With the Obama administration's flip-flop from a campaign promise about protecting whistleblowers to prosecuting them, do you worry about government interference when you try to expose shadowy workings of government wrongdoings?
Brown: Yes. The Justice Department itself recommended Hunton & Williams to Bank of America when the latter was looking for a method by which to destroy Wikileaks lest some degree of wrongdoing be exposed. Hunton & Williams worked directly with several contractors to concoct a degenerate and potentially criminal plan for the purpose. Meanwhile, that fascist Rep. Lamar Smith has prevented any investigation into any of this, saying it is the Justice Department's role to decide if a crime has been committed. That the Justice Department facilitated the crime does not seem to concern him. This is a system that cloaks itself in the rule of law and then violates it at will, and the majority of Americans will allow it because they have no sense of duty whatsoever. In such an environment, the state and its allies may do whatever they like.
It's difficult to get an interview with government officials and even with some corporations unless they first have the "point" of the article to be written. They tend to not want to give out any information if the article disagrees with or bashes them. Is that part of the reason for Project PM's Science Journalism Improvement Program?
Brown: There are a couple of reasons for the program. One is that I'm particularly interested in the dynamics by which any individual may now theoretically collaborate with any other, as well as the fact that there is clearly a great deal of good that can thus be done now simply by giving thought to this circumstance. It is incredibly easy to assemble some journalists and some scientists and then pair them together so that the journalists can be advised on the subject matter and write a better piece and the scientist has a chance to bring attention to some important aspect of his field, and all in all there is some degree of improvement in the public understanding of scientific issues. Such things as this can be done entirely without resources or money or anything like that, and obviously there are countless other methods by which the vastly expanded potential for collaboration can be put to good use; it's just a matter of thinking them up and then putting them in motion. Most human affairs are the result of collaboration, and the potential for collaboration has absolutely exploded beyond all precedent and in a short amount of time; I want more people to think about the implications of this and to consider pursuing those implications.
How will that project work? Any idea when those connections to people with truth will be made to reporters who do want to publish the unvarnished truth?
Brown: I explain the project here. We've already recruited several dozen people and will begin matching reporters with scientists later this summer, now that I have time to get it moving.
Do you feel like the government has you under surveillance?
Brown: I don't know to what extent I'm under surveillance by the government or other parties but I have not taken any steps to prevent it except to the extent that I work with informants or people living under those dictatorships that the U.S. is in the habit of aiding with intelligence.
How do you feel about the ACLU's recent news from FOIA FBI documents that explained heavy redaction was due to the government not wanting us to know which "electronic communication service providers" help the government with dragnet surveillance programs -- because if they told us, we might sue? In yet another ACLU release, the "FBI's concern isn't just that you might sue, but that the companies might sue! Why? Because their comfortable relationship with the government's surveillance apparatus would be exposed."
Brown: Those corporations that aid the state in performing surveillance over the citizenry and which are thereafter protected by the state in exchange ought to be investigated by the citizens themselves.
Is this the type of wrongdoing that you hope to help expose to public view?
Brown: Yes, and certain companies that have been involved in similar practices are being subjected to particular scrutiny. My own preferred tactic is to call up executives, ask them about their actions, and then post the recording online along with an account of their actions in such a way as that any Google search on their names will immediately reveal them for what they have done, and will continue to do so not just throughout the individual's life, but forever after. Right now, it is a "practical" career move to sell out the public at the behest of the state; through these and other tactics, I hope to make it considerably less practical.
How does a person volunteer to help with the Africa Development Project?
Brown: For now, anyone can join our efforts by e-mailing me.
How would you summarize Project PM's goals?
Brown: Our overall goal is to develop and promote new ways by which to pursue positive ends through use of the opportunities afforded by the information age. Right now, the two main goals are to pursue Operation Metal Gear while also promoting and facilitating the creation of other entities of this sort (I use the term "pursuants").
This story, "'Face' Of Anonymous Quits: Interview With Barrett Brown" was originally published by Computerworld.