Operation Global Media Domination: The Barrett Brown Situation

Barrett Brown Busted

Barrett Brown Busted

That glum-looking fellow is Barrett Brown: author, journalist, YouTube extraordinaire (really), Anonymous member, and fameball. At that moment, he had plenty to look glum about, having been arrested on a small sampler pack of charges which quickly grew into a basket-crushing potential 110 years in prison for, essentially, shooting off his mouth on YouTube and passing along a link in an IRC. He’s been in pretrial custody with no bail for nearly a year, and he’s about to go to actual real trial as opposed to pretrial hearings, about which we’ve all heard too much lately, particularly if we’ve also been following Jeremy Hammond and Sabu, which we have. For a living.

Yeah, not exactly what the guidance counselor suggested in high school as a career choice, but oh well.

I’ve covered his case(s) several times for the Daily Dot and this blog, and today there was a hearing to decide if the actual trial would be the subject of a media blackout; in other words, Barrett is prevented from speaking to the media about any aspect of his case, or even any topic that might touch on it. Of course it went through, but of interest to certain inwardly-focused-lately bloggers the defence presented a strong rebuttal which included a list of the influential articles by and about BB.

And guess who wrote two of them?

Arrested Anonymous Activist Barrett Brown Sends Letter from Prison

Anonymous Spokesman Barrett Brown Faces New Charges

So, on the one hand it’s good to be a part of this. On the other hand, it sucks that the motion was successful and that BB now has to live in the most unnatural-to-him condition of all; the condition of not conveying information. A lot of people have wanted to silence him for a very long time.

Coincidentally (???) WikiLeaks released new SpyFiles, carrying on Brown’s Project PM work of watching the watchers. Nice timing there, Assange.

In unrelated-but-still-work news, it appears that the Syrian Electronic Army isn’t happy just going after news organizations, but is now going after individual reporters who report on them, even favorably. I got a solid tip that a journalist whom I will not name has had some trouble with relentless attempts to control his Twitter account, and of course I’ve been getting increasing numbers of phishing emails for months now, along with the occasional romantic advance from an African woman on Facebook. Today I found some spammer had managed to put yet another Event on my Gcal, which is just, let’s face it, annoying even when a) the time for the pseudo event (“lets be freinds”)  is already past b) I’m a Vancouverite and therefore my solid commitment to attend an event is zero indication of whether or not I will actually attend.

And, just to up the wordcount, I’m going to copy/paste some material that was cut from my article today. Gee, can’t think why.

Anonymous is having a Hamlet-like crisis of conscience over OpSyria, and there is a significant chance that it will end up costing actual human lives, however it’s decided in the end. We spoke to blackplans, a spokesperson for OpSyria, about what Anonymous has, what it will use, and why (for once) they are sitting on something which could very well literally destroy their enemies.

NYPA. The four most important letters in Anonymous stand for: Not Your Private Army, and they remind everyone that the so-called Internet Hate Machine is an unruly, anarchic collective that cannot be pointed like a gun at any target that takes someone’s fancy. Any Operation has to attract and retain enough committed, talented, and energetic people to accomplish its goals, which is why “totally getting back at that kid who was, like, mean to me once” is never going to become an Op.The decision-making process at Anonymous is messy, time-consuming, and self-selecting; if not enough good people show up, the Op fizzles and subsides and the people move on. It’s a natural, if messy process. But once you’ve got good people, they’ve staked out their targets, they’ve made their attacks, and you’ve got the MacGuffin (documents proving identity, control of a database, a botnet that can DDoS a website into oblivion, or as in OpSyria’s case: all of the above) there is rarely a moment of hesitation. You dump that file, you paste that dox, you fire your lazorz, and then you stick a press release on Pastebin and sit back and laugh as the victim flails helplessly.

Not this time. Here’s what is going down, and why, at OpSyria.

As we reported Tuesday, OpSyria, the anti-Assad operation which includes members of Anonymous along with some non-Anons, claims to have proof of the identities of five key players in the Syrian Electronic Army. Exposing those people, particularly if they happen to be located outside of Syria, would almost certainly mean their targeting and eventual death at the hands of anti-Assad forces, whether the rebel Free Syrian Army or a foreign government that involves itself in the Syrian civil war (as the US may do).

This isn’t hanging out with your friends in front of a Scientology center singing “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It isn’t sitting in your Mom’s basement DDoSing the Pope’s website.

Shit is very, very real.

[at this point you can go to the article to see the majority of the interview. The below and the above were not included]

Blackplans: I have been told to tell we also have evidence of collusion between personnel of the Syrian Embassy in Bucharest and a member of the SEA who resides in Romania. We have found statements by him online to this effect. “I work most of the interrogation .. figures Syrian embassy in Romania in front of you online. Call and ask.” Apologies for the poor translation, this was in response to allegations of disloyalty from another senior SEA member.

Oh, and I will just leave this here…

[presumably they don’t feel so bad about alerting Romania to the possible presence of the SEA operative(s) in their midst. I asked for more details and was told no, they couldn’t give them to me without completely doxing the person, and they didn’t want to do that. I suppose they just wanted to fire a shot across the bow of the SEA as a show of power]


There you have it: An Operation combining Anonymous and anonymous non-Anons is in possession of information that governments around the world have been pursuing for months. If they use it, those people will almost certainly die. If they don’t use it, what was the point of the Operation? To get to the point of pulling the trigger, and then to walk away instead? In a world at war, whether officially or unofficially, that is power beyond that of the state, of any Nation State. Are they ready for it? Is the world ready for it? Is this the end of the SEA as an entity, or will they double down on Assad and strike back somehow at a headless, faceless, stateless anti-organization? And what will they, or their enemies, do to those whose exposure has threatened the SEA itself, whether that information is revealed publicly or not?

It’s not too much to say that the fate of this not-officially-declared-yet cyberwar rests in the hands of Anonymous and its allies. And they do not leave fingerprints.

DramaSec, weekend edition

Ever tried to do a simple tarot reading and keep having it come out weird? Yeah, so like that.

ninja raincoaster card

ninja raincoaster card

ron ninja card

But not to be mistaken for news that Ron IS a ninja

Ron is not a Ninja. Ron is, apparently, Asher Wolf. You may wish to get a piece of paper and pen to diagram out this particular post. As always, it gets confusing when the Lamo card is played.

ninja lamo card

lamo may or may not be a ninja, but he is clearly a Discordian

Sorry, Asher, you haven’t got a Ninja Trading Card yet like Ron and Lamo and Me.

First on Friday our old pal Ron goes apeshit on me, gloating about getting my articles edited after the fact (I have to find this out from Ron boasting on Twitter about getting the Daily Dot to eat crow? Imagine my joy). Then on Saturday, internet privacy activist and Cryptoparty founder Asher Wolf decides that doxing Barrett Brown‘s ex-girlfriend is a moral imperative. Why? Because, since Asher can’t find any record of her online prior to 2011, she must be a Fed plant.

Let’s review that: because someone leaves no tracks online, a leading internet privacy activist decides she is ipso facto an FBI plant.

As part of the pointless #DramaSec (my coinage, thank you, and you may Paypal me five bucks every time you use it if you wish. And why not? Times are tough chez raincoaster lately), Asher publicized a Pastebin someone had made of a Facebook thread in which BB’s ex and her friends, including me, basically went “what the actual fuck, Asher?” It’s not rocket science; nor is it spywork. It is ludicrous, my friends.

This of course inspired my own Facebook thread, which is reproduced here for fans of pointless, internecine internet drama. Once again, I find myself saying:

Eyes on the prize, people. Is this making the world a better place?

Continue reading

Barrett Brown’s girlfriend speaks out: the transcript

Save Barrett Brown. For what, we're not sure.

Save Barrett Brown. For what, we’re not sure.

You can go to my Daily Dot article for background or just skip this post and go on to the Unicorn Chaser tag if you’re already bored of this particular rabbit hole.

When the FBI raided controversial Anonymous member Barrett Brown’s apartment last week, they weren’t planning on being taped; audio of the raid went out live to participants in a TinyChat Barrett and his girlfriend had going. Now Brown’s girlfriend, @Elvira_ebooks, Evie Paradise, has taken to YouTube to respond to charges the entire thing was a fraud.


Now, here is the transcript. Slightly off-topic, you would not BELIEVE how long it takes to accurately transcribe a five minute video.

Hi my name is Barrett Brown, father of Project PM and miscellaneous other activities on the internet. Speaking of the internet, I was just having one of my friends say on Facebook, and they were telling me that there are a bunch of pastebins and whatnot and rumors flying around that the events of the past week in my apartment were staged. You fools. Is this…is it a setup?

Is it you, Chen?

Is it you, McCain?

Let’s find out. Because I! Made a chart!

This is the setup of my apartment. Oh my god. This is the setup of my apartment. I’m Barrett Brown. This star right here is my beautiful but very tired right now so she probably doesn’t look attractive and like, feel good, okay, my beautiful girlfriend. Evie. Elvira. Whatever.

This rectangle here is the door to my apartment. This slightly longer rectangle is the hallway. And this…scribbly thing… is A KITCHEN WALL.

There’s a wall there. Are you bored yet? TOO BAD because I’m gonna keep talking.

Here’s the wall. Here’s the Kitchen. Girlfriend. K? Computer. Should we review this one more time? Door to the apartment, hallway, kiiiiitchen wall, kitchen, where I make my shake…my “pizza”…and my girlfriend on the computer.

So if one of you prosec dingleberries is gonna come into my apartment, this is how it’s gonna go down. Okay? And this is how it went down.

People came in here. Like, this is a joke video, but this is actually the setup of the apartment. They came in here hooting and hollering, saying what did they say, they said, hi mister brown, can we take a look at your plants? They came in hooting and hollering. Girlfriend down here thinks its one of my deadbeat friends, deadbeat friends, people deadbeat friends that don’t call after you’ve been raided. They don’t even bother to respond to your girlfriend’s facebook messages.

She thinks it’s one of your geek friends, hooting and hollering in a fake raid bit, or something. You know? It’s not.

They say excuse me mister brown can we come in and he’s okay you’re friends of mine. They come in and a melee ensues, going down the hall like this, down the hall, okay? Girlfriend’s still here, thinking what the heck is, what now, what now is going on in this apartment?

But she finds out, doesn’t she? She finds out really soon when they exit the hallway and they turn around the corner. They turn around the corner. Okay, this circle here represents the corner. Okay? You see now? Do you see now? I mean does anyone have any questions?

And then she thinks to herself this is weird. There’s no right way to react like this, I’m gonna just reflexively shut the laptop, and she does. Sometimes she wishes she hadn’t, if she was gonna know all you all these deadbeats would do this.

I mean, come on. By now, by now, don’t you think…yeah, I don’t have time to talk to you people. I just do’ i just don’t have time. I’m Barrett Brown.

You see this? Okay, and then, you know, there’s this, going on like this. And this. And this.

This isn’t even funny. This is just an idea. Thanks a lot [Shane?]. Thanks for having an idea. I’m gonna ask someone else.


Barrett Brown TinyChat videos: Arrest and Threats

Barrett Brown Busted

Barrett Brown Busted

A much shorter report on these videos, also by me, originally appeared on the Daily Dot. This one contains a much broader introduction to Barrett Brown, his background, the arrest, and why these videos are important. For those of you who don’t know who Barrett Brown is, well, clear the next hour or so for rooting around on the internet.

“Not sure why we ended up in total war against everyone this week. Was supposed to be writing documentation, playing rogue-likes.”

Barrett Brown

Barrett Brown, Anonymous activist, journalist, Guardian columnist, YouTube monologist, and current involuntary guest of the U.S. government at an undisclosed holding facility (Disclosed now, actually), continues to wait for specific charges to be laid and the assistance of a lawyer. Since his dramatic mid-chat arrest last Thursday, word from the famously prolix Brown has been non-existent, while talk about him has been unrelenting, if mixed.

Part of the reason Brown’s ubiquity has actually increased is the uber-public context of his arrest: he was actually in a video chat when the police entered. That particular three-minute video has had over 70,000 views so far.

It’s the 21st century. Of course someone was recording the whole thing. That person reached out to me on Friday via on Twitter, and we then met on Skype for a more extended conversation. He said he wanted the world to see that Barrett Brown was not worthy of being called a leader . He is often referred to as a leader of Anonymous, which is leadersless; in fact, he IS a leader of Project PM, an initiative to dog infosec companies, but not an Anonymous operation per se. His arrest threw the rest of the team into a panic, as they feared the site would be taken down by the FBI; they sent out a call on Twitter for the site to be mirrored, as many times as possible, and quickly, so that if it vanished from one place it would pop up in three other places.

The FBI hates playing whack-a-mole.

The purpose of Project PM’s wiki is to provide a centralized, actionable data set regarding the intelligence contracting industry, the PR industry’s interface with totalitarian regimes, the mushrooming infosec/”cybersecurity” industry, and other issues constituting threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions.

But back to our source. Let’s just say I’ve been aware of him for some time and always found him informed and well-intentioned. Everything he said was corroborated by someone I’ve known even longer and respect, and you had better believe I peered over the videos. You can’t be too careful sometimes, as anyone who published the Hitler Diaries would know, eh Rupert?

Our source stressed his seriousness and his genuineness, although like most people in the world which features FBI takedowns on live chat, he preferred to rely on a pseudonym, X. X described himself as “a patriot, a proud American,” specified that he was not a part of Anonymous, and offered these details “im disabled with lyme disease, not a hacker, a patriot, a man of truth.” When I asked why he had come to me, why he wanted people to see these videos, he replied,

i didnt know much about him prior. then i went into his tinychat the day b4 the raid, and what i saw i was horrified; then i found out about the fbi threats. he was doing that on the vids i got. he threatened families with no remorse. the vids i have are gold, will show all of what we are both talking about. i just think justice was served and i hope people will learn from my videos. someone once thought to be a leader

He passed along three videos, including one logging the 45 minutes before, during, and after the raid. X explained that he was not on camera, just present in the text chat, watching the lulz roll by, as they often do with the pugilistic and intelligent Brown. X described the moment the FBI came calling, as Brown and his girlfriend relaxed in their apartment.

He was smoking his grass that he got and beers he went to get. thats what he was doing in the background the whole time. So then out of nowhere the raid hit, as he went to the door, i suppose, but he was hanging there all night in that area, so i think he had multi monitors and she was just distracted BUT imo she knew more.

It’s widely believed that the event which precipitated the raid (and certainly the event which precipitated X’s involvement) was Brown’s YouTube video “Why I’m Going to Destroy FBI Agent Robert Smith Part Three: Revenge of the Lithe,” in which he explained he was giggly because he ws voluntarily reducing his dosage of Suboxone and then said a few things that were inevitably going to come to the attention of the Bureau. He claimed that in a meeting with his lawyer he learned that his mother was now targeted by the FBI for obstruction of justice. He reacted with rambling, passionate outrage (he reacts to many things with rambling, passionate outrage), and threatened agent Robert Smith and his family.

from the transcript:

Anyway, so that’s why Robert Smith’s life is over.  So when I say his life is over, I don’t say I’m going to go kill him.  But I am going to ruin his life, and look into his fucking kids.

How do you like them apples?

Any armed officials of the US government, particularly the FBI, will be regarded as potential Zeta assassin squads…I will shoot all of them and kill them if they come and, and do anything…

Because they are engaged in a criminal conspiracy, and I have reason to fear for my life.  Not just from the Zetas, but from the US government, because of how much they fucked up, and how much they keep getting caught, and because of how much my name is wrapped around all that stuff…

So I have no choice left but to defend my family, myself, my girlfriend, my reputation, my work, my activism, my ideas, and the revelations that my friends are going to prison so that we could have a chance to get out for other people.  So that they would matter.

And frankly, you know, it was pretty obvious I was going to be dead before I was 40 or so, so I wouldn’t mind going out with two FBI sidearms like a fucking Egyptian pharaoh.  Adios.

After posting that, the social media-dependent Brown had a couple of TinyChat sessions, in which he continues to rant about “those fuckers” and call out people for cooperating with the FBI, among other actions. Those are the videos we have.

One critical thing to remember about Barrett Brown is, however drug-addled or garbled he may be, he frequently knows what he’s talking about, so it is wise to pay attention.

The first video (sorry, not great audio quality) starts at nearly 9pm and runs for 20 semi-comprehensible minutes, and in it Brown discusses the deterioration of the military since World War II, the nature of treason, whether Arabs are the most or second-most incompetent race, and hacker communications, among other topics. Someone threatens him with doxing (releasing his address, which is not under his own name; Brown fears action against him by the Zeta Mexican drug cartel) and Brown tries to draw him out. There’s a drive-by from celebrity patriot hacker The Jester, and a great deal of metaphorical testosteric head-butting to establish dominance.

He may be inscrutably masked, but chat participant Anonforecast has the best reaction shots.

In the second, more comprehensible, video, Brown explains his creation “Operation Clyde Toulson,” named after a former associate director of the FBI, who also seems to have been Hoover’s boytoy; the objective of the operation is retribution on agent Robert Smith. He’s wearing the same shirt as he wears in the YouTube videos uploaded earlier that day. In addition to his crusade against Agent Smith, he takes shots at Jennifer Emick of Asherah Research/Backtrace Security, Aaron Barr of HB Gary, and Tom Ryan. Run time on this video is 12 minutes.

And the third video is the entire TinyChat from that eventful Thursday, September 13, running just over 45 minutes long. Once the police make their dramatic, noisy, off-camera entrance, Brown’s girlfriend appears to close the laptop, shutting off the webcam but the audio continues to record. The text portion of the chat has been archived on Pastebin, if you want to give your ears a rest, but you will miss the full impact.

“What is it that makes you want to do this?” asks a disembodied voice in the darkness.

Good question.

Barrett Brown in tinychat

Barrett Brown in tinychat


Brown was booked at the Dallas County jail, from whence comes the above mugshot, but has since been moved to:

Barrett Brown
US Marshal #45047177
Mansfield Federal Detention Ctr.
1601 Heritage Pkwy
Mansfield, TX

Supporters are encouraging people to send postcards and monetary donations. A source of mine says he will probably be moved to a mental facility soon; he has been attempting to reduce his dosage of Suboxone, a heroin substitute, over the past few days, but alcohol increases the effect, and he has been drinking and smoking pot. If he’s suddenly forced to go cold turkey in a mental ward, it could get very ugly very quickly.

Barrett Brown Busted

Barrett Brown Busted

Barrett Brown Busted

Well, it had to happen. Everybody’s favorite/least favorite Anon/talking head/fameball Barrett Brown once again drew the attention of law enforcement. Being a very 21st Century character, he was half-naked, seemingly baked, and on video when it all went down.

Here is that video.

Full report will be up tomorrow on the Daily Dot. You’re welcome.

EDIT: it’s up now. Barrett Brown Anonymous hacker, arested.