Barrett Brown

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Barrett Brown
BB 500days.png
Born August 14 1981
Education Episcopal School of Dallas
Criminal Charge(s) Several
Criminal Penalties 8.5 years prison time
Criminal Status Detained for over a year

Founder of Project PM. Currently serving a 63 month prison sentence. There is a movement in his name called Free Barrett Brown.


Barrett Brown is an activist, author, and freelance writer specializing in “information age” topics. His work has appeared in the Guardian, Vanity Fair, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, Skeptic, Skeptical Inquirer, New York Press, American Atheist, and other outlets.

A native of Dallas, Brown entered the University of Texas in 2000 but dropped out after taking a copywriting job for America Online. During the next few years he lived in Austin, Dallas, New York, and Mexico, while pursuing similar gigs and contributing to a string of policy journals, magazines, and online outlets. In 2006 he was commissioned to write a humorous nonfiction manuscript regarding the spurious intelligent design movement. The result, Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Easter Bunny, was released the following year, receiving accolades from Matt Taibbi, Alan Dershowitz, and others. Soon after, Brown became director of communications for Enlighten the Vote (formerly Gampac), a political action committee intent on supporting secular candidates for U.S. office, while also serving as chief contributor to CNET’s online political analysis startup Political Base.

In 2009, Brown began to recruit volunteers for a “distributed think tank” called Project PM, with the original objective of establishing experimental online networks for use by activists, bloggers, and nongovernmental organizations. His focus gradually shifted to the Anonymous movement, which he covered in print before finally getting directly involved with the group’s work on the occasion of the Tunisian uprising. Thereafter, he came to serve Anonymous as an organizer and “propagandist” in support of operations.

After the February 2011 incident in which several intelligence contracting firms led by HBGary Federal were caught planning covert operations against WikiLeaks and its supporters, including several journalists, Brown refocused the mission of Project PM to investigate the private intelligence sector and promote effective opposition to surveillance, data mining, and advanced disinformation techniques by states and other institutions. Among other efforts, Project PM maintains a wiki that hosts information compiled from stolen corporate and government e-mails, as well as more traditional sources, and assists journalists who wish to cover issues relating to the “cyber-industrial complex.”

Original Charges Before Dismissal and Plea Deal

Most of the PACER documents are available at or in the references below. The charges enumerated below carry a potential total maximum sentence of 105 years.

Indictment One - 3:12-CR-317-L

Count One: Internet Threats, 18 U.S.C. § 875(c)

Maximum sentence: 5 years

Count Two: Conspiracy to Make Publicly Available Restricted Personal Information of an Employee of the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 371 (18 U.S.C. § 119)

Maximum sentence: 5 years

Count Three: Retaliation Against a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, 18 U.S.C. §§ 115(a)(1)(B) and (b)(4)

Maximum sentence: 10 years

Indictment Two - 3:12-CR-413-L

Count One: Traffic in Stolen Authentication Features, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1028(a)(2), (b)(1)(B), and (c)(3)(A); Aid and Abet, 18 U.S.C. § 2

Maximum sentence: 15 years

Count Two: Access Device Fraud, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1029(a)(3) and (c)(1)(A)(i); Aid and Abet, 18 U.S.C. § 2

Maximum sentence: 10 years

Counts Three Through Twelve: Aggravated Identity Theft, 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1); Aid and Abet, 18 U.S.C. § 2

Maximum sentence: 2 years each, total of 20 years

Indictment Three - 3:13-CR-030-L

Count One: Obstruction: Concealment of Evidence, 18 U.S.C. § 1519; Aid and Abet, 18 U.S.C. § 2

Maximum sentence: 20 years

Count Two: Obstruction: Corruptly Concealing Evidence, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1); Aid and Abet, 18 U.S.C. § 2

Maximum sentence: 20 years

Current Case Disposition Post Plea Agreement

18 U.S.C. § 875(c) — Transmitting a Threat in Interstate Commerce — Count One

Maximum sentence: 60 months

18 U.S.C. § 3 (§§ 1030(a)(5)(B) and 1030(c)(4)(A)(i)(I)) — Accessory After the Fact in the Unauthorized Access to a Protected Computer — Count Two

Maximum sentence: 30 months

18 U.S.C. §§ 1501 & 2 — Interference with the Execution of a Search Warrant and Aid and Abet — Count Three

Maximum sentence: 12 months

Total maximum statutory sentence: 8.5 years



  • Places second in a national Ayn Rand essay contest
  • High school newspaper staff – wrote opinion, political and humor columns
  • 1997: Summer internship/ wrote columns at Atencion newspaper in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico
  • Founds an Objectivist society at high school
  • 1998: interned at the Met, an alternative weekly
  • Late 90s: lived in Tanzania with his father, received high school diploma from Texas Tech University Distance Learning Program

Early 2000s

  • Enrolled at University of Texas – Austin, journalism department, writer at school’s Daily Texan newspaper.
  • Began writing for America Online, first paying job as a writer. From 2000-2004 provided coverage for AOL Anywhere and CityGuide sections, regional correspondent for Austin, Dallas and other area markets with focus on community events, entertainment venues and dining/travel.
  • Dropped out of college, continued freelance work for print and online publications including: National Lampoon Online, Austin Monthly, Toward Freedom – a D.C.-based public policy journal, Dallas Child, Dining Out, Free Life – a London-based public policy journal, Pizza Today, literary journal Swans, and others.
  • Served as weekly columnist and feature writer for, a political analysis site from 2004-2005
  • April 2007: Flock of Dodos, a comic critique of intelligent design and creationism is published.

Late 2000s

  • 2007: Moves to Brooklyn; contributes to New York Press, The Onion’s A.V. Club, McSweeney's, Daily Kos, Vanity Fair, Skeptic magazine, Huffington Post, and more.
  • April 2007: Flock of Dodos, a comic critique of intelligent design and creationism is published.
  • 2007: Writer at Fox Business Channel, Yahoo, – Member of creative team for animated humor series Minyanville, which aired on Fox Business Channel’s Happy Hour program and Yahoo Finance.
  • 2007 to 2008: Paid blogger for – online political news start-up founded by CNET.
  • 2007 to 2009: Serves as Communications Director for Enlighten the Vote, a political action committee supporting the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Appears on Fox News to debate separation of church and state.
  • Worked on projects for various corporate clients and ad agencies creating marketing collateral, web copy and blog content.


  • February: Operation Titstorm gains his attention.
  • March: Announces the formation of Project PM.
  • Returns to Dallas.
  • October: Advises the campaign of Wynne LeGrow, an atheist Democratic congressional candidate for Virginia's 4th district
  • December: Operation Payback / Avenge Assange - protest against blockading of donations to WikiLeaks.


  • February: HBGary is hacked by Anonymous.
  • March: Interviewed by NBC News. Participates in Operation Bradical. Declares an information war on behalf of Anonymous against the Pentagon on Russia Today.
  • April: Profile in D Magazine, which later wins a National Magazine Award.
  • May: Claims he's quitting Anonymous.
  • June: Publishes report on Romas/COIN
  • September: Present at Occupy Wall Street in NYC. He and Gregg Housh sell a book to Amazon, tentatively titled Anonymous: Tales From Inside The Accidental Cyberwar
  • November: Involved in OpCartel against the Zetas. When his address is posted online, he flees to Brooklyn for several weeks.
  • December: Stratfor is hacked.
  • December 25: On IRC Brown allegedly copy and pastes a hyperlink from #Anonops to #ProjectPM.


  • March 6: FBI executes a search warrant at his apartment and mom's house. [1]
  • March 7 or 8: Retains Tom Mills, a well-known Dallas lawyer, who later bails on his client the day after his arrest.
  • July: Travels to NYC to participate in Businessweek cyber-security panel and attend HOPE conference
  • August: TrapWire revelations
  • September 6: Releases Operation Pursuant, a follow-up to the Guide to Pursuants
  • September 12: Arrested in a heavily armed FBI raid. [2]
  • September 13: Detention hearing. Government files a motion for detention. [3]
  • September 17: Court orders his detainment. Judge arbitrarily rules him a danger to the community and a flight risk. [4]
  • September 18: Assigned a federal public defender, Doug Morris. [5] Court orders a psychiatric exam to determine competency.
  • September 24: A letter written by Brown is published online.
  • October 3: First indictment. [6]
  • October 15: He waives his arraignment and enters a plea of not guilty. [7]
  • December 4: Second indictment. [8]
  • December 17: He again waives arraignment and pleads not guilty to the new charges. [9]


  • January 23: Third indictment. [10]
  • January 30: He is found competent to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to latest charges. [11]
  • February 4: Trial in the third case is originally set for May.
  • February 21: WhoWhatWhy publishes The Saga Of Barrett Brown: Inside Anonymous And The War On Secrecy
  • February 26: Government files motions for discovery and disclosure of whether the defense intends to rely on expert psychiatric testimony.
  • March 4: A continuance is requested by the public defender and granted. Trial now set for September.
  • March 6: DoJ serves a subpoena to CloudFlare for records associated with the domain [12]
  • March 21: Glenn Greenwald publishes The persecution of Barrett Brown - and how to fight it
  • March 22: Mom pleads guilty to one misdemeanor count of obstructing the execution of a search warrant. [13][14]
  • March 26: VICE publishes an interview from jail.
  • April 2: Sebastiaan Provost moves to quash and intervene in the CloudFlare subpoena. [15] The government immediately moves to dismiss.
  • April 4: Counsel for Provost, Jason Flores-Williams of the Whistleblower Defense League (WBDL), is granted admission to the case Pro Hac Vice.
  • April 13: Government files a more detailed motion to dismiss the challenge, claiming Provost lacks standing. [16]
  • April 17: Judge grants leave to reply, signaling intent to consider the constitutional issues raised by the subpoena. Also after reviewing his financial affidavit, the court orders his legal defense fund seized, in order to repay costs of court-appointed representation. [17]
  • April 18: WBDL's challenge to the subpoena of CloudFlare is voluntarily withdrawn. [18]
  • May 1: New defense counsel (Ahmed Ghappour and Charles Swift) make their first appearance. Judge relates intent to deny motion to seize funds. [19]
  • May 3: Mother surrenders herself to the U.S. Marshals and is released on bond with several conditions. [20] Her sentencing is repeatedly delayed.
  • May 7: Ghappour and Swift become the attorneys of record. Doug Morris is withdrawn as counsel. [21]
  • May 30: Government's motion to seize funds is officially denied. [22]
  • June 18: Government asks for a protective order covering personal and sensitive information in evidence, which is soon agreed. [23][24] The Nation publishes The Strange Case of Barrett Brown.
  • June 21: Defense asks for a continuance. [25]
  • July 1: Defense submits a request for a bill of particulars to the government, outlining the evidence to be used against Brown. [26]
  • July 2: Government files a superseding indictment in the second case, merely changing 'Stratfor Global Intelligence' to 'Stratfor Forecasting Inc.' [27]
  • July 3: Court grants the continuance.
  • July 11: Reporters Without Borders issues a statement on the case.
  • July 12: Government sends an insufficient reply to the defense concerning the discovery and bill of particulars. [28][29]
  • July 17: Government moves to unseal some documents from earlier in the case, which is granted next day. [30][31]
  • July 19: The Electronic Frontier Foundation comments on his prosecution for linking.
  • July 31: Defense files a motion to continue trial and pretrial deadlines. [32]
  • August 7: Government files an objection to the defense's proposed continuance, claiming Brown's speedy trial rights are at stake. They also request a gag order to limit pretrial publicity. [33]
  • August 7: Government moves for reciprocal discovery. [34]
  • August 8: Defense proposes a discovery timeline, while objecting to the government's over-broad demands. [35]
  • August 9: Defense submits a reply arguing why they need more time in order to examine the voluminous electronic evidence and obtain forensics. [36]
  • August 18: He waives his speedy trial rights. [37]
  • August 19: Judge grants the continuance, setting trials for Spring 2014. [38][39] A successful fundraiser for his defense is held in NYC.
  • September 3: The Committee to Protect Journalists highlights the case.
  • September 4: In briefs, government and defense argue for[40] and against[41] a gag order. During the hearing a gag order is upheld on him, his attorneys and the government which prevents them from making extrajudicial statements about the case to the press. [42][43]
  • September 5: Rolling Stone publishes a feature article.
  • September 8: The New York Times publishes A Journalist-Agitator Facing Prison Over a Link
  • September 13: Free Press weighs in.
  • September 16: WikiLeaks demands his release.
  • September 19: Article 19 releases a statement against the prosecution.
  • November 8: Mom sentenced to 6 months probation. [44][45]
  • November 15: Jeremy Hammond sentenced to 10 years in prison for Stratfor hack.


  • January 31: Defense files motion to dismiss first indictment. [46]
  • February 14: Government opposes the dismissal, in a sealed filing.
  • February 21: Defense replies to the government's opposition. [47]
  • March 3: Defense motions to dismiss the second and third indictments.[48][49]
  • March 5: Government drops hyperlink charges. Access device fraud, obstruction, and threat charges remain.[50]
  • March 31: Brown's attorneys file a factual resumé containing a stipulation of facts. [51]
  • April 2: Defendant agrees to a plea deal on three reduced counts.[52]
  • April 15: His second book on the failures of establishment pundits is released online. [53]
  • April 23: The gag order in place since Sept 4th is lifted and key documents unsealed. [54]
  • September 16: Government requests an extension on the sentencing hearing. [55]
  • November 19: Defense files its final sentencing memorandum.
  • November 20: The court resets the sentencing date. [56]
  • December 11: Defense moves to unseal the sentencing memo and exhibits, govt. opposes. [57]
  • December 16: He is scheduled to be sentenced and faces 8.5 years max. [58]


Date Publication Title
February 10 2010 Huffington Post Anonymous, Australia, and the Inevitable Fall of the Nation-State
March 18 2010 Skeptical Inquirer The Internet and the Republic of Skepticism, Part One
March 24 2010 True/Slant Project PM
April 13 2010 Huffington Post Wikileaks and War; Secrecy and Context
May 3 2010 Skeptical Inquirer The Internet and the Republic of Skepticism, Part Two
May 6 2010 Huffington Post A Proposal for a Minor Revolution in Human Affairs
May 15 2010 True/Slant Just This Once, Let Us Do the Reasonable Thing
June 23 2010 Vanity Fair Why the Hacks Hate Michael Hastings
June 29 2010 Skeptical Inquirer A Tale of Two Internets
August 20 2010 Skeptical Inquirer Skepticism is Best Left to the Skeptics
October 11 2010 Skeptical Inquirer A Modern Solution to An Age-Old Problem
December 8 2010 Huffington Post The Aims of Anonymous
January 27 2011 Guardian Anonymous, a net gain for liberty
February 16 2011 Skeptical Inquirer Skepticism in the Face of Evidence Is No Virtue
February 16 2011 Al Jazeera Anonymous and the global correction
February 17 2011 Guardian How Anonymous hacked the security firm hacker
May 6 2011 Guardian Sony's Anonymous claim, a health warning
June 22 2011 Guardian A sinister cyber-surveillance scheme exposed
October 9 2011 Guardian A virtual secret state, the military-industrial complex 2.0
April 20 2012 Guardian The cyber misinformation campaign against USA Today
July 11 2012 Guardian Cybersecurity and the intelligence community's nefarious purposes
July 1 2013 Guardian The cyber-intelligence complex and its useful idiots
August 12 2013 VICE Reading 'Born Again' In Jail
November 11 2013 VICE Bored Out of My Mind In Jail
December 17 2013 VICE What Radio Censorship Says About America
January 14 2014 FrontBurner The Poetry of William Blake
January 31 2014 FrontBurner Secrets of the Illuminati, or, Yay, Cookies!
February 17 2014 FrontBurner The White People Meeting
March 11 2014 FrontBurner Enter the Kissinger!
April 01 2014 FrontBurner Mutilated Animal Farm
April 22 2014 FrontBurner It Turns Out That Gerald Ford Is Dead
May 14 2014 FrontBurner I Wish I Could Do, Like, Magic
June 04 2014 FrontBurner The Spy Who Misspelled Me
June 17 2014 FrontBurner More Like George Bernard Flaw
July 01 2014 FrontBurner A Visit to the Hole
July 18 2014 FrontBurner There Was a Bad Mutha Who Lived in an SHU
August 19 2014 FrontBurner We'll Take the Hole SHU-bang
October 13 2014 FrontBurner His Real Crime Was Getting That Tattoo
October 30 2014 FrontBurner Let Me Just Drop Everything and Respond to Your Libel
November 06 2014 FrontBurner The Dread Destroyer Has 5 Points of Armor