This idea of "adding" sentences is ridiculous, and my guess is it's only (ab)used as a way to force people into agreeing to declare themselves guilty, and the prosecutors going "easy on them" and only asking for 30 years in prison, instead of 100, if they win.
That's not justice and people should be opposing this. I think it was on The Daily Show where a guest talked about a documentary called Gideon's Army where they're talking exactly about this issue, and how prosecutors are forcing 90% of the people arrested to admit guilt this way, before they even get a trial. So 90% go to prison without a trial!
It also must be very convenient that the US law is so complex now, and has gotten to the point where everyone can be incriminated with something, so basically the prosecutors can threaten just about anyone with at least a charge or two, if they want to. They must be BS charges, but lucky for them they manage to convince those people to agree with a "lesser punishment" before there even is a trial. I'm sure the private prison system and their lobbying plays a big role in this, too. It's self sustaining corrupt system.
It seems hopeless to me. The general population doesn't give a shit, they are bloodthirsty and think of "criminals" as some distinct segment of society that they don't need to empathize with (hell, we can't even get executions widely abolished, a far more egregious issue...) So long as that is the case the politicians will keep on making the situation even worse for personal gain.
Your complaint at this point should be with prosecutors that use the most draconian possible sentence to promote themselves and pressure defendants, and with a media that loves the shock value of numbers like "105 years" when such a sentence would almost certainly never happen.
First, to be clear, there are two cases of committing crimes at the same time: one is when a certain act by necessity implies committing another, lesser offense (the textbook example here is raping somebody on the town square - this almost certainly qualifies as public indecency too, but you'll only be sentenced for the rape). This is called 'eendaadse samenloop' (roughly translated, 'single-act concurrency'). This is not what we are talking about.
What we are talking about is 'meerdaadse samenloop' ('multiple act concurrency'), the rules for which are set in art 58 Sr. (the Dutch criminal code) and basically say this (if lawyers weren't numerically illiterate - sometimes I get the feeling admission to the bar requires a selective lobotomy of those parts of the brain that work with numbers, but I digress -):
Let s be the final sentence, t1 and t2 the effective sentences for each of the individual criminal acts, and t1' and t2' the maximum sentences for those respective criminal acts:
s = min(t1 + t2, max(t1', t2') * 4/3)
In plain words: the prosecutor will charge the suspect with the separate crimes, and ask for separate penalties. The judge will sentence each criminal act separately, and then give the perpetrator a combined jail time for all the criminal acts which is maximized at 30% over the theoretical maximum for the punishment with the longest jail time.
So, in your hypothetical example, the maximum sentence for manslaughter is 15 years (art 287 Sr), for robbery resulting in death also 15 years (art 321(3) Sr). The typical sentence for manslaughter for a first-time offender would be something like 8-10 years; for the other the same. The maximum is 15 * 4 / 3 = 20 years; if the judge sentences the robber to 10 years for each, he will serve 20 years. Note that these are not two separate sentences that are served consecutively, but one sentence that takes into account both acts; but that's merely a semantic difference.
If you still don't believe me, let me quote from 'Een inleiding in het strafrecht in 13 hoofdstukken', Stolwijk (2009) p243, the relevant page of which is also available via Google Books:
"In de praktijk is het matigende effect van de samenloopregeling gering. In de strafzaak zelf wordt een werkelijk plafond in de straftoemeting niet bereikt omdat de rechter ook bij samenloop nimmer aan dat maximum toekomt. De vraag naar meerdaadse of eendaadse samenloop is daarom louter een kwestie van een juiste kwalificatie.'. (summary translation: the effect of the ceiling on combining sentences is very small because that ceiling is seldomly reached anyway).
Prosecutors only have 1 trial for each given crime due to the principle of double jeopardy so they have to charge the suspect with everything they think they can prove in case one of the charges gets thrown out on a technicality.
The flip side to that is that typically any conviction(s) on those same charges results in concurrent prison sentences. IANAL so I don't know what types of cases end up in the atypical sequential sentencing but I don't see how this case could possibly end up with sequential sentencing, unless maybe Barrett threatened a cop's family or something like that.
The entire premise of our legal system was founded upon the idea that it is better to let 100 criminals go free than let one innocent person rot in jail. Throwing several additional charges in the hope of getting a plea bargain is antithesis to the original intention of the system.
1) I am guilty of the charges
2) I believe I am not guilty, but I believe that I will be found guilty, nonetheless. To limit my risk of a bad outcome, I'm pleading guilty to lesser charges.
These are very, very different. Number (2) is actually an indictment of the system, not of the accused.
Is there a way to formally declare (2)?
If real criminals are getting short sentences (because they were smart, and took a plea bargain), then politicians will be forced to increase sentences. Eventually, you reach a state where the maximum sentences are insanely high, to compensate for the fact that criminals will always get them discounted.
The list of exceptions for the death penalty alone is pretty long:
In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, "There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is 'cruel and unusual'."
* The "essential predicate" is "that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity," especially torture.
* "A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion."
* "A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society."
* "A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary."
These "principles" probably themselves have oblique legal meanings seperate than what we'd expect, and there's probably been a new ruling or two on the 8th amendment in the past 41 years.
 Yes, I know.
Seems like bullshit. Cruel punishment does not become okay if you do it frequently.
The ban in the 8th amendment is on "cruel and unusual punishments". Therefore punishments that are cruel or unusual, but not both, are not banned.
For example it would be hard to argue that excessive prison time is at all unusual in this country. So no matter how cruel it may be, it passes muster. Conversely Shena Hardin was given the unusual punishment of having to stand on a particular sidewalk wearing a sign that said, "Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus." (She was, in fact, said idiot.) The punishment was unusual, but not cruel. It therefore passed constitutional muster.
However being kept in an overly crowded prison without appropriate medical care qualifies as both cruel and unusual punishment and is therefore unconstitutional. (As a variety of courts have had to repeatedly point out to California. Personally I'd love to see the fraction of the prison population that is over the design capacity of prisons in California become the portion of the year that key officials should have to spend inside of said prisons. I'm sure that we'd see Jerry Brown stop dragging his feet on the issue fairly promptly...)
See http://www.constitution.org/eng/eng_bor.htm for the full bill in question.
That Cesare Beccaria's comments could have given the idea more force I can believe. But they are not the source. Nor am I aware of any court case that has specifically discussed Cesare Beccaria for trying to understand this clause. By contrast search https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/501/957/case.htm... for comments about Titus Oakes (the historical cause of that clause).
Punishments are PERMITTED to be either cruel, or unusual. But not both.
Unrelated to this case, if you don't do that, won't it encourage people who are knowingly committing big crimes to commit smaller crimes on the way? Why would you want to essentially grant immunity because someone committed a bigger crime? Where's the deterrent?
To answer that question, I'd direct you to a 2010 paper from The Sentencing Project. The thesis presented is that the certainty of being caught is a greater deterrent than the severity of the punishment. Further, increased severity does not appear to have a significant effect on deterrence.
Perhaps this is a reflection on my own ignorance, but if so I fear it's a worse reflection on the ignorance of the average well-informed citizen.
It goes beyond saying that any sentence counted in "years" for making an online threat against an individual is beyond ridiculous, and clearly sought for politics and in this case for the purposes of retribution and precedent .. don't you dare oppose the FBI or we will destroy you.
I can't exactly express why, but having an administration with such an attitude (that of a bully) makes me sick. Sick to the point that I would sacrifice all common ground I may have had with them in order to kick them out of office.
There are very few organizations doing deep investigations these days. Anything deep is being done by individuals and sadly they are easily picked off by the police state.
Giving someone 'power' in any form, creates corruption in most individuals. History, psychology and no doubt our own experiences prove this (again, unfortunately).
Please don't assume the only reason he's being prosecuted is for reporting a story, or for ranting about an FBI agent. He is more like a reporter who is embedded with drug dealers, and during the course of being embedded, committed crimes. But a little bit differently; he isn't just reporting Anonymous, he is the self-appointed representative face and mouthpiece for them.
And also please don't point this at the executive branch. Law enforcement and prosecutors around the country do this kind of bullying all the time, and have for decades. A horrible but justified example is the TV show Law & Order, which is modeled after real life case studies. Often they're hunting for anything they can use to prosecute someone after they blindly accept the person is guilty and must be prevented from doing some as-yet-unknown illegal act. (Of course on TV they never do wrong to someone they prosecute)
The fact that the executive (Obama) administration was cited does not seem to me to be inappropriate: they are the face and mouthpiece of government.
Perhaps consider the possible negatives (tyranny) that can come with a growing central government
The system of checks and balances in government was designed for this purpose.
1. Your association with private corporations is voluntary, unlike (for the large part) your association with government.
2. The State can and will use physical force and threats thereof to enforce it's authority.
To the extent Corporations abuse power ungoverned by the free market, they do so primarily via association with government.
Let me reiterate the following though. It's important for people to understand that a free market doesn't exist where government serves to protect the "laws" of artificial trade entities (corporations).
Unfortunately, given the corporatism that currently exists in government, people are unable to make voluntary choices on a more concrete level. The most people can do is abstain from certain purchases and boycott certain industries that aren't tied to federal funding and mandates: an increasingly dim prospect at that. Outside of conscientious consumerism, a lot of natural, peaceful behavior tends to disobey the policies of corporations and, consequently, government. Voluntary actions and natural, nonviolent behavior become "criminal" conduct. The guaranteed funding of violent forms of power will make certain their growth, consolidation, and ability to crush dissent.
Voluntary actions are wonderful. Voluntaryist-based frameworks that serve to uphold free choice, speech, and markets do, indeed, stand as a separate entity from government. As you aptly point out: unlike the State, entities that engage in voluntary association should be unable to use physical force and massive economic constraints to intimidate and sustain their own authority.
Corporatism is the greatest enemy of those who believe in freedom, and by extension in freedom of voluntary association.
But I don't think consumerism needs to be "conscientious" in the sense that consumers act altruistically. It's in my self-interest that my privacy is protected, for example.
However, this comes down to semantics now. I contend that altruism is innately human and, of course, common among many animals. Compassion and empathy run deep in the consciousness of many people. Altruism is generally the word used to describe actions based on a sense of compassionate imperative. As such, altruism as a word should be preserved and not confused with contradicting forces at play.
The contradicting forces at play are those that would mandate the way in which others act, even if it betrays the ethics of others. That isn't real altruism. It's artificial. Unfortunately, most people conflate the two as one in the same due to pseudo-liberal (read: not liberating) indoctrination that equates [using force to implore a moral imperative] as being justified by its ends without addressing the means which victimize people and don't allow for disassociation.
I imagine you agree fully.
Altruism is a word that has been perverted and besmirched by multiple sides. Altruism cannot exist in the context of force. Altruism nevertheless exists and it is 'good' in nature. In other words, no, I'm not implying that consumerism [needs] to be conscientious. Emphasis on [needs]. [Needs] implies a mandate which requires force. I would imply, however, as a human rights proponent and activist living in a world of governmental and corporate tyranny, that conscientious consumerism is one of the few and best remaining forms of intelligently advocating for one's interests and the interests of those who we care about: the people of this world that are often treated like serfs and subjects. Conscientious consumerism is part of the lifeblood of web-of-trusts within free and natural markets. Yes, I would encourage all people (who care about particular issues) to inform themselves and be mindful of the organizations and businesses they directly or indirectly support. I, for one, try not to support abusive companies with policies that noticeably exploit labor and land. Whether this is in my self-interests is merely semantics, for anything I believe and choose is inherently my self-interest manifesting itself through knowledge and action. Power in numbers still exists.
Indeed, altruism begins with the "self." This is another aspect many sides do not fully appreciate. Selfishness and selflessness are words that can possibly be interchangeable and inverted. More people should recognize their own individual self worth. To do so is to also recognize the humanity and self-worth of others. No law is inherently more righteous than the conscience of the individual who must decide whether he or she can morally abide by it. If more people valued themselves in a non-superficial sense, I feel they would be less willing to defer their rights and bodies to the authority of violent groups. Ironically in these words, if more people valued their self worth, I believe that more [selflessness] would flourish: real acts of compassion and community-supporting behavior - acts based on voluntary choice, which we could proudly label "altruistic."
If you've seen 300, you'll know that a collective 300 was stronger than a dispersed 300.
People are simply stronger in large numbers, and altruism is the high level understanding that the only way to maximize collectivism is to help others when they are trying to achieve similar interests to that of yours.
However, corporations can still do assassinations, espionage, or even spying on customers. As long as the corporation is capable of doing it, and has ways of hiding it, then it can also be done.
When a group or psychopath commits mass murder, yes, it is a form of power. Yet, it's relatively contained. Society is more able to fight it and reject it. However, when a government that relies on involuntary funding commits mass murder - under the auspices of formal policy and fancy language - it becomes a form of power that society is less able to reject.
I'd say the Mexican drug cartels are de-facto examples of private corporations when they don't or can't rely on government to give them their power.
I don't mean to mince words again but I have to, for the sake of liberty activists who try, fail, and sometimes succeed. Power is something we can reject. We can do it individually and collectively. (I realize we're using different interpretations of the word "reject" but it's still a point.) Knowledge and civil disobedience are often options. If physically freeing oneself is unwise or nearly impossible, one may try to stay mentally free. Rejection begins with mentality. If we don't perpetuate the philosophy and beauty of liberation, of rejection over defeatism, then I worry that this 'eternal flame,' which sparks the struggle for freedom and pervades a yearning for individuality and truth, may grow too dim.
No, I know, the practicality of your words about power ring true. There are forms of power so hard to reject, physically and mentally, that they effectively render a person, or millions of people: powerless.
Haha, funny that you find "spying on customers" to be more worthy of an "even" than assassinations or espionage :)
I remember an argument I had with a friend years ago .. would I rather have Google owning my information or the Government. I argued, Google of course, the worst they would use my info for was serving me better ads.
I was wrong because I never realized that the government could force Google to hand my information over to them.
Also public companies are less at risk to abuse power because there is a separation of powers. Lots of diverse stock holders usually.
Corporations are able to exploit society, buffering themselves from many forms of recourse - not unlike any powerful government - specifically because they hold position as a protected class. The entity known as a "corporation" is granted the security of police and military systems thanks to the rule of corporate law.
I agree with you on the first part but let me interject a disagreement. Corruption seems intrinsic to any powerful entity, yes. However, it's important to recognize the fact that business entities in and of themselves are not powerful. They are not powerful without a societal structure that ensures that corporate law is enforced as "the rule of law." Translation: artificial entities - corporations - are only powerful because of consolidated government power.
The problem isn't that corporations would take the place of abusing power. That's somewhat of a misconception. In a humane government with a free market, corporations would not exist. The protected entity could not exist. The larger problem is that the structure of governance we have does not go far enough to preserve the freedom of people, nor does it go far enough to compartmentalize most forms of the collective force it wields. Corporatism stands in strict contradiction to humanitarianism, freedom, and free and open markets. Yet it is the model of this government. The checks and balances that exist are rather superficial. Oligarchical mob rule exists. Some euphemistically call it a representative democracy. Abuse isn't the fault of [business entities] per se. That's the cough. It's the fault of the structure of government. That's the body.
-- Wars of luxury and aggression.
-- Surveillance states.
-- Prison industry with dependent economies.
-- War industry with dependent economies.
-- Assault on civil liberties.
-- Loss of human freedom to manufactured "law."
-- Killing and dropping bombs on people and groups in the name of security.
-- Secret organizations plundering and abusing the public.
-- Loss of due process.
-- The war on humanity...
It continues. There are reasons in the scope of human history for so much suffering, in light of the lack of information that people had at their disposal combined with the technologies and tribalism that drive people into seeking power, security, and fortune.
Though there are no arguable defenses for the structure we have that continues the bloodshed, in light of the connected world that grows, and a trend toward seeking transparency amid the every-growing classification and hiding from the public trust. There are no arguable defenses other than the chain of succession, the companies, the propaganda, and the millions of Americans whose paychecks and careers depend on this apparatus of exploitation. It has consolidated enough power to get to this point where rendering it undone is the fantastical proposition it once was: a feat for humanitarian activists.
Where are the checks and balances?
Why did this system fail people to such a large degree?
One of the largest structural failures is when consolidated power is granted the ability to levy taxes: forced funding. It ensures that no one can disassociate physically or economically. Forced funding ensures that no one may engage in any practical form of disobedience beyond the last remaining threads of freedom of speech and any semblance of good left in the human spirit that is willing to engage in conscientious objection and civil disobedience. Forced funding ensures over the long haul that everything else will fall into play. Guaranteed revenue manifests the artifices used by power to sustain itself.
This is why all forms of governance that rely on it: corporatism, socialism, communism, and flavors therein are inhumane and prone to failure into various states of fascist governance. They all surrender the people's own voluntary choices and labor unto a Cesar.
The US Consitution didn't have enough language to protect people from its government. The idea was grand at the time. Though it didn't save people from the long-term threat of Congress. The federation should have only existed in the role of its Bill of Rights. A small central power, 535 people in Congress, should never have been granted ownership over the labor and humanity of so great number of people, 300 million people now.
It is un-fixable for now.
The article suggests at the end that the particular issue of persecuting people who reveal information points to a much larger systemic failure. It is, indeed, a systemic failure.
"They are not powerful without a societal structure that ensures that corporate law is enforced as "the rule of law."
What are the cartels in Mexico then? I would argue that that's what corporations would look like if they could no longer depend on the rule of law and government to protect some of their interests.
It's true, US Corporations depend on the government's power for some of their enforcement and structure, but US corporations still wield significant power that could be abused. If the government went away, they'd just use that power to defend themselves and we'd end up with violence, intimidation, etc, like you see in cartels. Corporations don't completely rely on the government. Apple has billions in cash reserves and in the end it's the money that counts.
I advocate for the rule of law being limited back into the original noble intent the Bill of Rights had, along with other changes. The government in a heavily limited role can be more powerful (in the sense of justification) if its primary role is one of humanitarianism. Governmental collective force and democratized architectures for assembly would still exist to protect people from violence. I'm not advocating for the government to go away. I've been saying nearly the opposite. It has to change. It has to reform toward humanitarian principles with more voluntaryist structures.
"Corporations" would not exist. The availability of power would be dramatically reduced to the actions of people. Couple that with a more humane justice system where the threat of caging, literally stuffing a person into a cell, could only be the recourse for containing unwieldy, physically violent people. I digress. The net positive of not having protected classes is numerous. More people are able to enter the market and empower themselves (e.g. no threat of patents, which could not exist). And the risk for undertaking dangerous activities grows higher. This induces a tendency toward natural regulation, because the threat of civil justice and recourse becomes higher for those who engage in exploitative behavior without gaining explicit consent from their customers or the people and lands they affect.
The US economy has never experienced this healthy abstraction. All we have is heavily-regulated markets within corporatism, which the biggest corporations thrive on. It guarantees the crushing of most small competitors. Of course, the internet was one of the most disrupting and democratizing forces to combat this unnatural market. Yet, as we all know, the internet is still not yet empowering enough compared to artificial entities known as "patents" that only exist thanks to corporatism, granting the full weight of police force to enforce the decree of big business. That's the real abuse of power. That's what we have today.
You mention Mexican drug cartels. They are largely the result of US policy. The "war" on drugs is a war on people and choice. Like any prohibition of people's consensual choices, this war on people directly forms the foundation of strong, well-funded underground economies with a nearly guaranteed revenue stream. Yes, often the leadership of these organizations care less about humanity and more about profit.
It sounds familiar.
What opposition? There is no alternative body to the federal government other than state government, and the fed doesn't really have to crush what it already controls and governs.
An alternative opposition is "the people", which would be hilarious as the federal government is for the people, represented and run by the people. I find it fascinating when people basically claim that they, themselves, have grown too large and the people only seem interested in crushing opposition. If you'd ask 'what opposition is there to the people?' that answer is of course that the people oppose themselves.
IMHO, whining about the government becoming too big is like whining that your free beer isn't cold enough. Or a collective of chefs complaining that the food in the cafeteria sucks.
Tyrrany is also not the only negative from a growing central government. It's complacency and capitulation that harm the most.
I would say that our prosecutors are lucky they don't live in such a country, but frankly our prosecutors are a big reason why the USA is not a decent country. The fact that prosecutors can threaten any member of a defendant's family with any number of 3F/d crimes is a big reason they're able to coerce so many plea bargains. If we only had necessary laws that forbid actual crimes, instead of the many shelf-feet of unknowable laws we have, you'd see far more defendants claiming their rights to fair trials. Today's prosecutors probably wouldn't be able to cope, since they'd have to spend their time prosecuting rather than dreaming up new techniques of pretrial coercion.
With respect to invasions by foreign powers, yes. But neither the government nor the police can be expected to actively protect individual citizens. Protection via deterrent forces (e.g. laws against violent crime) is all the police and government can really do. If you want to actively protect yourself and your family, it's your responsibility to do so. Outsourcing that job to the government and police is how we got to a our current state--they can't "protect us" without sufficient power, which we readily handed over.
Read a bit, then checked the wiki on them :
"The Endgame Board of Directors is led by Christopher Darby, President and CEO of In-Q-Tel, an independent strategic investment firm supporting the missions of the intelligence community. Endgame announced in March 2013 that Kenneth Minihan, former Director of the National Security Agency and Managing Director at Paladin, had also joined its Board of Directors."
And from the piece:
"While the media and much of the world have been understandably outraged by the revelation of the NSA’s spying programs, Barrett Brown’s work was pointing to a much deeper problem. It isn’t the sort of problem that can be fixed by trying to tweak a few laws or by removing a few prosecutors. The problem is not with bad laws or bad prosecutors. What the case of Barrett Brown has exposed is that we confronting a different problem altogether. It is a systemic problem. It is the failure of the rule of law."
And back to Obama's check list of questions during his speech weeks ago about the conditions that "we’re going to have some problems here" :
Do we trust the Executive Branch?
Do we trust Congress?
Do we trust what is called "due process and rule of law"?
"The Stratfor data included a number of unencrypted credit card numbers and validation codes. On this basis, the DOJ accused Brown of credit card fraud for having shared that link with the editorial board of ProjectPM. Specifically, the FBI charged him with traffic in stolen authentication features, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, as well as an obstruction of justice charge (for being at his mother’s when the initial warrant was served) and charges stemming from his threats against the FBI agent. All told, Brown is looking at century of jail time: 105 years in federal prison if served sequentially. He has been denied bail."
EDIT: I see from a comment below that 40 of the years are due to his withdrawal induced youtube rant and obstruction of justice charges. Which is still freaking ridiculuous, especially considering that wouldn't have happened without the BS credit card charges.
From the story:
The plan called for “disinformation,” exploiting strife within the organization and fomenting external rivalries—“creating messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization,” as well as a plan to submit fake documents and then call out the error.” Greenwald, it was argued, “if pushed,” would “choose professional preservation over cause.”
It's crazy to realize that when people have power and the power is being threatened, like in this case, they would do anything to preserve it at the dispense of people who try to do bring the truth to light. Because the truth will hurt them. Human nature at its best and capitalism at its worst.
How do we take our country back? For starters it seems like private contractors need to be subject to the exact same rules as the government that pay them, including FOIA. I'd put money on it that the demographics of t top secret work force are heavily skewed, suggesting institutional racism and sexism.
We have to end this stuff
I could relate to Brown here. FBI or SS would tail me when I was on pretrial, I'd hear awkward clicking on my phone, and I'd have severe anxiety attacks. Just recently, my paranoia back then has been confirmed with the PRISM leaks.
Political journalism is dangerous (I think anything in politics is risky though). I give Brown and Hastings a huge huge huge amount of respect to pursue the truth and uphold their own moral beliefs.
Doesn't this kinda defeat the purpose of politics tho?
That's basically dictatorship.
Personally, I never really felt our president has the power to change things. I've always felt that he's the frontman for the IOU's behind him. Even in a dictatorship, they have interest behind them as well...usually military (North Korea is an example). Capitalism is usually favoritism.
This is why I stay out of politics (including omitting my opinion or speculation), because no matter what country you'd like to compare it's dangerous, whether for your life or livelihood.
If you had to say who is most mad at Snowden, at face value, you may say the NSA or administration...but technically he wasn't an NSA agent...who did he worked for (BA).
i) full disc encryption
ii) encrypted communication
iii) anonymous communication
iv) anonymous and encrypted dealings with a publisher
v) anonymous payment from that publisher
That's not someone writing about corrupt government in an oppressive regime, that's someone living in the US writing about US companies and government.
Hackers and designers should probably spend a little bit of time making anonymity and encryption easier to use.
If the opponents of the change you propose have access to your private data, they have an unfair advantage.
This is the robustness principle (for API design/use ) applied. "Be lenient in what you accept from others, stringent in what you emit."
As applied to this case, it's "Be lenient in what you you expect reality is, but stringent in what you attempt to shift reality to."
Michael Hastings died in a car crash, Barrett Brown is facing 105 years in a prison, Snowden needs to hide from the authorities...as some of those (death of Michael Hastings) might be just unlucky coincidences, the list goes on. As much as we had made tremendous progress in every single area of life and science, I'm a bit concerned that the name "Dark Ages" is more relevant to present times than it is to the Middle Ages.
"The contents of the Stratfor leak were even more outrageous than those of the HBGary hack. They included discussion of opportunities for renditions and assassinations. For example, in one video, Statfor’s vice president of intelligence, Fred Burton, suggested taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to render Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who had been released from prison on compassionate grounds due to his terminal illness. Burton said that the case “was personal.” When someone pointed out in an e-mail that such a move would almost certainly be illegal—“This man has already been tried, found guilty, sentenced…and served time”—another Stratfor employee responded that this was just an argument for a more efficient solution: “One more reason to just bugzap him with a hellfire. :-)”"
How can you talk about this with friends and acquaintances convincingly?
It's happening all over the country. For example: the guy who faces 13 years in prison for drawing in chalk outside a Bank of America branch: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jun/26/activist-prosecut...
This is simply 13 separate counts of graffiti, which has a 1 year maximum, and they are supposed to list the incidents separately (or something like that) when they charge him. He won't serve 13 years.
2. Paint-based (and hence, more permanent) graffiti is a real problem in big cities. But till date I have not heard of a single case where the vandal was threatened with 13 years of jail. It would be interesting to see the track record of this city attorney, and how often s/he has prosecuted _real_ vandals.
By the way, does anyone know if ProjectPM is still alive in any form? echelon2.org and project-pm.org are both gone...
What could he have possibly been thinking? He had a good, defensible position. Everyone would have rallied around him. And then he said that.
"And if it’s legal when it’s done to me, it’s going to be legal when it’s done to FBI Agent Robert Smith—who is a criminal."
This is his mistake. There is no Rule of Law in the US anymore. It's one rule for them... and another rule for everyone else.
[edit: added rule of law comment]
"Noble cause corruption is a police crime in which police officers violate legal or ethical standards in pursuit of what they perceive to be the benefit of society at large."
The police/prosecutor/authority figure believes that their immoral behavior is acceptable because they are the "good guy". The disturbing thing (as you point out) is that regular people who read a story like this also become corrupted. "The accused did one bad thing, therefore all the bad things the police did don't count."
The head of the NSA can lie to Congress with impunity and nothing happens to him. Let any of us try that and see what happens.
"Oh I'm so sorry my son ran your daughter over, Ms. Sally, but he started having an epic comedown while driving his car!"
People always look for reasons to excuse themselves (or in this case, others). Drug withdrawal explains Brown's actions, but they are still his alone to be responsible for and no one else's.
Brown vows to subject Agent Smith and his family to the public opprobrium that he feels is due to LEOs who file fraudulent charges, frame innocent people, suborn perjury, and endanger the public, as Brown describes. The parallel he draws is that the same techniques he alleges have been used to destroy his reputation, will be used to destroy Smith's reputation. He also promises to defend himself from unlawful assault with deadly force.
I think Brown is a bit optimistic about the public opprobrium. People just don't care enough, and besides the people ain't running the show. At one point he seemed to expect to get some incriminating evidence about FBI malfeasance off his laptop once he got the laptop back from the FBI. That seems... naive. I don't think the system works that way. Of course, I also don't see the harm in the crazed ramblings of a drug addict on his back porch. While you're sure that such awful speech is the equivalent of vehicular homicide.
That still doesn't make sense.
By the way "the children" are a bit older than you may think.
I don't fear for the privacy of my data; I do feel very anxious about the world that my children will inhabit as adults.
EDIT: I'm not making out this a US-only problem.
Blogs, online websites etc are in the same position right now.
Who runs thenation? How can I trust what sounds like a well researched piece?
Are there really a wealth of funded private armies running around Americas underbelly interfering with its political process as USA was 1950s South America? Boy have those chickens come home to roost
Although it is true that what we know about Barrett Brown is bad enough that we don't need to go looking further than that. In Rumsfeld's terms: the unknown unknowns really don't need to become known at this point, because the known knowns are bad enough.
Many people jump red lights, and at speed, and in suburbs.
Losing control after hitting a pothole could easily happen if the driver is intoxicated. I'm not saying this driver was intoxicated. I'd be interested to see the numbers of cars that crash because the driver is drunk or on drugs vs because the car is broken.
And, I don't think we need to get all extreme (-ly gullible or naive) and start accusing the feds, on thin circumstantial evidence, of violently murdering American journalists in the middle of Los Angeles.
Because what we already know they are doing -- be it engaging in conspiracies with these weird and shadowy 'defense' contractor corporations to perpetrate mass-scale 'disinformation' campaigns, or setting up secret courts to rubber-stamp their secret requests for secret police to secretly surveil all citizens based on secret interpretations of the law -- is plenty egregious, outrageous, and fundamentally dangerous enough.
I have an annoying tendency to occasionally lose track of time and not get anywhere near enough sleep for a couple nights in a row. According to the internet, driving like this is actually more dangerous than being legally drunk.
When an individual meaningfully opposes the state, they become a target of extra legal harassment, which includes attacks from outside the legal system, as well as within it. This includes things such as police raids of your home, intimidation of friends/family, trumped up charges designed to bring you into financial ruin, hit pieces in the media, and much more.
For example, $20,000 that was raised for Brown's legal defense from supporters was confiscated by the courts.
The entire purpose of extra legal harassment is to get a person to give up, and correspondingly, the best way to fight back is to continue doing activism, and to survive.
In this case, Brown made a major mistake by threatening an FBI agent in a you tube video. Perhaps if he had been less naive about the inevitable repercussions of his activism, he would have been better prepared for the campaign against him and would have known that his primary goal should be to survive and be able to continue his work, and that the worst mistake he could make is to give the authorities an excuse to lock him up.
In other words, it is being used to pay for his legal defense.
Another problem is the insane US prison system with an exploding reoffender rate. Even National Geographic is considered contraband.
Prison racial segregation also doesnt need to happen, and is mainly a weird American thing. I know this because if anybody has done time at D Ray fed prison where they keep incarcerated foreigners the first thing you notice is there is no racial problems because there arent any American inmates.
* 20 years for charges stemming from going off the deep end and making threats directed at an FBI Special Agent.
* 20 years for hiding two laptops and deleting evidence after being served a warrant.
As mentioned in the article, his mother pled guilty to helping him hide the laptops.
* 15 years for copying and pasting a hyperlink to a document that contained credit card info for at least 5,000 people, and 30 years for possession of stolen credit card numbers and CVVs.
I only see 85 years, I'm curious how the author obtained the number of 105 years.
> Considering that the person who carried out the actual Stratfor hack had several priors and is facing a maximum of ten years, the inescapable conclusion is that the problem is not with the hack itself but with Brown’s journalism.
He was facing 30 to life in prison , and had that reduced to 10 years after pleading guilty. Barret Brown has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
> The Stratfor data included a number of unencrypted credit card numbers and validation codes. On this basis, the DOJ accused Brown of credit card fraud for having shared that link with the editorial board of ProjectPM.
"Editorial board" here is referring to a public IRC channel. Elsewhere it is stated that it is a private IRC channel, but it appears to be posted publicly on a Pastebin dated May 2011 so that seems a doubtful claim. 
I hate seeing so many obvious mistakes in a piece as biased as this, since it forces the reader to cross reference everything. It's particularly amusing given the constant interstitials asking for donations to support this journalism.
Barrett Brown wasn't attached to some independent news organization that was doing investigative pieces on Anonymous -- he was a "leader" of Anonymous itself. And he tried hard to be one of their main public faces.
I always thought of him as someone who kept his hands clean of most of the dirty work just so he could maintain his public image. While he wanted to help the cause, he didn't want to shun the spotlight and assume a pseudonym, so his hands were tied. But he still kept in close contact with many of Anonymous's other less-than-law-abiding leaders, which of course, made him quite the target.
I haven't seen anyone else except you, calling him a 'leader' of anonymous, where are you getting that info?
Is 'anonymous' the only thing you think differentiates him from being "just another journalist"?
Weird statement from him saying he wasn't informed about the leak..
"I wasn't informed of the leak or the nature of the leak," he told me at the time. "I do defend them for it and I will take responsibility for defending them. But if I had my way it would have been done differently. I have no... they don't need me, basically, so they don't ask my opinion." 
On the other hand, I found a decent comment  from someone who seems to know what they're talking about that suggests he was just an eager journalist that got pulled too far into this whole thing.
For a quick overview of much of Anonymous's history, I recommend the documentary We are Legion . It features an interview with Barrett Brown, and I think has a much better handle on the whole situation than most MSM reporting does.
Don't take everything so literally. Just because the site is full of unabashed trolling, doesn't mean you can't read between the lines and see that my point still stands.
-- Edit --
The reason you don't see any recent MSM articles referring to Barrett Brown as a "leader" of Anonymous is because they don't know what they're talking about. If you want to know the extent of his involvement you have to go to sources published by people who at least have paid attention to this whole situation for reasons besides pageviews. You need to hear from people who have been following the situation for more than just the past month.
But as expected, the closer you get to Anonymous, the more "uncredible" the sources look. Sure, ED and 4chan are rife with trolling -- everyone familiar with the subject beyond today's news article should know that.
However, that doesn't mean these sources don't have merit. They're written by people who know more about the issue than the MSM. They're written by people who (1) know what they are talking about but are (2) trying to troll people who don't know what they're talking about. But you don't have to tease out much misinformation to see that Brown has a long history with Anonymous, and is more than just a "journalist".
Guy was still fighting for what he believed in, and most certainly doesn't deserve even 1/10th of the sentence he's being threatened with.
Sounds like using that criteria is a good way of accusing independent journalists of guilt by association.
Brown may have joined the fray when certain songs came on and maybe influenced the dynamic of the activity for a little while, but it seems like he was mostly on the edge looking in. But it is absurd to call him a leader in the same way it is absurd to say someone 'leads' a mosh pit.
HBGary got pulled into the pit and some blood was splattered on Brown. That doesn't make him guilty of assault just by being able to accurately describe the activity that led to HBGary's broken nose and pointing out the blood stains to the media after the fact.
It's sad to hear what all has happened to him. The way they treated his mother is especially shameful. Really this is just a very upsetting piece in general.
See also: http://venturebeat.com/2011/12/30/stratfor-data-dump/
"It's time to dump the full 75,000 names, addresses, CCs and md5 hashed passwords to every customer that has ever paid Stratfor."
That is followed by a request for other people to make use of that credit card information.
I don't know enough to make a judgement on whether he can be expected to have known that the data dump contained credit card information.
I knew we were in trouble when the author started listing associates of people. (This is when you see a sentence constructed as so: "John went to work for Company X which uses the same lawyers as the mafia". A sure sign extra spin is trying to be added)
"...government contractors were attempting to undermine Americans’ free speech—with the apparent blessing of the DOJ..."
Slow down a freaking minute. Free speech means just that. I can lie to you, plant disinformation, do all kinds of things. I am free to speak. Yes, these groups may have been trying to subvert the credibility of those speaking, and it might have made a great committee investigation to watch on the news, but that's not the same thing as undermining free speech. Now we're getting deep into bullshit territory.
The we get to Stratfor, an organization which explicitly exists to both analyze geopolitical situations and speculate on various blue sky options. Those guys talking about the options to do some kind of crazy op isn't a scandal, it's their job.
The Endgame stuff was intriguing. Could some of this security state, zero-day-exploits and such already be available on the open market? My money says it will eventually, but right now, based on this piece, this still looks like a lot of hand-wavy speculation.
The author claims that this points to a much deeper problem. I'm not so sure. Sounds like Brown went hell-for-leather with a flame-thrower through as many defense contractors and hangers-on that he could find, and finally the system stepped on him like a bug. Not a good thing -- a very bad thing. But hardly at the level of the NSA spying story.
In short, the author overreaches with his thesis, asking the audience to give up NSA paranoia for his version of the military-industrial complex paranoia. You either understand that good people are working in bad systems, or you live in a world where there's good guys and bad guys. The author seems attracted to the latter position. Brown may be a sympathetic character. I'm not sure. Even after reading this piece. Just to be clear, I'm happy his case is getting more attention, because it definitely looks like a shitty thing that's happening to him, but I'd be happier without all the hyperbole. This piece could have used a better editor, somebody that would have challenged the author to tighten up his argument. You don't have to push this story so hard. It's bad enough as it is.
It is quite relevant that all of the players running these governmental departments, companies and quasi-governmental entities (In-Q-tel) all know each other well and seem to be doing each other favors.
>"...government contractors were attempting to undermine Americans’ free speech—with the apparent blessing of the DOJ..."
Slow down a freaking minute. Free speech means just that. I can lie to you, plant disinformation, do all kinds of things. I am free to speak.
Sure, you are free to speak as a private citizen but the government should not be allowed to quell citizen's political speech through their own governmental mechanisms (including intimidation) or through private agents under their employ. That is the heart of the right to free speech. They should also not quell legitimate journalism through these mechanisms as that tramples all of the right to free press.
>Those guys talking about the options to do some kind of crazy op isn't a scandal, it's their job.
Fair enough. But it is troubling that these guys are paid to know what is feasible from an operational standpoint and they are suggesting illegal assassinations. Therefore, they must have reason to believe that illegal assassinations are feasible. That is disturbing.
>In short, the author overreaches with his thesis, asking the audience to give up NSA paranoia for his version of the military-industrial complex paranoia.
I think it is valid to say that the government has been shown to be willing to engage in unsavory activity and, by the way, here is some more.
>You either understand that good people are working in bad systems, or you live in a world where there's good guys and bad guys.
But somebody sets up the system. Systems do not form in a vacuum. And, if the system becomes corrupted over time, it is our duty as citizens in a democracy to suss that out and eliminate it. Beyond that, it is our duty to figure out what allowed the corruption in the first place and at least try to make sure it cannot happen again.
Bad systems can turn good people into bad people and they'll still believe themselves to be "good".
The good-people-in-bad-systems thing reminds me of the HBGary story generally. I don't know that I would describe Aaron Barr as a "good" guy at all--I certainly would not wish to ever associate with him--but his motivations throughout seemed pretty banal. Ambition, desire to take down the "bad hackers" in a showy way, desire to defend institutions he sees as basically okay.
Furthermore it does not always have to be the case that good people are working in rotten systems. Some people are genuinely terrible. And even in the case of basically good people who actions are warped by a rotten system - I think any basic idea of moral responsibility prevents us from excusing them for that. And at a certain level I'm not sure what the usefulness is in continuing to call them "good people." It instills empathy and prevents us from constructing cartoon-images of these people in our heads, but it can cross over into becoming an exercise in glossing over worthwhile anxiety . . . "Things aren't really -that- bad, it's just a case of good people stuck in a rotten system . . . "
Finally, the feds coming down this hard on any journalist--it shouldn't matter that he's independent, and possibly kind of hackish--is an alarming compromise of free speech.
Stratfor: I just don't see how you can dismiss this as "just their job." This isn't even a potential op. It's the case of a private company openly toying with the idea of illegally executing some dude for personal reasons. That seems reprehensible in any context, and certainly worthy of whatever scandal it generates.
Purchase and sale of zero-day exploits is already common: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/03/23/shoppin...