My short bio: I was a freelance writer for outlets like Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Skeptic, and Huffington Post when I was invited to assist a faction of Anonymous that was assisting with the Tunisian revolution. Shortly afterwards Anonymous hackers stole 70,000 e-mails from an "intelligence contracting" firm that had put us under surveillance, thus exposing the Team Themis conspiracy whereby Palantir, HBGary Federal, and other firms with "black propaganda" capabilities had proposed hacking, disinformation, and intimidation of activist groups like Code Pink as well as Wikileaks and even its supporters, including Glenn Greenwald. Although one CEO had to resign, a Congressional investigation was quickly derailed and no one suffered any consequences (despite having planned DOS attacks, the exact thing for which Anonymous participants had been pursued for via heavily armed FBI raids after they took down MasterCard and Paypal websites for a few seconds in protest of their refusal to process donations to Wikileaks).

Thereafter I repurposed my online "think-tank," Project PM, to continue researching these firms and others like them, compiling our research on a wiki called Echelon2.org (since moved). The FBI eventually raided my home and my mom's house, with the search warrant listing our website and group as subjects of interest. Thereafter they threatened to indict my mother if I failed to cooperate; instead, I threatened to "ruin" the life of the lead agent, using the same tactics that HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr had planned to use against activists with the DOJ's blessing. Separately, I vowed to defend myself against any further raids. The two statements were conflated by the DOJ and used to indict me for threatening a federal agent, which actually requires one to make a violent, non-conditional threat, whereas I'd made one non-violent threat and one conditional threat.

Later, I was charged with 11 counts of aggravated identity theft for having copied and pasted a link from one chat room to another that I believed contained more e-mails, but which in fact included credit cards. I faced 22 years for that link alone, in addition to other charges. The DOJ later had to drop those and other charges, and I plead guilty to one count of internet threats, one of interference with a search warrant, and one of accessory after the fact (I called Stratfor, a company that had been hacked, and offered to help redact any e-mails that could put someone in danger). I was also ordered to pay over $800,000 in restitution to Stratfor.

There are several documentaries covering much of this, including Hacker Wars, We Are Legion, and Alex Winter's 18-minute film Relatively Free, as well as some pretty good articles at WhoWhatWhy and The Nation describing the other plots we uncovered and documented.

While imprisoned, I continued writing, doing a column called The Barrett Brown Review of Arts & Letters & Prison that was later picked up by The Intercept, and for which I won the National Magazine Award for commentary/columns in 2016.

I was released November of last year, and am now preparing a new project, called the Pursuance System, by which to build up a cohesive yet agile network of opposition to criminalize institutions while also helping activists and non-profits to cooperate more efficiently. You can read more about it here.

My Proof: Picture from last week sent to mods here. Here's a live video from my Facebook. Can resubmit that picture as well if needed.

EDIT 5:34 CST I'm going to run down to the store, but will be back in fifteen or twenty minutes to answer more questions.

EDIT Am back, and will continue to answer questions sporadically through the evening.

EDIT 9:00 PM EST I'm going to play some Team Fortress 2 for a bit and relax and whatnot but I'll be back to answer more questions later tonight, and will get to more tomorrow as well.

EDIT 1:53 am EST Well, my Facebook account has suddenly been disabled without explanation, in case anyone's wondering why the link above no longer works.

Comments: 276 • Responses: 78  • Date: 

Mildred__Bonk49 karma

Huge fan of your writing, Barrett. Your book 'Keep Rootin' for Putin' was ahead of the curve in calling out the bullshit of mainstream pundits. One of the points you make is that internet can be used as a force for good in order to fact-check all the nonsense they spout; all of their contradictory bullshit is now a matter of permant, public record.

How do you think the media landscape has changed since that book came out? with the rise of Breitbart and the like, and the sometimes-justified concerns over "fake news", it doesn't really seem like the media have gotten any more reliable over the past years.

Anyway, what the US government has done to you is a travesty and I wish you the best.

Also, go on Chapo

Barrett_Brown47 karma

Unfortunately, the mainstream press didn't really have the gravity or the integrity of action to prevent other, even worse outlets from popping up. Had the New York Times not continued to employ Thomas Friedman even after it became clear that he was less than worthless in terms of explaining world politics, they would have more room to make their own case. Same thing with the Washington Post and Charles Krauthammer, who, as I showed in an old Vanity Fair online piece, was wrong about every U.S. military engagement since Kosovo. Those aren't the only problems with these respectable national outlets, of course, but they're very telling regarding the cowardice of editors and publishers who continued to promote incompetent commentators simply because they've made some vague name for themselves.

And of course WaPo's failed attempt to identify some website that could sort out "fake news" is indicative of the chief fact of our press culture - that much of how it operates is haphazard at best, and that falsehoods can creep in to any outlets, regardless of pedigree, if its operators lose track of basic principles such as hiring competent people and firing incompetent ones. Personal relationships, inertia, ambition, and that sort of things are the chief problems facing our political press, rather than corporate interference or anything else of that sort.

EDIT:

Here's an incomplete case against Friedman; a more comprehensive argument as to why he represents a crisis of ethics within the legacy press may be seen in my free book, Keep Rootin' for Putin (the title of which is taken from an actual Friedman column from 2000). column

crouchtouchpause11 karma

firing competent ones.

Should be firing incompetent ones I suspect

Barrett_Brown9 karma

Oops, my mistake. Fixed.

[deleted]1 karma

[deleted]

Barrett_Brown19 karma

No. I've opposed Putin from the beginning. Friedman, on the other hand, claimed that he would be a democratic reformer and friend to the rule of law, back in 2000, when it was already clear to anyone who cared to examine the issue that this was hardly true.

SithVotarist16 karma

First of all, what do you feel would be the best way to assist the cause of information freedom and transparency for those who lack any manner of material possessions to donate and are more or less confined to operating from home, but are positively made of time? To clarify, I mean activities aside from the obvious hacking related ones; I am attempting to advise some less tech-oriented friends on what they can do to help. Simple awareness-raising and intermittently firing off angry emails to government officials feels insufficient.

Secondly, do you have any thoughts on the fact that your prosecutor Candina Heath is now prosecuting the bizarre Kurt Eichenwald assault-by-gif case?

Finally, when might your new book be available for purchase?

Barrett_Brown16 karma

To first question - that's the most important question of our age, really, since there is a huge amount of talent, energy, and outrage that is going to waste for want of a reliable mechanism to harvest that energy. The purpose of the pursuance project, which provides a framework for "process democracy" whereby anyone may create their own civic entity for research, movement work, opposition, and the like, is to provide a better answer than currently exists. It takes some of the lessons we've learned over the last 15 years of net-facilitated revolutions abroad as well as effective campaigns in the West, facilitated by Anonymous and the like, and tries to maintain the fluidity, the agility, and the ability of anyone to have their ideas aired and acted upon, while also adding a degree of rigor to the process.

Check out that presentation I link to towards end of my post above and send it out to anyone else you know who's interested in taking responsibility for the broken institutions that act in our name.

EDIT

Forgot to answer second question. Heath is legendary for trying to establish dangerous precedents and engaging in overreach, most notably when I was prosecuted for the link but also in other, lesser known cases before and since. Regardless of what one thinks of the fascist little ex-Marine who was trying to give Eichenwald a seizure, Heath is a greater threat to our society than almost anyone she's prosecuted. See the gag order hearing, when, as widely reported, Heath tried to stop me from writing due to a piece I'd done for The Guardian on the Snowden revelations having been "critical of the government" with a "tone" that was "a problem." There's lots more, much of which has been covered in the press, some of which will be in my book (many of the key documents are still not public).

The book should be out middle of next year.

SithVotarist7 karma

Many thanks for the response. I will direct them to the Pursuance page, and I look forward to reading the book. On a more frivolous note, what sort of video games are you playing these days?

Barrett_Brown13 karma

Dwarf Fortress, Witcher 3, Europa Universalis IV, Crusader Kings II, and onward and so forth.

Drowz0r16 karma

Ahoy Barrett

I'm a Pirate Party candidate in the UK, we're seeking to protect whistle-blowers, reform libel laws, protect free speech and our right to privacy here and obviously you know of the successes of Pirates in other countries.

In two days we have an election. Any words of wisdom to voters?

Barrett_Brown18 karma

Yes. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

mdaniels23112 karma

In one of your recent D Magazine articles you noted "But most of all, I realized that journalism will not be enough to save this country." - can you elaborate on that Barrett? and also what does this mean about the future of your journalism? Thanks!

Barrett_Brown24 karma

Journalism is still necessary, but in a nation like the U.S. where the bulk of the citizenry is either fascist or unwilling to do their part to oversee the vast machinery of state that we support through our taxes and which inflicts vast harm at home and abroad, we're going to need a class of people who make up for the failures of the rest of the country. You can get a sense of what I mean by this by looking through the pursuance presentation; this is a framework that is intended to expand into a new and viable force by which to challenge systems from without.

Something along those lines, drawing upon the new ability of humans to collaborate in ways never before possible, is going to happen at some point anyway. We think this is the time to try it.

_OCCUPY_MARS_12 karma

Hey Barrett, mod of /r/WikiLeaks here.

Any thoughts on the work WikiLeaks has done, past or present?

How do you see leaks, whistleblowing, and hacks shaping the future of governments and companies?

Do you still plan on leaving the US in the near future?

Thanks for doing this AMA.

Barrett_Brown27 karma

I was an early supporter of Wikileaks, and continue to support the leaking of files from any state or other institution that engages in criminal activity on a large scale.

I have no doubt that leaking, as well as hacking by various ideologically-motivated groups, will become more common in the coming years.

Yes, I will not remain in the United States after my term of probation is up. Most likely I will move to Berlin or Iceland, at which point I'll revoke my citizenship.

jolyon_brown11 karma

Hello Barrett,

I'm not American, but when hearing about the charges against you (sadly well after the fact), I was infuriated by what seemed to be clear malice and intimidation by the state. I wondered how you managed to keep your spirits up in those circumstances (besides writing those excellent columns)? Wanted to wish you the best of luck with your new project and to say well done for making it through what must have been a very difficult period.

Barrett_Brown18 karma

I had a lot of support that most people who fall prey to this system don't have, and even when I was facing decades in prison, I had my personal interests - reading history, writing humor and agitprop - to keep me busy. Happiness and security are highly relative.

kazzie-ch11 karma

What do you think of Anonymous these days?

Barrett_Brown22 karma

I'm not sure that it even really exists in any measurable form anymore, at least as compared to 2011, when the NSA chief felt the need to drum up paranoia about its capabilities and it was a driving force behind opposition to the intelligence community's expanding, unchecked powers. As you can see from the pursuance project, I'm more interested now in using process-based frameworks, where roles and duties can be clearly defined and agreed upon (and also less visible to intelligence contractors and other members of the state-corporate criminal class). There were a number of problems with how Anonymous operated, even aside from the FBI infiltration, and it's best at this point to think more in terms of moving the ball forward rather than trying to restore the past.

seylerius2 karma

(and also less visible to intelligence contractors and other members of the state-corporate criminal class)

What methods do you intend to use to make these roles less visible?

Barrett_Brown7 karma

The entities that people work with will use a variety of end-to-end encryption tools and cannot be joined just by anyone with no vetting, as could be done with the average Anonymous chat room and message board. Some features, such as LeapChat, a zero-knowledge chat program, are already planned for inclusion; others will be decided upon over the next couple of months as the framework is built.

Babbert_Scientific11 karma

What are your thoughts on the Bilderberg Meetings?

Barrett_Brown21 karma

It's very indicative that they don't receive adequate coverage. The problem is that many journalists and editors have only heard of Bilderberg in the context of what they assume to be wacky conspiracy theories. Although some of the theories about the extent of Bilderberg's importance are clearly wrong, that doesn't change the fact that this is a meeting of influential figures from around the world which is closed to the public, and is thus of legitimate interest. But, again, many journalists are fools and/or cowards.

cephurs9 karma

Welcome back! 1. Where is my pizza recipe? 2. How is the bobcat?

Barrett_Brown10 karma

The FBI took it. Sorry.

Barrett_Brown3 karma

The bobcat is in storage. I've got better trophies now, including the skull of a wild pig I shot years back.

cs3139 karma

What are some media outlets (or individuals) that you think are providing the most credible political coverage at this time?

Barrett_Brown24 karma

WhoWhatWhy, The Intercept, Truth-Out are a few of the better outlets.

melbourne_hacker5 karma

With the current news with The Intercept, should we even trust them as credible now? Especially for leakers?

Barrett_Brown23 karma

Let's just stick to questions about Rampart.

flyinghighernow5 karma

Great list! How about FAIR.org, WSWS.org, Consumerist.com, InTheseTimes.com, etc? There are many good sites, but people keep going back to the old MSM sites, the partisan sites, and other corporate sites.

Barrett_Brown11 karma

There are definitely many, and I should also note Democracy Now.

draftstyle9 karma

What's your theory as to why the book was thrown at you in particular? Specifically, who do you figure made that decision and why?

Barrett_Brown15 karma

That's best demonstrated by the original search warrants, in which a grand jury was presented with spurious info to justify ongoing surveillance of my activities. Those are still sealed, but the eventual search warrant for the raid, which Michael Hastings posted on Buzzfeed, shows they were concerned with our investigations into the DOJ and FBI's criminal allies, such as HBGary Federal, and the site on which we compiled our research, echelon2.org (now moved). Here's that warrant.

Basically, as explained in several of the better articles, such as those by Glenn Greenwald, Christian Stork, and the like back in 2013 or so, the DOJ and FBI wanted me away from the internet for as long as possible, and pursued over a dozen charges they later had to drop in order to try to do that.

FBI officials get high-paying jobs with these sorts of companies when they leave public "service;" DOJ had been embarrassed by its connection to the companies we'd kept digging into; and they know full well that they can do most anything without real consequences.

Darkprincess8089 karma

A friend wants to know if you are single. She has a thing for nerdy ex-cons. Are you single?

Barrett_Brown12 karma

Yes, I'm single.

trai_dep7 karma

Do you prefer writing or public speaking more?

And, your letters from prison were inspired, interesting and hilarious. How many hours and drafts do you typically spend for articles of that length?

How often do you get writer's block, or are you one of those super-annoying people for whom words just flow?

Barrett_Brown8 karma

I actually prefer speaking, either on tv/radio interviews or in front of audiences. I'm sort of inclined to demagoguery, I'm afraid. Like Nixon, I want to make love to the people.

trai_dep7 karma

How does your Pursuance system check for and detect agent provocateurs or hostile parties intent on spying or corrupting a work group? Are there any plans to include vetting or granting status within a group – which would imply hierarchies, which might work against the equal collaboration roles.

What security (E2E encryption, TLS, PFS, etc) is planned, or is the system designed more for openness, broadcasting and social aspects?

Not casting shade: balancing security, authenticity and collaboration is a difficult task. :)

Barrett_Brown6 karma

Each pursuance has a variety of security options by which to minimize the problem of hostile parties, aside from the conventional encryption tools; chief of all, one can set their pursuance to be opaque to those who aren't members. The structure itself of the average pursuance, which grows on the margins, is far more difficult to effectively infiltrate than the IRC chat rooms that Anon used, which anyone can just drop into for the most part (and did).

Granting status is actually a big part of the system. Everyone is equal when they join the system in the sense that they all have equal rights to create pursuances and apply to join others; at the same time, everyone who creates a pursuance has the right to define how it functions, which will often includes divisions of labor and even hierarchies. Anyone who dislikes that sort of thing can create a pursuance, give full rights to other participants, and attract others who prefer that method. And pursuances of very different organizing principles can still collaborate with each other to the extent that each one agrees to do so.

More info on the exact technical aspects, including what security is involved, will be put out before the minimum viable product is released.

itsacavetroll6 karma

Thank you immensely for your work, your courage, and your humor. I am genuinely grateful for the tireless, dogged journalism you've conducted over the years.

What do you think will be the fate of Trump? Your colleague at the Intercept, Jeremy Scahill, often asks if it'll be "Impeachment? Resignation? Or a Heart-attack?"

What do you think will happen to this newest alleged whistleblower, Reality Leigh Winner? Do you think Trump will try to make an example of her?

In the past, you've been labeled an anarchist--as cited in the criminal case against you. Do you label yourself similarly? Does this effect your work?

Again, thank you for all you do. '

EDIT: Spelling.

Barrett_Brown8 karma

It's increasingly likely that Trump will fail to finish his term, but that will depend on lots of factors that we can't really get a sense of.

I do think that Winner will be prosecuted rather severely, unless there's something else to this story.

I've been an anarchist since about the age of 13, when I read the work of Alexander Berkman and then Emma Goldman, though I've had varying degrees of sympathy for other political inclinations over the years.

8urfiat6 karma

What's worse. Prison rape or prison food?

Barrett_Brown39 karma

I never really minded raping people, so I guess the food.

kajnbagoat2 karma

Savage reply. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

On the other note : How hard was it for you to find a job once you were out of prison?

When and what made you interested in this private intelligence business?

What do you think about the tv show person of interest which goes along a similar theme about private intelligence and government surveillance systems?

Barrett_Brown11 karma

I had a job writing columns for The Intercept even while I was in prison, which I'll continue again shortly, and got a pretty lucrative book deal shortly after being released. Also I worked for D Magazine covering city council while I was still on halfway house as I was required to hold a 40-hour-a-week job, job, job-type job.

I got interested in private intelligence contractors when they started coming after me, spying on our assistance efforts to Egyptians that we were running out of Project PM's IRC in coordination with Anonymous. Things escalated from there.

I'm not familiar with that program. I play games, mostly, and don't watch much TV, except for Twin Peaks.

JunglistBook1 karma

Please... The messiah and savior of the blue collared America had a job lined up before he even left the institution for the man.

Barrett_Brown2 karma

I've never said anything about specifically assisting "blue collared" [sic] America or anything of the sort, which seems to be something you've made up in order to try to make some sort of vague argument that I shouldn't have a job, or something, from which I deduce that you are a typical American conservative internet commenter, and I salute you for it, but's let's stick to questions about Rampart.

DroneLover5 karma

Huge fan. Read all your output from prison. I think I sent you a book a few years ago & donated to your fund. Might have been Hammond and/or Weev, maybe all 3. I didn't keep good records. I have so many questions & don't expect you to answer all:
1) How much shit am I in for donating to you? I have been reading about how your donor list was accessed by USA LE. I assume the worst.
2) Thoughts on Jeremy Hammond?
3) Did you watch "The Hacker Wars?" thoughts?
4) Did you watch "We Are Legion?" thoughts?
5) Have you decided which country you want to live in?
6) How much do you still owe in restitution? Any chance of getting that reversed? It really pisses me off that you owe money to an entity I consider evil.
7) Do you believe certain USA orgs like NSA / CIA / FBI are monitoring this AMA?
8) Vaping. How are you liking it? (I am an expert in vaping. Happy to offer any advice to you. IMO total smoking replacement)
9) Thoughts on the current state of journalism? Do you believe it to be mostly dead? CNN? Fox News? is it just choose your side and reside in your preferred echo chamber flavor? Do you have any news sources that you consider to be actually fair?

I just signed up for Pursuance Systems. Best of luck with it. We need shit like this. IMO so many of us were "down to ride" when Anonymous was a thing. If you can capture that initial ethos of fighting evil and properly organize the humans that share said ethos, we could change this shit. Best of motherfucking luck good sir.

Barrett_Brown7 karma

  1. That's hard to say. Your donation to my legal fund wasn't illegal, whereas their illicit measures to obtain the info on donors was quite arguably illegal and unconstitutional on several grounds, which is why a law firm took the case and filed against them a few months back. On the other hand, you're certainly now known to elements of the state as someone who supports those who oppose the state's criminality. But they've got plenty of people to worry about as it is, so I wouldn't be too concerned.

  2. I worked with Hammond on a number of occasions back in the day and respected his commitment, though we disagreed on some aspects of what exactly our mission was.

  3. I've seen The Hacker Wars. I'll note that its depiction of Weev as an activist is rather silly. He got a bad deal, but Weev is essentially a troll and has been since I first met him in 2006 at Encyclopedia Dramatica.

  4. Yes. Pretty comprehensive narrative on what Anonymous was, what it did, and why it matters.

  5. Either Germany or Iceland, most likely.

  6. I owe something like $870,000 to several corrupt organizations, including Stratfor, which spied on Bhopal activists on behalf of Union Carbide and cooperates with the FBI and Coca-Cola against lawful U.S. activists, among other things. No, the judge has already ruled and we can't appeal.

  7. Probably not.

  8. I love it.

  9. That's something I can't answer thoroughly enough here, but in general, I do not believe that the press, in its current state, is capable of performing its role as the watchdog of a complex imperial republic, and I don't see any reason why it should get better in the near future, though one never knows.

rtime7772 karma

What kinda stuff did you an hammomd disagree on when it came to what your mission was/is?

Barrett_Brown3 karma

He was in to dumping the credit card numbers of random Stratfor customers onto the internet and I wasn't.

YORKELED5 karma

Do you think after all is said and done that you are essentially out of the "legal forest?" Do you think the law will always be after you as long as you continue in altruistic journalism? Sidebar, I appreciate everything you have done for free speech and the ongoing efforts to not have the press silenced by politicians and corrupt government.

Barrett_Brown10 karma

I think that I'll be the continued subject of illegal and/or dishonest tactics by the intelligence contracting community and other institutions so long as they believe I constitute a threat to their profitability, but it's hard to say how much of this I'll be facing in the future and whether it will make much difference. There's still a bunch of stuff that happened to me years ago that I'll be making available later on.

YORKELED2 karma

Thank you very much for your response! My day has been made! As for a follow up question, what is your favorite junk food (if you enjoy such "delicacies")?

Barrett_Brown8 karma

Cigarettes.

alasb5 karma

Hi Barrett Brown.

Let me first say thank you for your work. Your Reviews Of Arts and Letters and Prison are one the best thing I've ever read. It reminded me of Homage to Catalonia, except that you have a great sense of humor.

Now, have you chosen some of the technologies that the Pursuance project will use to make it somewhat resistant to surveillance and attack yet? Do you think it will use onion routing for example?

Will you soon give us some news about that incredible red-bearded Texan that you met in prison?

Best wishes.

Barrett_Brown4 karma

The only specific security tool I can definitely say will be included in the system at this point is Leapchat, which was created by one of our core people. Other software will be integrated, but we don't have a final list yet.

rtime7771 karma

When you say leap chat are you referring to https://leapchat.co?

Barrett_Brown1 karma

No, this is something else.

hatesec4 karma

Six years ago, you told me I was not allowed to join Anonymous.

"You're not Anonymous, sweetheart."

You then asked /u/kiltrout why I "prank called" you, when you were the one who gave him your cellphone number, asking me to call you.

After you went to prison, and I was free to join Anonymous, I carried your torch - inspired by your instrumental role in Arab Spring (you deserve all the credit, afterall) - and I used the Anonymous brand to promote similar Brazilian and Venezuelan Springs in your name. I also assumed control of Project PM.

My question is: What future libertine activities do you have planned to promulgate the corporate American agenda abroad, and do you plan to continue using Anonymous, for which you are the official spokesman, as your vehicle?

Barrett_Brown19 karma

As you yourself have quoted, I did not tell you that you weren't allowed to join Anonymous. I told you that you're not Anonymous. I said that because you were not involved in Anonymous, and even opposed Anonymous, as you've yourself confirmed here, and as was clear then, as well as from the posts on your Twitter. Like your friend Kilgoar, who's run fake articles under my name at his site, you enjoy engaging in falsehoods against people who have done nothing to deserve it, which is certainly your right.

EDIT

And now you and Kilgoar have admitted to making up much of this:

robertogreen4 karma

are you going to revive project PM?

Barrett_Brown7 karma

Not as such, but we'll be running a "pursuance," as entities under the pursuance system are known, that will continue much of the same work of documenting the intelligence sector, private and public.

robertogreen3 karma

excellent, and will you build "top down" (or at least, like before, bring in many individuals who might be interested to...pursue it) or will you build it organically?

Barrett_Brown9 karma

I haven't decided on the exact form it will take or who will be in charge of day-to-day operations. I'll be involved to consult and give some direction where needed, but I don't plan on overseeing it myself at this point.

geocynic3 karma

Why do you still wear Oxford button down shirts and those silly assed Roper cowboy boots? Aren't you concerned that folks will mistake you for a deranged Texas oilman?

Barrett_Brown10 karma

That's my disguise.

scott605613 karma

How do you feel about the "weaponization" (using the internet to stir outrage and witch hunts) of the internet, whereby it seems like everyone is looking for a "Gotcha!" moment to share with the mob for profit and to stir outrage? Do you feel that would be a force for good or more just a modern techno-lynching?

Barrett_Brown2 karma

As with all mobs, e-mobs have both positive and negative consequences.

alasb3 karma

What books about COIN and political repression (past and present) and about useful countermeasures and "security culture" would you recommend, if any ?

Barrett_Brown6 karma

The Burglary and The Devil's Chessboard. Most of all, read anything by Peter Dale Scott, the former diplomat and Berkley professor who carefully documented a great deal of the amorphous security culture from the early '60s to recent years, mostly in regards to JFK and Southeast Asian drug running by CIA affiliates.

BitchHellender3 karma

Despite the general dearth of public discourse, your recent appearances are stirring some useful debate. Will you continue to interact in accessible ways?

Barrett_Brown3 karma

Absolutely. I almost always agree to interviews if a large enough audience can be reached.

RamonaLittle3 karma

  • A week before your arrest, you called me "some ignorant bitch" and accused me of harassing you on behalf of HB Gary or some such nonsense. For the record, I didn't even know about that incident until you were berating me about it.

    • Do you still think I'm an ignorant bitch?
    • What were you talking about? Was that just drug-induced paranoia? Are you planning to stay off drugs now?
  • It's since been taken down, but someone had posted on YouTube a recording of a phone conversation about Anon stuff between you and some guy in Texas, apparently around the time of the Stratfor hack. The guy dropped a lot of information about himself.

    • Why did you seem to be encouraging him to dox himself, instead of telling him to STFU for opsec?
    • Did you record this call, and if so, why?
    • How did the recording wind up on YouTube? Did other conversations get leaked too?
    • Do you still record calls, and do you think that's smart when working with activists?
  • The previous time you got raided, you told the NY Times that you had received advance warning of the raid (which the Times later mysteriously deleted). If you had a source within the FBI, why would you tell anyone, let alone the NY Times?

  • Before your arrest, you were working on a book. I heard that a lot of your writing was on your computers that got seized. Did you get that back, and what's happening with the book?

Thanks. Also FYI -- I like your writing and have been reading all of your articles. But I hear them in your voice, and find your voice annoying. So you've been annoying me all these years from prison. Just thought you'd like to know that.

Barrett_Brown14 karma

  1. Yes, I still think you're an ignorant bitch. As evidence, you've just linked to a post which you claimed has me accusing you of harassing me on behalf of HBGary when I actually said it was someone else that was doing so. I'll go into more about that person and some of those incidents in my book. At any rate, this inability of yours to characterize my words and actions honestly is pretty representative of comments you were in the habit of posting on my stuff in those days, as I recall.

  2. I do still record calls, though never with activists. I didn't record that fellow and certainly didn't post it on YouTube; that was someone else who recorded the video chat session, apparently with the intent of interfering with our work. Obviously I didn't encourage anyone to to "dox himself," and he didn't, which is why he was never picked up; that's merely another false characterization akin to your other one from a few seconds ago. Also, I have trouble believing you're really worried about activists being detected given how little problem you had with that video being posted to the Anonymous reddit, which is obviously monitored more heavily than random YouTube posts.

  3. I have no idea why the New York Times deleted that quote, which they did without noting, contrary to usual practice. As for why I make some things known for reasons that may be unclear to others outside of these events, there are many reasons; in this case, the FBI already knew about it, and I like to remind these agencies and their supporters that the illegal campaigns they conduct face criticism from within, which helps to prompt others to question their role.

  4. The book was an autobiography of Gregg Housh that I was recruited to help him write, and would also cover Anonymous. It was cancelled, and I've now signed a deal with FSG to do another book, billed as a "memoir/manifesto."

RamonaLittle7 karma

OK, thanks for all that.

I look forward to reading your book.

Barrett_Brown9 karma

Well, that de-escalated quickly...

seylerius3 karma

Hi Barrett. Two questions for you:

  1. I've noticed that your "Pursuance Project" attacks the decentralized analysis problem from the angle of formalizing collaborative relationships and roles, rather than organizing and enhancing the complex work to be done. I find this an interesting choice. What are your motivations behind choosing this direction for your project?
  2. There are other questions I haveβ€”some like this, some a bit more controversial. Would you be open to further discussion via your recently published email address?

Barrett_Brown11 karma

  1. Actually, if you look at what the presentation says, we're also going to be creating actual pursuances that we'll be designing, and so I'll be carrying on the same kind of work that I used to do, but better organized. It's just that in addition to that, we're also giving other people the tools to easily manage other projects and collaborate on various things in whatever way they choose.

  2. If you have questions, post them here.

seylerius3 karma

  1. That's good to know, but I didn't ask whether you were planning to lead investigations. I asked why you were focusing your tool-building on tools for organizing humans into roles, rather than tools for better intelligence analysis or fact finding.
  2. What tools do you intend to provide in the pursuance kit, aside from pre-existing comms tools bundled for fast deployment?
  3. The roles-based organization of pursuances sounds like something that could benefit from smart contracts. Are you implementing anything like smart contracts to enforce roles and task completion? If not, why?
  4. How do you expect to prevent a slow degradation of competence and quality as the network extends outward from yourself, without specific task and analysis oriented tools, or are there some in development that you've neglected to mention at this time?

Barrett_Brown8 karma

  1. We're also incorporating tools for analysis, including Transparency Toolkit, but that's not our chief focus, which is getting people to use these tools in the first place in a coordinated way.

  2. We don't have a final list yet, which will be available when we're closer to launching.

  3. We are indeed.

  4. The structure itself minimizes the problem of less competent people joining over time, as each pursuance is something of a "filter." This is explained a bit more in some of the other documentation that will be up this month.

bloobum2 karma

Which blockchains are you looking at using?

EDIT: Just wanted to add that I'm a huge fan of your work. You are hilarious. And relevant. Such a great combination.

Barrett_Brown4 karma

That's being determined by our more technical core people; I know very little about blockchains other than what I've read in magazines.

bloobum2 karma

Is there someone I could contact about that? I'd love to write an article about you and your project in the crypto world. It's a great use-case for blockchain.

Barrett_Brown2 karma

Yes, PM me later.

ironman822 karma

what do you thin kof the situation in venezuela?

Barrett_Brown4 karma

The non-liberal left - the left that denounces free association and individual liberty as "neo-liberalism" - gave in to the temptation to pursue their goals through means of an unaccountable and coercive state, and disregarded the well-established laws of supply and demand in a way that we've seen over and over again through the last hundred years, and now we're seeing the results.

randomfrost2 karma

What were the things out here in the world outside of prison that caught you off guard or surprised you the most after being in prison for years? (maybe an answer for each of tech, humanity, outlook)

Barrett_Brown7 karma

A couple years into my sentence, a friend of mine who's generally on the right started telling me about how campus activists had devised some strange framework of "safe spaces" and "microviolence" and whatnot, and I just assumed she was being a right-wing crank. But it turned out that this was actually a major tendency, which I've had the opportunity to encounter since getting out.

tracysavage2 karma

Have you any thoughts you'd care to share on the Reality Leigh Winner situation?

Barrett_Brown7 karma

I'm not sure what to make of it yet.

thatrez2 karma

Do you think they'll ever catch AVunit?

Barrett_Brown7 karma

They'll never catch the midnight rider.

cho0b2 karma

Have you ever admitted publicly that #OpCartel was a huge scam built atop a foundation of lies?

Glad you're out of prison.

Barrett_Brown3 karma

No, because that's not true. OpCartel came out of the Anon Veracruz faction, and although there was a great deal of confusion about it in the press - such as the idea that I had started it, or that I had the documents, or that I was in direct negotiations with the Zetas, when in fact these other guys were in charge of it at all times - I have no reason to believe that their basic claims were untrue. I supported the original operation and thereafter tried to use the momentum to match Mexican journalists with U.S. press who could publish info on cartel infiltration with relative safety. Very little came of that.

Teridax_Cx2 karma

Do you think Anonymous still has any political/social relevance in 2017, and if not what would it take (if anything) for it to become relevant again?

EDIT: I see someone asked a similar question, I'll clarify a bit: I sit firmly on the "no it does not" side of the first part, more curious what you, as someone who was around that scene in its brightest hours, think could bring it back to its former glory.

Barrett_Brown2 karma

I don't, frankly. That could change, but as I told someone else, what's needed now is something that can expand and serve as a serious counter against the powerful without burning out in a flash of chaos and disagreement. The pursuance system will be a mechanism for conducting civic affairs in such a way that everyone has the same clearly-defined rights to operate, to invent, to rise according to their talents and dedication; although Anonymous was allegedly something along those lines, the reality is that some people controlled the mediums, such as IRC servers, where much of the important work was conducted. That's just one of several fatal flaws Anonymous had - the conflict between its stated nature and its actual nature, and a lack of a mechanism for settling disagreements.

Babbert_Scientific2 karma

What do you think of the DNC Leaks?

Barrett_Brown3 karma

I'm in favor of any leaks that reveal corruption within institutions.

RagsyBoy2 karma

Hey Barrett, 2 questions.

1) I always thought it was ballsy of you to plead guilty while staring down the possibility of 100+ years in prison. Were you aware at the time that your sentence was likely going to be much shorter?

2) Is Leiderman as awesome as his "chicken-shit assholes" rant belies?

Barrett_Brown10 karma

  1. What actually happened was, I faced over 100 years worth of charges but refused to agree to the original plea bargain they proposed, which would have me plead guilty to one count of identity theft and whatnot and maybe do three or four years. I would not plea to anything involving fraud or deception, and I would not help them set a precedent whereby people could be prosecuted for linking to public information.

    Then my lawyers filed a motion to dismiss those charges, noting that they were misusing the statutes, that I clearly had no intent of committing fraud, etc, and they had to drop their own charges or else face possibility of being sued under a little-known provision whereby defendants of obviously fallacious charges can seek compensation, etc. That being done, I was willing to plea to whatever other nonsense they needed to save face, as the alternative was to go to trial in a system where the FBI can and does lie without consequences, and with a Dallas jury.

  2. Yep.

JunglistBook2 karma

Hey there Barrett, I wish you the best. Are you allowed to use a computer now? Or have you always been? I remember reading something on Frontburner that said you are not allowed to.

Barrett_Brown4 karma

The BOP had claimed that I couldn't use computers during my home confinement period, but now I'm on probation under DOJ, which allows me to use a computer so long as it's monitored, which it's going to be anyway.

Ossus2 karma

What was your favorite book you read while in Prison? Favorite book of all time?

Barrett_Brown3 karma

It's hard to really narrow them down to a particular favorite, but I very much enjoyed the series of George Orwell's notes, articles, and letters, which someone sent me a volume of and which I eventually obtained in full.

Bernardo_Sanders1 karma

Do you have a hero or someone who inspires you?

Barrett_Brown6 karma

Emma Goldman, the early 20th century Russian-Jewish anarchist who contributed to American civil liberties via her unyielding efforts and despite repeated jail terms.

wbvt1 karma

What are your thoughts on a Convention of the States to rectify the bureaucratic mess that makes most of us criminals?

Barrett_Brown1 karma

I'm not familiar with that.

nomad20201 karma

Did you trip the soap? Trip report?

Barrett_Brown3 karma

You mean, did I drop the soap?

nomad20208 karma

I'll be the one asking the questions here thank you.

Barrett_Brown4 karma

Sorry.

goonsack1 karma

Do you still think the Kosovo War was a good thing? If so why?

Barrett_Brown3 karma

Within the context of states engaging in warfare, I don't particularly oppose the Kosovo War, and didn't then, at least on principle, as the West has indeed adopted the concept, which I agree with, that it has a right and an interest in using force against those who perpetrate crimes against humanity. Obviously the U.S. has committed similar crimes, just with more window dressing, but I'm not opposed to its machinery being used against other, even more oppressive states with authoritarian tendencies - again, in principle.

iDoWonder1 karma

What's the reason behind the timing of this ama? There doesn't seem to be anything topical in your life to inspire this ama. The only topical events that tie into your ama are 1) The intercept (whom you're promoting) is being accused of revealing a source. 2) James Comey, former director of the FBI (which you're decrying) is about to testify.

The questions in this ama seem staged and this whole thing stinks.

Barrett_Brown3 karma

For one thing, I just got allowed back on the internet for the first time in nearly five years last week, when my BOP supervision period ended, and I'm quite plainly promoting the upcoming pursuance system, which was recently announced and which I've talked about in a dozen comments, in addition to my original text above. I know the fact that I do actually have two important factors on the timing of this won't convince you that I don't, because I remember the internet quite well.

Varrick20161 karma

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2177843/

I saw you recently in We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists from 2012 and it was hilarious, informative, entertaining, and really eye opening.

21 minutes in and I'm keeping over laughing about your line about furry infiltrators πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ‘ŒπŸΈ

Any plans for more documentaries?

Barrett_Brown2 karma

There's at least one more documentary coming out this year that will involve me and my work, but I can't give out details at this point.

Lawdog90011 karma

Why was there a stuffed leopard on your wall in We Are Legion?

Barrett_Brown2 karma

My dad is a prolific hunter and I've had it since I was a kid.

EthanDoulos1 karma

Are you still an Anarchist? Would you feel willing the elaborate on your specific views and beliefs of it?

Barrett_Brown5 karma

Yes. I'm something of a quietist in that I don't explicitly claim that the state is inherently wrong, but rather that its claims to legitimacy are always arbitrary and relative.

VoteTurdSandwich-1 karma

Do you see an end to the U.S. that doesn't involve WWIII or a full-scale revolution?

Barrett_Brown2 karma

Certainly. Nations can deteriorate via more mundane factors. Sometimes they don't end, but merely become less relevant over time, while keeping their name long after it means anything. This happened with the Byzantine Empire taking the name of "Romans" and otherwise tracing their pedigree to Rome - at first quite correctly, but eventually as they were reduced to almost nothing. Rome itself didn't fall due to any single war or revolution.