Patrick McGuire reports: Barrett Brown has been sitting in prison, without trial, for almost a year. In case you haven’t followed his case, the 31-year-old journalist is facing a century of prison time for sharing a link that contained—within an archive of 5 million emails—credit-card information stolen from a hack of a security company called Stratfor (Jeremy Hammond, the actual hacker, is going to prison for ten years), threatening the family of an FBI officer who raided his mother’s home, and trying to hide his laptops from the Feds.
The flood of NSA leaks from Edward Snowden has placed extra attention on Barrett, who focused on investigating a partnership that many people are incredibly uncomfortable with—the connections between private security, surveillance, intelligence firms, and the US government.
Barrett’s website, ProjectPM, used a small team of researchers to pore over leaked emails, news articles, and public corporate information to figure out what this industry does exactly, and how they serve the White House. It’s partly because of Barrett that we know about things like persona management, a technology used by the US government and its contractors to disseminate information online using fake personas, also known as sock puppets.
He also helped the world learn about TrapWire, a surveillance program that’s built into security cameras all over the world and “more accurate than facial recognition technology.” When it was made public in the pre-Snowden era, most media outlets played it off as not being a big deal. We still don’t know exactly how powerful TrapWire is, but, because of the Strafor hack and Barrett’s research, at least we know it exists.
Anyone interested in getting involved with ProjectPM is invited with this call to action: “If you care that the surveillance state is expanding in capabilities and intent without being effectively opposed by the population of the West, you can assist in making this an actionable resource for journalists, activists, and other interested parties,” which sums up the quest for information that is, in and of itself, on trial in Barrett’s case. As Glenn Greenwald wrote in the Guardian regarding the prosecution of Barrett Brown, “here we have the US government targeting someone they clearly loathe because of the work he is doing against their actions.” [Continue reading…]