Activist Barrett Brown Indicted in Third Case

The feds are not letting up on activist and Anonymous "spokesman" Barrett Brown. As Wired reports, they just filed a third criminal case against him.

Brown is scheduled to have a competency hearing in the first case on January 30. (Barrett requested one.) Randall Rattan, the prison psychologist at FCI Forth Worth notified the court that prison staff believe he is competent to stand trial. [More...]

Brown is represented by the Federal Defender's office. One of his former lawyers, Jay Leiderman, says Barrett is okay with the federal defender's representation, but he'd rather have a private counsel who can spend more time at the prison with him strategizing his defense. He is soliciting funds to retain private counsel here. The funds are not going to Leiderman, who practices in another state, but to retain local counsel in Dallas. Barrett's going to need a lot more than the $4,500. collected so far.

Barrett's account of the raid at his mother's house is here.

Barrett is charged with with, among other things, threatening a federal officer. He made a video after a search of his apartment.

The video, titled “Why I’m Going to Destroy FBI Agent Robert Smith Part Three: Revenge of the Lithe” was accompanied by a note apparently posted by Brown that read: “Send all info on Agent Robert Smith to barriticus@gmail.com so FBI can watch me look up his kids. It’s all legal, folks, Palantir chief counsel Matt Long already signed off on it when Themis planned worse.”

The charges in the second case relate to the Stratford leak (background here.) Does anyone else see Anonymous Sabu's hand in this? I checked his docket last night and there's nothing but sealed documents and a request for a 6 month postponement (his cooperation isn't over - note to cooperators: find out how long you could be on the hook, you may be surprised to learn you will be working for the feds for years.)

Jeremy Hammond is charged in New York with the Stratfor leak. He's being held without bond. His Superseding Indictment is here. He's now litigating a motion to recuse the judge, whose husband, a lawyer, is on the list of persons whose email addresses were hacked from Stratfor. The government says it's no big deal, they didn't get his credit card info, because he never bought anything from Stratfor. Did they get his password to Stratfor?

Stratfor lets you read articles for free if you sign up for a two week free subscription. You register with a user name and password, and a real e-mail account. Since most people use the same passwords, or some variation of it, for multiple accounts (otherwise you'd have to carry a notebook with all your 150 passwords with you at all times), I would think publicizing your password with a Stratfor password is enough of a breach. I spent a week renaming all my passords with unique one, which included upper letter, symbol, number and lower letters. My password notebook, which I now carry everywhere, has become as indispensable as my calendar. (I've tried password databases, but they are too cumbersome.)

Back to Barrett: He's apparently taking the optimistic view that the third case was filed because the Stratfor charges are weak, More likely, in my view, they want to ramp up the pressure for a plea. Didn't we just hear this story last week with Aaron Swartz? That didn't go well for the Government, but it went even worse for Aaron.

It looks to me like they forced Barrett's mother to cooperate with them. Why: Her name is referenced as initials and she hasn't been charged so far as I can tell. Shades of Monica Lewinsky and Susan MacDougal. Congress needs to enact a parent-child privilege.

For more info on Barrett, go to FreeBarrettBrown, Ars Technica, Wired , RT News, and the Dallas Observer.

I can almost envision Barrett deciding to represent himself pro se. In my view, that would be the worst decision he could make. If he's convicted at trial and loses his appeal, the only thing left is a habeas. One of the frequently cited grounds for habeas claims is ineffective assistance of counsel. If Barrett doesn't even have a lawyer to pin bad lawyering on because he chooses to go pro se, he is essentially preventing himself from being able to use the argument.

Federal Defenders are extremely experienced and well trained. Sure, they are understaffed, but when they get a case that is headed towards trial, they find the time, and they fight aggressively and knowledgeably. Many are top notch lawyers by any standard: Judy Clarke, for one. Barrett now has three cases, each with a distinct set of facts and charges. If he decides to fight all of them with private counsel, he's going to need to fork over beaucoup fees and costs not just for lawyers, but for experts, and investigators. With the public defender, he receives this at no charge.

Barrett is between a rock and a hard place. He's a smart guy. He should know if his lawyer can't spend as much time as he'd like with him, he should write out all his ideas and mail them to him. His public defender will read every letter.

Hang in there Barrett. I think the odds of you winning all three cases are not great from a statistical standpoint, but maybe if you agree to plead to a bit of jail time, even if you don't cooperate, your lawyer can get the rest to go away.

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  • Display: Sort:
    The Federal PDs (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by bmaz on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 04:04:54 AM EST
    I think the Federal PDs do a fantastic job actually, in fact very often better than private attorneys in federal court.  Three different cases with the kind of pressure Brown will face? To hire private counsel for all three of anywhere near the quality of the Fed PD would cost a literal fortune. He should stick with them.

    shoe on the other foot (1.50 / 2) (#3)
    by diogenes on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:12:02 PM EST
    If some neonazi were making videos entitled, "Why I'm going to destroy political commentator BTD", would he be an "activist" or a hatemonger?

    That's a fun parlor game, (none / 0) (#4)
    by shoephone on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 07:49:28 PM EST
    also commonly referred to as a "straw man" argument.

    Actually a straw man is a deliberate (none / 0) (#5)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 11:45:18 PM EST
    misinterpretation of an opponent's argument or position.  The straw man is chosen and constructed to make it easier to attack than the real position.  Obviously the attacker hopes that nobody notices the replacement.  In real life people are easily led and it sometimes works, especially in politics.  Online it is less useful.

    ".....it sometimes works(?)........" (none / 0) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 03:06:15 AM EST
    within a certain political party it always works. Since it is the only strategy available when confronted with facts, reason, logic, and plain ole common sense, and, since these traits are forbidden in said Party, of course it works........always.

    [defendants] fees... costs... $100k and [up] (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 11:24:50 AM EST
    Does there exist any accounting for what the DOJ typically spends on a case like this?

    I know that (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 05:37:53 AM EST
    in the Oklahoma City Bombing trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the Government spent $82 million and the McVeigh defense spent $15 million. Since Mcveigh and Nichols were indigent, the Government picked up their tabs as well.

    sorry to hear about password problems (none / 0) (#2)
    by fishcamp on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:10:04 PM EST
    They are a problem for most of us.  I use 1Password and it's smooth as silk.  You are probably familiar with it but if not I think it is a good one and works on both my computers and my iPhone and is easy to setup.  It also stores credit card info and bar code scanning applications.  Check it out.

    n/a (none / 0) (#6)
    by ageis on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 12:48:21 AM EST
    I know you are speculating in your article but Barrett's mom is not "cooperating" and neither is he. Anyway the plea bargaining system in this country works great don't it? Cheerio

    thanks for letting us know that (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 05:25:44 AM EST
    yes I was speculating for the reasons I said. I am no fan of cooperation. Keep us posted if you can.