The One Story You Should Read About Barrett Brown

You belong to one of two groups of people. Either you read the profile of Barrett Brown I wrote awhile back, and you’re interested to learn more about why he’s being held without bail in a federal facility, facing more than a century of jail time, or you are kinda familiar with his name but don’t really know what’s going on. (There is a third group, the people who’ve never heard his name and aren’t curious about anything. But we’ve blocked the IP addresses of that group of people. So if you’re reading this, then you can’t belong to that third group.) If you belong to the first group, you’ll want to read this smart breakdown of Barrett’s case. It’s written by Peter Ludlow, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern (using his pen name, Urizenus Sklar (long story)). If you belong to the second group of people, then now’s the time to catch up. Ludlow’s piece is the most concise, on-point story I’ve read about Barrett and his work. A taste:

Sometimes life affords us the kind of dramatic moments that are usually only realized in films. One such moment is when the person with exactly the right skill set happens to be in the right place at the right time — for example the retired and/or disgraced supercop who happens to be right there when the bad guys arrive. In this case, the HBGary hack, motivated by the desire to humiliate HBGary, had the side effect of dropping a gold mine into the lap of a heretofore largely unknown but intelligent, articulate and focused journalist.

What caught the attention of Barrett Brown’s journalistic eye were the contents yielded by that hack. One of the first things discovered was a power point presentation that developed a strategy for undermining the credibility of the journalist Glenn Greenwald and thereby neutralize his defense of WikiLeaks. [Ed: Greenwald predicted Wednesday that, because of his reporting on the NSA, he'd "inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears." He was right.] But there was more. There was a conspiracy of government agencies, lobbying and cybersecurity firms to carry out a disinformation campaign against critics of the Chamber of Commerce. There were also plans for data mining and disinformation campaigns targeting social organizations and advocacy groups.

Barrett’s appetite for detail notwithstanding, the data dump from the hack was so vast that no one person could sort through it alone. Accordingly, he crowdsourced the effort, inviting other investigative journalists to join him on his wiki ProjectPM. Beginning in February of 2011, ProjectPM under Brown’s leadership began to slowly untangle the web of connections between the US Government, corporations, lobbyists, and a shadowy group of private military and infosecurity consultants.

You should take a few minute to read the entire article. If you’re inclined, here’s how you can contribute to Barrett’s legal defense.