No matter what interpretation the judge makes, there is little doubt that Brown’s prosecution has had an immediate impact on journalism.

Quinn Norton, a journalist who covers the Anonymous movement, told the court: “The concept you could be held responsible for a link is absolutely chilling for what I do. It’s absolutely chilling to what 21st Century journalism will be.”

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13 responses to “Government’s Final Onslaught Delays Barrett Brown’s Sentencing”

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  2. Avatar King David says:

    I’m very happy to see you guys covering this important case. WhoWhatWhy Does a great job of covering the important issues of our day that the mainstream somehow misses. I guess that explains why traditional news outlets continue to loose readers while sites like yours grow. Thank you so much for doing what you do. I hope all of you enjoy a wonderful holiday season.

  3. If all the people every country in the world had access to all information of their government officials, and could just say no to things that were unacceptable, there would be no more wars. What’s wrong with utopia? The problem is the power freaks have a real sickness and an addiction to control everybody, and there’s never enough money for their greed. These mutants have been running the show for way too long. Time to close the curtain on a bad play!

  4. Avatar Guest says:

    If all the people every country in the world had access to all information of their government officials, and could just say no to things that were unacceptable, there would be no more wars. What’s wrong with utopia? The problem is the power freaks have a real sickness and an addiction to control everybody, and there’s never enough money for their greed. These mutants have been running the show for way too long. Time t close the curtain on a bad play!

  5. There shouldn’t be any information in the government, that’s not available to the public. I thought it was ‘by the people, for the people’.

  6. Hard to imagine that this ‘cyber journalist’ was facing 105 years, and the people in the last occupancy in DC, are going around smiling and making huge amounts of money. I guess being responsible for millions of deaths is ok. Trying to bring out the truth to the American people is a vicious crime. 1984, here you are!

    • Avatar Jb fairness says:

      yep, ie.,the U.S. govt with their trendy patterns of genocide, ethnic cleansing, oil for blood, sticking their noses in other nations business and forced negotiations with them for “hot” resources in demand ie, oil. Then we pretend to be the underdogs in the limelight as “life of the party” movie stars to the world everytime there is a natural disaster to the rescue, when its too late anyway. Sorry for the cynical exaggeration.

    • We must breath the same air. I’m very glad I left the country in the early 70’s. But even though I’m in a very fine place, I still can’t sit and see a country where I have lots of fond memories, due to when I was young and with some great parents, sink into nothing because of evil souls “running” the show. I feel so bad for the people who are the true Americans.

  7. Avatar daniel wilson says:

    The control of information is certainly an old “problem” but it’s definitely getting more complicated and harder to hide!

  8. Avatar therealamericro says:

    First off, hat tip for your Boston Bombing coverage.

    That said, it is a matter of fact that the FBI was exercising full control over Sabu from June 8, 2011 on, and he was more of a handler for LulzSec / AntiSec than a mole or snitch, as he was taking and issuing orders.

    Considering the fact that the FBI and other US / UK agencies were fully aware of all of Sabu’s activities, watching virtually every keystroke, including plotting to, and eventually hacking Stratfor – for which the FBI provided a server for the emails to sit on for about three weeks until they were transferred to Wikileaks without interruption or any retrieval attempt – why is Brown, who simply pasted a link that the FBI itself stored and help make available in the first place, on trial and not the FBI and other US / UK law enforcement and or intelligence agencies (as the Stratfor hack netted several Anonymous / LulzSec / AntiSec members in the UK, indicating UK agency complicity) not being charged with violations of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1030 (a) 5 (A), 1030 (c) 4 (B) (i), and C 4 (A) (i) (I), as they were accessories before the fact, to the fact and after the fact (providing the server for storage) in this blatant national security theater online false
    flag ([] – note the time-stamp of the slide presentation, the same month LulzSec and AntiSec were raided – March 2012, making it an after-action report) and story building to cover for ten months of government cyber-hacking
    via a third party (AntiSec), during which the US government was in full control of and monitoring every single keystroke of ( all AntiSec activities?

    The US and UK government agents involved should also be charged with bulk violation of the 4th Amendment, as well as United States Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter III, Sections 241 and 242 of all US business and or private citizen clients, readers and or employees or interns with US citizenship, the bulk of the 860,000 people whose private information was compromised under the watchful eye of and with the material assistance of, the US government.

    The hack was obviously for counterintelligence purposes (, further monitoring of Wikileaks ( after handing them the (almost certainly exploit and malware filled) emails from an FBI server in a very public, attention and future visitor-grabbing PR campaign, to cause fear and division in Anonymous, to silence opponents of Orwellian government psychopathy (Barrett Lancaster Brown), and to provide a cover story for taking down then CIA director Petreus (

    The investigation into which, as well as all aspects of the North Korea absurd government case against Barrett Brown, almost certainly led to the convenient car crashing of Michael Hastings ( / /

    The government couldn’t let the fact that the government sacrificed over 860,000 citizens privacy, and provided a server for the whole information dump, to go without convenient fall guys whose politics and opinions they did not like (Brown, Hammond and the rest), to provide a phony narrative to cover up the fact that the government was almost certainly reading all emails, including Stratfor’s, like every other citizen and company’s, and had saw an opportunity to bring down Petreus (this obviously happened, otherwise Forbes wouldn’t have run a spin piece screaming that the Stratfor hack isn’t what brought down Petreus, but rather, “good” FBI work was, as if the FBI’s job was to monitor the sex lives of people), someone many Republicans and Democrats had a problem with being CIA Director.

    When one examines all of the counter-intelligence benefits of sacrificing Stratfor to take down Petreus, the list is infinite. As we have seen with the Snowden leaks, one can be certain that the government could once the emails were dumped, monitor anyone who subscribed or spoke to Stratfor, including all foreign subscribers and or sources – and any local government monitoring of them in response to the hysteria surrounding Stratfor, to build knowledge on foreign operations, operational networks, social networks, methodologies, etc. In terms of cyber-monitoring, as The Intercept report on Five Eyes monitoring of Wikileaks shows, it is a counter-intelligence bonanza.

    All government personnel who took part in the ten month hacking spree should be facing the same charges that Hammond did, as they were accessories before, during and after the fact in regards to the Stratfor hack – their position actually makes them far more guilty, and considering Hammond was entrapped, he should be released immediately.

    As for the FBI, they not only had foreknowledge of the hack, making it an accessory before the fact, they watched it real-time (making the Verizon report a waste of money and fraud as the FBI could have provided all the information free of charge), making them an accessory to the fact, and provided material assistance and watched the information transfer take place, real-time, making them accessories after the fact.

    The accepted narrative, or storyline, is that the government was hoping to entrap Assange and have him buy the emails ( when the reality that came out in Hammond’s secretive trial (no red flag there) was that LulzSec and AntiSec voted and were against the very idea, put forth by FBI handler Sabu, of anyone paying for anything they hacked, including the Stratfor emails.

    Indeed, government secrecy in both Hammond and Brown’s cases point to government complicity – hence pulling the “national security” red herring. Were all the evidence to be made public, the government would be found guilty of, yet again, plotting crime to “save” us from crime ( The Stratfor hack also provided a nice little nudge in Congress with more Congressional oligarchs screaming for more restrictive and invasive government internet regulation.

    It would have been one thing, however despicable, if the government allowed the hack to happen and then arrested the HACKERS – it is at a minimal gross criminal negligence that the government allowed the email transfer to take place with no interruption or retrieval. The government stored and allowed and watched the distribution of stolen goods.

    It is almost too perfect, as is the fact that the Stratfor hack follows, to the letter, the JTRIG slide show, which points to the government instructing Sabu, who instructed AntiSec, to carry out the negative framing of Stratfor. It has been and remains an unworthy victim – almost certainly framed that way for narrative and storyline purposes.

    The complicity of the government is overwhelming.

    Sabu Transcript: (, “Only now, every keystroke was logged.” Namely, June 8, 2011 and all of his activities thereafter.


    Then there is Sabu’s admission, while obviously threatening the government about spilling the beans on their criminality to get leniency, as he knew he was still under surveillance, that the entire charade was a farce (

    (5:04:25 AM) Sabu: Man I tell you. When I finally get a chance to speak a lot of truth is going to blow peoples minds
    (5:23:29 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: other issue is how did the FBI let you do the things you did
    (5:23:45 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: that is, that is “claimed” you did :P
    (5:23:56 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: while you were “working” for them
    (5:24:25 AM) Sabu: Mhm
    (5:26:02 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: the legal documents
    (5:26:11 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: they dont have dated signatures
    (5:26:23 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: or a witness to the signing /dated signature
    (5:26:34 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: also yours are different from some of the others
    (5:26:49 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: from same area/office
    (5:27:00 AM) m45t3rs4d0w8: makes me think they are fake
    (5:27:17 AM) Sabu: Good things to question. Sadly no one is questioning like you are
    (8:40:40 AM) Sabu: and they’re doing shit with little court restrictions
    (8:41:01 AM) Sabu: they’ll go through your entire life and your girlfriends and
    your parents and her parents and your old boss until they find a scrap
    of evidence against you
    (8:41:07 AM) Sabu: then find a way to blackmail your ass
    (8:41:15 AM) Sabu: im not even fucking exagerating
    (8:41:24 AM) Sabu: I’m disgusted by what I’ve seen

    Remember readers, Michael Hastings said he was on a story that was going to “blow people’s minds” as well. Was Sabu, or the one remaining AntiSec member not caught, chatting with Hastings who was part of Project PM and Team Themis about the online false flag, the Stratfor hack?

    Government officials engaging in a carefully orchestrated and narrated ( online false flag to bring down a CIA Director, discredit anyone they may have wanted to discredit, violating the the law to enforce it (while Sabu allegedly stopped 300 hacks from being worse, AntiSec hacked over 300 companies to begin with), specifically the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, all while violating in bulk the 4th Amendment rights of all Stratfor readers, clients and workers, in addition to US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter III, Sections 241 and 242?

    Is that something they would be willing to kill for?

    This seems to be the case. Were a story to run on it, the out of control surveillance state could have been brought into line with the document that once ruled the US, The Constitution.

    Hopefully, Sabu, after already speaking out, might continue to speak out and talk about what he was referring to in the chat where he admitted it was all a fraud and a ten month hacking spree by the government via 3rd party. Though with Hastings “car crash” murder, I mean death, he is probably well aware of what may await his raising the BS flag on the Stratfor hack by the US government and their material assistance in it after the fact. The Stratfor hack the center of all these cases and of Brown in particular.

    Basically, the government targeted Brown – because it didn’t like him – and has held him in indefinite detention and has been wantonly abusing judicial powers to silence him – the gag order one of many ridiculous, North Korea absurd legal maneuvers by the Federal prosecutors who really have no case. It looks like they are trying to keep him locked up to keep the narrative they built alive.

    AntiSec provided two information dumps: The GIF and The Syria Files.

    Both were post-June 8, 2011 hacks by LulzSec / AntiSec – namely FBI and likely multiple other US / UK intelligence agency projects – for propaganda narrative purposes. If the FBI or other agencies were instructing Sabu to wage a PR campaign against Stratfor during or after the hack, that would also be a violation of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1947, which barred the government from engaging in domestic propaganda, which was still on the books during and immediately after the Christmas Eve hack but, as a sign of the times, rescinded a year and a half ago.

    Sabu, were he to talk openly and come clean, could free the entirely innocent Barrett Brown and the clearly entrapped Hammond. He could expose the entire false flag and show the American people how these Orwellian surveillance programs have nothing to do with “keeping us safe,” but
    rather, managing narratives and creating desired political or other outcomes.

    The out of control on Steroids and PCP National Security State Cult government can’t re-charge him for things he has already pled out to. Sabu can bring the whole Orwellian system of monitoring and government abuse of the law down with one interview.

    * It must be noted that Judge Loretta Preska, Jeremy Hammond’s judge, is the same Deep State regime judge who declared Iraq and 9/11 Whistleblower Susan Lindauer, the second American to be held in indefinite detention under the mis-named PATRIOT Act after Jose Padilla, to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, despite all of the government doctors evidence to the contrary, to prevent her facts and evidence from being entered into a courtroom (

    * Has there ever been an employee / intern class action law suit against the government or the company?

    • Avatar chef69 says:

      With ALL the information you have ,, you should write a book !! and get it out to the normal public

    • Avatar therealamericro says:

      Thanks. The thought has crossed my mind, believe me. Much more to the Brown story than the Main Stream Media narrative lets on. I hope Christian Stork, Douglas Lucas and team dig into the Brown case even further. Especially considering that it is the Brown investigation that Mr. Hasting’s last, post-humous piece, was an introduction to, and then he was killed by pure “coincidence” with the drive train and engine ejected over 100 feet away from the tree he had a head on collision with.

      A good start would be FOIA requests on all conversations between Sabu and his government handlers, as well as between all government agents and agencies on Stratfor after June 8, 2011 through to the arrest of all AntiSec members worldwide.

      A second would be an FOIA request for ALL the FBI provided servers, as all info on them is subject to FOIA requests.

      The Stratfor hack as well as the FBI-led AntiSec hacking spree was and remains an amalmagation of abuse of all surveillance powers the unconstitutional, mis-named “PATRIOT” Act, as well as NDAA, provide the room for abuse for.

      Government initiated, monitored and materially assisted cybercrime to stifle dissent, take down targets they whose views they don’t like, take down a CIA director with abuse of surveillance powers and providing a perception management and media parallel construction regarding Petreus’s free-time sex life, and have a counter-intelligence bonanza at the expense of mostly US citizens, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      The reason Brown’s final ruling was further pushed back after two years of indefinite detention without a speedy trial, is that the government is afraid of what he may have pieced together regarding the hack itself and all of the juicy questionably moral and legal ideas and programs that are wiki’ed on Project PM

    • Avatar chef69 says:

      I am sure there is way more info ,, and is much DEEPER than everybody knows !! But WHY is it LEGAL for the FBI / or CIA to play on both sides of the FENCE ??,, you either defend the bills of rights/ laws/ constititution / or you dont !! seems to me they play BOTH sides of they FENCE !!

    • Avatar therealamericro says:

      Good questions. Lets hope the whowhatwhy team asks them and gets answers for them.

      As William Binney said, these programs have nothing to do with keeping us safe, but is rather, turnkey totalitarianism for absolute social and media narrative control.

      That is why they turned the surveillance on the citizenry, and have armies of sock puppets as Project PM pointed out and why Brown, a journalist, was targeted.

      Taking down a CIA Director through a media parallel construction is not easy, and the government and likely multi US and UK agencies (as the ruse brought down several Anonymous members in the UK and Ireland) violated many laws.

      We are supposed to believe the “incompetence theory” – no one pulled a plug, and, oh look the emails that sat on an FBI server mysteriously made it to Wikileaks with no exploits, malware, or interruption or retrieval attempt, ignore The Intercept publishing of the monitoring of Wikileaks article as well as the JTRIG after-action slide report / future template.

      Hey, look over there, there’s a purple unicorn that poops gold bullion and pees diamonds.

      Nothing else to see, Barrett Brown’s Constitutional rights don’t matter, wasting millions in tax dollars to keep a journalist quiet is normal, look golden poo is being dropped oh my Petreus had a mistress in 2010 and the NSA and likely other agencies were reading all of Stratfor’s emails for years (another FOIA request to verify for whowhatwhy) prior to the staged hack that has, like 9/11, its own conspiracy theory and no one held accountable in government.

      Hey, the Easter Bunny has a knife, ban knives! Barrett who? What’s indefinite detention with no speedy trial called again, oh look there is a purple unicorn….

  9. Avatar AeliusBlythe says:

    Even without the 105 year sentence, the excesses of this prosecution are truly on display here. Hard to imagine what possibly justifies burying the defense in documents (um, “evidence”) & delay after Brown has ALREADY taken a plea deal. Why not take the “win” and be done with it already? Hard to imagine any purpose in doing otherwise, except to strike fear into journalists. At least a sentence puts an expiration date on his imprisonment. But this display of painfully indefinite detention, with justice stymied at every turn is just awful. It must be chilling to watch for fellow journalists – which of course is the point.

  10. Avatar Coy Coleman says:

    Freedom of Speech is DEAD! I have lived long enough to live in an America with Political Prisoners. It is very sad.

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