Doxing and the Barrett Brown Indictment

Doxing and the Barrett Brown Indictment
by Sue Basko


 Count Two of Barrett Brown's indictment is the "doxing" count.  You can see page 8 of the indictment, which is Count Two, at the bottom of this page.  The indictment says:

COUNT TWO
Conspiracy to Make Publicly Available
Restricted Personal Information
of an Employee of the United States
18 U.S.C. Sec 371 (18 U.S.C. Sec 119)

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means Barrett is being charged with Conspiracy (under 18 U.S.C Section 371) to commit a crime that is listed in 18 U.S.C. Chapter 7 Section 119.  The charge does not say Barrett made the restricted information public, it says he and someone else agreed to do so and some step was taken in furtherance of doing it.  If Barrett were to be found guilty, he could receive sentences under both laws.  Therefore, he faces a possible 10 years in prison on Count Two.
MORE INFO ON FEDERAL CONSPIRACY LAW HERE.
INFO FROM THE US MARSHALS SERVICE ON INTERNET THREATS HERE.

 WHAT DOES THE INDICTMENT COUNT TWO SAY BARRETT BROWN DID?  The indictment (see below) on page 8, paragraph 2, alleges that Barrett "requested another person known to the grand jury to assist him find on the Internet restricted information about the Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent (RS) and (RS)'s family and that other person agreed to do so, and furthermore, the other person did conduct a search on the Internet for the restricted information."

IS COUNT TWO ABOUT "DOXING"?
YES.  Count Two alleges that Barrett Brown asked someone to find info on the internet about the FBI Agent, and someone searched on the internet for such information.  The indictment does not state that the information was ever found or ever posted; it does not need to be.  The Conspiracy allegedly exists because the two people, Barrett and someone else known to the grand jury, allegedly agreed to commit this crime.  If two people agree to commit a crime and some step is taken in furtherance of the crime, conspiracy exists. 

WHAT IS RESTRICTED INFORMATION?
In this law, the term “restricted personal information” means, "with respect to an individual, the Social Security number, the home address, home phone number, mobile phone number, personal email, or home fax number of, and identifiable to, that individual."

> This law applies to revealing info about "covered persons," that is, people covered by the law. Those are listed below, and include federal employees, petit and grand jurors and witnesses, military members, and many others.  See further below for full description.

I CAN FIND THOSE PIECES OF INFORMATION USING GOOGLE SEARCH.  IS THAT STILL RESTRICTED?
YES.  It is illegal to announce or disseminate or post those listed pieces of information for the purposes listed in the law.  Those are purposes such as threatening or intimidating or making it so others can harass or harm the person. This law is about acts that endanger the safety of or encourage attacks against a federal employee or an employee's family.  It is not about where you found the information. Barrett Brown's indictment specifically states that the restricted information was searched for on the internet.  (Count Two of the indictment is below on this page.) The information may or may not even be on the internet; that is not a factor in the Conspiracy charge.  A criminal act does not need to be physically possible for a conspiracy charge to exist with regard to it.

CAN SOMETHING SOMEONE SAYS ON THE INTERNET BE CONSIDERED A CRIME AND NOT FREE SPEECH?
Michael Prout, Assistant Director for Judicial Security of the US Marshals Service, on page 2 in a written statement in 2009 explained the danger of internet threats:

"Most Internet threateners, when confronted or challenged on their statement, will
claim they are only exercising their First Amendment right to free speech. And in many
cases, an examination of their speech could lead us to concur. To guard against violating
a person’s First Amendment right to free speech, the USMS requires the occurrence of a
“triggering event” before a protective investigation is initiated. In the area of threat
management, a “triggering event” is the receipt of an inappropriate communication, or a
reasonable indication that a possible threat exists. However, one of the issues that make
Internet threats so insidious is that others who hear or read this “free speech” may
interpret it differently; they may interpret it as a threat of violence, or as a call to
violence, and be influenced to act out violently. If the threat on the Internet is also
accompanied by restricted personal information, it can assist in facilitating the act of
violence by locating the protectee."
see FULL STATEMENT BY MICHAEL PROUT 
   
WHAT IS A "CONSPIRACY"?
Conspiracy means an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime, if one or both of those do an act "in furtherance of" the crime. Some conspiracy laws do not require an "act in furtherance of," but 18 U.S.C. Section 371 does.  In this case, the U.S. alleges that Barrett Brown requested another person to find restricted information about the FBI Agent on the internet, and that the other person looked for such information on the internet.  That is what the prosecutors are alleging is a conspiracy to make the restricted information public.

CONSPIRACY LAW: 18 U.S.C. 371:
"If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense
against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any
agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of
such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy,
each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
five years, or both.

If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object
of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such
conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for
such misdemeanor."   

CONSPIRACY LAW:  AMAZING FACTS ABOUT IT: Conspiracy may exist even if some seemingly logical factors are missing.    A conspiracy could exist even if Barrett did not know who the other person is, as long as they both agreed to work on the doxing plan.   FBI Agent Robert Smith's "restricted information" might not even be on the internet.  It would be hard to distinguish one Robert Smith from the thousands of others.  Spokeo shows a few hundreds entries on "Robert Smith" in the Dallas area alone.  For a conspiracy to exist, the act does not have to be completed, it does not need to be physically possible, it does not need to cause harm.  There simply must be some step taken in furtherance of it by one of the co-conspirators.  Not every Conspiracy law requires a step in furtherance of the act, but this one does.

IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT CONSPIRACY LAW, YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A BOOKLET PUBLISHED BY THE CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE HERE.

Challenging a Law: People may disagree with these or other laws.  The first step in disagreeing with them is knowing about them.  Federal laws are made by the U.S. Congress and Senate.  If you would like a law changed, you can contact them about it.  Laws are sometimes changed or made unenforceable by a Judge or appellate court ruling saying a law is Unconstitutional.  That happens when a court case involving the law comes up before the Judge or appellate panel of Justices, and the Judge or Justices think the law itself is illegal because it does not follow the Constitution.  The grounds for saying a law is Unconstitutional are usually that the law is too vague, or overbroad, or is not the least restrictive way to meet the government's legitimate need.

CONSPIRACY SENTENCING: When a person is charged with a conspiracy to commit an act and found guilty of the conspiracy, they may be sentenced for the crime of conspiracy as well as for the underlying crime.  In this instance, if Barrett were to be convicted, he would face a possible 5 year sentence for the conspiracy charge and another 5 year sentence for the underlying "doxing" charge.

WHO IS THE OTHER PERSON IN THE (alleged) CONSPIRACY? As the indictment states, there may be persons known and unknown to the grand jury.  There must be a co-conspirator who is not an undercover agent.  The indictment does not name the person.  If this case goes to trial, the co-conspirator would probably be called as a witness.

 Read the underlying law in full:

18 USC § 119 - Protection of individuals performing certain official duties
   
(a) In General.— Whoever knowingly makes restricted personal information about a covered person, or a member of the immediate family of that covered person, publicly available—

(1) with the intent to threaten, intimidate, or incite the commission of a crime of violence against that covered person, or a member of the immediate family of that covered person; or

(2) with the intent and knowledge that the restricted personal information will be used to threaten, intimidate, or facilitate the commission of a crime of violence against that covered person, or a member of the immediate family of that covered person,

shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

(b) Definitions.— In this section—

(1) the term “restricted personal information” means, with respect to an individual, the Social Security number, the home address, home phone number, mobile phone number, personal email, or home fax number of, and identifiable to, that individual;

(2) the term “covered person” means—

(A) an individual designated in section 1114; *(see below)

(B) a grand or petit juror, witness, or other officer in or of, any court of the United States, or an officer who may be, or was, serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate;

(C) an informant or witness in a Federal criminal investigation or prosecution; or

(D) a State or local officer or employee whose restricted personal information is made publicly available because of the participation in, or assistance provided to, a Federal criminal investigation by that officer or employee;

(3) the term “crime of violence” has the meaning given the term in section 16; ** (see below) and

(4) the term “immediate family” has the meaning given the term in section 115 (c)(2). *** (see below)


* Section 1114 "any officer or employee of the United States or of any agency in any branch of the United States Government (including any member of the uniformed services) while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties, or any person assisting such an officer or employee in the performance of such duties or on account of that assistance"

** Section 16 The term “crime of violence” means—

(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or
(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.

*** Section 111(c)(2)  “immediate family member” of an individual means—

(A) his spouse, parent, brother or sister, child or person to whom he stands in loco parentis; or
(B) any other person living in his household and related to him by blood or marriage;

COUNT TWO - TO SEE THIS BETTER, PULL IT OFF THE PAGE ONTO YOUR COMPUTER AND click to enlarge.
SEE ALSO: THE FULL BARRETT BROWN INDICTMENT jpgs.



7 comments:

  1. This is bull shit. You can not arrest an idea. We Are Legion. EXPECT US FBI

    ReplyDelete

  2. Obviously laws bought by corporations (techno-fascist surveillance multi-nationals, CCA, etc) are overbroad to suit their purpose. Add to that a corrupted Judicial system and one has a political climate that is against life and any quality to it.

    Getting that "Stranger in a Strange Land" feeling?
    Occupy for Life

    ReplyDelete
  3. U.S. Marshals opinion does not amount to law.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael Proutt's statement is not the law, but it is definitely based on the law and very well within its parameters. The law is designed to protect federal officials and employees and Mr Proutt tells how he differentiates idle talk from actual threats. Yes, if a person is arrested and charged with such a crime, they should put up a vigorous defense. But keep in mind, they will be putting up that defense after being arrested, charged with a federal crime, and spending time in custody. Most people would prefer to avoid such things.

      In my blogging, I am interested in telling people solid legal information to help them avoid crossing the boundaries to where they risk arrest.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the excellent post. I found your article from Stacy McCain's post about the ongoing Doxing case in Prince William County, VA.

      To all those who feel that "outing" people is okay if the information is in their view, "easily obtainable" through Google, etc .... to me, it is akin to the prohibition on shouting "Fire" in a crowded movie theater or joking about bomb making when boarding an aircraft. There have been too many people grievously injured, killed and driven to suicide because of the malicious act of Doxing. It must stop, and it seems that only severe penalties and financial repercussions for same will put an end to it.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for publishing a great overview of the issues associated with "Doxing". I came upon your blog through reading about the current Doxing case moving forward in Prince William County, VA through Stacey McCain's blog, "The Other McCain".

      To me, the practice of "Doxing" is akin to the prohibition against shouting "Fire" in a movie theatre, or joking about "bombs" while boarding an aircraft. In both cases, there is the threat of serious injury as a result of irresponsible - and perhaps malicious - behavior.

      "Outing" people with the intent to harass, intimidate or embarrass such as posting You Tube videos, and the like, has already caused too many people to be grievously injured, killed or driven to suicide. It is a practice that must stop. Unfortunately, the only way to re-educate people is to litigate, and severe civil and criminal penalties must be imposed for it to sink it that not only is this "not okay", it's very dangerous.

      Delete

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