Trying to think of less sympathetic figure than Barrett Brown would be a difficult task for many Americans. He’s rude, vindictive, and seems to get a particular joy from pissing people off. He’s gone out of his way to anger groups ranging from the FBI to the Zetas, all while being the quasi-official spokesman for Anonymous – a group on the shit list of nearly every powerful person on the planet.
So surprise, Barrett Brown has been arrested. The initial arrest is pretty understandable, Brown went on a long YouTube tirade which appropriately began with “I don’t make plans.” Within the seemingly endless series of insults is a direct threat to FBI agent Robert Smith as well as a promise to meet any U.S government officials trying to arrest him with armed resistance. Bad move.
First off, law enforcement — acting under a legal warrant — has the right to arrest a citizen. In what world would that not be the case? Brown’s threat to meet that legitimate use of authority with violence is wildly out of line and indefensible. It’s also worth noting that when Brown was arrested by the Dallas Police – caught on video – he did not offer armed resistance. Whether this was due to his rant being an idle threat or him not having time to get access to a weapon is an open question.
Secondly, threatening an FBI agent and his family with any destructive act – though apparently non-violent and perhaps legal – is pretty dumb if you are trying to stop harassment. Brown claimed, which has all the probability of being true, that Agent Smith was harassing his mother. Very plausible as this is generally how the FBI conducts its affairs – terrorizing putting pressure on family members to assist them in destroying a target. And given Brown’s political associations the bare-knuckle tactics he alleges would fit well with the FBI’s history of persecuting political dissidents in America
So Brown was already on the radar for his activism, he was being harassed by the government, and cracked under the pressure by making threats that lead to an arrest. So why should YOU care?
You should care because what happened next not only affects you but will affect any user of the internet.
While in custody Barrett Brown was indicted again, this time for computer fraud and identity theft. This indictment, unlike the first, lacked all semblance of proportionality and legitimacy. Apparently Brown was not the only one to lose his senses:
Dallas writer Barrett Brown, who was involved with the “hacktivist” movement Anonymous until earlier this year, was indicted last Tuesday (Dec. 4) on 12 counts related to possession of stolen credit-card numbers.
The indictment alleges that Brown possessed at least 10 stolen credit-card numbers and card-verification values (CVVs), and also shared a link to a document that contained thousands more stolen credit-card numbers. He faces 45 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
However, the indictment does not allege that Brown himself stole the credit-card numbers or that he profited from having them. It states that merely possessing the numbers shows “intent to defraud.”