Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Daily Bleed 27 June 2015

He labored hard & failed at last,
His sails too weak to bear the blast,
The raging tempests tore away
& sent his beating bark astray.
But what cared he
For wind or sea!
He said, "The tempest will be short,
My bark will come to port."
He saw through every cloud a gleam ­­
He had his dream.

— Paul Laurence Dunbar, from "He Had His Dream"

Web page what runneth over:



Writer & activist editor of Mother Earth, exile, she knew
innumerable jailings, revolutions, love affairs. The most
dangerous woman in America.

Provence, France: FESTIVAL OF THE THRASQUE. The man-eating
monster charges down city streets, snapping at people.


1605 -- In Valladolid, Spain, Cervantes & his poverty-stricken
family are arrested & charged with complicity in the death of a
nobleman (exonerated a few days later).

1869 -- Anarchist rebel, feminist & anti-militarist Emma Goldman
lives, Kaunas, Lithuania.

1880 -- Deaf, mute, blind socialist Helen Keller, lives (1880-
1968), Tuscumbia, Alabama. American author, activist, socialist.
Wrote fluently about her life: The World I Live In; The Song of
the Stone Wall.

1905 -- "Wobblies" (Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)),
a radical union, founding convention begins, Brand's Hall, in
Chicago, Illinois.

1907 -- Emma Goldman back in New York City
in time to celebrate her 38th birthday.

1917 -- Emma Goldman & Alexander Berkman act as independent
counsel in their conspiracy trial; Goldman denies charge that she
stated, "We believe in violence & we will use violence" at the
May 18 meeting.

After a brief jury deliberation, they are both
found guilty & given the maximum sentence — two years in prison &
$10,000 fine. Judge Julius Mayer recommends their deportation as
undesirable aliens. Goldman's plea to have sentencing deferred is
denied; Goldman taken to Jefferson City, Mo., & Berkman to
Atlanta, Ga., to begin their sentences.

1918 -- Emma Goldman spends her birthday in agonizing
pain, induced by strain from her prison work.

1919 -- Emma Goldman celebrates her 50th birthday in prison.
Especially touched that William Shatoff sends her a bouquet
of flowers from Russia.

1925 -- Emma Goldman, on her birthday, marries James Colton, an
elderly anarchist friend & trade unionist from Wales, in order to
obtain British citizenship & the right to travel & speak more widely.

1928 -- Because F. Scott Fitzgerald is too awestruck by James
Joyce to approach him, bookstore (Shakespeare & Co.) owners
Sylvia Beach & Adrienne Monnier invite the two & Lucie & Andra
Chamson to dinner.

1929 -- Emma Goldman takes time out of a busy writing schedule
to celebrate her 60th birthday with Berkman & visiting American
friends Ben & Ida Capes.

1934 -- Emma Goldman celebrates her 65th birthday in Toronto
with a party attended by 40 friends.

1936 -- Emma Goldman celebrates her 67th birthday with visiting
American anarchist & benefactor Michael Cohn & his family. Too
ill to celebrate with her, Alexander Berkman telephones in the

1939 -- Emma Goldman's 70th birthday is marked in Toronto
with a celebration that elicits cables from friends, comrades,
& labor organizations around the world.

1941 -- Richard Wright awarded the Spingarn Medal, for the power
of his books Uncle Tom's Children & Native Son in depicting "the
effects of proscription, segregation & denial of opportunities on
the American Negro."

1948 -- Australia: Coal workers strike until mid-August
when the government calls out the troops to suppress it.

1950 -- Beloved & Respected Comrade Leader President Truman orders
US air & naval units to South Korea, which was invaded by North
Korea. He also announces the dispatch of a 35-man military
mission to the newly formed state of Vietnam, to teach the use of
US weapons. Apparently they see light at the end of the tunnel
& send back bad advice:

send more.

1954 -- CIA-sponsored rebels complete their overthrow of the elected
government of Guatemala.

When we butchered your son, boys
When we butchered your son
Have a stick of our gum, boys
Have a stick of our bubble-gum
We own half the world, oh say can you see
The name for our profits is democracy
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

— Phil Ochs

1960 -- Pierre Monatte (1881-1960) dies. A central figure
of the French anarcho-syndicalist movement. Influenced by Emile
Pouget, friends with Albert Camus, & a former Communist
Party member, he fought the Stalinist influence & reformist
positions of the trade unions.

1967 -- "Show me a man who lives alone & has a perpetually dirty
kitchen, & 5 times out of 9 I'll show you an exceptional man."

— Charles Bukowski, 6-27-67, over 19th bottle of beer.

as the knife stopped spinning
the answer came:
you're going to have to
save yourself.
still smiling,
a: he lit a
b: he poured
c: gave the blade

1969 -- New York City police storm into the Stonewall, a Greenwich
Village gay bar. They're expecting a routine raid. But many young
men are emboldened by recent race rebellions & escalating
resistance to the Vietnam War.

They feel it's time to take direct action. In less than an hour,
the police harassment at the Stonewall ignites a full-scale riot.
The battle raged in the surrounding neighborhood for nearly
a week. Within a month, organizations spring up across the
country to resist similar oppression & to support the
Stonewall rioters. The modern lesbian
& gay rights movement has begun.

The basis of future Gay Pride Days.

1973 -- Ida Mett dies. Member of the "Dielo Truda" group from 1925
to 1928. Russian anarchist, married to Nicholas Lazarevitch,
who helped her gather documentation for her book, The Kronstadt
Uprising 1921.

1986 -- World Court rules US support for Nicaraguan "contras"
violates international law.

1997 -- US: Speakeasy Cafe, Seattle Hempfest
Benefit, with Artis the Spoon Man, songster Jim Page,
et al.

2008 -- Germany: Bavarian man torches his 1995 BMW outside Frankfurt's
convention center to protest skyrocketing gas prices. Police consider charging
him with violating German environmental laws.


"[Anarchism is the] philosophy of a new social order based on
liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms
of government rest on violence, & are therefore wrong &
harmful, as well as unnecessary."

— Emma Goldman

Friday, May 22, 2015

John Grant: "The Debacle That Bites Back" @ This Can't Be Happening!

Here We Go Again
The Debacle That Bites Back
By John Grant

Jeb Bush had a tough time when a female college student told him his brother, George, and his shock-and-awe debacle in Iraq had created ISIS. Jeb winced and did some ducking and covering. He’d already fumbled a question from Megyn Kelly of Fox News that, if he knew what we know now, would he have done what his brother did. He said he would have also invaded Iraq and that his older brother was one of his campaign’s foreign policy advisers.
Once Jeb realized he’d stumbled into a hornet’s nest, he quickly back-peddled and said he had not understood Kelly’s question. He said he thought he was being asked if he didn’t know now what his brother didn’t know then, would he invade Iraq? In other words, are you, Jeb, as cavalier and oblivious to reality as your brother was? Suddenly realizing how much bad freight his brother’s war carried, he revised his answer: Of course he would not have invaded Iraq.

There was a rare element of accountability, here, something rarely seen vis-à-vis the Iraq War -- or wars like Vietnam, for that matter. The question would not have plagued another candidate quite as much. Beyond voting for the war, which Hillary Clinton did and now calls a “mistake,” even before 9/11 Jeb Bush was part of the Project For A New American Century, which functioned as a blueprint for the invasion of Iraq. The PNAC fellows were about sustaining America as ruler of the world; there is little indication they were very much concerned about the truth.

UNHCR map of Iraq; ISIS controls cities with black dots
UNHCR map of Iraq; ISIS controls cities with black dots

Last week, thanks to a sand storm that grounded US planes, ISIS (or the Islamic State) was able to take Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. Since then, they’ve taken the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. ISIS already controlled Falluja, a small city between Ramadi and Baghdad, and Mosul to the north -- plus a lot of sand in between. As is its inclination, the ISIS forces reportedly executed a lot of people in Ramadi. No doubt they did the same in Palmyra.

The Islamic State is largely synonymous with the Sunni dominated Anbar Province in western Iraq; its control extends into Syria. Much of the top leadership of the Islamic State is made up of former Saddam generals angry about US Proconsul Paul Bremmer’s cavalier decision to completely eliminate the Iraqi army. In the same misguided spirit, Bremmer also disbanded the Bath Party. These decisions, taken in concert, amounted to one of the stupidest foreign policy decisions of modern times, according to the national security consultant Richard Clarke.
So who should be held accountable? Or better yet, who's gonna ever get it right?

George W. Bush’s post-9/11 decision to militarily wreck Iraq over non-existent nuclear weapons, who will control Iraqi oil and the delusional idea of introducing Jeffersonian democracy into Iraq has now shape-shifted into a truly horrendous monster. Shock-and-awe has gone through the meat-grinder and come out the other end as well-organized psychopathic reaction. What goes around, comes around. The plot gets really absurd when you consider that while the United States government is frantic to counter ISIS it feels obliged to check ISIS’s natural enemy, Iraqi Shiites and Iran, who want nothing more than to crush ISIS. Anbar Province Sunnis aligned with the United States are too weak and insignificant to counter ISIS. Shiite militias controlled by the Baghdad government (militias that fought US troops during the war) have been employed in Anbar in a limited fashion. The US demands these Shiite militias be controlled by the Baghdad government (which is allied with Iran) and not directly by Iranians. To completely unleash the Shiite militias in Anbar would likely lead to a terrible sectarian bloodbath and all sorts of unforeseen consequences and greater war in the region.

It’s hard to imagine the growing perception of the Iraq War as debacle being altered when it hits the history books. True, it ended the Saddam regime, but at the cost of empowering our worst enemy and creating a worse nightmare than Saddam. The US is now performing pretzel-like contortions in Anbar, doing the best it can to PR spin a debacle into a success.

Meanwhile, US right-wing militarists insist on seeing the problem as caused by President Obama. He originally opposed the war and, as promised, eventually withdrew US troops from Iraq. Now, over ISIS, the whole drumbeat to war seems to be happening again. We’re told in anxious, angry tones that if you thought Afghanistan was a haven for terrorists in 2001, the Islamic State in 2015 is much worse and on steroids. With so much military secrecy at play and so much political dishonesty so potentially and intimately connected to the fear-oriented, war-mongering impulse, it’s deja-vu all over again. Fear is rising again, and when Fear takes over it’s only a matter of time before the delusions come out and calls for reason and proportionate reaction are trumped by calls for preemptive attack.

It’s good to periodically remind ourselves of Susan Sontag’s plea after 9/11: “By all means let’s mourn together; but let’s not be stupid together.” Sontag’s plea might translate today as this: By all means, let’s recognize that whether the United States spawned it or not the Islamic State is indeed a monster regime whose absence from the world would be a great improvement. OK. But following up on a military debacle with more of the same is to fully assume the status of “stupid” in Sontag’s equation. If US arrogance and blundering was the fertile ground that nurtured the Islamic State, another round of US arrogance and blundering can only make things even worse.

The US to lose the high ground in Iraq? Was it the guy who set it all in movement -- or the guy who said from the beginning he was against the war and then wanted to end it? Do we blame those who opened the Pandora’s Box in Iraq or do we blame those who fought from the beginning that the box not be opened? It’s one of many variants of the stabbed-in-the-back myth: Blame those who opposed the war for the sins of those who set the whole runaway war train in motion. The point is, there’s a profound argument at play, here, between an imperial militarist class that never errs and those who would choose a different path to peace and prosperity that includes shifting military funds to domestic problems.

The antiwar movement tried to make this case after 9/11 and in the run-up to the Iraq War. Violence against other people has consequences, many of them unforeseen thanks to the effects of self-delusion. This is certainly why the Vietnam War went off the rails: Decisions were made not on sober intelligence but upon wish-fulfillment. The United States always gets what it wants, and our leaders don’t want to hear that the on-the-ground reality won’t allow what they want. As for 9/11, the anti-war movement tried to make cause and effect linkages between US military foreign policy and the 9/11 attacks, but those linkages remain censored thinking in mainstream America.

Mike Caddell of Radio-Free Kansas reports that voices on the militarist right in his conservative state can’t fathom how ISIS could take Ramadi in the face of US aerial bombing. It must be because Obama is a Kenyan socialist and he gave it away. These Kansas conservatives apparently did not understand that Iraqis might be smart enough to attack during a sandstorm that would ground US planes. Such a mundane game-changer raises the horror that looms underneath all this: the specter of the US as an impotent giant.

Many Americans have come to see aerial bombing as magical. If an international problem arises and the culprit can’t be reasoned with or bought off, many accept it as a natural response to send in bomb-laden F16s to fix the problem. This assumption is so deep-seated in the American psyche these days that not sending in bombers is automatically seen by some as bad leadership. Obama went against that with Syria, in what was arguably a profile in courage. Not bombing our way back into Ramadi, thus killing lots of innocent civilians, would be another example of smart leadership. Accept that this is a regional problem we cannot solve, that we can only work to avoid a greater war. 

A British bomber over Iraq in 1920
A British bomber over Iraq in 1920

Aerial bombing, of course, was first developed by the British in Iraq circa 1920. Winston Churchill even advocated gassing Iraqi villages from the air to control them. From Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke, here’s Royal Wing Commander J. A. Chamier on dealing with Iraqi rebellions:

“The attack with bombs and machine guns must be relentless and unremitting and carried on continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle. This sounds brutal, I know, but it must be made brutal to start with. The threat alone in the future will prove efficacious if the lesson is once properly learnt.” Think shock-and-awe 2003. The same brutal logic was at work: wogs only understand violence, so make your first impression especially memorable. Back in 1920, the British were still working in the realm of what William Polk in Violent Politics says is the only tried-and-true counter-insurgency tactic: Scorched earth.

It all comes down to exactly what it is our military/police/surveillance state is defending. It doesn’t seem to be the bottom-up America of Woody Guthrie. That America is awash in troubles -- from the effects of neglected and decaying infrastructure; the growing challenges from man-made climate change; a worsening, unfair plutocratic economy; the mass incarceration of poor African American citizens; the dehumanizing effects of technology; a Rube Goldberg health care system in which corporate profits trump citizen needs; and, finally, an education system put to shame by other developed nations. And that’s only the beginning.

Instead, what our military is sustaining is an ever-more-vulnerable empire set loose by Teddy Roosevelt at the turn of the 20th century and given a grand boost mid-century at the end of World War Two. At what point does such an empire begin to destroy the society and culture at its core?

The truth is, the only reason ISIS wants to attack us is because we attacked them first and wrecked their homeland. The same was true for al Qaeda, which rose out of US military alignment with Saudi Arabia and its oil. No one is suggesting the United States give up its power, become a hermit nation and no longer protect itself. Power isn’t a bad thing; neither is sophisticated intelligence or a responsible military. The point is to stop giving so many people in the world reasons to hate us.

Republicans and many Democrats like to preach that renewing America’s slipping greatness is a matter of re-energizing a militaristic capacity that strikes fear in the people of the world. The realities of the coming competitive world would seem to dictate another response, one that doesn’t ignore violent threats, but one that ratchets down the imperial militarism and one that belatedly addresses the nation’s many domestic shortcomings -- to make the US a better world citizen and, also, to be more competitive in the world.

This is not a new argument. The problem is just becoming more acute.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Ed. Note: Every great writer inspires others to write against injustice and for the "greater good" Barrett Brown is one and many are following. He will survive the next three years in federal prison, and emerge to pay over the course of his lifetime, a loathsome onerous fine of nearly one million dollars, as restitution on questionable "damages" to monster private military intelligence contractors. How will we the public, put in this Orwellian place share this burdensome knowledge? Please read below as the talented @H3ll3nd3r provides us with the story. - M @RadioFreeKansas

Is American political prisoner and writer Barrett Brown a legitimate journalist or just an epic troll? A look at his early career indicates he has been consistently occupied as a witty journalist at various levels of employment since he was a teen, despite the Department of Justice arguing otherwise during his two sentencing hearings last winter.
On May 9, Radio Free Kansas host Mike Caddell spoke with this writer about rare clippings of the imprisoned author’s young work, and how the authorities have been attempting to malign his journalism credentials. Radio Free Kansas has covered Brown’s case previously, multiple times, so readers may be familiar with how he has been harassed and persecuted, including by the FBI with the public’s money. This month’s discussion naturally raised the question: What is a journalist?
The relevant definition from the Oxford English Dictionary is:
  • One who earns his living by editing or writing for a public journal or journals.
The corresponding definition of “journal”:
  • A daily newspaper or other publication; hence, by extension, Any periodical publication containing news or dealing with matters of current interest in any particular sphere. Now often called specifically a public journal.
Pretty simple, right? It’s worth noting that Barrett Brown’s sole source of income is and has been writing—often for current interest publications—as the Twitter account dedicated to his legal defense noted last year:

This would all be a moot point had Barrett Brown’s status as a journalist not been contested by the U.S. government. Since Brown’s arrest in September 2012, doubts have been raised about whether he is a legitimate journalist and why it really matters.
D Magazine’s Tim Rogers, the editor of Brown’s current column “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail,” was present at the writer’s sentencing hearings, and gave a statement to the judge arguing for the defendant’s employability as a journalist as evidenced by his column. Tim Rogers also can attest to Brown’s time at the Met, an alternative weekly.
Rogers’ statements didn’t stop the Department of Justice from portraying Brown as no journalist. At last December’s hearing, prosecutor Candina Heath repeatedly questioned her sole witness, FBI agent Robert Smith, about the meaning of emails wherein Brown described himself as a “former journalist” or “pseudo-journalist.” See this excerpt from her examination:
It is quite possibly not just the Department of Justice who rejects his vocation—apparently the Bureau of Prisons does too. They claimed contacting the media is “the wrong thing” for him to do with the Corrlinks inmate email system, and suspended his access to it while he was discussing, with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, possibilities for future publications. According to the Bureau of Prisons’ Policy Statement 5265 §540.2, there is no prohibition on communication between inmates and members of the media. The bureau’s regulations only restrict in-person interviews; no rule barring communication with the media by phone or Corrlinks has been found. In an interview with David Knight, Brown said the Bureau seem to be in violation of “about a half dozen” of their own rules.
Despite the authorities’ Kafka-esque position, Barrett Brown has in fact been showcasing his critical thinking skills through journalism for much of his life. Before he was a political prisoner of the hacktivism/transparency movement, before his wild years of increasingly personal and avant-garde writing, he was a whiz kid journo.
Rolling Stone revealed that in elementary school, the writer created a newspaper on his family’s desktop computer—but there’s even more to the story. Brown continued developing his passion in high school (at The Episcopal School of Dallas), writing for the student outlet, Eagle Edition, and clashing with the administration over censorship. His satirical talents and sharp wit were already on display, as seen in the 1997 mock-scandalous “Interview with a Dictator.” Brown wasn’t yet out of high school, but he was writing like a pro. The youth nonchalantly wielded his sword of sarcasm at the 90s regime in Iraq as he simultaneously spat on neo-conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s notions of women’s rights, comparing them with the views of his fictitious “Saddam Insane.”
High School Newspaper.png

In 1997, while spending the summer in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with his grandmother, the teenage Brown also wrote for the English-language side of a local publication, Attención San Miguel. As if an American teen writing in Mexico isn’t impressive enough, it’s worth noting that he wrote about Dostoevsky's heavyweight novel Crime and Punishment!
When the young writer left Attención San Miguel, he was missed, as can be seen in the following goodbye column the paper published about his departure. His summer working for them led editor Charles Allen Dews to call the teen “super sharp” and note his love for newspapers.
About Barrett as a Teen.png
By the time he was in college, Barrett Brown had published even more writing. The article below was a quite rational editorial for the campus paper The Daily Texan defending freedom of speech and calling attention to the hypocrisy and inanity of one campus group who demanded that a rival protesting group (a garden-variety white supremacist club) be banned from organizing.
Below is the first page of an in-depth continuation of his argument in the piece above. The extended critique of freedoms on campus must have demanded from the author a honed ability to observe and  reason about complex issues of rights. These two examples, along with others, display this specialization he mastered early on:  
As the two op-eds above make obvious, Barrett Brown has been refining his ability to troubleshoot complex civil issues for years. This skill later served him well in his work with Jon P. Alston on the (what-prize-winning?) Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Easter Bunny in which he offers objective analysis of creationism as well as subjective musings.
Before his more noteworthy works, Barrett Brown was disseminating news and personal opinions on campus at the University of Texas in Austin, where he also began his freelance career. Below is an excerpt from some satirical work of his from that period:
Main Campus GWB.png
After taking in a few of these rare clippings, it’s easy to determine that Barrett Brown had worked since his youth to establish himself as a journalist. Brown’s ongoing critique of government preceded the early Teens investigative journalism work he was hunted for. U.S. politicians frequently lament the poor quality of the educational system, bemoan the lack of critical thinking skills, and demand better integrity in investigative journalism. Could it be that the government only wants these skills practiced if they aren’t pointed back at them?

Brown was published by outlets including Toward Freedom -- a D.C.-based public policy journal, Free Life - a London-based public policy journal and the literary journal Swans, in addition to more light-hearted fare at sites like National Lampoon Online, and Austin Monthly. Below is a piece by Barrett Brown for AOL on Spam, or rather about a festival held in the potted meat’s honor.
AOL 1.png
Commentary on local events that were current at the time like this qualifies as journalism, especially when one is being paid for their work. That should be a simple enough concept for most to grasp, but for some reason this logic is beyond the practice of the U.S. government. Consider the following piece, which—though by no means is hard-hitting—is yet is another solid example of Barrett Brown’s recurrent paid journalism work while still a student:
AOL 2.png
Below, Barrett Brown displays authority on the Red Fez, which apparently was “The Ayatollah’s old stomping grounds” as well as a moderately priced place to get sloshed in style:
AOL 3.png
More than a hobby humorist, Barrett Brown was seriously valued for his contributions. Below is an email Brown forwarded to his mother’s AOL account. The editor was pleased with Brown’s journalistic coverage: “As I said before, you have twice the talent of some writers double your age. Good job!”
Would That It Were.png
UT Austin proved a poor fit for the advanced young author, who had already begun being paid handsomely by AOL to serve as the Austin writer providing coverage of events and entertainment venues for their growing CityGuide section. Leaving school in 2002 afforded him more time for that growing career as well as focusing on other things such as girls, games and experimental drug use. At the same time, his freelance work expanded into investigative journalism.
It is readily apparent from these documents and his more widely read works thereafter that Brown is indeed a valid journalist. The evidence of his contributions has been devalued by the U.S. government not because he was a poor journalist, but because his sources were considered unsavory in his work with hacked information. In January, Judge Lindsay essentially concluded that Brown was more involved with hacktivism than his counsel led the court to believe, without citing specific evidence. The background of story of guilt by association is worthy of more discussion than has been merited by the media.
For years, Barrett Brown climbed up the ranks of journalism on the quality of his works. He eventually moved to Brooklyn and wrote for, True/Slant, The Guardian and the Huffington Post. With mounting pressure came an increasing struggle with addiction. When he began to foray into activism, he was still a struggling journalist trying to discover his role in the world.
With time, the need to address his personal troubles took priority; Brown realized his drug addiction was out of control, and he asked for support from his family and relocated back to Dallas for treatment. Though he was noticeably disorganized and weakened by his ongoing battle with addiction, he continued his search for newsworthy truths through his founding of Project PM (the name a nod to the Panther Moderns from William Gibson’s classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer). Brown recruited several researchers and journalists to assist his “distributed think tank” organization in its quest to improve the quality of the news discourse worldwide.
A sincere recovery effort on his part was still marked by a willingness to court risk that had the potential to interfere with his cause. Before he was an infamous journalist in withdrawal who was completely devastated by the pursuit of his person, documents and family, Brown “trolled” his opponents and others—a type of pranking that, as explained by formerly imprisoned hacktivist Weev in the documentary The Hacker Wars, comes from the Socratic tradition of provoking people into re-examining their ideas and re-considering what they hold as truth.
During this phase of his career, Barrett Brown’s laser wit was dialed up to maximum sear, and there was seemingly little he didn’t scorn or share about publicly. He continued to troll outlandishly as media attention increasingly turned to him for news on the hacktivist collective Anonymous and the private spy industry. The important revelations of wrongdoing Brown had helped to uncover weren't always taken seriously by the public in light of his ironic, facetious and wild or “lulzy” comments. Media focus on his rogue appeal shadowed the ongoing impact of Brown’s good investigative work.
It’s true: Barrett Brown did call himself a “former journalist” or “pseudo-journalist” at times. He did this during the peak of his involvement with Anonymous, when he was trying to get information out of intelligence contractors the Anons had hacked. Why would he deny his journalistic profession during this time? As he explained in his sentencing statement, the private spies were more willing to talk to him as an “Anonymous spokesperson” than as a journalist:
Corrupt executives and government officials aren’t fond of admitting their wrongdoing, and—especially if they’ve had any PR training—hearing the title “journalist” inspires them to pay extra attention to their words or just not answer at all. That’s why it’s not unheard of, for example, for an editor to instruct a writer to identify himself as a “researcher” rather than as a “journalist” when trying to extract information out of people. One could think of Brown’s depiction of himself as a “former journalist” as going undercover. The political (sometimes criminal) radicals of Anonymous are understandably distrustful of the media given the gulf between their views and those of most journalists. In an environment like this, a journalist downplaying his identity as a journalist to gain trust is a natural move. By working with Anonymous, and on behalf of all of us, Brown had to wear various guises to unmask the players behind today’s increasing mass surveillance.
The Department of Justice’s attempts to pretend he is not a journalist, or was not one during the time of his involvement with Anonymous, look like abject denial—or an intentional strategy to scare others away from following Brown’s lead. Discouragement of investigative journalism (and the foundation of critical thought it entails) is neither new nor isolated. The U.S. government is pursuing an ongoing, “whole-of-government” criminal investigation into WikiLeaks, seeking to build a prosecution against the megaleak publisher for espionage, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, conspiracy, and other supposed crimes. Even mainstream journalists have been attacked: Fox News reporter James Rosen was targeted as a co-conspirator under the Espionage Act in a leak case, and the Associated Press saw two months of phone records seized by the Department of Justice. The Texas GOP even included in its 2012 platform outright opposition to the teaching of critical thinking skills. The attack on Barrett Brown’s legitimacy as a trustworthy source of information is part of a broader systemic avoidance of transparency and the possibilities of being critiqued or changed. The government’s felonization of and character assassination attempts against Brown serve to elucidate some of their obscured intentions, especially the ongoing effort to manipulate the public narrative in their favor.
Delegitimizing Barrett Brown serves multiple malfeasant purposes. First, as a non-journalist, Barrett Brown does not receive any consideration for his obligation to protect his sources and his relationship to stolen data can be misrepresented. Second, discrediting him as a journalist serves to tarnish public trust in the exposés by writers who work with powerful forces such as Anonymous or who otherwise practice truly adversarial journalism. Third, it frightens others who may seek to pick up where Brown left off. Quinn Norton, for example, publicly withdrew from security journalism, noting that there is no legal protection for journalistic work about hacking and hacktivism. The government’s successful case does not set a binding precedent for future case law, but it does provide groundwork for future precedent, or future laws—plus, now the Department of Justice knows they can get away with attempts to criminalize journalistic efforts like Brown’s later work that is based on hacks and leaks.
In forming a distributed think tank Barrett Brown advanced his field. Gaining the requisite knowledge to do so took several years of dedication. At federal court in Dallas, he was regarded as a pariah to society in part for his employment of the very journalistic skills he has been carefully honing. Little regard was given for the possible effects his documented mental health and addiction issues had on his expressions or the way stress could’ve aggravated his condition. No consideration of the cyber location of the threats Brown made nor his self-motivated efforts to organize himself were entertained in court. No respect for his career was offered, despite Brown’s team’s supplying a testament to his work’s value. Barrett Brown has a history of carefully crafting even his most curt of insults, but no imaginable embarrassing data discovery nor cavalier comment of his could be as cruelly devastating as the U.S. government’s abusive assertion that he isn’t a real journalist but a felon instead. The reality is that because of successful efforts on both Brown’s and the government’s parts, both are true.
Considering Barrett Brown’s early skill and body of work, the U.S. government’s anti-intellectual stance takes on a grimmer form. Many young people today are aware of systemic corruption on a cursory level and are curious about the truth. Is it acceptable for our society to admonish children to use critical thinking skills, but punish them if they later use those skills to question authority? What will continue to become of the people who dare to confront uncomfortable realities otherwise shielded from thoughtful inquisition? Will future investigative journalists be severely punished by mighty information gatekeepers?
Just like a troll’s comments don’t have the power to directly change reality (or history, for that matter), the government’s assertions about Brown's career and the work Brown did with Anonymous, (including the titles he assumed during that time) do not negate the truths that he shared and the facts of his punishment. Trollish behaviors do have the potential to affect later behavioral outcomes, and one negative effect of this devaluing of Barrett Brown’s career status has been the subsequent chilling of independent investigative journalism, to the contrary of Judge Lindsay’s stated understanding just prior to sentencing Brown. Sometimes humorists present information incorrectly to test the problem solving skills of their audience, to see if people can discern the real value behind the statement. Too bad this prosecution of a journalist and the resulting saga of hypocrisy isn’t all a poorly conceived educational service on behalf of the U.S. justice system, a patriotic experiment intended merely as a friendly reminder to stay aware of systemic corruptions. If only the governmental funny business were but a mere troll on the public. Journalism that seeks the truth about governments helps ensure that any potential joke winds up on them.

For a society that is run by such unscrupulous forces as the one that persecuted Barrett Brown to have any hope of improvement, there must be clear and informed discourse about the areas that need improvement. Prosecution of those who alert the public—namely activists, whistleblowers and journalists—hinders more people than just truth-tellers. The authoritarian maligning of Brown’s journalistic reputation—by the government of the people he intellectually serves—has effectively thwarted all by discouraging the embrace of honest facts that would better enable reasoning about the current state of affairs, and this has been accomplished in the public’s name.

Note all scanned images of Mr. Brown's work above are available for enlarged examination at the Imgur Album collection.

Contact information:

Barrett Brown's Wikipedia page.

Supporters of Barrett Brown have a defense network 
located at Free Barrett Brown.

Read Barrett Brown's columns at D Magazine.

His current federal prison address is: 

Barrett Lancaster Brown
B.O.P. #45047-177
F.C.I. Fort Worth
P.O.B. 15330
Fort Worth, TX 76119

Sunday, May 10, 2015

News Update: Citizens for Legitimate Government, 10 May 2015

News Updates from CLG
10 May 2015
All links are here:

Previous edition: Global carbon dioxide levels break 400ppm milestone

Transformer explosion causes fire at nuclear power plant only 35 miles from New York City --Transformer exploded into flames at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant | 09 May 2015 | A transformer exploded at the [Entergy] Indian Point nuclear power plant in suburban New York - only 35 miles away from midtown Manhattan - on Saturday, sending black smoke billowing into the sky. The blaze, which sparked an oil leakage, forced the automatic shutdown of the facility's Unit 3 reactor, which sits near the Hudson River and supplies five per cent of the power to the state. It was initially extinguished by a sprinkler system and on-site personnel, officials said. It then started up again, but has since been put out.

Fukushima No. 1 workers with high radiation doses up 1.5-fold | 09 May 2015 | At Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the number of workers exposed to high amounts of radiation in fiscal 2014 increased 1.5-fold from the year before, data from the utility showed Saturday. A total of 992 workers, mostly employees at subcontractors, saw their radiation doses top 20 millisieverts in the year that ended in March. The previous year, the number of workers with such high external radiation exposure levels stood at 660, according to the data.

CIA 'mission accomplished' in Afghanistan: Afghan poppy farmers say new seeds will boost opium output --Production hit a record high in 2014, up 17 percent compared to the year before | 05 May 2015 | This year, many Afghan poppy farmers are expecting a windfall as they get ready to harvest opium from a new variety of poppy seeds said to boost yield of the resin that produces h-roin. The plants grow bigger, faster, use less water than seeds they've used before, and give up to double the amount of opium, they say. Afghanistan's poppy harvest, which accounts for most of the world's heroin, is worth an estimated 3 billion a year, according to the United Nations Office on Dr-gs and Crime.

Syrian official: US 'supporting terrorism' with rebel training programme | 09 May 2015 | Syria's deputy foreign minister on Saturday criticised a new US programme to train 'moderate rebel fighters' in Jordan, saying it will only fuel terrorism and further complicate efforts to reach a political solution to the country's [CIA-fomented] long and brutal civil war. The remarks by Faisal Mekdad were published in his weekly column for the Lebanon-based Al-Binaa newspaper. Mekdad said Washington would be better off helping those who are fighting terrorism, instead of cooperating with what he said were terrorists. "In doing so, the United States is supporting terrorism [as always], and is complicating conditions for a political solution in Syria," he wrote.

GOP contenders vow to bomb terrorists 'back to the 7th Century,' invoke Liam Neeson | 10 May 2015 | Declared and potential GOP presidential candidates competedSaturday to sound the toughest warning to Islamic terrorists -- with one vowing to bomb them "back to the 7th Century" and another invoking Liam Neeson's threat from the film, "Taken" -- in the latest forum underscoring how national security has returned as a dominant campaign theme. A roster of Republicans spoke at a summit in Greenville, S.C., the state which holds the first-in-the-South presidential primary. Former Pennsylvania Sen. [and Grade 'A' sociopath] Rick Santorum, who is weighing a presidential bid and plans to announce his decision soon, said: "Here's what we need to do. If these people want to bring back a 7th Century version of Islam, my suggestion is to load our bombers up and bomb them back to the 7th Century."

Attorney: Spy chief had 'forgotten' about NSA program when he misled Congress | 08 May 2015 | Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper wasn't lying when he wrongly told Congress in 2013 that the government does not "wittingly" collect information about millions of Americans, according to his top lawyer. He just forgot. "This was not an untruth or a falsehood. This was just a mistake on his part," Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said during a panel discussion hosted by the Advisory Committee on Transparency on Friday.

Protesters and police face off at Downing Street gates as hundreds rally against new Tory government | 09 May 2015 | Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to express their anger about the new Tory government. The anti-Conservative protesters, some holding placards reading "I pledge to resist" and "Stop the cuts", took part in the rally organised just a day into the new Parliament. It is believed to have started outside Conservative headquarters, where just over 24 hours ago Mr Cameron gave a speech to party activists about their unexpected win.

Anti-austerity protesters take to UK streets after Tory election victory | 09 May 2015 | Anti-austerity campaigners launched impromptu protests across Britain, less than 48 hours after David Cameron was returned to power with a parliamentary majority. Hundreds of people joined demonstrations in Wales and central London following the surprise Conservative election victory. About 200 people were involved in clashes with police outside Downing Street, throwing green smoke bombs and tomato ketchup at officers in riot gear. Police officers shut Whitehall for several hours while they tried to contain the demonstrators.

One of Australia's smallest marsupials secures a big legal win on the NSW Central Coast | 07 May 2015 | After a ten-year battle, the Eastern Pygmy Possum has had a big legal win in the High Court of Australia. The possum's habitat is located in an industrial zone in Somersby, where a developer had been fighting for a decade to build a waste resource recovery facility. Gosford Council rejected the initial development application, arguing that the proposed facility would have an irreversible impact on the local population of the pygmy possum, a threatened species. The pint-sized marsupial measures less than 20cm, including its tail, and weighs in at a mere 30 grams.

2 police officers shot and killed in Hattiesburg, Miss. | 10 May 2015 | Two police officers were shot and killed Saturdaynight in downtown Hattiesburg, officials confirmed. Two men, Curtis Banks and Marvin Banks, have been named as suspects in tonight's shooting deaths of two Hattiesburg police officers.

Tornadoes in Texas kill at least 1 in Cisco | 09 May 2015 | Multiple tornadoes tore through North Texas on Saturday, leaving one person dead and others unaccounted for in a sparsely populated farming and ranching area as the system slowly weakened while advancing toward Fort Worth. Walter Fairbanks, fire chief in Cisco -- about 100 miles west of Fort Worth, confirmed there was one fatality when the tornado hitSaturday afternoon near the town.

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