Thursday, April 3, 2014

Despite plea deal, last Barrett Brown charge 'potentially implicates journalists who use hackers as sources'

4/5 UPDATE: It's been two full days since it was reported that Barrett Brown agreed to a plea deal, but the Associated Press, The New York Times and The Washington Post have completely ignored the news. The initial March 6, 2012 raid, the September 12, 2012 arrest, the gag order, and all of Brown's charges - including those that were dropped and the latest superseded ones - should concern all journalists, so it's strange and disturbing that three of the top news sources for the American public have ignored the reported plea agreement, which appears to have been reached on March 31. After I posted this update and tweeted him, NY Times columnist David Carr retweeted me, so hopefully more media outlets will report on the plea deal, and the consequences this entire case could have on all journalists and bloggers.

It's been nearly nineteen months since embedded Anonymous journalist Barrett Brown was arrested and jailed for what many supporters consider unjust reasons. Although the initial charges were for making what Brown's detractors consider threatening YouTube videos against an FBI agent, most critics ignore that his anger was largely based on what he perceived as the government's persecution for his reporting on security firms that spy on activists.

Brown was also upset at FBI Special Agent Robert Smith, because he threatened to charge Barrett's mother for allegedly helping to hide laptops in her house before agents obtained a search warrant for it.. In his third video, Barrett complained (pdf trancript), that - after that raid - "my lawyer told me he'd just talked to the Assistant District Attorney, um, spearheading this case over agent Robert Smith at the FBI, and she had said, well it looks like, uh, well looks like now, that uh, mom has a problem, is what, what he which they meant that, uh, my mom is being threatened with obstruction of justice charges."

"My mom has not been involved in any of this at all and was not, is not, did not know about the tip I received the previous day, didn't know I was over there, I come over there a lot, uh, didn't know why I brought, you know, laptops over, you know, didn't notice, didn't pay attention. I hid the laptops the next morning after the first visit from the FBI, not her. She didn't know they were hidden."
She wasn't charged until after Brown spent months in jail, and she ended up pleading guilty in November 2013, and was sentenced to six months of probation and a $1,000 fine. Brown initially faced two similar charges, but after his lawyers filed a motion arguing that he was being overcharged, the new indictment only charges him once.

In a pastebin that Brown posted a day after the March 6, 2012 raid, he complained that "the Feds...fully intended to take a certain laptop, and did." Brown's one-time colleague and friend Michael Hastings, who tragically died last August in a one-vehicle motor accident, reported in April 2012, "The warrant, exclusively obtained by BuzzFeed, suggests the government is primarily after information related to Anonymous and the hacking group Lulzec." In another pastebin that Brown posted in April 2012, Brown wrote that "the FBI is now searching through my belongings for information on HBGary, Endgame Systems, and the website that my group Project PM maintains for the purpose of disseminating info on such firms as these,"

While, at first, not many journalists sympathetically covered Brown, or just ignored his arrest, he ended up becoming a cause célèbre in 2013, after Glenn Greenwald wrote an article for The Guardian, which also helped raise money for the Free Barrett defense fund. Greenwald hailed Brown as "a serious journalist who has spent the last several years doggedly investigating the shadowy and highly secretive underworld of private intelligence and defense contractors, who work hand-in-hand with the agencies of the Surveillance and National Security State in all sorts of ways that remain completely unknown to the public. It is virtually impossible to conclude that the obscenely excessive prosecution he now faces is unrelated to that journalism and his related activism."

In February 2013, Christian Stork reported for Russ Baker's WhoWhatWhy, "The Barrett Brown case is simply the latest in a string of prosecutions in which the government pursues anyone involved in making information “liberated” from governmental or corporate entities easily accessible to the public. Those targeted are not necessarily accused of the illegal entry itself (the “hack”) or violating contracts (as in the case of a “leak”). These are people performing a function analogous to that of a newspaper—yet they can face prison sentences longer than those prescribed for murderers, rapists, and terrorists."

"The Obama administration’s assault on accountability is dual-pronged: attack the messenger (as in the case of Brown, WikiLeaks, even New York Times reporters) and attack the source (Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, etc.). In fact, seven of those sources have been indicted as traitors under the 1917 Espionage Act during the Obama years alone—more than double the “espionage” charges against whistleblowers by all previous presidential administrations combined.
Finally, The New York Times covered the Barrett Brown case. As I reported last November, "New York Times reporters often used Brown as a source for Anonymous, but - except for a few republished wire reports and an April 14, 2013 op-ed by Northwestern University philosophy professor Peter J. Ludlow - the so-called 'paper of record' pretty much ignored Brown's September of 2012 arrest for nearly a full year." Last August I also chided the NY Times, because he hadn't been mentioned by any of their reporters in a story since his March 2012 raid was mysteriously scrubbed from an article. In his second video regarding FBI Agent Robert Smith (pdf transcript), Barrett said that he called a New York Times reporter he had dealt with before and "they printed right then that I'd been raided and that I'd told before that I'd hid my laptops, and they took – they deleted that part for some reason, uh, later on that day. I don't know why, they never explained it to me, they didn't also explain why they were deleting stuff."

Media reporter David Carr wrote in his September 9, 2013 New York Times column that "much of what has Mr. Brown staring at a century behind bars seems on the right side of the law, beginning with the First Amendment of the Constitution." But other Times journalists continued to ignore Brown's case, perhaps because he leaked some of their emails in #OpNYT, not long before his arrest.

Carr noted, "Journalists from other news organizations link to stolen information frequently. Just last week, The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica collaborated on a significant article about the National Security Agency’s effort to defeat encryption technologies. The article was based on, and linked to, documents that were stolen by Edward J. Snowden, a private contractor working for the government who this summer leaked millions of pages of documents to the reporter Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian along with Barton Gellman of The Washington Post."

"By trying to criminalize linking, the federal authorities in the Northern District of Texas — Mr. Brown lives in Dallas — are suggesting that to share information online is the same as possessing it or even stealing it. In the news release announcing the indictment, the United States attorney’s office explained, “By transferring and posting the hyperlink, Brown caused the data to be made available to other persons online, without the knowledge and authorization of Stratfor and the card holders.”"
Then, a month ago, prosecutors dropped the charges against Brown, which concerned most journalists. Reporting for The Guardian, Ed Pilkington wrote, "Federal prosecutors had come under widespread criticism for seeking to prosecute Brown for the republishing of a hyperlink. Lawyers, publishers and internet freedom campaigners had warned it could set a precedent that would have put a chill on the culture of linking across the web."

The US government’s decision to drop counts one and three to 12 in the indictment relating to the Stratfor hack came just a day after lawyers for Brown filed a legal memorandum calling for those counts to be dropped. Brown’s attorneys argued in the memo that the prosecution was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech, saying that “republishing a hyperlink does not itself move, convey, select, place or otherwise transfer, a file or document from one location to another”.

Federal prosecutors have given no further information about why they decided to drop the counts, and a request for comment was not immediately returned. One possible explanation is that government lawyers assessed the steep hill they had to climb overcoming First Amendment protections and decided instead to focus on the other charges still facing Brown.
However, as Free Barrett's Kevin Gallagher wrote on March 6th, "With the linking charges dropped, there are still important free press issues on the table. We cannot declare mission accomplished."

"Barrett Brown still faces up to 40 years for asserting reporter’s privilege—attempting to protect his journalistic sources by placing his laptops in a kitchen cabinet," Gallagher wrote. "In the midst of writing a book about Anonymous and reporting on private intelligence firms, Brown made a decision to make it slightly harder for government agents to obtain his sources, which he had a duty to protect."

Gallagher continued, "The fact that the search warrant being executed sought records on ‘HBGary’ and ‘Endgame Systems’, two companies he’d written and reported about, in addition to the Project PM wiki, makes clear that this FBI probe was all about his investigative journalism, and his sources, from the very beginning. This cannot be in doubt. An established journalist, Brown himself never participated in the criminal hacking activities of Anonymous—he was only involved in research using the information that was leaked."

"In conclusion, these remaining charges are still of great consequence for journalists and for press freedom," Gallagher added. "It amounts to the question of whether intrepid reporters should be unfairly targeted for exposing the ties between government intelligence agencies and their private-sector counterparts."

Yesterday, as Dell Cameron reported for The Daily Dot, "Federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment on Monday seeking to modify the criminal charges against Barrett Brown, an American journalist who was arrested on Sept. 12, 2012, after allegedly threatening the "life" of an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Adjusting the charges in such a way indicates that federal prosecutors may be negotiating a deal with Brown’s attorneys."

The U.S. government claims that Brown knowingly hindered the apprehension of a hacker identified by the motion only as “o”—a nickname [Jeremy] Hammond used when interacting with Brown during online chats. Additionally, the motion claims that Brown assisted Hammond specifically by creating “confusion regarding the identity of the hacker.” Brown also communicated with representatives of Stratfor, the government said, "in a manner that diverted attention" away from Hammond.
The indictment waiver stated, "After being advised of the nature of the charges and of his rights, Brown hereby waives in open court prosecution by indictment and consents to proceeding by information instead of by indictment." It notes that Brown "fully discussed with his attorney the right to have this case presented to a Federal Grand Jury and the consequences of waiving this right. After discussing the same with his attorney, Brown voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waives the right to have this case presented to a Federal Grand Jury."

The superseding indictment claim that "Barrett Lancaster Brown did...create confusion regarding...the purpose of the hack" may be partially based on a pastebin he wrote on December 26, 2011, that stated, "In the wake of the recent operation by which Stratfor's servers were compromised, much of the media has focused on the fact that some participants in the attack chose to use obtained customer credit card numbers to make donations to charitable causes. Although this aspect of the operation is indeed newsworthy, and, like all things, should be scrutinized and criticized as necessary, the original purpose and ultimate consequence of the operation has been largely ignored."

"Stratfor was not breached in order to obtain customer credit card numbers, which the hackers in question could not have expected to be as easily obtainable as they were. Rather, the operation was pursued in order to obtain the 2.7 million e-mails that exist on the firm's servers. This wealth of data includes correspondence with untold thousands of contacts who have spoken to Stratfor's employees off the record over more than a decade. Many of those contacts work for major corporations within the intelligence and military contracting sectors, government agencies, and other institutions for which Anonymous and associated parties have developed an interest since February of 2011, when another hack against the intelligence contractor/security firm HBGary revealed, among many other things, a widespread conspiracy by the Justice Department, Bank of America, and other parties to attack and discredit Wikileaks and other activist groups. Since that time, many of us in the movement have dedicated our lives to investigating this state-corporate alliance against the free information movement."
Although may critics - and trolls - that rail against Barrett Brown refuse to acknowledge that he's a journalist, he has a lengthier resume than most, and back in 2010 I actually first became aware of him when he sought a job with RAW STORY, the political website I used to work for as Executive Editor. The superseding indictment claiming that Brown did "conceal the involvement and identity" and "create confusion regarding the identity of the hacker" 'o' - aka Jeremy Hammond who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last November - should especially concern all journalists who depend on sources to do their reporting, and who are supposed to be protected by the 1st Amendment under the "Freedom of the Press" clause. Many would be out-of-work if they were expected to essentially "rat out" sources and whistle blowers, since no one would confide in them anymore.

At D Magazine, Tim Rogers reported that Gallagher "guesses that this new indictment is good news," because he told him, "The new documents suggest that this was negotiated by both parties and that there is a plea agreement imminent. If so, it could mean Barrett could get out soon with time served."

However, tweets by Gallagher at the @FreeBarrett_ twitter account, suggested that Kevin was still concerned that the superseding indictment could have a chilling effect on journalists who report on Anonymous or use hackers as sources.

"'Accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access' is a new #CFAA charge which could have consequences for journalists reporting on hacks," @FreeBarrett_ tweeted, and, "If you report on hackers or use them as sources, maybe you could get charged w/ 'accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access...' too."

Kevin Gallagher told me, "The government has substituted an access device fraud charge for a new charge of being an 'accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access to a protected computer' which is surprising and troubling, especially as this new construction may potentially implicate journalists who report on leaks and hacks, and use hackers as sources, in the future. We don't know what the evidence is for this particular allegation but I'm sure we'll find out."

"The superseding indictment suggests that the parties may be negotiating something and we have yet to find out the exact form it will take," Gallagher added.

After I suggested Brown might be facing at least a year alone on the new charge - "Accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access to a protected computer" (pdf link) - and prosecutors might still want at least a two year sentence for probably the toughest charge he faced - retaliation against an FBI agent - Gallagher told me, "Any plea deal would necessarily involve some risk that Brown will receive more than time served at sentencing, but on the balance of everything we still remain hopeful that he will get out this year. The charges remaining against him cannot be worth much more."

Today, just a few hours ago, news broke that Barrett Brown had reportedly reached a plea bargain with prosecutors. The Free Barrett_ tumblr account announced, "After a year and ½ in jail awaiting trial, the writer/journalist Barrett Brown, best known for his previous association with Anonymous, through his defense team has reportedly reached an agreement with the government to plea to some counts. Full details are not available since the documents are sealed."

"The director of his legal defense fund, Kevin Gallagher, said: “The Barrett Brown who I know and call my friend has never been one to compromise with the government. But in this instance, I think he recognizes that taking this case before a jury in conservative Texas is a needless roll of the dice. In fact, I think this whole thing would have been settled long ago, if not for the fact that the government had filed excessive and meritless charges which they later dropped. I’m pleased that the parties were able to reach this agreement. Although in principle he shouldn’t have to plea to anything, this spares everyone the spectacle of a costly trial, and the bottom line is that Barrett will be coming home – as he’s already served 19 months unnecessarily. Supporters can be assured that this is in accordance with Barrett’s wishes plus expert legal advice.”"
"In motions filed with the Court, Brown’s defense made a very strong case for dismissal, which combined with negative publicity surrounding the prosecution of a non-violent writer/journalist who caused no actual harm, perhaps influenced the government to seek to settle," the Free Barrett_ tumblr statement added.

According to Wired's Kim Zetter - who, frankly, often makes errors in her reporting, "Brown is scheduled to be re-arraigned, on the charges on the superceding [sic] document, on April 29 in Texas."

"Brown is also facing charges related to threats he allegedly made against an FBI agent," Zetter added. "It’s unclear if the plea agreement will cover that indictment as well. If it does, and the two cases are combined, Brown’s maximum statutory sentence would likely be five years."

At The Guardian, Karen McVeigh reports, "A gag order on Brown's case prevents both sides from providing details, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in the Northern District of Texas", and that "neither Brown's lawyer, Ahmed Ghappour, nor prosecutors would provide details on the developments."

Thursday night, Ars Technica posted Judge Sam A. Lindsay's order regarding the "Government’s Agreed Motion to Seal the Plea Agreement and the Factual Resume, filed March 31, 2014."

"After careful consideration, the court grants the motion, with the stipulation that on or before the date of rearraignment hearing that the government will file an agreed motion to lift the court's September 4, 2013 Agreed Order Re: Extrajudicial Statements, and thereafter request that documents filed under seal pursuant to such order be unsealed," Lindsay's order, signed April 2, 2013 continued. "The Plea Agreement and the Factual Resume shall be filed under seal".

Judge Lindsay's order reveals that Barrett Brown's indictment waiver, the superseding indictment, the "Government’s Agreed Motion to Seal the Plea Agreement and the Factual Resume" were all filed on the same day, March 31, 2014.

FreeBarrett_ tweeted that "it applies to both cases", and that "the gag order in Brown's case could be lifted, and documents unsealed, around April 29th."

Back in March 2011, Michael Isikoff (pictured above with Barrett Brown) reported for NBC News, "Brown told us he is not personally involved in any computer hacking but he fully expects federal prosecutors will come after him." And he was right.

And Kevin Gallagher could also be right that the last Barrett Brown charge "may potentially implicate journalists who report on leaks and hacks, and use hackers as sources, in the future."

(Editor's Note: I helped provide some research for the Free Barrett website, but I've continued to report objectively and sometimes critically on Brown and his defense. And I will either update this article or write a new one regarding why the superseding indictment accused Brown of "communicat[ing] with representatives of Stratfor in a manner that diverted attention away from the hacker 'o'.")

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

EaglesPAC treasurer Dan Backer uses mysterious 'Victory Online' contribution to enrich his own law firm

"A split Supreme Court Wednesday struck down limits on the total amount of money an individual may spend on political candidates as a violation of free speech rights, a decision sure to increase the role of money in political campaigns," Robert Barnes and Matea Gold reported for the Washington Post earlier today. "The case at the court was brought by a wealthy Alabama political donor named Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee."

At Slate, Dave Weigel reports, "Three years ago Dan Backer had met the wealthy Alabaman at CPAC. He convinced him to challenge the court's donation limits. He'd been proved right about their chances."

"Who's [sic] client just won at the Supreme Court?" wrote Dan Backer on Facebook. "THIS GUY! SCOTUS rules in favor of McCutcheon!"
On August 30, 2012, I emailed a trio of Paris-based filmmakers to ask why an American political action committee called EaglesPAC was using their film 'The Gloaming' to raise money. I included a link to the PAC's website and its details page at the Federal Election Commission's website.

"The Gloaming" is a short animated French film written by Nicolas Pasquet and directed by three filmmakers who use the moniker NoBrain, that was released by Sabotage Studio in 2011. On June 28, 2012, "The Gloaming" was chosen as "short of the week" by a website which "seek[s] to discover and promote the greatest and most innovative storytellers from around the world."

It was screened at Italy's Euganea Film Festival for international short films and documentaries in 2011, and Nobrain also directed a music video for the song "All Downhill from Here" by New Found Glory, and according to a Wikipedia article, "When the music video for this song aired on MTV's TRL (Total Request Live), fans voted it on the show 50 days in a row."

A screenshot I took that week of shows that underneath "The Gloaming" short, the website was asking for contributions to "The New Establishment," and that "$500 gets you our plan, $1,000 gets you our plan and a call from our Executive Director $5,000+ gets you on the strategy board etc."

"Please make your most generous contribution today," the EaglesPAC website pleaded, at the time. "Your donation will be spent immediately on the literature and advertising we need to win. Thank you so much!"

"We were not aware about that," Nobrain wrote back hours later. "And we gonna stop this immediately, thx for blowing the whistle."

I wrote back, "The lawyer behind that PAC seems to be the only name attached to it. And he is the Treasurer for many PACs, including one for Ron Paul and others for conservatives and tea party groups." I included a link to a March 14, 2012 Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group article written by Keenan Steiner called "Crusading lawyer takes aim at contribution limits," about Dan Backer, the Principal Attorney at DB Capitol Strategies," who has been pushing the FEC to "ease a host of campaign finance rules." Steiner's article focused on "Backer's latest target: the ceiling on how much money a person can give candidates for federal office in one election cycle, which currently stands at $46,200."

"My god, if someone ever told me my film will be used by those kind of mofos (excuse my french) one day, i never believed it," niko nobrain wrote back.

I also told nobrain,
"The website was registered on July 2, 2012...but I'm not sure how long your film has been on that website or if they collected any money...and what exactly it's going to. The lawyer [Dan Backer] is a proponent of PACs giving unlimited funds to candidates [Cutting Edge News].

The PAC was registered with FEC on July 9 [link pdf link].
According to the October Quarterly (pdf link) filed by EaglesPAC treasurer Dan Backer on October 12, 2012, a group called "Victory Online" made a "Carey contribution" of $1,000 to the PAC, the day before I sent that email on August 29, 2012.

On September 6, 2012, I published a story called "'Crusading' legal eagle filches French film to raise cash for sketchy PAC," after I was informed that Nobrain had spoken to a lawyer and was contacting Backer "to ask them to stop this nonsense."

"Beyond the fact that the political ideas you are supporting scares me to death, i think it's very rude of you to use our work for this kind of purposes without any authorization from us," the director of 'The Gloaming' complained in a September 7, 2012 email to Backer, which was cc'd to an Intellectual Property Rights barrister at a London law firm. "The film is online to be watched as a film and not as a propaganda weapon to raise money."

The email to Backer continued, "For the respect of all the people who worked on this project, for us and artistic rights in general, i'm asking you to immediately remove the film from your website. If tomorrow the film is still on your web page i will use other ways to convince you."

Backer's response was brief and to the point: "Thank you for your email. I have communicated with my client and he has removed the content."

The EaglesPAC treasurer didn't mention the client's name, but the website at was scrubbed that same day, and replaced with an "under construction" message that hasn't changed nineteen months later.

"And the mofos finally turned the web site off...," Niko nobrain wrote in a September 28, 2012 comment left on my article. "I'm still amazed how those people can be stupid enough to not understand what this film is really about."

I'm uncertain if niko nobrain's winning barrister earned a dime (or six pence or so), but the losing side's lawyers got paid. And, in this case, the EaglesPAC treasurer has his own law firm, DB Capitol Strategies PLLC, which scarfed up ninety-five percent of the PAC's treasury. According to the same October Quarterly (pdf link), Backer's firm collected $950 in "legal fees" from the mysterious PAC on September 7, 2012.

According to the Statement of Organization filed with the Federal Election Commission on July 9, 2012 and signed by Treasurer Dan Backer, the EaglesPAC "supports/opposes more than one Federal candidate, and is NOT a separate segregated fund or party committee." Backer claimed "NONE" on the portion of the FEC filing that asks for names of "any connected organization, affiliated committee, joint fundraising representative, or leadership PAC sponsor."

The only information for "Victory Online" that I've been able to obtain is the address found on the EaglesPAC FEC filing: 2029 Century Park East Suite 1400, Los Angeles, California 90067. Many lawfirms and businesses are located at that suite, so it's difficult to figure out which one is tied to "Victory Online". There is an online marketing company called "Victory Online" - which has worked on Tea Party campaigns - located in Los Angeles, but the name is generic and the address is different, so I'm unsure if they are related.

Backer filed to terminate EaglesPAC - which never contributed any money to any candidates or campaigns - on January 10, 2014. The PAC only spent a few hundred dollars on expenses, aside from the payment to Backer, and he is the only name tied to it on all its FEC filings, except for the mysterious "Victory Online" firm.

On January 23, 2014, FEC Senior Campaign Finance Analyst Nicole Miller from the Reports Analysis Division informed Dan Backer, "Your committee's filing has been accepted as a valid termination and "is no longer required to file reports on a periodic basis...However Commission's Regulations require that you maintain your records and copies of reports for inspection for at least three (3) years. In addition, you may be required to respond to Commission requests for information regarding your committee's federal election activity and previously filed reports."

The $1,000 2012 payment to EaglesPAC was marked as a "Carey contribution," which refers to the Retired Rear Admiral Carey v. FEC case, involving the National Defense PAC. Dan Backer also happens to represent the National Defense PAC, as FEC Compliance Counsel and Assistant Treasurer.

"That organization, the National Defense PAC (ND PAC), supported candidates who had served in the Armed Forces," Sean J. Miller reported for Campaigns and Elections on January 4, 2012. "Its support came primarily through direct contributions to candidates, which were limited by law. But taking advantage of the case and other precedents, ND PAC also wanted to accept unlimited contributions to spend on its own advertisements."

"A federal court ultimately issued a stinging injunction against the FEC. While Carey could set up another PAC to make independent expenditures (IEs), that would double his group’s record-keeping and registration burdens – not to mention dilute ND PAC’s name recognition. Carey and his team preferred to handle both direct contributions and IEs within ND PAC, using segregated bank accounts for the two pools of funds. The U.S. District Court for D.C. agreed, and the FEC entered into a settlement conceding the unconstitutionality of regulations forbidding ND PAC’s arrangement.

But that arrangement only applied to so-called non-connected PACs – those without a parent organization. Backer’s clients are asking for approval to apply the Carey ruling to connected PACs. 'Everyone wants to comply with the law,' said Backer, an attorney with DB Capitol Strategies. 'We just want to make sure what the law is.'

'We should make it easy to speak in politics and unclear rules don’t help,' he added. 'Nobody wants to go to jail over this stuff.'
Kelly S. Eustis, "President and Chief Executive Officer of Eusatrix Corporation, a strategic public relations and political consulting firm specializing in campaigns and issue advocacy, public affairs, and online strategy," (according to his website's bio), also was part of the Carey v. FEC lawsuit. Eustis is also the "founder of One Nation PAC, which raises money for conservative, tea party-affiliated causes," The WatertownDaily Times reported in a June 13, 2011 article. Backer is treasurer and counsel for One Nation PAC, as well.

Included in the "ongoing harm to plaintiffs" section of Carey v. FEC (pdf link) were the following arguments, in a complaint filed on January 31, 2011:

"As soon as possible, and certainly before the 2012 primary and general elections, National Defense PAC would like to make independent expenditures from its general fund, in various amounts, expressly advocating for or against clearly identified candidates of its choice. A specific example of this is included as EXHIBIT F, which includes a proposed advertisement for Newsmax – a popular Internet destination – expressly advocating against the retention of Anthony Weiner in New York’s Ninth Congressional District. This advertisement, with a guaranteed 50,000 views per week, would cost $6,300.00 to run in the months leading up to the November 2012 elections. The advertisements in question would include a picture of Anthony Weiner along with the call to 'defeat Anthony Weiner' – asking users to click on the advertisement to learn more.

A specific example of this is included as EXHIBIT G, a letter of intent from Kelly S. Eustis, who wishes to donate $6,300.00 to help fund independent expenditure communication campaigns against Anthony Weiner but cannot due to the current operation and interpretation of the law by the FEC.

As soon as possible, and certainly before the 2012 primary and general elections, Kelly S. Eustis would like to make a $6,300.00 contribution to National Defense PAC to help fund independent expenditure communications against Anthony Weiner in the Ninth Congressional District of New York. But for operation and interpretation of 2 U.S.C. §§ 441a(a)(1)(C) and 441a(a)(3), Kelly S. Eustis would make this contribution.
The letter from Eustis, dated January 25, 2011 and addressed to Rear Admiral James J. Carey [Ret.], stated, "Please accept this letter as a firm statement of my intent to support the Independent Expenditure advocacy of the National Defense PAC. I share your views as to the importance of defeating Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York in the next election, and want to join you in advocating for his defeat."

"I am only willing to contribute if my contribution will be able to have an actual impact, and if it is legal to do so under federal election law," the Eustis letter continued. "As such, I will contribute $6300, which is the cost you have shared with me to mount an online campaign in opposition to Congressman Weiner. Further, I await clarification from your counsel that my contribution exclusively to your independent expenditure activities is lawful, as determined by either the Federal Election Commission or the courts."

Exhibit F showed the "proposed online banner advertisement and script of 'click through page' in opposition to Congressman Anthony Weiner."

On March 8, 2013, FEC Senior Campaign Finance Analyst Nicole Miller informed Dan Backer, "A review of your reports discloses apparent activity for your committee's Non-Contribution Account. If a committee establishes a separate Non-Contribution Account, consistent with the judgment made in Carey v. FEC, it should notify the Commission by letter filed with their Statement of Organization. If your committee has established separate Non-Contribution Account, please amend your Statement of Organization to include a notification letter clarifying this."

Miller's email to Backer requested a response by April 12, 2013, and she wrote that if he had any additional questions he could contact her "on our toll free number (800)424-9530 (at the prompt press 5 to reach the Reports Analysis Division) or my local number (202) 694-1164)."

On April 8, 2013, Backer filed an Amended Statement of Organization, which noted, "Consistent with the stipulated judgment in Carey v. FEC, this committee has established a separate bank account (a Carey Account) to deposit and withdraw funds raised in unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations, labor organizations, and/or other political committees (Carey Contributions). The Carey Contributions maintained in this Carey account will not be used to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications, or coordinated expenditures, to federal candidates or committees."

The Access National Bank - located at 14006 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy Chantilly, Virginia 20151 - was named by Backer as the bank for the committee's separate account.

Backer's 4/8/13 Amended Statement of Organization claimed that the committee's web address was, rather than, as did the original Statement of Organization filed on July 3, 2012.

Another Amended Statement of Organization filed by Backer - which changed the EaglesPAC address from his P.O. Box 75021 in Washington DC to the DB Capitol Strategies King Street address in Alexandria, Virginia - also claimed that was the committee's website.

According to Who Is, was created - through Domains By Proxy - on July 2, 2012, updated on June 27, 2013 and will expire on July 2, 2014, and lists and as similar domains but shows no activity for either listing, and there doesn't seem to be any indication that EaglesPAC owned any other website but Who Is shows no history for, and it remains available for purchase.

[Editor's Note: Dave Weigel omits the fact that he's friendly with many colleagues of Dan Backer and Shaun McCutcheon - such as filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr. - who he has hyped in many stories. Ehlinger has not only been hired by PACs controlled by Backer to create viral campaign ads - including one that McCutcheon's website brags he " encourage voters to support Republican Bob Turner in the special election to replace Anthony Weiner after his scandal" - he has also been a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the FEC (Stop This Insanity pdf, Docket showing Backer representing Ehlinger). Weigel has also hung out at CPAC parties sponsored by Backer and McCutcheon, but the Slate reporter is not big on transparency when it comes to himself. In 2012, Weigel and Slate leaked - and cherry-picked - Direct Messages I sent him regarding convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin, who I was falsely accused of working with in a conspiracy theory lawsuit argued by Dan Backer, that was tossed out of court, and Ehlinger also leaked emails to slander me at his blog.]