Monday, March 12, 2012

NY Times deletes Barrett Brown claim he was tipped before FBI raid

I've seen blogs do stuff like this before. But never The New York Times.

Twenty minutes after Barrett Brown tweeted a link to a New York Times article quoting him last Tuesday, March 6, I asked the by-lined reporter a question, which she ignored.

[UPDATE at bottom: Reporter who has been Barrett Brown's "go-to" reporter at The New York Times provides canned response for deletion.]

Barrett Brown - who is often referred to as an "unofficial spokesperson" for Anonymous, although many dispute the designation - sent the tweet "My statement to Times on this totally gay situation link #Anonymous #Antisec #ProjectPM" because, at the time, the article by Somini Sengupta contained that statement.

It doesn't anymore, and the corrections don't exactly explain why.

Brown's politically incorrect - unless you're on 4chan - citing of a "totally gay situation" referred to how "Arrests Sow Mistrust Inside a Clan of Hackers," as the NY Times reported, "Hector Xavier Monsegur, who operated under the Twitter handle The Real Sabu, was charged with 12 criminal counts of hacking into unauthorized computers, the Justice Department said, adding that he had been cooperating with law enforcement officials for several months."

This is what The New York Times originally reported on March 6, but removed later for unknown reasons, taken from this cache link:

Barrett Brown, a member of Anonymous who has often served as a spokesman for the group, said that his home in Dallas had been raided and that the F.B.I. had sent three agents to his mother’s house, where he was staying last night.

"I received an advance warning of the raid and put all my laptops in very specific places where they couldn’t be found," Mr. Brown said. He said the agents left without making an arrest.

Mr. Brown said the arrests elsewhere would not slow down the Anonymous movement. "There are lots and lots of people here that continue to work. The F.B.I. did not really cut the head off of anything. Anonymous will go forward as usual. So will I. We hired an army of lawyers last January. We are prepared for a big slug-out."
In response to Barrett's tweet and the linked Times story, I tweeted, "@BarrettBrownLOL Who gave you "advance warning of the raid"? Do you have an inside FBI source? How come @SominiSengupta didn't ask you that?"

The Times article originally was much shorter, and only mentioned that "Nicole Perlroth contributed reporting," while at double the length but without any mention of Brown it now states, "Reporting was contributed by Nicole Perlroth, Steven Yaccino, Alex Vadukul and Tim Stelloh."

A few hours later, I also tweeted, "@SominiSengupta @NicolePerlroth Did you ask @BarrettBrownLOL who warned him of FBI raid so he could hide his laptops?" That tweet was also ignored by Brown, Sengupta and Perlroth.

The following day, Brown also ignored my tweets questioning why his pastebin account of the alleged raid on his mother's house by the FBI referred to AnonymousSabu as "a degenerate pussy traitor who couldn't face two fucking years in prison, making him the biggest pussy in the history of mankind." Brown had written, "The documentation left with me by the FBI after the raid on my mother's home states that the evidence they were looking for pertains to 'conspiracy to obstruct justice, and the obstruction of justice, i.e. tampering with a victim, witness, or informant,'" so his attacks on the informant and/or witness don't seem very wise, if he doesn't want to be charged with any crimes.

Some twitterers have speculated that Brown also might be a confidential informant. In response to haters, Brown jokingly tweeted, "According to my new CIA handlers..." on March 10. Brown's frequent antagonist on Twitter, Tom Ryan from "Provide Security" tweeted, "you should tell why you typed up that warrant And pastebin? Because your book deal is as a paid informant. #justsayin."

Not long after my tweet, Patterico, a Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney, blogged, "Barrett Brown claimed his residence had been raided by the FBi, but told the New York Times that he had had advance word of the raid and had hidden his laptops."

At Ars Technica, Jon Brodkin noticed that the Brown quote was removed from the Times article at some unspecified time later:
Self-appointed Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown told the New York Times that he received advance warning of the FBI raid on his home in Dallas, and that he hid his laptops to avoid them being found. Brown promised that "Anonymous will go forward as usual. So will I. We hired an army of lawyers last January. We are prepared for a big slug-out." (The quote seems to have been deleted from the Times story, although a portion of the quote exists in another Times article and the full quote appears in some other accounts.)

As it currently stands, this is the only correction accompanying the article which mysteriously removed Brown's statement:
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 10, 2012

An article on Wednesday about arrests in a government crackdown on a confederation of hackers, using information from court documents, misstated the age of Jake Davis, one of those arrested. He is 19, not 29.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 8, 2012

An article on Wednesday about arrests in a government crackdown on a confederation of hackers gave an incorrect spelling from court documents for the surname of one of those arrested. He is Donncha O’Cearbhail, not O’Cearrbhail.

A version of this article appeared in print on March 7, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Arrests Sow Mistrust Inside a Clan of Hackers.

As Ars Technica's Brodkin noted, another link on the New York Times website retained a fragment of Brown's statement, which was originally part of a Page 1 story: a blog in the Bits section credited only to Nicole Perlroth called "What Do the LulzSec Arrests Mean for Anonymous?."
“There are lots and lots of people here that continue to work. The F.B.I. did not really cut the head off of anything. Anonymous will go forward as usual,” said Barrett Brown, who has claimed to speak on behalf of Anonymous in connection with past attacks, like the one on Stratfor in December. “We are prepared for a big slug-out.”

Searching for Brown's name in The New York Times search engine doesn't bring up the March 6 article the raid was reported in, either.

Why did New York Times remove all references to the alleged FBI raid of Brown's apartment, including a quote which alleged that the Anonymous spokesperson had been tipped off?

In February, The Daily Mail reported, "A confidential call between the FBI and Scotland Yard was recorded by hacking group Anonymous - the very people they were trying to catch, it was revealed today."

Mark Duell reported,
The group released a 15-minute tape of what appears to be a conference call last month about tracking and prosecuting the group’s members.

The top-secret conversation begins with a bizarre exchange between the U.S. and British agents, where they talk about cheese and eating 'McDonald's at the Pentagon'.

"The #FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now. #OpInfiltration," @AnonymousIRC tweeted, so perhaps that's how Mr. Brown received his "advanced warning" of the FBI raid.


12/27/11: BarrettBrownLOL assures NY Times reporter Nicole Perlroth that the posted denial that the Stratfor hack wasn't #Anonymous op is bogus."

12/30/11 "more stolen data to come?" Perlroth links to "Anonymous spokesman" Barrett BrownLOL's pastebin.

Before Forbes and NY Times gigs, Perlroth "worked as the Foreign Policy Intern in the Office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy."

Perlroth's past as Foreign Policy Intern in Sen. Kennedy's office is apparently irrelevant or unknown to the NY Times.

While at Princeton in December of 2003, Perlroth worked on the 2004 "Joe Lieberman for President Campaign" during a "Joe-Term".

Finally, Perlroth semi-responded to my tweets over the last two days.

Hi Ron, Thanks for the inquiry, it's the type of q we often get from readers. In this case the story that was originally posted... on the Web was updated and revised multiple times before it went to print, with some material deleted as more was added. In happens all the time, in part to freshen the story and in part because we think that changes make it better. Hope that helps!

Of course, Perlroth's answer doesn't help at all, and I don't expect her to respond to my tweets in response:

"Did you contact FBI to confirm that @BarrettBrownLOL's mom's house was raided? Did you ask him how he got advanced warning?"

"Do your @NYTimes editors know you campaigned for Lieberman, interned for Kennedy and that you are biased towards Anonymous?"

Barrett Brown told Bloomberg Business Week that he was tipped off to the raid in a short interview:

I got a piece of information last night that allegedly emanates from the FBI chain of command. There are people in there that are sympathetic. So I did get warning. They came and raided my apartment in Dallas at 6:30 a.m., and knocked down the door since I wasn’t there. They came to my mom’s place [where Brown was staying] at the same time. A small group of three Dallas FBI. Mom answered the door, she woke me up, I went outside to talk to them. They’re still there.

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