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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De-Manufacturing Consent- “Aaron Swartz’s Legacy, SOPA 2.0 & Net Neutrality”

Guillermo Jimenez Presents Peter Ludlow

On this edition of De-Manufacturing Consent: Guillermo is joined by Professor of Philosophy and expert in digital culture, Peter Ludlow. Guillermo and Peter discuss the legacy of Aaron Swartz, as both an internet pioneer and vocal activist, one year after an overzealous prosecution led to his suicide.

We take a look at the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and how it is selectively used by the government to target certain key individuals of its choosing, how the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was defeated, and how SOPA 2.0 is being snuck in through the fast-tracked Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We also touch on the issue of net neutrality including the recent court decision in Verizon v. FCC that threatens to change the way we use the internet.

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NarcoNews Investigative Story- US Prosecutors Turned a Blind Eye to Drone Code Piracy

The Free Pass for “Too-Big-to-Fail” Netezza vs. The Prosecution of Swartz

By Bill Conroy of NarcoNews

Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old Internet activist and the co-developer of popular web tools like RSS feeds and Reddit, ended his life earlier this year at the end of a long battle with federal prosecutors in Boston — who had accused him of engaging in digital piracy.

Under the umbrella of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the prosecutors in Swartz’ case, led by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, piled multiple criminal counts on him that collectively could have locked him up for a quarter century. His alleged transgression: Stashing a laptop computer in a closet of a building on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus (where Swartz was a research fellow) and using it to download several million academic articles — many the product of taxpayer funding — from the archives of a nonprofit online library called JSTOR.

Nobody was harmed in Swartz’ alleged crime, and JSTOR itself argued against pressing charges, but federal prosecutors pressed forward zealously, seemingly looking to make Swartz a stepping stone for their careers. However, US Attorney Ortiz, and her team of legal hounds, sparked international outrage for their actions when the target of their prosecutorial persecution, by then a cult hero in the tech world, on Jan. 11 committed suicide by hanging himself in his New York apartment. [Read more...]