Lessons learned from the Barrett Brown case

February 2015 ● Volume 6 ● Issue 2 ● Free Press Publications
♡ Copying is an act of love. Love is not subject to law.
Lessons learned from the
Barrett Brown case
by: Darryl W. Perry
The prosecution of Barrett Brown, which seemed to go
under the radar of the mainstream media, is one of the
most important cases of my lifetime, and has taught us
several important things.
There is no Freedom of the Press:
Barrett Brown is an investigative journalist and had been a
contributor to Vanity Fair and The Guardian. He also
founded Project PM, a project to crowdsource review of
documents for investigative journalism. EFF reports,
“Brown’s legal trouble began in 2011, when hackers
obtained a voluminous set of emails from government
contractor HBGary and placed them on the Internet. He
turned to crowdsourcing to review records and emails
taken from another government contractor, Stratfor, after
hackers broke into their servers later in 2011. Those
records included millions of emails discussing
opportunities for rendition and assassination, and detailing
attempts to subvert journalists, political groups and even
foreign leaders. They also included tens of thousands of
credit card numbers and their verification codes.”
Brown was not involved in the hack, nor was he the person
who posted the information from the hack online. Brown
simply posted a hyperlink to the material in a public
chatroom. At one point, Brown was facing 105 years in
prison, however he ultimately took a plea and the
maximum penalty was reduced to 8 ½ years. After
spending 31 months in federal custody, Brown was
sentenced to 63 months, with credit for time served, and
ordered to pay $890,250 in restitution. This sentence is
extremely harsh, especially when you remember that
Barrett Brown was not involved in the hack!
Laws are selectively enforced:
The EFF reports, “The charges relating to the hyperlink
represented a serious threat to press freedom. EFF and
other press organizations planned to file an amicus brief
supporting Brown’s motion to dismiss eleven of the
hyperlinking charges, noting that journalists routinely link
to documents that, while illegally obtained, are of interest
to the public.”
Barrett Brown posted a hyperlink to material related to the
Strafor hack. Many other journalists have linked to leaked
and/or hacked material, yet aren’t prosecuted, and few are
ever investigated for doing so. As part of a plea deal to
lesser charges, Brown plead guilty to “being an accessory
after the fact to the unauthorized access to Stratfor’s
computers” and two other charges. It should be noted that
Strafor failed to encrypt the data stored on their servers.
Zoe Fox of CNN called this, “an embarrassing mistake for
a company specializing in security.” Additionally, Strafor
was not held liable for failing to protect the sensitive
information of their clients.
continued on page 3
Holder prohibits most state and local use of
DOJ’s asset forfeiture program
by: Darryl W. Perry
Eric Holder made headlines last month when he
announced a new policy prohibiting state and local
governments from using federal civil asset forfeiture laws
for most cases. The Washington Post reported, “Holder’s
action represents the most sweeping check on police
power to confiscate personal property since the seizures
began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.” The
DOJ’s Equitable Sharing program has allowed thousands
of local and state police agencies to have seized nearly $3
billion in cash and property since 2008. Using Equitable
Sharing, a state or local police department or drug task
force would seize property and then have that property
adopted by a federal agency. The agency making the
seizure would then be allowed to keep up to 80 percent of
the value of the items confiscated.
In an order released by the Attorney General’s Office,
Holder stated, “Federal adoption of property seized by
state or local law enforcement under state law is
prohibited, except for property that directly relates to
public safety concerns, including firearms, ammunition,
explosives, and property associated with child
pornography.” These exceptions represent a small
percentage of the seizures made under the program.
Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice,
the nation’s leading legal advocate against civil forfeiture,
said, “This important change in policy will strengthen
protections for property owners who stand to lose their
cash, cars, and other property without being convicted of
or even charged with a crime. But it is essential that
greater protections for property owners must follow at the
federal level and in the states to ensure that Americans are
no longer victimized by civil forfeiture.”
Additionally, Holder also stated that his order does not
apply to seizures by state and local authorities working
together with or on behalf of a federal agency, nor does it
“limit the ability of state and local agencies to pursue the
forfeiture of assets pursuant to their respective state laws.”
continued of page 3
Community Calendars
Second Saturday of the month – Concord Porcupines: The
Corner View Restaurant – Noon-1:30pm.
Last Tuesday of the month – The Dover Liberty Book
Club: Kaleo Coffeehouse, 83 Main St. – 7:00pm
Thursday – NH Seacoast Liberty Meetup: rotates weekly
between Dover, Exeter & Portsmouth – 7:00pm
Every Sunday – Social Sunday:
Sports, 12 Emerald St. – 6:00pm
McCue's Billiards &
Last Tuesday of the month – Upper Valley Porcupines:
Lebanon Village Pizza, 45 Hanover St. #1 – 6:00-8:00pm
First Saturday of the month – Merrimack Valley
Porcupines: (location varies, check facebook) – 11:00am
Tuesday – Taproom Tuesday: The Quill, Murphy's
Taproom, 494 Elm St. – 5:00-7:00pm
Sunday – Shire Bitcoin Meetup: Murphy's Diner, 516 Elm
St. – 6:00-9:00pm
Wednesdays – Freedom Forum discussion: Barnes &
Noble, 235 Daniel Webster Highway – 7:00-9:00pm
Sunday – Nashua Liberty Meetup: Martha's Exchange, 185
Main St. – 6:00-8:00pm
First and Third Thursday of the month – FreeWeare: Weare
Town Grille, 840 S Stark Hwy – 6:30-8:30pm
Submit your events to [email protected] – please send event
information by the final Sunday of each month.
More events can be found online at ShireCalendar.FPP.cc
Donate bitcoins to FPP
FPP News
Submit stories:
Letters to the Editor:
General comments/questions
Visit FPP online
(202)709 4377
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Free Press Publications is an independent alternative media / publishing company, founded in June 2009, with the mission of “ensuring a FREE PRESS for the FREEDOM MOVEMENT” and to also give new authors an avenue for publishing freedom oriented material.
We believe that copying is a form of flattery and do not abide by the copyright laws. Those laws serve to restrict the flow of ideas, which no one can really own.
♡ Copying is an act of love. Love is not subject to law.
FPP News is published monthly on the first Friday after the last Sunday of
every month. A single copy of FPPNews may be picked up from news stands
and distribution points for free, additional copies are $5 each. Payment for
additional copies can be sent via Bitcoin to the above QR code or online at
Subscriptions are $12 USD per year.
Subscribe online at http://News.FPP.cc or via US Mail to:
c/o Darryl W. Perry
63 Emerald St #369
Keene, NH 03431`
The Congressional “good standard” should be raised
by: Darryl W. Perry
Not many elected officials explain to their constituents the
reasons they vote a certain way on a given bill. Even fewer
are those who will explain their vote on every bill! Justin
Amash seems to be doing just that, posting on his
facebook profile an explanation for his votes.
Most recently, he explained his reasons for voting
“present” on a bill to authorize construction of the
Keystone XL Pipeline: “I voted present on H R 3,
Northern Route Approval Act. The Keystone XL pipeline
is a private project owned by TransCanada Corporation.
This bill improperly exempts TransCanada Corporation—
and no other company—from laws that require pipeline
owners and operators to obtain certain government permits
and approvals.
I support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and
holding it up for over four years (with no end in sight) for
political reasons is wrong. It’s improper, however, for
Congress to write a bill that names and benefits one private
project, while doing nothing to address the underlying
problems that allowed such delays to occur.”
He goes on to say, “My commitment to my constituents
when I took office was that I may vote present on
legislation in three extremely rare circumstances (this is
the 12th present vote out of nearly two thousand votes in
Congress): (1) when I could otherwise support the
legislation, but the legislation uses improper means to
achieve its ends, e.g., singling out a specific person or
group for special treatment; (2) when Representatives have
not been given a reasonable amount of time to consider the
legislation; or (3) when I have a conflict of interest, such
as a personal or financial interest in the legislation—a
circumstance that hasn’t happened yet and I don’t
anticipate happening.
H R 3 uses improper means to accomplish its laudable goal
by singling out TransCanada Corporation and its Keystone
XL pipeline for special treatment.”
Nick Gillespie of Reason.com says that Amash should be
cloned, adding “If we can’t yet clone him, here’s hoping
we can at least clone his commitment to principle,
communication with voters, and simple courage to follow
through on his campaign promises.”
While I agree with the sentiment behind Gillespie’s
statement, I would like to see a more libertarian
Congressman with similar qualities to be the pinnacle that
others should strive to emulate. How, you may ask, can I
disagree with one of the most libertarian member of
Quite simply, while Amash is arguably the most libertarian
member of the US House that’s not a very high bar.
According to On The Issues, Justin Amash is a 40/80
conservative on the Nolan Chart, which places him outside
of the libertarian quadrant of the chart. Two of my biggest
objections to Amash is his support for “securing the
border” and punishing people who cross the border
without first jumping through the legislative hoops and
hurdles that are costly, time consuming and overly
burdensome, without proposing legislation to ease or
reduce the burdens. He is also an advocate for a balanced
budget amendment that John Tammy of Forbes explains,
“would legalize massive government as far as the eye can
see.” Incidentally, Amash has never introduced legislation
to actually reduce federal spending.
Despite my objections to some of Amash’s positions, I
applaud Justin Amash for publicly stating his reasons for
voting the way he does, and I would like to see more
elected representatives follow suit. I just he were actually a
NHLP State Convention
Friday March 6, 2015
Radisson Hotel; Manchester, NH
Admission to the convention is free! All NHLP members are eligible to
participate, membership is not required to attend.
Lessons learned from Barrett Brown
continued from page 1
The State wants your willing obedience:
The EFF reports, “In September 2012, as the government
intensified its investigation of the Stratfor hack and Brown
specifically, he posted a series of YouTube videos and
tweets allegedly threatening an FBI agent. Brown was
immediately arrested and charged with a variety of
criminal charges related to the threats.” Adding, “The bulk
of the sentence—48 months—was for threatening the FBI
agent, something that Brown himself admitted in a
statement at his sentencing today was a mistake.”
Had Brown not responded in the manner he did, it is
possible that he would have been released with time served
upon entering a plea. However, because Barrett Brown
was defiant, he faced a much harsher penalty. Even if
Barrett Brown had begrudgingly complied with the FBI,
that would not have been good enough for The State, as
they are not happy with mere compliance, they want you
to want to comply!
The value of a positive attitude:
The most important lesson of the Barrett Brown saga is to
always find the silver lining. After being sentenced, Brown
released a statement:
“Good news! — The U.S. government decided today
that because I did such a good job investigating the
cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send
me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For
the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food,
clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing
by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise
report on news and culture in the world’s greatest
prison system. I want to thank the Department of
Justice for having put so much time and energy into
advocating on my behalf; rather than holding a
grudge against me for the two years of work I put into
in bringing attention to a DOJ-linked campaign to
harass and discredit journalists like Glenn Greenwald,
the agency instead labored tirelessly to ensure that I
received this very prestigious assignment. — Wish
me luck!”
I hope that Brown is able to keep this positive attitude
during his incarceration, and upon his release I hope that
he continues his work as an investigate journalist. I also
hope all journalists remember these lessons, but that are
not pressured to stop reporting because of them!
Asset Forfeiture
continued from page 1
IJ’s President and General Counsel, Chip Mellor, added,
“Civil forfeiture should not exist in a country that values
the principles of private property rights and due process.”
While every state has either civil or criminal asset
forfeiture laws, many police departments preferred the
federal adoption program because they received a higher
percentage of the value than they would have received
under state law. Holder even mentioned the presence of
state laws as a reason the federal program is “less
necessary.” The Post added, “The policy will touch police
and local budgets in every state. Since 2001, about 7,600
of the nation’s 18,000 police departments and task forces
have participated in Equitable Sharing. For hundreds of
police departments and sheriff’s offices, the seizure
proceeds accounted for 20 percent or more of their annual
budgets in recent years.”
It should be clear that Eric Holder isn’t serious about real
reform of civil asset forfeiture laws. If he were, he would
have halted all use of the scheme used to unjustly deprive
people of their property, when they haven’t been convicted
of a crime.
The economics of xenophobia
Is Ross Not the Dread Pirate Roberts After All?
by: Darryl W. Perry
by: Jeffrey Tucker
I recently read a pair of articles that on the surface are only
tangentially connected. However after a little deep
thought, I realized the authors are looking at the same
problem from both a micro and macro level. The articles
were “‘Buy Local’ is really bad economics” and “The
economic case for open borders.” Again, after some
thought I came up with the hypothesis: people who are
xenophobic have a flawed understanding of economics.
The trial of Ross Ulbricht, alleged to be the administrator
of the Silk Road website that distributed illicit drugs peerto-peer, opened with a shocker.
Yes, he probably knew there are legal risks to that, but it’s
very revealing of the state of the world. Establishing a free
market, writing the code of a platform, not trading but
merely creating a digital infrastructure on which others
post, is a crime? We shall see.
His attorney very quickly admitted that the Silk Road was
Ross’s idea. He envisioned a free market in the cloud in
which people could circumvent prohibitions and
restrictions and gain from trade in a peaceful and
productive way.
As for the other crimes he is alleged to have committed,
such as hiring hit men to go after users who threatened to
reveal identities of sellers, there has never been a shred of
evidence to suggest that is true.
Nikki Burgess, from Students for Liberty, writes, “Let’s
begin with a basic economic principle: The more people an
economy has, the more productive it can be. This appeals
to common sense—given equal circumstances, 20 people
working will create value more than 10.” For the sake of
argument it doesn’t matter whether the 20 people live in
one community or not. Those who oppose trade and/or
immigration will argue that there may not be enough work
for 20 people, and that some of the new people will work
for less, thus putting someone out of a job. While that may
be true in the short term, it is not true in the long term.
Burgess adds, “Economists agree that immigrants
complement, rather than compete with, the native work
force. Even assuming the opposite—that migrants and
natives do compete for the same work—the estimated net
benefit to natives from migrant labor is still $22 billion
annually… Besides, competition is good; it ensures that
the most productive candidates are employed and it makes
goods cheaper by driving down production costs.
However, empirically, immigrants and natives do not
usually pursue the same work.”
On the macro level, Brian Brenberg & Chris Horst write,
“History and research show that as trade increases, poverty
decreases, and China is a prime example. Since 1978,
when the country opened to foreign investment, China has
grown to become the world’s largest trader – measured by
total imports and exports. The results have been striking.
In 2012 alone, average factory wages in China rose 14
percent. In manufacturing, specifically, worker wages have
increased 71 percent since 2008. Over the last thirty years,
Chinese families living in extreme poverty dropped from
84 percent to under 10 percent.”
Of course, China is just one example of the benefits of
trade. A report released in 2011 by Yale University and the
Brookings Institution found that the world’s population
living below the extreme poverty line plummeted from 52
percent to 15 percent in just 30 years from 1981 to 2011.
Globalization and the spread of freer markets were
credited with “enabl[ing] the developing world to begin
converging on advanced economy incomes after centuries
of divergence.”
Aside from being bad economics, xenophobia is also
irrational. Advocates of “Buy Local” use slogans like
“Don’t buy from strangers, buy from neighbors.” This may
make people in small towns feel good, when they buy
from the Mom & Pop stores, however one needs to look
deeper. Chances are the products in the Mom & Pop store
were brought in from somewhere, which means there was
most likely trade with someone outside the community
(i.e. a stranger). This is not a bad thing. The numbers don’t
lie, when trade happens wealth spreads, and when wealth
spreads everybody wins by becoming less poor!
That much I’m pretty sure that I knew.
Having done so, Ross’s attorney continued, Ross realized
that he was in way over his head, because, after all, there
was a rather substantial amount of pent-up demand. Once
the site started taking off, he handed the keys over to
Joshua Dratel explained: “He created it. As a freewheeling, free market site, that could sell anything, except
for a couple items that were harmful. It was an economic
experiment. After a few months, it was too much for him.
He handed it off to others.”
This actually makes sense to me. It captures the spirit in
which Ross created it. It was an experiment in how truly
free markets could work. It was an extension of Ross’s
own libertarian idealism. Frustrated at the taxed and
regulated world, and longing for liberty, he wanted to see
what real freedom would look like in the real world.
His experiment worked and then some. He bailed and
moved on. How did he end up being snagged from a
public library with the administrator page opened?
“He was lured back by those operators, lured back to that
library, that day,” his attorney explained. “They had been
alerted that they were under investigation, and time was
short for them. Ross was the perfect fall guy. [Silk Road
created] a digital contrivance that left him holding the bag
when the real operators of Silk Road knew their time was
This explanation accounts for why Ross was not that fussy
about hiding his identity. He was not meticulous. He lived
and posted in the open, even using his name-based email
It explains why the new Silk Road opened within a week.
The real admins decided that their founder had taken the
hit for them.
It even explains why the very name Dread Pirate Roberts
was used in the first place. It was intended as a name to be
passed around from admin to admin.
Under this version of events, the real admins drew him
back in, possibly to fix a technical problem, knowing full
well that the feds were on him. So he nonchalantly opened
his computer and started digging around. Out of nowhere,
the feds pounced him and blamed him for the whole
history of the site.
In other words, Ross is being prosecuted for starting an
experiment in freedom. He was jailed for writing software.
As the trial unfolds, the feds are going to defend their view
that Ross is really a mastermind behind a new global drug
empire, held together by violence and cryptocurrency, and
spreading narcotics all over the world.
On the Internet, however, a world of digits and selfregulating systems, things are not always as they seem.
The feds are always ready to simplify in order to further
the impression that they are in charge and running the
world. It’s nuts. Ross’s story actually sounds far more
But what about the real Dread Pirate Roberts? There might
be dozens of them by now, and they are not in jail. The
Silk Road 3 is booming, as are another half dozen or so
darknet narcotics markets.
Even if you hate drugs, even if you think that they are the
bane of existence, you should still favor the flourishing of
these online markets. They are working to take the
gangland violence out of the trade and bring some quality
control to the industry so that people don’t die. They are
also working to put the drug lords and drug cartels out of
business. The only people who have a real interest in
shutting them down are government and drug cartels.
But, in any case, the cat is out of the bag. The forces of
supply and demand are too strong. No government can
stop them. The Silk Road was indeed an experiment and it
taught a lesson: if you can hide your identity, you can sell
and buy illicit drugs. Government can slow this trend
down but it cannot stop it.
We should cheer for Ross. He is an innovator, a person
who changed history for the better. It would be a terrible
tragedy for him to be locked up. Instead he should be
celebrated as a creative mind of our time — and I say that
whether or not he is the Dread Pirate Roberts. If all he
really did was write software and hand off the keys, he
should be working for a tech firm.
Regardless, he is already a folk hero. No one can take that
away from him.
Republished from Tucker.Liberty.me
Jeffrey Tucker is Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me (http://liberty.me/join), a subscription-based,
action-focused social and publishing platform for the liberty minded. He is also an author,
distinguished fellow Foundation for Economic Education (http://fee.org), executive editor of
Laissez-Faire Books, research fellow Acton Institute, founder CryptoCurrency Conference.