Jun 4th 2017 by funkyfresh2 • 31 Questions • 2159 Points
My short bio: I was a freelance writer for outlets like Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Skeptic, and Huffington Post when I was invited to assist a faction of Anonymous that was assisting with the Tunisian revolution. Shortly afterwards Anonymous hackers stole 70,000 e-mails from an "intelligence contracting" firm that had put us under surveillance, thus exposing the Team Themis conspiracy whereby Palantir, HBGary Federal, and other firms with "black propaganda" capabilities had proposed hacking, disinformation, and intimidation of activist groups like Code Pink as well as Wikileaks and even its supporters, including Glenn Greenwald. Although one CEO had to resign, a Congressional investigation was quickly derailed and no one suffered any consequences (despite having planned DOS attacks, the exact thing for which Anonymous participants had been pursued for via heavily armed FBI raids after they took down MasterCard and Paypal websites for a few seconds in protest of their refusal to process donations to Wikileaks).
Thereafter I repurposed my online "think-tank," Project PM, to continue researching these firms and others like them, compiling our research on a wiki called Echelon2.org (since moved). The FBI eventually raided my home and my mom's house, with the search warrant listing our website and group as subjects of interest. Thereafter they threatened to indict my mother if I failed to cooperate; instead, I threatened to "ruin" the life of the lead agent, using the same tactics that HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr had planned to use against activists with the DOJ's blessing. Separately, I vowed to defend myself against any further raids. The two statements were conflated by the DOJ and used to indict me for threatening a federal agent, which actually requires one to make a violent, non-conditional threat, whereas I'd made one non-violent threat and one conditional threat.
Later, I was charged with 11 counts of aggravated identity theft for having copied and pasted a link from one chat room to another that I believed contained more e-mails, but which in fact included credit cards. I faced 22 years for that link alone, in addition to other charges. The DOJ later had to drop those and other charges, and I plead guilty to one count of internet threats, one of interference with a search warrant, and one of accessory after the fact (I called Stratfor, a company that had been hacked, and offered to help redact any e-mails that could put someone in danger). I was also ordered to pay over $800,000 in restitution to Stratfor.
There are several documentaries covering much of this, including Hacker Wars, We Are Legion, and Alex Winter's 18-minute film Relatively Free, as well as some pretty good articles at WhoWhatWhy and The Nation describing the other plots we uncovered and documented.
While imprisoned, I continued writing, doing a column called The Barrett Brown Review of Arts & Letters & Prison that was later picked up by The Intercept, and for which I won the National Magazine Award for commentary/columns in 2016.
I was released November of last year, and am now preparing a new project, called the Pursuance System, by which to build up a cohesive yet agile network of opposition to criminalize institutions while also helping activists and non-profits to cooperate more efficiently. You can read more about it here.
EDIT 5:34 CST I'm going to run down to the store, but will be back in fifteen or twenty minutes to answer more questions.
EDIT Am back, and will continue to answer questions sporadically through the evening.
EDIT 9:00 PM EST I'm going to play some Team Fortress 2 for a bit and relax and whatnot but I'll be back to answer more questions later tonight, and will get to more tomorrow as well.
EDIT 1:53 am EST Well, my Facebook account has suddenly been disabled without explanation, in case anyone's wondering why the link above no longer works.
Have you ever feared for your life while on the job because of weather?
Huge fan of your writing, Barrett. Your book 'Keep Rootin' for Putin' was ahead of the curve in calling out the bullshit of mainstream pundits. One of the points you make is that internet can be used as a force for good in order to fact-check all the nonsense they spout; all of their contradictory bullshit is now a matter of permant, public record.
How do you think the media landscape has changed since that book came out? with the rise of Breitbart and the like, and the sometimes-justified concerns over "fake news", it doesn't really seem like the media have gotten any more reliable over the past years.
Anyway, what the US government has done to you is a travesty and I wish you the best.
Also, go on Chapo
When out in the weather, chasing or doing live shots I'm always worried about lightning. There is no warning, it just strikes. And usually I'm wired up to mic and earpiece so I feel like I'm a natural lightning conductor!
Unfortunately, the mainstream press didn't really have the gravity or the integrity of action to prevent other, even worse outlets from popping up. Had the New York Times not continued to employ Thomas Friedman even after it became clear that he was less than worthless in terms of explaining world politics, they would have more room to make their own case. Same thing with the Washington Post and Charles Krauthammer, who, as I showed in an old Vanity Fair online piece, was wrong about every U.S. military engagement since Kosovo. Those aren't the only problems with these respectable national outlets, of course, but they're very telling regarding the cowardice of editors and publishers who continued to promote incompetent commentators simply because they've made some vague name for themselves.
And of course WaPo's failed attempt to identify some website that could sort out "fake news" is indicative of the chief fact of our press culture - that much of how it operates is haphazard at best, and that falsehoods can creep in to any outlets, regardless of pedigree, if its operators lose track of basic principles such as hiring competent people and firing incompetent ones. Personal relationships, inertia, ambition, and that sort of things are the chief problems facing our political press, rather than corporate interference or anything else of that sort.
Here's an incomplete case against Friedman; a more comprehensive argument as to why he represents a crisis of ethics within the legacy press may be seen in my free book, Keep Rootin' for Putin (the title of which is taken from an actual Friedman column from 2000). column
What are your thoughts on the Bilderberg Meetings?
Yes, La Niña creates favorable conditions in the Atlantic for hurricanes by reducing wind shear that typically disrupts hurricanes. In fact, Florida sees about 40% more hurricane threats during La Niña years than El Niño years.
It's very indicative that they don't receive adequate coverage. The problem is that many journalists and editors have only heard of Bilderberg in the context of what they assume to be wacky conspiracy theories. Although some of the theories about the extent of Bilderberg's importance are clearly wrong, that doesn't change the fact that this is a meeting of influential figures from around the world which is closed to the public, and is thus of legitimate interest. But, again, many journalists are fools and/or cowards.
Thank you very much for your response! My day has been made! As for a follow up question, what is your favorite junk food (if you enjoy such "delicacies")?
Hmmm, Sharknado season is almost over so I think we are done for now.
How will budget cuts to NOAA hinder your job and public safety when predicting/tracking hurricanes?
- That's good to know, but I didn't ask whether you were planning to lead investigations. I asked why you were focusing your tool-building on tools for organizing humans into roles, rather than tools for better intelligence analysis or fact finding.
- What tools do you intend to provide in the pursuance kit, aside from pre-existing comms tools bundled for fast deployment?
- The roles-based organization of pursuances sounds like something that could benefit from smart contracts. Are you implementing anything like smart contracts to enforce roles and task completion? If not, why?
- How do you expect to prevent a slow degradation of competence and quality as the network extends outward from yourself, without specific task and analysis oriented tools, or are there some in development that you've neglected to mention at this time?
Well, this year there are no cuts so that's a good thing and we also have a new, super tech satellite (GOES-16) up there to use this year. My concern with budget cuts would be in the areas of hurricane research more than forecasting. The brilliant men and women that do research help advance the science of hurricane forecasting each year. It isn't sexy work but it is needed and well worth it. So any budget cuts, IMHO have a long term detrimental impact to us.
We're also incorporating tools for analysis, including Transparency Toolkit, but that's not our chief focus, which is getting people to use these tools in the first place in a coordinated way.
We don't have a final list yet, which will be available when we're closer to launching.
We are indeed.
The structure itself minimizes the problem of less competent people joining over time, as each pursuance is something of a "filter." This is explained a bit more in some of the other documentation that will be up this month.
Hi Craig! We miss you in Colorado Springs. Do you find it more challenging forecasting in Florida or Colorado?
are you going to revive project PM?
Awww, I miss you guys too. That was one of the best places I have ever lived. At least if I was going to move, I was able to trade the mountains for the ocean. Both places have unique forecast challenges but I miss having a forecast for snow and tornadoes all on the same day. Don't get that in Florida.
Not as such, but we'll be running a "pursuance," as entities under the pursuance system are known, that will continue much of the same work of documenting the intelligence sector, private and public.
excellent, and will you build "top down" (or at least, like before, bring in many individuals who might be interested to...pursue it) or will you build it organically?
Hmmmm, depends where I am. In the Bahamas Kalik! In the US I am more of a Hefeweizen snob.
I haven't decided on the exact form it will take or who will be in charge of day-to-day operations. I'll be involved to consult and give some direction where needed, but I don't plan on overseeing it myself at this point.
Thank you immensely for your work, your courage, and your humor. I am genuinely grateful for the tireless, dogged journalism you've conducted over the years.
What do you think will be the fate of Trump? Your colleague at the Intercept, Jeremy Scahill, often asks if it'll be "Impeachment? Resignation? Or a Heart-attack?"
What do you think will happen to this newest alleged whistleblower, Reality Leigh Winner? Do you think Trump will try to make an example of her?
In the past, you've been labeled an anarchist--as cited in the criminal case against you. Do you label yourself similarly? Does this effect your work?
Again, thank you for all you do. '
Ha! In TV or in the weather field? In TV some crazy stuff happens behind the scenes. The craziest was when I first started and I was supposed to have maps behind me, instead I was in a farm field. Also once on a live shot the lawn sprinklers came on and I was soaked within seconds.....ON LIVE TV! With weather I used to chase tornadoes and I've seen some crazy weather stuff.
It's increasingly likely that Trump will fail to finish his term, but that will depend on lots of factors that we can't really get a sense of.
I do think that Winner will be prosecuted rather severely, unless there's something else to this story.
I've been an anarchist since about the age of 13, when I read the work of Alexander Berkman and then Emma Goldman, though I've had varying degrees of sympathy for other political inclinations over the years.
Why do you still wear Oxford button down shirts and those silly assed Roper cowboy boots? Aren't you concerned that folks will mistake you for a deranged Texas oilman?
What are some of the major improvements you have seen in the last 20 or so years that have helped improve Tornado forecasting? Is it primarily radar based or software modeling improvements etc?
Do you think they'll ever catch AVunit?
There are several fronts in tornado forecasting but surprisingly, tornado warning skill has decreased a little bit since there has been an effort not to make too many false alarms. So that means some storms are "underwarned". I think Dual Pole Doppler radar is really state of the art and now we are waiting for models and model ensembles to keep catching up.
They'll never catch the midnight rider.
How do you feel about the "weaponization" (using the internet to stir outrage and witch hunts) of the internet, whereby it seems like everyone is looking for a "Gotcha!" moment to share with the mob for profit and to stir outrage? Do you feel that would be a force for good or more just a modern techno-lynching?
As with all mobs, e-mobs have both positive and negative consequences.
In recent years (it seems), more storm are moving further to the North and hitting the Mid-Atlantic and New England. Is this a trend or is it just an aberration?
Did you trip the soap? Trip report?
No, this is a good observation. Look at this map! https://cmgpbpeyeonthestorm.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/capture20.jpg Landfalls occur over periods, they come and go and those periods may last for decades. Right now they are mostly missing South Florida.
You mean, did I drop the soap?
What are your thoughts on storm chasers who are more thrill seekers less meteorologist?
I worry more people will be hurt because of the crowds on roads from people distracted by bad weather. Since the movie Twister, the genie is out of the bottle and I don't know how you can put it back in. It's certainly exciting to see a tornado but I'm worried more people will be hurt or killed doing so.
Does your prediction for hurricane season fall in line with the NWS? Or do you see other variables being more influential than what they've used to create their forecast? Also, how do you foresee climate change affecting hurricane season in the coming decade or two?
So, to be honest, most of my meteorology experience is in operational or short term and nowcast forecasting. There are some brilliant people who can tell you about long wave patterns and global teleconnections in the atmosphere. I spend most of my time trying to improve the tools and messaging about hurricanes and threats to people from them. I do lots of work with the NWS and NHC in the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project working to make sure people understand risk and uncertainly and how to respond. So, I operate in the area of seeing the storm form, and planning for how it may affect us.
Can any local Miami meteorologist live down the legend of Bryan Norcross?
Bryan hired me in 2000 because I believe he saw some of the same qualities that he has. Hopefully I won't have to live down his legend but maybe I could live up to it. At least it's a worthy goal.
Do you think Louisiana is fully prepared for another category three hurricane to make landfall?
I've heard that Florida has a far stricter building code, requiring that new houses in low lying areas be built up on stilts. That's why all the new beach houses are so tall. Should other gulf states have a similar requirement?
I don't know about Louisiana but many cities are doing the smart thing and forcing new construction in storm surge areas to build on stilts. I've seen this in the Keys, Pinellas (Tampa Bay) and other areas. That is to protect from surge. The South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach) building codes is to minimize failure of structures from wind. There are codes from securing roofs to having shutters that can withstand missiles and vibration/flexing. While it is more expensive, the goal is to only leave your home in a hurricane if you are in a storm surge evacuation zone.
What think people waiting for last hour before landfall you think people don't take get ready as tell us doing your tv speical?
I don't know. I think people keep hoping it will change course or we will be wrong about it. There comes a time in every storm when there is no more time for hope, you must act.
Do you mount your toilet paper so that the sheets tear from under, or over the roll?
Over. Doesn't everyone?
What is the most bizarre thing you've seen during hurricane season?
I've got to say, it was pretty bizarre to see Matthew's forecast track last year looping back on itself looking like it would hit us twice. But what I thought was more bizarre is that everyone was freaking out about that loop back before they had even been hit once. Sometimes people pay more attention to the odd things far off in time than those right at your door.
Actually, I don't have many problems at work. I'm very fortunate that my boss supports me completely. I've spoken to other Chief Meteorologists and many have to deal with consultants and news directors that are always telling them what to do and what not to do. My boss lets me run my weather department the way I want to and supports what we do and say during a hurricane threat.