Unearthing the Barrett Brown Story: A Political Prisoner in Pursuance of Press Freedom & Government Accountability.

In January of 2013, following his suicide, Aaron Swartz’s family and partner released an official statement declaring his death more than a mere personal tragedy. They claim, “It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach”. The statement also lauds Swartz’s efforts as, “instrumental to the defeat of an internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open and accountable political system”.[i] It is in that spirit of press freedom and accountable government, and in honor of Aaron Swartz that I write this article.

Continuing the Legacy

The efforts of Swartz and the scores of whistleblowers and journalists before him, and since, have shined a spotlight on the brazenly lawless and inept bureaucracies that govern our nation from the shadows.[ii] [iii] Once untouchable, these institutions of unaccountable centralized power are decaying from within, despite the best efforts of their corporate media lapdogs to polish their thin veneer of legitimacy. [iv] [v]

While most journalists, like frogs in a slowly boiling pot of water, still yield to the ever increasing demands of illegitimate authorities, becoming themselves lapdogs of the establishment, Barrett Brown has stood by his principles, challenging the unconstitutional mandates of those powers that shouldn’t be, and blowing on their precious little house of cards. These actions, are not without consequence, however. To quote Beatrice Edwards, Senior International Policy Analyst of the Government Accountability Project, “The first thing corrupt institutions do when they’re threatened by the truth is distract attention from the message by shooting the messenger”.[vi] [vii]

As a young man of 18, Brown began his career as a freelance writer, eventually landing a gig with Vanity Fair magazine. It is here, as a magazine writer, that brown received his inoculating dose of disillusionment. He saw, throughout the industry, useful idiots and establishment hacks like Thomas Friedman not only commanding audiences of millions, but winning Pulitzers, while talented writers and reporters critical of US Government policies, such as Glenn Greenwald, were relegated to smaller niche audiences, away from the spotlight.[viii] [ix]

No sooner had Barrett Brown’s disillusionment set in than he began challenging and attacking those morally bankrupt cronies of the media establishment and their propaganda. In the same spirit of openness that guided Aaron Swartz, and driven by contempt for the failure of the press to uphold any standard of information integrity, in 2009, Brown, with the help of various bloggers, journalists and scientists, embarked on a project to establish a mechanism of accountability in media and government, what he called a “distributed think tank”, known as Project PM.[x] [xi] [READ MORE]

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