barrett brown


Journalist Barrett Brown spent his 300th day behind bars this week on a range of charges filed after he used information obtained by the hacker group Anonymous to report on the operations of private intelligence firms. Brown faces 17 charges ranging from threatening an FBI agent to credit card fraud for posting a link online to a document that contained stolen credit card data. But according to his supporters, Brown is being unfairly targeted for daring to investigate the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors. Using information Anonymous took from the firm HBGary Federal, Brown helped discover a secret plan to tarnish the reputations of WikiLeaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian. Brown similarly analyzed and wrote about the millions of internal company emails from Stratfor Global Intelligence that were leaked in 2011. We speak to Peter Ludlow, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, whose article “The Strange Case of Barrett Brown” recently appeared in The Nation. “Considering that the person who carried out the actual Stratfor hack had several priors and is facing a maximum of 10 years, the inescapable conclusion is that the problem is not with the hack itself but with Brown’s journalism,” Ludlow argues. He adds that the case against Brown could suggest criminality “to even link to something or share a link with someone.”

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Details continue to emerge on U.S. surveillance of the global Internet. The Washington Post reports the National Security Agency’s PRISM program mining the servers of major Internet companies like Google and Facebook has run in parallel with a separate operation called “Upstream.” Through Upstream, the NSA taps directly into the fiber-optic cables that carry the vast majority of global Internet traffic. The United States has ensured access by sending a group of federal officials dubbed “Team Telecom” to reach agreements with global telecom providers. A 2003 agreement with the Asia-based Global Crossing imposed “an internal corporate cell” of Americans to make sure surveillance requests were approved. Global Crossing was also forced to establish a U.S.-based “Network Operations Center” where U.S. agents could show up with just 30 minutes’ notice.  The United States has used the Federal Communications Commission as leverage to hold up the approval of cable licenses sought by foreign firms.

The tech giant Google has confirmed the National Security Agency furnished some of the code installed in its new Android phone. The NSA says the code is intended to enhance security against hackers and marketers, but will not confirm whether it also aids the agency’s PRISM program monitoring the global Internet.