Courage our network


Barrett Brown starts work at D Magazine

Barrett Brown, fresh out of federal prison and living in a halfway house outside Dallas, has begun writing for D Magazine’s Frontburner blog, his stories for which you can find collated here.

In his first piece, Barrett struggles to get a bus ticket and complains about the office coffee. More importantly, he touches on his post-release restrictions:

[A city council agenda] had to be printed out for me because the Bureau of Prisons claims, rather implausibly, that the terms of my probation — which does not begin for another five months and which is to be administered by the Department of Justice probation department and not the Bureau of Prisons, which has jurisdiction over me until then — don’t allow me to use a computer or anything else that can connect to the internet.

In another post, Barrett previews his coverage of tomorrow’s city council meeting:

Indeed, tomorrow’s briefing would threaten to be a rather by-the-numbers affair were it not for the fact that Mayor Rawlings will be making his case for a delay on the upcoming bond issue, to the extent that it’s possible to make a case for a move that will have the negative aspect of allowing city streets to deteriorate further in the meantime while not seeming to offer any positive aspects whatsoever, at least as far as actual policy is concerned. My understanding after making some calls to involved parties is that he’ll be fielding some rather blunt questions about this from at least one city council member, as well as a few meandering and no doubt grammatically incorrect queries from several others. I’ll be covering tomorrow’s meeting and calling in reports throughout the day, most of which will be unnecessarily mean-spirited.

See a collection of Barrett’s writing, including all of his work while imprisoned, at D Magazine and The Intercept, as well as his new pieces for Frontburner, here.

VIDEO: “Relatively Free” Barrett Brown out of prison and already hard at work

Alex Winter and production company Field of Vision have released a short documentary on Barrett Brown’s release from FCI Three Rivers and the six-hour drive to his new residence, a halfway house near Dallas. The twenty-minute film called ‘Relatively Free’ features a skinnier, longer-haired Barrett discussing his time in federal prison, the fight for press freedoms to come under a Trump administration, and why his case is a “jackpot case” for reformers, should they choose to make use of it.

In a WIRED piece featuring the video, Barrett unveils his plans to build software called Pursuant, “an open-source, end-to-end-encrypted collaboration platform anyone could host on their own server” which will be “designed to serve as a platform for coordinating activists, journalists, and troublemakers of all stripes.”

Barrett has also signed a book deal for a “combination memoir and manifesto.”

In a recent interview with Shadowproof, Barrett talked about his release and the halfway house. He also explained the computer restrictions he’ll face:

“When I’m on probation six months from now, we have very clear restrictions where I can use a laptop,” he said. “I have to bring a new laptop to the DOJ’s office, and they’ll install monitoring software and that’s it. I can use the internet just like any other civilian.”

“Until then, I’m still under BOP jurisdiction, and that’s where things get interesting. I’ve yet to get a written, any kind of written declaration of what I can’t do as opposed to other ex-convicts.”

Meanwhile, Barrett still faces an obscene fine of more than $800,000. Contribute to his fund to help make his monthly payments a little easier.

Brown reports on more instances of misconduct in the prison system

In the four years I’ve spent in federal prison for my supposedly criminal efforts to look into government misconduct in cooperation with a loose array of Anonymous-affiliated hackers, I’ve had the unique experience of investigating government misconduct from within. But although I’ve spent much of this time writing about prison life in articles for The Intercept and other outlets, I’ve generally refrained from going into the specific violations of Bureau of Prisons policy and even federal law that one witnesses on a daily basis in BOP institutions. This is largely because I prefer writing about other things, but also because there’s usually no point in reporting such matters in a nation where the press will have spent some 10,000% more time this year analyzing sexist attacks on the latest Ghostbusters film than they have the actual rape and sexual exploitation to which actual women are subject in U.S. prisons – and which could be largely ended within a month if that same degree of oh-so-fun Ghostbusters internet feud energy were to be directed at forcing the prison rape issue into prominence and shaming Congress into implementing safeguards that reformers have been proposing for years.

When I first started out as a journalist, I wrote a piece about how in the aftermath of one of the few rapes of a woman by Texas prison guards to have made the news, the Texas prison board met to enact a new policy – a rule making it more difficult for journalists to interview inmates. There are places in the world where this would have prompted civic outrage and prompt action, but the United States is not one of them. Today I’m the only journalist in the US who has no problem whatsoever interviewing inmates. But it’s hard to say that this has helped. We live in a time and place in which it’s not enough for a journalist to uncover serious and unambiguous instances of wrongdoing by the powerful, or even to get it published in a major outlet. Without some partisan hook or compelling video or a connection to whatever fun internet battle that the working press is currently big on because it’s easy to cover and can generate the clicks that now constitute our true and most revealing form of democracy, documenting wrongdoing by the state is futile. Nothing will come of it.

Still, I’m going to spend the last two months of my sentence doing just that, partly because I want to provide a more or less real-time record of the manner in which federal employees will conduct themselves when they find themselves free to act without consequences. This isn’t to say that all prison staff are bad people; indeed, at the six facilities where I’ve been held, serious misconduct generally seems to be confined to about 30 percent of staff, at least in federal prisons. The problem is that the 30 percent inevitably includes the very administration officials who are allegedly on hand to ensure that policy is followed. Thus it is that it was the prison’s internal affairs head himself, Terance Moore, who took away my access to the inmate e-mail service contrary to policy an hour after I’d used it to contact a journalist about the sort of official misconduct that Moore himself is theoretically being paid to prevent; and when I was held in the hole for two weeks last July despite no such punishment having been handed down to me – one of several incidents of retaliation I’ve noted here – it was an assistant warden, Yates, who ordered them to keep me there, apparently because I’d hurt his feelings.

All of that is incidental, though. I’m not documenting official misconduct in spite of the fact that it will lead to zero consequences for the perpetrators and will do nothing to help the victims; I’m documenting these things precisely because of it. The baroque nightmare that the US has inflicted upon millions of families for decades is certainly a story worth telling, and I’ll be telling what I can of it for years to come, but even more fundamental is the failure of our government, our press, and our citizenry to take responsibility for the institutions that it creates and thereafter forgets. To this end, each of these posts – along with other documented evidence I’ve already published to the effect that high BOP officials are actively sabotaging the ability of inmates to challenge serious instances of abuse and due process violations in court – will be forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General, which ostensibly exists to investigate these things. But, again, nothing will come of it.


Post One

Incident: When inmate Ravi Hassan, #272203-009, was placed in the hole, or Special Housing Unit, in late June of this year, ostensibly for a “custody level reclassification” that prevented him from being with other medium security-designated inmates on our prison yard until the administration signed a document that would technically allow him back in the compound, he expected to return within two days, that being about how long it usually takes the warden to handle that. Instead, he was there for 30 days, and strongly suspects that this had something to do with the fact that he’d complained about an administration member who’d failed to properly handle an issue involving his release to a halfway house. SHU inmates usually get their property within a few days of arrival in the SHU; I myself was being held in the SHU at that time, illegally, on the orders of Assistant Warden Yates, and received mine within three days, and on a prior occasion when I’d likewise been thrown in the SHU for an “investigation” an hour after giving a phone interview to a radio station, I got my stuff the next day. But for the first two weeks he was being held, Hassan didn’t get any of his property, even his legal work; a SHU property officer by the name of Gamble even taunted him about it, on two occasions cheerfully bringing property to other SHU inmates, and at one point loudly remarking while standing in Hassan’s corridor about how he’d enjoyed “killing a couple of Muslims over in Iraq.” After a series of complaints, Gamble was replaced as property officer and Hassan finally got his property. Gamble continues to work at the prison.

Analysis: Proclaiming your enjoyment of killing people of a particular religion as a means of intimidating a member of that religion while also preventing that inmate from accessing his legal papers contrary to policy is not enough to get you fired from the Bureau of Prisons. Hassan’s other, even more disturbing adventures at Three Rivers will be detailed in future posts.

Incident: A relative of Three Rivers Federal Correctional Institution inmate Saloman Bustos, #49859380, bought him a subscription to Playboy, which switched to a non-nude format some months ago and is now again being accepted in many of the prison systems that had banned depictions of full nudity back around 2000. When the first several issues arrived, Bustos received a notification from the mail room that they had been sent back due to “sexually explicit” material. I wrote a staff notification message to the mail room for Bustos pointing out that the term “sexually explicit” in the Bureau of Prison guidelines is defined very specifically in such a way that does not include the pictorials in Playboy. A staff member replied that Bustos should write a BP-8 grievance form. I had him forward the same message to the Assistant Warden for Operations, a fellow named Yates, repeating the point. Yates replied by quoting the very policy that I’d referred to: “Nudity means a pictorial depiction where genitalia or female breasts are exposed. Specifically, when the pictorial depiction of the female breast displays the areola or nipple, this material will be rejected.” I had Bustos write the BP-8 form pointing out that he understands that the policy calls for the rejection of pictures with aureolas and genitalia but that “Playboy DOES NOT run pictures with genitalia & nipples and so my three magazines were sent back contrary to policy,” offering to provide copies of news articles verifying that Playboy no longer runs such material, and asking that the prison reimburse him for the publications and refrain from further violating his due process rights by rejecting future copies of a magazine which he is legally permitted to receive. On October 3rd, the response came back from a certain F. Rodriguez: “Per 5266.11 (2), Nudity means a pictorial depiction where genitalia or female breasts are exposed. Specifically, when the pictorial depiction of the female breast displays the areola or nipple, this material will be rejected.”

Analysis: Due process is a myth.

Barrett being denied book shipments at Three Rivers

We’ve just received the following note from Barrett, who asked us to publish it:

Today I received three forms informing me that three different book shipments to me from three different Amazon processing centers had been rejected and returned, stating that inmates are not generally supposed to receive packages. In fact, the BOP mail program statement says very clearly that packages containing books shipped from bookstores are perfectly acceptable, which is why over the past four years none of the countless other packages of books I’ve received from Amazon have ever been rejected for arriving in a package, as books always arrive this way by necessity. This comes just a few days after I’d assisted another inmate in filing a complaint about the prison mailroom’s illicit rejection of magazines to which he is legally entitled, and just a few hours after I’d finished writing a post on that very topic for publication, using the inmate email system, which staff members are able to access. It also comes just days after my medication had been disrupted without explanation. As I continue to document wrongdoing at the Three Rivers Federal Correctional Institution, I expect to incur further retaliation, as I have in the past. I would simply hope that as I work to document instances of state criminality, that the press will pay attention.

Books are obviously a crucial resource for all prisoners. In the course of his incarceration, fans and supporters have ordered literally hundreds of books for Barrett through his Amazon wish list. That the prison administration continues to find new and inventive ways to retaliate against him, such as this, is astounding.

Barrett Brown comments on his early release date

We are very excited about the announcement that Barrett Brown is officially scheduled for early release on 29 November 2016. Upon release, Barrett will have to report to a halfway house in Dallas, TX, but other details of his post-release conditions are yet to be determined.

In response to the announcement, Barrett said, “Well, I certainly know when I’m not wanted.”

The announcement comes after a lengthy back and forth with prison officials about potential release dates. As noted on Twitter, there was a possibility that Barrett could have been released as early as May 2016, but the BOP has repeatedly pushed the date back.

Barrett has used his recent writings to document various administrative and bureaucratic abuses he’s endured.

In his 9 July column, The Fact of Sisyphus, Barrett wrote about his time in ‘the hole’, noting that he has “spent a total of five months over the past few years of incarceration being held in 23- to 24-hour-a-day Special Housing Unit confinement cells.”

Indeed, we have written about the many times the BOP has gone after Barrett, including placing him in solitary, confiscating his privileged legal information, and placing him on a watchlist.

On 31 March 2015, Barrett’s email access was revoked for speaking to the press. Access has since been restored, but the BOP has repeatedly stonewalled Barrett’s attempts at redress. In July, he produced a “timeline of BOP malfeasance.”

We’re very pleased at the prospect of a free Barrett Brown taking the BOP to task.

Note: despite his scheduled early release, Barrett still has to pay the enormous restitution of $890,250 to Stratfor as part of his sentencing. Donate to Barrett’s fund to help alleviate one of America’s foremost investigative journalists from this unjust burden, here.

A timeline of BOP malfeasance

Over the recent months of his sentence, our favorite inmate has had to deal with a frustrating level of obfuscation, arbitrary punishment, and outright non-compliance with the Bureau of Prisons’ own stated policies on the part of prison officials at FCI Three Rivers and elsewhere. The documentary filmmaker Alex Winter has had his persistent requests to interview Brown ignored, and Brown has repeatedly been thrown into solitary confinement, often with no legitimate explanation, as has been documented at length in his column for The Intercept. Here, Barrett Brown provides a helpful timeline and documentation of what’s been happening to him:

2015, FCI Fort Worth

March 31st: An hour after I use the CORRLINCS e-mail messaging system to put a journalist in touch with another inmate who’s witnessed criminal conduct by BOP officials, my e-mail privileges are removed contrary to policy by D.C. liason Terrance Moore. The administrative remedy forms I submit regarding the issue are filed late, responded to well after the institutional deadlines; eventually, I get a response back claiming I’d used the e-mails for “illegal activity” and claiming that on April 1st, a memo had been filed with the warden noting that I’d previously used e-mail and messaging to “solicit threats,” which isn’t technically true, and also the word ‘solicit’ does not mean what they think it means and this angers me, and that this memo will not be made available to me due to security concerns. A later BOP FOIA response includes the memo in question, which turns out to say no such thing.

April 3rd: I’m woken up at 6:00 am and subjected to an unexplained drug test, this being the first business day after I’d turned in the BP-8 complaint about the loss of my e-mail.

June 17: Counselor Towchik brings a rookie officer into the alcove where I’m housed and subjects each of us to a “random” breathalyzer test, which we all pass. Then he orders us out into the hallway. They search my locker and find a cup of hooch, and I’m taken to the SHU. The next day I receive the infraction sheet linked to from my columns, which, as noted in “Santa Muerte, Full of Grace,” contains several discrepancies, even aside from the grammar and spelling errors. A few days later, SIS Lt. McClendon comes by my cell in the SHU and tells me, among other things, that it was in fact an informant who’d told them about the hooch, which means that the infraction write-up was entirely false. Later, the BOP FOIA documents mentioned above confirm this, as one of several documents pertaining to my hearing on this incident is entirely redacted – that would be the informant’s report.

Late August: (Exact date listed on the confiscation report, also linked to from the columns) While proceeding into the law library, I’m stopped by an officer who searches me and seizes my notebook as contraband, and then begins reading through it at her desk. I complain to a Lt. who tells me he’s busy. The next day, I receive the papers from the notebook back.

September 3rd: After failing another drug test, I’m taken to the SHU. Meanwhile, the institution asks region to transfer me; the BOP FOIA yield includes that request, which contradicts other, positive information that had been written about me in my inmate progress report by the very same two people who, less than two weeks later, wrote and signed this other, conveniently negative report (both are linked to and summarized from column “The Fact of Sisyphus“). While in the SHU, I ask repeatedly for a BP-8 form but don’t receive one.

October – December: The region violates policy on several points regarding my BP-10 administrative remedy forms, as linked to and summarized in “The Fact of Sisyphus” and “The BOP Explains Why It Took My E-mail,” even requiring that I send back additional materials by a date that’s ten days previous to my receipt of their letter, thereby making it impossible for me to exhaust the administrative remedy process and file suit in court over the violations of due process inherent to the retaliatory seizure of my e-mail.

2016, FCI Three Rivers

October – January: Alex Winter sends two letters, one of them certified, to the warden’s executive assistant, Thomas, applying for a media interview with me for a proposed documentary. He receives no reply. I send several staff messages to Thomas and forward them to Yates, the assistant warden for operations. I receive no reply.

January 26: Another inmate asks me if I can get him in touch with the media regarding a problem he’s having; his brother, a veteran, has a voice box issued by the VA which the prison won’t allow in during regular visiting hours despite the security people having no problem with it. I call Kevin Gallagher and ask him to see if a regional newspaper might be interested in the story.

January 27: Assistant Warden Yates calls the inmate to his office, explains that he’d listened in on his call to his mother regarding the attempt to contact the media, and tells him he’s “disappointed” in him for approaching the press about the issue. That evening I do a recorded interview with syndicated radio talk show host Kenny Webster, radio interviews being something I’ve done from prison several times before and which are not against the rules. Half an hour later, I’m taken to the SHU for “investigation.” I don’t receive my medication until three days later (I noted this in a statement I released afterwards; it’s since been confirmed by the last couple of pages of the BOP documents The Intercept ran a few months back, one of which is an intake sheet indicating my request for my prescribed medication, and the following one being an admission sheet in which the acting lieutenant writes that I don’t take medication). Six days later, I’m released. Over the next few days I’m told by staff close to the situation that this had been ordered by Thomas.

February 25: I’m called to the mail room to accept a legal letter. Yates’ secretary comes in and tells the mail room staff that Yates wants to see me. We explain to her that I’m in the middle of accepting legal mail, a process which isn’t supposed to be interrupted since I have to be there for its unsealing, and will be there in a moment. She leaves and returns a minute later saying I need to come now. I go over there and Yates asks me, “Did you not see the yellow line on the sidewalk over there?” (I had walked along the second sidewalk, which we’re not supposed to do during hourly moves but which we’re actually supposed to do between moves or whenever we’re going to administration buildings for drug tests, visits, etc). I explain to him that inmates do indeed cross that magical yellow line during non-movement periods. He replies, “No, never.” I explain to him that his own staff can explain to him otherwise and that if he has a problem with that he needs to address it to them, since in fact the last time I walked all away around on the way to meet with staff the staff member asked me why I’d done that and told me to just cross the yellow line next time. Then I asked him if he’d not received the four e-mails I’d sent him about Alex Winter. He told me to talk to Thomas about that at mainline (lunch period during which administration stand around cafeteria to answer questions). I did so, and Thomas said, “Oh, did you want to do the interview?” I explained that, yes, I clearly did. He told me he’d need to get the warden’s approval and that then he’d send me a consent form which I’d get from my unit staff. I walked over to the warden and explained to him the problem. He replied, “I’m not going to approve it orally.” I told him he didn’t need to, that he simply needed to get his executive assistant, Thomas, to follow procedure. Thomas told him he was on it. Later I sent a follow-up staff message to the executive assistant and Yates thanking them for their assistance and otherwise documenting that this conversation had occurred.

June 30: Another four months having passed without progress on the Alex Winter front, I confront Yates with a stack of print-outs of messages I’d sent him without having received replies; he tells me he’d forwarded them to Thomas and told him to “get on it” but that he doesn’t reply to messages that don’t involve him, and that media isn’t his area (actually, he tends not to reply to messages that are directly under his area of responsibility, as I can show via other inmates). I ask him why he’d summoned that inmate to his office to berate him about getting in touch with the media about his brother if media wasn’t his area; he replies that that wasn’t a media issue. That afternoon I file a BP-8 Administrative Remedy complaint on Thomas and Yates for their ongoing failure to respond in writing to several months of my messages regarding Winter’s interview requests.

July 11: At 12:00, as I’m walking to the phone to do my weekly recorded call with Winter, the officer on duty, Gonzalez, tells me that I’m wanted at Yate’s office. I tell him I’ll go after my scheduled phone interview. He goes to relay that to Yates via his own office phone. I call Winter and begin the interview. A few minutes later Gonzalez comes up to me and tells me that they want me to go now. I respond that the request is inappropriate since I have an ongoing administrative remedy case with Yates. Gonzalez says, “Actually, it’s Thomas that’s over there.” I respond that I also have an ongoing case with Thomas, that neither of them are in a position to make any demands since they’ve both violated policy repeatedly and that the proposed meeting thus pertains to their wrongdoing, not mine, and that I’m actually on the phone right now with the person whom they’ve both wronged by ignoring his media applications and that I’m thus disinclined to interrupt the interview at their whim. Gonzalez goes back to the phone to report this. A few minutes later, I’m approached by two officers, one of whom tells me, “Hang up the phone.” This happens to be the same officer who falsely recorded that I don’t need medication on my last visit to the SHU, as shown by the admission sheet. I tell Alex that I’ve got to go as I apparently can no longer talk to the press, and then hang up. I’m taken to the hole.

July 12: My counselor, Musquiz, brings me the infraction sheet for “Refusing an Order.” As he and my case manager know the charge to be without merit, they’ve given me a suspended sentence of 15 days loss of commissary and visitation. Musquiz tells me they should let me out but that Yates is apparently trying to keep me there. Later another officer tells me I should be getting out later that day. At around 2:00, he returns to tell me that Yates has told the SHU lieutenant to hold me until next week. I write a cop-out to the SHU Lt. asking for a BP-8 form and a written explanation as to why I’m being held in the SHU, but receive no reply. SHU staffers express their concerns about the situation as they know this to be illegal.

July 14: Several administration members do their weekly SHU rounds; I catch Thomas and tell him that I know that it was him who ordered my “investigation” last time and that I’m going to pursue legal action against him. He mumbles some sort of response and quickly walks away.

July 18: I catch the SHU Lt., who’d been avoiding our corridor for some reason, and ask him if I’m getting out today. He says I’m being held for another week. I ask him on what grounds he’s holding me. He tells me that “the powers that be” are ordering it. I ask him to cite the program statement upon which he’s relying to hold me. He says I’m under investigation. I tell him I know that I’m not, as, for one thing, inmates under investigation are given a form signed by a security officer telling them they’re under investigation, and for another, he himself just told me that I’m being held by “the powers that be.” He leaves. I write a letter to my mom telling her to have the lawyers contact the Office of the Inspector General and to additionally file a Bevins Civil Rights/retaliation claim in the courts if she doesn’t get a call from me by the 26th.

July 21: Administration members do their weekly SHU rounds again. I tell Yates, “If you can get me out of here by the 26th, I think we can put this behind us.” He responds, “I don’t think so.” I tell him, “The 26th is Tuesday.” He responds, “Then no.” I tell him, “Well, nevermind then,” and he walks off. I catch the warden and explain to him what’s going on and note that I’ve yet to receive a lawyer call. He explains that Molina, the unit manager, is too busy to give me a lawyer call. I explain to him that lawyer calls aren’t some optional favor he’s allowed to grant inmates but an actual legal right provided for in the program statements under which the prison operates. I also note that I’m being held in the SHU contrary to the law. He says, “You know what the key to this is? You failed to follow an order.” I reply that I did no such thing and that there’s a recording backing up my account, and that at any rate the request was inappropriate since I’d written up both of the individuals involved, and that finally my sentence for the refusing an order shot was suspended and didn’t call for me to be held indefinitely in the SHU, and that thus my continued confinement was illegal. He says, “Well, that’s where we disagree. You’ll get your lawyer call.” (I don’t get a lawyer call until I get out of the SHU)

July 25: I’m released from the SHU without explanation. Back in the unit, I learn that Yates and possibly other members of the administration were actually pushing for me to be held in the SHU until my release, which is to say somewhere between four and ten months from now, and that this was common knowledge among ranking staff; for instance, one of the counselors came out into the housing unit on July 21st and told several inmates about this, and on another occasion, a member of SIS spoke to an inmate about it. I have both staff and inmates willing to testify to this and other matters if necessary; details will be provided in a legal letter, which will also include other related incidents that I can’t go into over the e-mail yet.

July 26: I send a staff message to the warden asking that he direct Yates to refrain from requesting that I meet with him and instead have him and Thomas reply to the complaint in writing. I file a BP-9, following up on the original BP-8 regarding Alex Winter’s interview request.

August 1st: The BP-9 regarding the institution’s failure to follow policy on media interview requests remains unlogged five days after having been received by the warden’s office, whereas policy requires that it be entered into the BOP’s SENTRY system and receipt given to the inmate upon receipt.

Bureau of Prisons releases 177 pages on Barrett Brown under FOIA

Roger Hodge, Barrett Brown’s editor at The Intercept, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for documents concerning Brown, who is federal prisoner #45047-177.

After a long wait he received back 177 pages, 58 of which were redacted. The files contain news stories about Brown, as well as documents related to intake, administrative, and disciplinary matters.

After having examined the files, Brown himself notes:

The inmate report signed by Vanderlinden and Guiterrez on August 30 2015 say I’m wonderful and play well with others and have good sanitation and am participating in GED (I had to sign up because in alternative federal universe I am not a high school graduate), and then another letter to the regional office written 12 days later and signed by same two people and written for purpose of getting me transferred out of there before I can finish digging into financial wrongdoing by employees claims I have “poor living skills” and poor “program participation.” That’s pretty solid in terms of showing how things worked at Fort Worth. The other thing is that, in DHO report on my hooch thing, one of the documents is entirely redacted. That would almost certainly be report from another inmate whom they had watching me and who informed a certain high-ranking staff member that I had the hooch – which would of course show that the cop who wrote up the “PRISON MADE INTHOXICANT” report lied when he said it was a “random breathalyzer test,” something that was already obvious since I passed it but nonetheless had my locker searched, and since the report didn’t explain why the cop suddenly “decided” to search my locker, and as an SIS agent later came by and bragged about how they’d been told about it, which of course I noted in an Intercept column shortly afterwards. None of this is going to shock anyone, I suppose, but people might find it interesting to look at BOP documents.

In terms of getting a judge to make them reveal others, might be worth pointing out that if it’s supposedly so important that they keep first names of BOP staff blocked out due to “reasonable belief” that they might otherwise be put in danger, then it would seem that one might reasonably believe that their negligence has endangered the half a dozen guards whose full names are left in on the bottom half of one of the last documents, the SHU staff sign sheet, among other slip-ups.

Other agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have previously stonewalled FOIA requesters on documents relating to Brown. Requests filed by Kevin Gallagher via MuckRock, once in 2013 and again in 2015, were rejected as exempt from disclosure due to “pending law enforcement proceedings”.

All pages released by the Bureau of Prisons may be downloaded at DocumentCloud here, in PDF format.

Barrett Brown wins New York Press Club journalism award for Intercept column

Journalist Barrett Brown has won a 2016 New York Press Club journalism award for humour writing online for his Intercept column. The NYPC awards “excellence in skillfully applying humor, satire or irony in the interpretation of current events or personal experience.”

Brown’s latest piece, ‘Dean Rusk Also Missing, Feared Dead’ is a continuation of his review of Niall Ferguson’s biography of Henry Kissinger — a sequel to the rather aptly titled ‘I Do Not Care to Finish Reading This Mediocre Kissinger Biography By Niall Ferguson.’

Brown concludes the newest piece, after mocking the many contradictions and sleights of hand Ferguson must concoct to defend someone known to have “subvert[ed] democracy”, with a typically acerbic summation of how American politics and work:

At any rate, [Ferguson] needn’t sound so pissy; it’s not as if he’s going to suffer any real consequences for his misdeeds. He need merely continue to refrain from directly acknowledging that he libeled another historian and intentionally misled his readers on several points, as the Hoover Institution will of course refrain from taking any action so long as the clamor for them to do so does not reach the threshold at which continued silence on their part begins to do more damage than would come from addressing the misconduct. This is how most of our institutions work, whether state or corporate or academic; each is aware of a ceiling of wrongdoing under which anything is effectively permitted against anyone. It is a realist position.

Earlier this year, Barrett was given a National Magazine Award for his Intercept column (awarded while he was in solitary confinement). See all of his writing from prison here.

Barrett Brown was in solitary when he won a National Magazine Award

We can report that Barrett Brown was placed in FCI Three Rivers’ Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) last Wednesday, 27 January, and released Tuesday 2 February — meaning he was in the hole on Monday 1 Feb. when it was announced that Barrett won the National Magazine Award for his prison column in The Intercept.

Barrett was moved to the SHU just two hours after he had done a telephone interview with radio producer Kenny Webster. Prison officials informed him that he was being “segregated” for “information-gathering purposes.” For the first three days in the SHU, Barrett was deprived of his daily antidepressant medication. Barrett has previously been in the SHU several times, including one stay more than a month long.

Solitary confinement, widely used in American prisons and long-derided as a form of psychological torture, is under increasing, overdue scrutiny. Last month, President Obama banned the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons, affecting some 10,000 inmates. Obama noted,

Research suggests that solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences. It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior. Some studies indicate that it can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones.

Several Courage beneficiaries and other truthtellers we support have been placed in solitary confinement, for varying reasons that are often connected to their political motivations. Jeremy Hammond has been specifically targeted and punished due to his support outside the prison walls. Many speculated that Chelsea Manning was being tortured in an effort to get her to flip on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

Despite the well-documented deleterious effects of solitary, the practice is even used on those with psychological needs — there is little practical distinction between ‘protective custody’ and disciplinary segregation — effectively torturing inmates because the prison cannot adequately provide mental health care. This puts someone like Lauri Love, who faces extradition to the US and who suffers from Asperger’s and depression, at a higher risk than most.

Obama’s action on solitary is a good small step in the right direction toward ending this abusive practice.

Meanwhile, we can also report that Barrett was quite excited to hear of his award.