Laissez le bon temps rouler!

•November 1, 2019 • 12 Comments

david1Recently, I took my first trip to the fair city of New Orleans, LA. Yes, I drank my share, ate some delicious and unhealthy food, experienced the horror of Bourbon St., saw several exceptional jazz groups, and did things all good tourists do. However, I also felt compelled to do some research on my vacation as well! How could any JFK researcher NOT be drawn into the world of Ferrie, Shaw, Oswald, Bannister while walking the streets they walked, drinking in the gay bars they inhabited, seeing large “Ochsner Medical” signs repeatedly? It’s just impossible to not think about it. Luckily, I found a great tour guide who offered a special JFK New Orleans Walking Tour! His name is David and he can be found on Trip Advisor if one looks for a JFK New Orleans Walking Tour. It was well worth the $45 it cost and was an experience I will not soon forget!

We started at an appropriate place: the Hale Boggs Federal Building! Or, as JFK researchers would know it: Bannister and Oswald’s office at Camp/Lafayette St.  David had an Ipad that he incorporated into the tour and started his presentation as we sat under the trees at a round picnic table in the exact spot where Bannister’s office was.

Boggs building area of camp

As we began walking, David emphasized one of his main points: how SMALL a physical area so many of the events related to Oswald in NOLA occurred.  Next we see the Federal Court building that was also used as a post office by Oswald. This picture is taken from the spot of Bannister’s office. According to Judith Vary Baker, this is where she met Lee. (sidenote: David incorporates much of Haslam’s work into his tour and Baker’s as well, though he is cautious with Baker’s material as she has not fully verified many of her claims. However, he respects her contribution and, in fairness, much of what she claimed simply CAN’T be verified due to the lapse of time and the deaths of nearly everyone involved!)

federal building 1

A couple blocks West we find the building used by Oliver Stone as a stand-in for Camp/Lafayette, which had long been demolished by 1990 when he filmed “JFK”.  However, it was a very similar building, and had the same “narrow but deep” design with several entrances that is very common in New Orleans.

Stone standin1

And heading a couple blocks South we find a very familiar locale… the Reilly Coffee Company where Oswald and Baker worked together. I audibly gasped when I saw it and realized why David had taken me there, and I think it was at that point he realized I was a more serious researcher than a lot of his customers.

Reilly Coffee Company 1

One thing my guide emphasized was how EVERYTHING was lined up for Oswald along an old street car line that would take him from his house right down to Reilly and other places related to his various jobs.  And just a few hundred feet away we find the Eli Lilly facility that Baker claimed was used by those working on the alleged CIA Castro/Cancer plots for acquiring supplies.  David, a former marine, emphasized the concepts of compartmentalization and “need to know” within the scope of military and intelligence operations, which this certainly was. He described his tour as a look into the “Four Lives of Oswald”.  1) His life as a regular working Joe at Reilly, with a family to support 2) His life as a “Castro-loving Communist” 3) his life spent among the ANTI-Castro community and 4) his work as a courier for Ferrie, Sherman, and others working on the cancer plots, which is the least known of his four lives, even among many researchers.

Eli Lilly building

This building below was Carlos Bringuier’s blue jean shop.

bringuers jeans shop1

This building was formerly WDSU, where Oswald was interviewed.

radio station 2

Now we come to the childhood home of Lee Harvey Oswald. As David put it, “this neighborhood at the time was basically a C+”,  though nowadays it clearly feels like an “F”. It was basically a shipping alley, that felt like a great place for a murder. In fact, in one puddle of water, I found a pair of brass knuckles that apparently had to be ditched by someone rather quickly!


This is the hotel where Baker alleges that she carried on with Oswald. Remember: Oswald was a “poor working man with a family to feed”, yet had money for lunchtime dates at a fancy hotel!  For a guy making a pittance repairing coffee machines, Oswald always seems to have had exquisite taste in hotels.

Hotel Monteleone

Carlos Marcello’s former 500 Club that he owned with the Prima Brothers.

500 Club

I forget the name of this place, but it was a club at one point where Dutz Murret, Oswald’s uncle, worked for Marcello.

other marcello property

That is all I have for now! Hope to return at some point to see more things, including the apparently amazing WW2 Museum, NOLA is a wonderful, if deeply troubled, place.


Bang a Gong! (update on WikiFreaks)

•February 16, 2011 • 13 Comments

Symbol of Falun Gong

“The way alien beings get human beings to shake free ofthe gods is to mix the races, causing human beings to become rootless people, just like the plant hybrids people make nowadays. South Americans, Central Americans, Mexicans and some people in South East Asia – all of these races have been mixed. None of this can evade the gods’ eyes. Alien beings have made rather extensive preparations for overtaking human beings.”
-Li Hongzhi, Leader of Falun Gong

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
-George Orwell, 1984

The material contained in this post hits on two seemingly disparate themes that have been constant in my work over the past few years.

1. The cyber-libertarian mythos that hackers are always “several steps ahead of the Feds” and that “Information wants to be free” is just that: mythos. First, let’s tackle the “information wants to be free” notion. It’s a sentence that begins debunking itself by the second word, and finishes the job by the fifth word, a fairly amazing English language accomplishment, if not a philosophical one. Bits and bytes don’t “want” anything. And they certainly have no concept of freedom. But if they mix enough LSD into their coding sessions, I guess “cypherpunks”  can convince themselves of anything! As for “always steps ahead of the Feds”, that is often the case in a technical sense. However, the Feds can catch up quickly with their massive funds, technology, and most  importantly the literal army of busted geeks who flip and cut a deal to avoid long Fed prison sentences. Getting ahead of the Feds in terms of  code is one thing, STAYING ahead of them is a completely different deal.

2. The notion that governments use dangerous mind-control cults to achieve political agendas.  This is not a popular notion and one I’ve certainly spent a fair amount of time and energy arguing with people about. However, NOTHING is more blatant and proves my point more deeply than Falun Gong. This is a scary, racist, homophobic, UFO cult, yet one that operates with the 100% blessing and support of the US Government. Openly. Emphatically. Even San Francisco, supposedly a bastion of gay freedom, has honored Falun Gong for its “resistance” to the Chinese government despite it’s toxic anti-gay belief system.

How do these two things intertwine? Keep reading!

First, let’s take a look at the “Tor Project”. I first started hearing about this when I was researching WikiLeaks and one of it’s leaders, Daniel Domscheit-Berg (aka “Daniel Schmitt”) as he was touting Tor.

…Tor is a system intended to enable online anonymity, composed of client software and a network of servers which can hide information about users’ locations and other factors which might identify them. Use of this system makes it more difficult to trace internet traffic to the user, including visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms.[5] It is intended to protect users’ personal freedom, privacy, and ability to conduct confidential business, by keeping their internet activities from being monitored.[6] The software is open-source and the network is free of charge to use.

Sounds groovy! And who is behind this wonderful gift of “network servers which can hide information about users’ locations and other factors which might identify them”, thus helping, WikiLeaks style, to battle the great all-seeing eye of the US Military-Industrial Complex?  The Naval Research Lab! But, of course, there is a myth build up around Tor, just like the Internet itself, that this is something that “escaped the government labs for the benefit of anti-American hipsters everywhere!” I call bullshit.

Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson, The Free Haven Project; Paul Syverson, Naval Research Lab
We present Tor, a circuit-based low-latency anonymous communication service. This second-generation Onion Routing system addresses limitations in the original design by adding perfect forward secrecy, congestion control, directory servers, integrity checking, configurable exit policies, and a practical design for location-hidden services via rendezvous points. Tor works on the real-world Internet, requires no special privileges or kernel modifications, requires little synchronization or coordination between nodes, and provides a reasonable tradeoff between anonymity, usability, and efficiency. We briefly describe our experiences with an international network of more than 30 nodes. We close with a list of open problems in anonymous communication.

Tor is not viewed by its creators as something to be used for people to “free themselves” from global capitalism, or “big gubmint”, or the Military-industrial complex, or the Illuminati, or whatever your particular bugaboo of political choice is.  It’s a WEAPON.

And what is to stop a law enforcement or intel org from hitching onto Tor and getting a peak at what passes through it? Nothing!

Tor hack proposed to catch criminals
Robert Lemos, SecurityFocus 2007-03-08

The Tor network–a distributed system of computers that anonymizes the source of network traffic–has a slew of beneficial uses: Human-rights workers, the military and journalists all use the system. However, the anonymity of Tor has also attracted seedier elements as well: digital pirates, online criminals and, quite possibly, child pornographers.

Now, one security researcher aims to make the distributed network less of a haven for the shadier side of the Internet.

HD Moore, the lead developer of the Metasploit Project, has created a rough set of tools that allows anyone operating a Tor server to attempt to track the source of network data. Moore originally created the software to block file sharers from eating up his computer’s bandwidth, but soon targeted potential child pornographers who appeared to be using the network, he said.

“I don’t want my network connection to be used to transfer child pornography or pictures of child models,” Moore wrote in an e-mail to SecurityFocus on Thursday. “I don’t want my server confiscated by law enforcement because of some Tor user who thinks they are anonymous.”

…Unsurprisingly, Moore’s actions have stirred up controversy. Tor operators have criticized the project as endangering the vast majority of legitimate Tor users to pursue a smaller number of bad actors.

“This is a general-purpose attack tool–there’s no reason it can’t be just as useful for identifying the IPs of misconfigured Tor users looking for information on democracy in China, or for the nearest VD clinic, or for information on how to run for office, or whatever,” said one poster to the Onion Routing Talk (OR-Talk) mailing list. “Snoops everywhere should be pleased.”Shava Nerad, executive director of the Tor Project, agreed that any technique that could be used by law enforcement to track down criminals, could also be used by authoritarian regimes to track down democracy activists or by the United States’ enemies to track down the military intelligence officers that use the network. “Mr. Moore’s solution will not solve the problem he is trying to solve, and in the process, he will hurt a lot of people that he should be helping,” Nerad said.

…The attack also relies on the attacker’s ability to have its server become an exit node for the Tor network. Exit nodes are key servers that act as the drop point for encrypted data cells from the Tor network, which are translated into unencrypted network packets and sent out to the Internet. Responses are processed by the same server, translated back into data cells, and sent through the Tor network back to the user.

…Moreover, anyone who implement’s Moore’s tools could be violating federal wiretap laws, Bankston said.For his part, Moore intends to turn the tools over to law enforcement for their own use, he said. “I agree that evidence collected in this fashion may not be admissible in court, but my end goal is to provide a software package to law enforcement, not stream evidence directly to the agencies,” the researcher said in an e-mail to SecurityFocus.

….The Tor Project has already taken steps to inform its users. On Thursday, the project added a warning to its documentation and further outlined what users need to do to protect their anonymity online. “Tor by itself is NOT all you need to maintain your anonymity,” the site read. “There are several major pitfalls to watch out for.”

The list of threats is not small: misconfigured applications, using any of a number of browser plugins, visiting sites that have set cookies, and a lack of encryption from the Tor network to the destination server.If nothing else, the list underscores that, in the digital world, anonymity is not easy.

No, it is not easy. And remember the words of John Young of Cryptome, the predecessor of WikiLeaks, which I quoted extensively from in “WikiFreaks”.

“There is none that is not superficial and illusory. Security and/or privacy policy for the Internet and digital communication are unbelievable. Digital communication should be seen as a spying machine. The Internet is a magnificently appealing means to gather data on its bewitched users — for harvesting by governments, commerce, institutions and individuals, but especially by the providers of Internet services, distribution systems and equipment.”

“CNET: Wikileaks pledges to maintain the confidentiality of sources and stressed that in the presentation over the weekend. Do you offer your contributors the same guarantee?
Young: No. That’s just a pitch. You cannot provide any security over the Internet, much less any other form of communication. We actually post periodically warnings not to trust our site. Don’t believe us. We offer no protection. You’re strictly on your own.

We also say don’t trust anyone who offers you protection, whether it’s the U.S. government or anybody else. That’s a story they put out. It’s repeated to people who are a little nervous. They think they can always find someone to protect them. No, you can’t. You’ve got to protect yourself. You know where I learned that? From the cypherpunks.

So Wikileaks cannot protect people. It’s so leaky. It’s unbelievable how leaky it is as far as security goes. But they do have a lot of smoke blowing on their site. Page after page after page about how they’re going to protect you.

And I say, oh-oh. That’s over-promising. The very over-promising is an indication that it doesn’t work. And we know that from watching the field of intelligence and how governments operate. When they over-promise, you know they’re hiding something. People who are really trustworthy do not go around broadcasting how trustworthy I am.”

I would suggest that the same quality of “over-promising” applies not only to WikiLeaks, but to Tor as well. Next, let’s get back to Falun Gong and the beliefs of Dear Leader Li Hongzhi.  Yes, this is hosted by the Chinese government. Naturally, they have the most vested interest in nailing Falun Gong. However, once one understands what Falun is about, who can blame them? Also, I have never found that they misrepresent Li Honzhi’s viewpoints. He is quite consistent in his insanity.


"Are there any queers in the theater tonight?"


Question: Why is homosexuality considered immoral?

Teacher: Think about it, everyone: Is homosexuality human behavior? Heaven created man and woman. What was the purpose? To procreate future generations. A man being with a man, or a woman with a woman – it doesn’t take much thought to know whether that’s right or wrong. When minor things are done incorrectly, a person is said to be wrong. When major things are done incorrectly, it’s a case of people no longer having the moral code of human beings, and then they are unworthy of being human.

…Some people who have sinned can have their karma eliminated through the death of the physical body and suffering, and then they’ll be free of that karma when they reincarnate. Their livesdon’t really die and they reincarnate again. But the karma that some people have accrued is too much, in which case the fundamental elements of their existence will be implicated and destroyed. Homosexuals not only violate the standards that gods set for mankind, but also damage human society’s moral code.

Li on Interracial Marriage

…Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong holds that the offspring of cross-race marriage or the “hybrid” is a rootless and aberrant race which marks the extreme morality corruption of human beings in the world today. He says the half-breed – “mongrel” is a plot of aliens. He further explains that the half-breed is a plot of aliens aiming at sabotaging the link between human being and paradise. “The aliens mix up different human races and keep them away from gods,” Li said in Switzerland. He also enumerated 10 kinds of “evils”: the half-breed, gays and lesbians, computer users, tradition disrupters, democracy adherents as well as “science worshipers,” etc.

“In the reincarnation process it is the main soul that reincarnates, whereas what has mixed blood is the flesh body. Different gods created their own different peoples, and in history those gods have all along been taking care of the people they themselves created. White people are white people, black people are black people, and people of the yellow race are people of the yellow race. Any ethnicity in the world is a race that corresponds with the heavens. After mixing blood people no longer have their correspondence to the gods in the heavens.


“(Alien beings) want to steal it. They saturate all domains of humankind with science to make human beings firmly believe in science and rely on it. When human beings’ thoughts and way of existence are completely assimilated to theirs, they just have to replace people’s souls and humans will become them, and they will eventually replace the human race…this science was set up by aliens. Their purpose was to unify human beings and simplify their thoughts to the point of being as uniform asmachines. And they unified knowledge to make it easy for them to later on control and replace human beings. Furthermore, they’ve chosen a few nationalities as the vanguards of their future, total control ofhumankind. Japan is the vanguard that drives technology. The United States is the vanguard in breaking away from all ancient cultures on earth. The cultures of even the most ancient and closed-off nations haven’t been able to escape. The whole world is being impacted by America’s modern culture. England was the vanguard in the manufacture of machinery during the early stages, and Spain was the vanguard for mixing the human races. The way alien beings get human beings to shake free ofthe gods is to mix the races, causing human beings to become rootless people, just like the plant hybrids people make nowadays. South Americans, Central Americans, Mexicans and some people in South East Asia – all of these races have been mixed. None of this can evade the gods’ eyes. Alien beings have made rather extensive preparations for overtaking human beings.”[13]

I consider this final piece the coup de grace on the notion of “internet freedom” being anything other than a psyop.  In fact, the folks in charge of these kinds of psyops are so arrogant that they can blab about it at length at their tech mouthpiece of choice: Wired Magazine!  After all, they’re for “freedom”. Aren’t you? I have to admit, though, as much as I have misgivings about Wired, I can’t imagine trying to sort out this mess with Tor and WikiLeaks without their articles! They’ve been indispensable.

…Huang has hunched shoulders and a round face thatched with bushy black hair; his bashful mien occasionally retreats into a nervous giggle. He’s no charismatic revolutionary.

Love how the Wired author cracks on the guy’s physical appearance. Sidenote: writer of piece is actor Brendan Fraser’s brother! Just thought I’d toss that in. For the hardcore researcher, Fraser played Ed Lansdale in the brilliant “Quiet American” about the early days of the Vietnam War. Man, I love small details like that…

But by 2002, he had assembled a dozen like-minded Falun Gong-practicing colleagues. In the small garage attached to his four-bedroom bungalow, they developed a digital weapon for their compatriots back in China: a program designed to foil government censorship and surveillance. Dubbed UltraSurf, it has since become one of the most important free-speech tools on the Internet, used by millions from China to Saudi Arabia.

A separate group of Falun Gong practitioners, it turned out, was working on something similar, and in 2006 the two groups joined forces as the Global Internet Freedom Consortium. Most GIFC members spend their days as cubicle-bound programmers and engineers at places ranging from Microsoft to NASA. But off the clock, at night and on weekends, they wage digital guerrilla warfare on the Chinese government’s cyberpolice, matching their technical savvy, donated computers, and home-office resources against the world’s second-largest superpower. Again and again, Beijing has attacked the firewall-beating programs; again and again, the scrappy band of volunteers has defeated those attacks.

The victories don’t come easily. Huang quit a lucrative job to devote all his time to the cause. He has drained almost all of his savings. He had to sell his home and move his family into a rental, where he now works out of a spare room, making ends meet with freelance consulting gigs. Most days he sits in an armless swivel chair, bent over computers set up on a folding table. But there is one major consolation. “More and more people are using our technology,” he says. “And that’s the force that will tear down the Great Firewall

…. Pulling out a few others at random, we see that somebody in Beijing visited Dolce & Gabbana’s site, somebody in Turkey hit Facebook, and somebody in the United Arab Emirates spent quality time at ShemaleTubeVideos .com. We check out that site, and Huang grimaces at some biologically baffling photos. “We don’t want to spend our money supporting that,” he says. In a hard-to-miss irony, the GIFC tools block access to many video sites, especially pornographic ones. That’s partly because their network lacks the bandwidth to accommodate so much data-heavy traffic, but also because Falun Gong frowns on erotica.

So the New World of Internet Freedom will be Free… unless it isn’t.  Hey, man, we want our shemaletube videos!

…The fact that administrators like Huang can see data about where users are coming from and going to, however, makes privacy fundamentalists leery of the GIFC tools. They favor similar software like Hotspot Shield and Tor, which can’t gather user data. Logs could be hacked into or turned over to US law enforcement—something Xia and Huang say they’d do if ordered by a court. “I know plenty of people in China who don’t like what their government does to the Falun Gong, but they don’t want to entrust their data to the Falun Gong either,” says Rebecca MacKinnon, a New America Foundation fellow specializing in global Internet policy and human rights. Xia and Huang insist their logs are secure and, in any case, are deleted after a couple of weeks at most. They keep them for that long, they say, to analyze the traffic for signs of interference or surveillance.

Which happens all the time. “UltraSurf and Freegate are blocked very aggressively in China,” says Hal Roberts of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “In response, they’ve gotten into a very sophisticated arms race.”

Those money woes are among the reasons Tian and Huang, along with a couple of smaller Falun Gong-affiliated outfits, established the nonprofit GIFC. Together, they figured, they had a better shot at getting some real money from the world’s biggest free-speech funder: the US government. As computer geeks who speak English as a second language, GIFC members aren’t exactly skilled Beltway operators. They have, however, attracted some key allies—most important, a pair of well-connected conservative true believers for whom battling the world’s last great Communist autocracy is the highest calling. The first is Mark Palmer, a onetime speechwriter for Henry Kissinger and the Soviet-relations point person in President Reagan’s State Department. Today he’s a pro-democracy advocate in DC. “I was amazed at what they’d done with chewing gum and baling wire,” he says.

Palmer knows that simply routing around firewalls won’t end Internet censorship. But he believes circumvention tools can play a critical role. “If you ask dissidents from the Soviet days what were the best things the West did to help them, they all say Radio Free Europe and the BBC made an enormous difference. They were ways for them to get information and communicate with one another,” he says. “The Internet is the modern version of those programs, but of course it goes much further.”

Palmer brought in Michael Horowitz, a Reagan administration official who has since become a freelance paladin on a head-spinning range of issues, from the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries to prison rape and sex trafficking. The pair set about putting the group on the capital’s radar. It was a tough sell at first; Falun Gong has a bit of a nutty, Scientology-like reputation, especially in Washington, DC, where it’s a visible presence. They’re the guys in yellow T-shirts outside the Chinese embassy, waving gruesome pictures of torture victims and yowling crazy-sounding allegations about Communist officials harvesting the organs of imprisoned Falun Gong members.

Note that writer Beiser simply mentions their “reputation” and their conspiracy theories. No mention of their UFO beliefs, swastika symbol, racism, or homophobia.  Because Beiser, as a “Huffington Post liberal” himself, knows that kind of stuff won’t fly with Wired readers, most of whom are either liberal or libertarians on social issues.

“Their eagerness to persuade you about how bad their situation is makes them their own worst PR enemy,” Horowitz says. “Sometimes they overstate things because they’re so anxious to get coverage.” But the religious-freedom angle got traction with pols who supported Horowitz’s crusade for Christian-minority rights. Among other things, he secured a Senate subcommittee hearing for GIFC member Shiyu Zhou, a Rutgers computer science professor. With $50 million, Zhou testified, the GIFC could attract and serve 23 million users in China. “Imagine the possibilities,” he continued, “of the Pope being able to conduct an interactive worship service with millions of Chinese Catholics, or members of this committee being able to conduct seminars in democracy with tens of thousands of Iranian students.”

A handful of Communist-hating members of Congress were persuaded. In 2008, they passed a bill appropriating $15 million to efforts to defeat firewalls in “dictatorships and autocracies.” But the State Department gave almost all of the money to a group that mainly trains journalists abroad. “The goddamn State Department just pissed that money away,” the normally diplomatic Palmer fumes. “I’m virtually certain the reason was fear of Beijing.” He and Horowitz maintain that the State Department doesn’t want to anger China by funding a Falun Gong-related organization.

….Though that cause has always been the GIFC’s main motivation, its biggest public relations coup came last year in Iran. The group wasn’t doing a thing to promote its tools there, but somehow they started spreading rapidly in 2008. The Voice of America helped develop a Farsi interface for the programs, and by year’s end they had as many users in Iran as in China—between half a million and a million daily. Then came the chaotic green movement protests surrounding the June 2009 election. “People were using circumvention tools to find out where the demonstration routes were, download posters, and repost news on their own sites,” says Iranian-American cyber activist Cameran Ashraf. Freegate and UltraSurf were especially popular, and the tsunami of Iranian traffic overwhelmed the GIFC servers. “A lot of us worked through the night to get the servers back online,” Zhou says. “We understood the Iranians’ pain.” They were up the next day, but since then the GIFC has had to impose limits on traffic from Iran to keep its cobbled-together network from being overwhelmed. Unfortunately, that forces some users to wait hours for a connection.

Please note that I’m not necessarily opposed to the USG backing efforts like this with Iran, or even with China, though I think working with Falun Gong is a very different thing than backing Iranian democrats. However, I am opposed to the veil of illusion that many “cypherpunk” types are operating under in regards to things like WikiLeaks and Tor.

Nonetheless, the performance of the group’s tools that summer won them plaudits from members of Congress and columnists at The New York Times and The Washington Post. The hype about the “Twitter revolution” helped firewall-busting pick up momentum as a cause in Washington. “Nations that censor the Internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote Internet freedom,” secretary of state Hillary Clinton said last January. The US is “supporting the development of new tools,” she added, “that enable citizens to exercise their rights of free expression by circumventing politically motivated censorship.”

Bingo. That is why Wikileaks is still online.  I wrote nearly all of this material months before the “Social Media Revolutions” supported by the U.S. and the West broke out. I feel that these developments have increased the relevance of this post. Not to brag or anything…

A few months later, the State Department promised $1.5 million in funding for the GIFC. That’s peanuts by Washington standards, of course. The budget for Voice of America alone is more than $200 million. Nonetheless, Palmer says, the fact that the US government is now funding the GIFC gives the group a certain legitimacy and an acknowledgment that its tools work. That will be important in the months ahead, when the Feds decide who will get a portion of the $30 million in Internet freedom funding that Congress has approved for this fiscal year.

More money could let the GIFC expand its server network enough to lift the cap on Iranian traffic and accommodate millions more users. It could also let it hire programmers to develop Mac, Linux, and iPad versions of UltraSurf and Freegate. And it could allow Alan Huang to quit his consulting gigs and do battle full-time with the censors. “Sometimes,” he says, “I joke that Falun Gong may not be a religion, but Internet freedom has become a religion for me.”

WikiFreaks, Pt. 4b “The Nerds Who Kicked the Hornets Nest”

•September 17, 2010 • 6 Comments

Swedish Children, 1950s

“In the Larsson universe the nasty trolls and hulking ogres are bent Swedish capitalists, cold-faced Baltic sex traffickers, blue-eyed Viking Aryan Nazis, and other Nordic riffraff who might have had their reasons to whack him. … His best excuse for his own prurience is that these serial killers and torture fanciers are practicing a form of capitalism and that their racket is protected by a pornographic alliance with a form of Fascism, its lower ranks made up of hideous bikers and meth runners. This is not just sex or crime—it’s politics!”

-Christopher Hitchens, on Stieg Larrson, author of the “Girl Who Played With Fire” trilogy

“I don’t want to limit this to Wikileaks, but yes, they’re acting like a cult. They’re acting like a religion. They’re acting like a government. They’re acting like a bunch of spies”

–           John Young,

In this chapter, I hope to sum up some of my own opinions vis a vis the WikiLeaks fiasco. From what I can tell, the core WikiLeaks people view themselves as independent of outside influences. Assange in particular seems to believe his own P.R. and thinks that he can play the world’s real power brokers against each other for the financial benefit of WikiLeaks. However, I think they underestimate their own capability for being USED by those same power brokers.

Many conspiracy theorists on the Web have attacked Assange as “CIA” and the whole leaking of documents is a CIA setup. I do not think this is the case. However, I would not rule out him being manipulated by OTHER intelligence services. He himself claims to be in contact with the Australian intelligence community, and as we shall see below, others have suggested that the Military logs leak was done by Britain as a tweak at the US for the outcry over BP. This may be true, and many of the facts seem to fit that possibility. While there is a widespread perception of the U.S. and Britain as “the greatest of friends”, “friendship” is a very nebulous concept when applied to states.

Heads of state can be close buddies (think Clinton/Blair), the people of two nations can view each other in a friendly light, but “States”? No, States aren’t really friends with each other. As Lord Palmerston put it, “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” Sadly, I think that is a very true statement and it drives the foreign policy of most nations. This doesn’t mean we’re going to war with Britain, or some Larouchian fantasy like that, it’s just like a brushback pitch in baseball. A small snipe in the context of a generally solid alliance. But to the people suffering from the leaks, it’s quite a big deal indeed! However, that is collateral damage to folks in intel agencies.

Considering that the government and intelligence service of Britain is thoroughly overlapped with BP, is it really out of the realm of possibility that MI6 leaked data on the U.S.? And considering the deep ties between Australia and Britain in the intelligence area, PLUS the intel-connected mind control cult in Assange’s background, can we easily rule out such a strange scenario? Debka has an article on this behind its paywall that is described here on this blog. Of all the conspiracy theories on WikiLeaks, this may be the best one I’ve read.

DEBKAfile, in an article in its subscription-only version, is contending that Britain leaked the military reports published in Wikileaks. Their arguments are that only US reports were leaked, indicating that the US was specifically being targeted. The (British) Guardian played the lead role in coordinating publication of a prefabricated storyline leveling several damaging accusations against the US and casting Julian Assange as a persecuted victim. The Guardian, New York Times, and Der Speigel all agreed to run the story as proposed and accepted the July 25 publication deadline without having actually read more than 2% of the documents.

DEBKA notes that all the leak documents cover six-year period ending in December 2009, their interval terminating at the point at which President Obama announced his new Afghanistan War strategy. DEBKA contends that the end point is deliberate, sparing Obama specific association with accusations arising from the leaked documents, but also implicitly warning that the next batch could be aimed his way.

The British motivation, according to DEBKAfile, would be Barack Obama’s systematic downgrading of the British-American special relationship on the basis of personal and ideological anti-colonialist resentments, specifically exacerbated by the administration’s vilifying BP over an unfortunate accident followed by accusations in the US Congress that BP played a role in securing the Lockerbie bomber’s release. Retired senior official from MI5 and MI6 are rumored to hold positions on BP’s board of directors.

Julian Assange has been back in the news as a Swedish prosecutor is re-opening an investigation into rape allegations against Asssange. Is this a setup by the CIA meant as payback? Possibly. However, the person prosecuting him is known as a leftist, not a conservative with pro-U.S. leanings. And, yet, her surface politics may mean nothing. As we shall see though, Assange has done a poor job of keeping distance from sexual predators if he wished to avoid a possible setup.

Sweden reopens WikiLeaks founder rape investigation

By Simon Johnson and Patrick Lannin–

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A top Swedish prosecutor said on Wednesday she was reopening an investigation into rape allegations against Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

…Assange has denied the charges, which a lower official had withdrawn two weeks ago, and said he has been warned by Australian intelligence that he could face a campaign to discredit him after leaking the documents.

Warned by Australian intelligence, eh? Remember, “Mendax the Liar” has truthiness issues. Yet he does seem to have some kind of official protection AND has two possible points of connection to Australian intelligence: 1) his ties to “The Family” and 2) his bust for hacking and probable plea deal with the State.

…Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny said she decided to reopen the investigation after further review of the case.”There is reason to believe that a crime has been committed. Considering information available at present, my judgment is that the classification of the crime is rape,” Ny said in a statement on the Prosecution Authority’s website.

“More investigations are necessary before a final decision can be made,” she added. She also said a preliminary investigation into charges of molestation would be expanded to sexual coercion and sexual molestation.

I  have to say that it has been quite a crazy synchronicity to be researching this material while at the same time reading  Stieg Larsson’s “Girl” trilogy which deals with Swedish hackers, pedophiles, prostitute trafficking, and, yes, Nazis. And, as Steig Larsson was writing about REAL events and people, you sometimes get the creepy feeling that he was talking about these guys!  The novels certainly encapsulate some of the charm of Swedish life, yet they are also brutally honest in their depiction of the State and its indifference to sex crimes against women and children, if not outright complicity.

In Sweden, laws and views toward child pornography appear to be somewhat different than our own. While most Americans do not see child pornography as something protected by the First Amendment, the attitude is more lax in Sweden. In this article, it is discussed how WikiLeaks is hosted by the same servers that host pedophilia forums and The Pirate Bay file-sharing site.

Gottfried Warg of Pirate Bay

Fredrik Neij of Pirate Bay

Police powerless to close paedophile forums

Published: 9 Apr 10 13:25 CET

…Despite a new law designed to tackle grooming of young people by suspected paedophiles on internet websites, police are unable to act against those hosting chat forums, contact sites and advice pages.

“The so-called grooming law which came into force last July forbids sexually motivated contact with children over the internet. But the adult has to take some sort of initiative in that contact for it to be an offence – to arrange a date, buy a train ticket or such like,” said Jonas Persson of the Swedish police to The Local on Friday.

In the six months after the law was adopted the police received only 100 reports, despite the fact that more than half of Swedish girls aged 15 to17 claimed to have been subject to grooming attempts by adults over the internet before reaching the age of 15, according to a National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebygganderådet – Brå) report from 2007. The law does not allow for the closure of websites or the prosecution of those behind them. Jonas Persson explained why:

“I don’t think a tightening of the legislation is desirable – it would come dangerously close to encroaching on freedom of expression legislation,” he said. Legal obligations for those behind websites visited by suspected paedophiles and would-be “groomers” extend only to the removal of pictures and films which feature minors, or the publication of personal information.

The Local has received information that a man resident in Stockholm is alleged to be behind a chat forum serving as a contact point for paedophiles and hosted by PRQ – a Swedish web-hosting firm run by Pirate Bay co-founders Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Fredrik Neij, and also noted for hosting the Wikileaks whistle-blower website. Anti-paedophilia activists claim to have made attempts to persuade PRQ to close the man’s website but to no avail.

Of course not. PRQ doesn’t roll like that. And they don’t have to, they are protected by very scary and wealthy people.

Pirate Bay's Carl Lundstrom party

The trial of the Pirate Bay operators in Sweden has generated huge amounts of media coverage. But one of the most interesting things about Pirate Bay hasn’t got a mention.

In his daily dispatches for WiReD, court correspondent Oscar Schwartz swoons over the boyish charm of “likeable” and “winning” Pirate Bay PR guy Peter Sunde. But there seems to be something about Pirate Bay that no one wants you to read: its debt to one of the most notorious fascists in Europe.

Reg readers will already know a little about Carl Lundström’s background. But as Andrew Brown, author of the autobiographical Fishing in Utopia, points out, no English language coverage of the trial has mentioned this. Thanks to Brown’s blog, we know a little more about Lundström.

For example, Lundström was linked to a gang of skinheads that attacked Latin American tourists in Stockholm in the mid-1980s. [ report (Swe) – 2005]. Over the years, Lundström has switched his support from Keep Sweden Swedish to the far-right headbangers party New Democracy – but was thrown out for being too right wing. He’s currently bankrolling 100 candidates for the Swedish equivalent of the BNP.

Lundström is alleged to own 40 per cent of The Pirate Bay – the largest share – and gave it servers and bandwidth to get going. As one of the four defendants, been a regular attendee in court. But the presence of this significant national political player hasn’t been worthy of a WiReD mention since the trial kicked off. Or a mention anywhere else. Why would that be?

For me, there are two interesting aspects to this peculiar, and very selective silence.

One is that anti-copyright activists like to think of themselves as thoroughly decent, forward-thinking progressive people – because the internet is a new democracy, they’re reflecting a fairer world. They like to contrast the hygenic efficiency of the technology with the old (and implicitly corrupt) copyright businesses. It’s almost a badge of moral superiority.

But like the Futurists a hundred years ago – the original Freetards – they don’t mind jumping into bed with neo-Nazis when it suits them. In this case, that’s so long as the free music and movies keep flowing.

The second is WiReD’s choice of Oscar Schwartz to file courtroom dispatches from the Pirate Bay trial. He’s the only English language courtroom reporter, and bloggers and professional publications take their cue from his reports.

But Schwartz describes himself as “a leading critic of intellectual property” and an activist. His reports duly fulfil the caricature of plucky freedom fighters and bungling prosecutors that fellow activists (and some journalists) want to read.

“The fact it is represented by four young, rebellious and innovative guys all adds to the image of the rock’n’rollers facing up to the The Man,” drooled Guardian blogger Jemima Kiss, who omits to mention the Fourth Man isn’t particularly young – or looks great in jackboots. “Whatever happens at the end of this case, Pirate Bay wins.”

When you invite activists to do your reporting for you, you can be sure that if a fact has an unpleasant odour, it won’t be reported – no matter how important it may be.

So, in choosing a place to host WikiLeaks, Assange ignored the obvious and hooked up with the PRQ/Pirate Bay folks, and therefore Swedish fascist Lundstrom.

But wait, there’s more! The Pirate Bay has formed its own political party, with chapters around the world, including the U.S. They even had a parliamentarian in the Bundestag of Germany. “Had” being the key word. Gee, I wonder what this guy found so appealing about the Pirate Bay and Swedish attitudes towards sex crimes?

Party's Over for Tauss

Tauss leaves Pirate Party after child pornography conviction

Former parliamentarian Jörg Tauss, the most prominent member of the German Pirate Party, has resigned from the party following his conviction for possessing child pornography last week.

Two days after the Karlsruhe district court handed the 56-year-old a 15-month suspended sentence, Tauss said on Sunday that he would leave the party to avoid damaging its reputation, saying his presence would be “counterproductive.”

“We must be able to discuss our issues at our information stands and should not allow ourselves to be crippled by the ‘Tauss debate.’ For this reason I declare my exit from the party,” the politician said Sunday on his blog, insisting he would still support the party.

Prosecutors convinced the judges that Tauss had illegally possessed some 260 photos and 40 video clips containing child pornography between May 2007 and January 2009. The court also found that Tauss had sent five such photos and videos from his mobile phone during that time.

The defence did not deny Tauss possessed the illegal material, alleging instead he’d had it for work-related purposes for research about the scene. But the court found he had used it for personal interests.

…After the investigation against him began, Tauss left the centre-left Social Democratic Party, for which he has been an MP since 1994. He then became the first and only member of the Pirate Party in the Bundestag until the general election last September.

The Pirate Party in Germany sees itself as representing those in the information technology community, campaigning for privacy protection as well as the loosening of copyright laws. Following the verdict on Friday a party spokesman told The Local that the decision of whether to leave the party was up to Tauss.

And WikiLeaks is going underground… not metaphorically, I mean LITERALLY!

One of the world’s most controversial websites now has one of the world’s coolest datacenters.
Andy Greenberg at Forbes has picked up on a Norwegian report that Wikileaks‘ servers are now hosted in Sweden’s Pionen datacentre, housed inside a Cold War-era underground nuclear bunker. 30 metres below Stockholm, it reportedly has a single entrance with half-metre thick metal doors.

The move has been initiated by the Swedish Pirate Party, who began looking after Wikileaks’ hosting this month. “We have long admired Wikileaks”, the Pirate Party’s Rick Falkvinge told Norway’s VG, claiming that as his party is hosting Wikileaks, an attack on Wikileaks is also regarded as an attack on a political party.

…Gossip blog Gawker has today launched in an attempt to rake up stories about the little-discussed internal operations at the organisation. Among the stories its looking for are “Documents relating to Julian Assange’s Swedish sexual molestation case: police reports, affidavits, etc.” and “Financial information: Who supports Wikileaks? How much money do they receive in donations and grants? What does Wikileaks do with this money? How is the money managed?”

While Julian Assange is definitely a pompous, irritating cretin, I think he is outmatched in annoyance factor by his partner Daniel Schmitt. This guy is REALLY fucking irritating. Schmitt comes off as thoroughly brainwashed, and definitely supports the notion of WikiCritics that WikiLeaks acts like a “cult”. Only excerpting parts of this interview with Schmitt as most of his answers repeat themselves. He is a poster boy for hacker arrogance, and I would suspect may be due for a huge comeuppance soon. Let us hope.

Daniel Schmitt: World's Most Irritating Man?

WikiLeaks: Daniel Schmitt interviewed (English)

gullinews am Sonntag, 05.07.2009 22:16 Uhr

…Daniel Schmitt: The last point in particular is becoming relevant nowadays when talking about internet censorship, be it here in Germany (censorship declared as “hindering access to child pornography”, in Scandinavia or Australia. Censorship is a concept which, no matter what form it will take, will get into the way of our communication of the neutral internet. Just as the surveillance of telephone directory assistance to deny access to drugs would be totally pointless, it’s pointless to try preventing the publication of “child porn” by DNS blocks. Not to mention the implications of filtering directory assistance, like personalised advice for advertising purposes.

Note that access to  “child porn” as some kind of  “right” appears to be a motivating force for many involved with WikiLeaks, Pirate Bay, PRQ, etc.

gulli:news: Do you have a special “philosophy”? If you do, could you please give a brief description?

Daniel Schmitt: “Brief” is a challenge. As I described above, there were realisations about the situation of our world, and the idea was to try and offer solutions for that. Most developments which harmed and are still harming our society could way too long go on in secret. The more closed, more secret a system is, the more vulnerable it is to abuse and mistakes. No matter if we are talking about a piece of technology, a government or a company. That’s one of the reasons why investigative journalism and transparent information flow are of essential meaning for every society, and ours in particular.

To bring to light this abuse in a closed, non-transparent system, we need whistleblowers: People who pass on important information to the public, against their orders and sometimes against their own interests. They are something like a natural mechanism to control problems in a closed society: With the amount of abuse happening in the system, the probability for a brave person acting in the name of moral and in the name of everyone and making the abuse publicly known raises. Those people are an essential part of our society and have to be protected by all means.

Particularly those whistleblowers mustn’t be criminalised, as it will happen with the new German law for hindering access to “child pornography”, which was passed with the support of, notably, family minister Ursula von der Leyen. WikiLeaks is a systemic idea which is based on, and puts into practise, this philosophy, to improve and optimise those aspects of a problem complex concerning all of society. Understood as a social problem, implemented with the help of technology.

Gulli:news: How do you finance your project; does that only happen by collecting donations?

Daniel Schmitt: …

…We get donations, yes, and a significant part comes from Germany. Thanks a lot for that! The donations help us to pay at least some expenses the project has, like buying hardware or similar things. The problem with this is that, unfortunately, individual donations are hard to plan in advance and often depend on a new hot document or story.

…As for the situation of our financial support, we now have the possibility to have our work supported by the Wau Holland Foundation which supports moral courage, freedom of information and media history. So, as with, for example, the TOR project for Europe, donations can be made to the foundation and used according to purpose by us. That is an enormous step for us; we are very happy and grateful that the Wau Holland Foundation decided to support us, to show solidarity with us.

On the bright side, some online sources have decided to start their own anti-WikiLeaks sites meant to expose Assange and Co. to the bright light of transparency that they seem to love so much… of course except when it is applied to WikiLeaks! Gawker has launched WikiLeakiLeaks to accumulate leaks on WikiLeaks. I love it! And, yes, I can’t help but suspect that Gawker and Daily Beast (also on the anti-Assange bandwagon) are doing this in Cahoots with US intelligence. Fine by me! Though it does raise the question of intelligence agencies supposedly not “operating within the US”. Hah! I think that ship sailed a long time ago… I won’t nitpick in this case.

Here is the Digital Journal’s take on WikiLeakiLeaks.

If all this seems grossly unfair, over the top, one-sided and unverifiable, sensationalist and cheap, that’s because it is. And more.  But I support this initiative for all that.

The very idea that an individual is able to launch a whistle-blowing site which offers the public no inkling of who works for it, its financing, staff, ethics, sources or anything else is an anathema. There is no way that a site which claims to be working for the public good yet be so shrouded in almost total secrecy can be considered as being either democratic or trustworthy.

Who can tolerate an organization which is so paranoid that it makes the CIA look like an open house? Wikileaks supporters would be quite rightly screaming for the blood of its administrators if it were right-wing, so what does this make them? If this is a taste of what healthy opposition to a government’s policy is, I’ll pass, preferring to take it for what is is – a shady and shining example of the very secretive methods it claims to decry.

I don’t trust anyone who claims to know what’s good for me without knowing who they are.

Mr Assange, we don’t know enough about you at all. In fact we hardly know anything about you or your organisation whatsoever. You and your methods are suspect in my eyes. So although I realize how unfair Wickileakyleaks is, you had this coming to you.

Here’s Gawker’s announcement of the launch…

The secret-sharing website’s tagline is “We open governments.” But the organization itself is about as open as North Korea. That’s why we’ve launched your source for Wikileaks-related secrets, documents and rumors!

Wikileaks has many secrets, and it works hard to keep them: its funding, structure and sources are almost completely unknown. (Wikileaks’ official spokesman is known only by a pseudonym: “Daniel Schmitt”.) This is in part because Julian Assange, Wikileaks’ enigmatic ex-hacker founder, is notoriously sensitive to media coverage of his organization, sometimes cutting off reporters completely after a single unfavorable article. (This happened to us.) But as details emerge about Assange’s bizarre Swedish sexual molestation case, its becoming clear that there’s more to him than his cool demeanor and lofty proclamations suggest.

This doesn’t exactly fit with the site’s ethos of radical transparency. In many ways Wikileaks really has opened things up, breaking big stories and providing a much-needed check on excessive government secrecy. But championing transparency at all costs has lead to some controversial moves, too: For example, its leak of nearly 100,000 classified Afghanistan war documents may have put America’s Afghan informants’ lives at risk. And the organization has recently come under fire for releasing uncensored court documents from a lurid Belgian pedophile-serial killer case, one which contains dubious allegations against a notable politician and details about underage victims.

It’s time to give Wikileaks the Wikileaks treatment—expose it to the same sort of radical transparency it advocates and see what turns up. We’ve launched as a place for tipsters to share documents, secrets and rumors relating to any aspect of the organization.

We will spend some time with Wau Holland later on, very important to note that this is where they get their money from. As always, “follow the money” is everything, but unsurprisingly, most of the media covering WikiLeaks have ignored this utterly KEY aspect of any political investigation.

. . And all that, apart from many social factors, because those people could be informed by WikiLeaks. This topic in particular shows us how important and open, transparent and competent debate about every subject, and here the subject of controlling the Internet and our communication, is and how publishing current, non-public information can contribute to that. It allows influencing and criticising the ongoing political process by making it transparent.

…gulli:news: How do you deal with the risk that WikiLeaks might be abused to spread a third party’s propaganda? How do you protect yourself from this kind of abuse?

Daniel Schmitt: We’ll see about that one if it happens. …Sometime in the future we will probably attempt to be recognized by the United Nations; they are, after all, using our published material successfully already. And maybe we can establish WikiLeaks servers in embassy rooms.

Great strategy for dealing with disinformation being passed on to WikiLeaks “we’ll see about that one if it happens”. Still taking these guys seriously? Anybody? Hello? Here is a solid Wired article on WikiLeaks before they got mixed up in the Lamo/Manning scenario. As a longtime critic of Wired, I still have to say that they have done some good work on this issue, and if they are helping to set up WikiLeaks, then more power to them.

…But who is behind Wikileaks? The site claims to have been founded by a concerned group of journalists, political dissidents and hackers. Curious to learn more, Wired travelled across Europe to track down the people behind the organisation.

With a slow, lilting walk, weighed down by a laptop bag that is rarely out of his sight, Daniel “Schmitt” – he won’t give his real surname – sits down at a table in the rear of a café in central Italy. He got involved with Wikileaks prior to its launch in December 2006, he says, giving up his career, and salary, to work for the group. Born Daniel, he adopted the nom de plume “Schmitt” after his cat, Mr Schmitt. His background is in computer security: he worked as a network engineer at an international technology-services company. He is cagey about his previous life and says it isn’t relevant.

Dressed in his signature black shirt, combats and Doc Martens boots, he begins his explanation of what Wikileaks is. His words are guarded, almost rehearsed, and the more he talks, the more the syntax of his native German permeates his English.

“Black shirt, combats and Doc Marten boots”, huh?

“When we started, we thought we’d become the ‘Intelligence Agency of the People’,” says Schmitt. “There would be thousands of people involved, digging out the dirt on their governments. It would create a revolutionary spirit.” But the reality of Wikileaks has been far removed from the idealism of its optimistic roots.

Wikileaks has been surrounded by controversy since the start. When the site’s first leak, a secret Islamic order allegedly written by Sheikh Hassan Aweys, one of the leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, went live in December 2006, there was speculation that it was fake; Wikileaks’ credibility was questioned in the press.

A few weeks later, in January 2007, John Young, a member of the Wikileaks advisory board and the founder of, an online depot for leaked documents, corporate rumours and government conspiracies, left Wikileaks, accusing the group of being a CIA conduit. After the split, he published over 150 pages of emails sent by members of Wikileaks on

Oh, boy, now we get to the good stuff… Young will figure prominently later in this chapter.

The emails charted the beginnings of Wikileaks; the group’s attempts to create a profile for themselves; and the arguments over how to do so. The emails talk about political impact and positive reform. They are clouded by florid rhetoric while calling for clarity and transparency around the world. Young accused Wikileaks of being part of the CIA, but Wikileaks didn’t actually seem to mind the accusation.

Schmitt says that Wikileaks has fed the speculation that it is CIA-funded. “There’s nothing better than half of the world thinking we are CIA,” says Schmitt. “As long as the right half believe this. It might encourage some people to submit material.”

John Young has changed his opinion about Wikileaks. He is now supportive of its work, though has reservations about the project’s “self-promotional aspect, and its secrecy, its love of authoritativeness, which are likely due to its being run by those trained in journalism wherein advertising and privileged access to information, and magnification of its importance, are taken to be essential to marketing success.”

Young’s main gripe is the anonymity of the site’s operators, which he describes as leaving the group open to “being co-opted by spies. It is common spy tradecraft to do that, as in journalism, media, education, churches, government and so on.”

Young may have “changed his opinion” on WikiLeaks, but I don’t think that changes the stuff he leaked in the past.

There is fake content on Wikileaks. A whistleblower, who asked to remain anonymous, admitted to submitting fabricated documents to Wikileaks to see what it would do. The documents were flagged as potential fakes, but the whistleblower felt that the decision to publish the documents had “an impact on their credibility”. When challenged on fake content, Schmitt twists the potential criticism into a positive. “A fake document is a story in itself,” he says.

Nice spin.

Wikileaks publishes documents for the coverage that it will generate and the political reform that it hopes will follow. But who at Wikileaks maps and controls this reform trajectory? It seems to be the site’s cofounder, Julian Assange.

…In the early days of Wikileaks, he formed an advisory board and filled it with prominent journalists, political activists and computer specialists. The advisory board was intended to lend credibility to and provide exposure for Wikileaks.

But most of the members of the advisory board to whom Wired spoke admitted that they had little involvement with Wikileaks, and have not done much “advising”. “I’m not really sure what the advisory board means,” says Ben Laurie, a computer- security expert and member of the board “since before the beginning”. “It’s as mysterious as the rest of Wikileaks.”

Important point:WikiLeaks LIED about who is on its advisory board. Many of them were Chinese expats working for various Western intel fronts devoted to undermining the Chinese government. Assange did this as part of his gambit to attract money from Western intel.

Assange’s political theories are presented with a tone of revolutionary idealism. But who defines “positive reform”? Who does the “selecting”? And what about the innocent people who find their private data leaked? Assange says that Wikileaks seeks to “minimise the risk to people who are associated with information” it publishes by sending out “courtesy emails”. But when Assange sent an email to “notify” one man that his details were about to be released and cautioning him to “take whatever precautions you need”, he received a less than thankful response. The reply questioned Wikileaks’ “journalistic achievement”, described its actions as “reptilian” and concluded by saying: “Less charitable people might think only that you are a geek weenie with hang-ups.” Assange’s answer is short: “Your treatise is, with respect, as insane as it is long.”

Wikileaks legally protects itself, and its sources, by spreading itself across multiple jurisdictions. It is hosted by Sweden-based PRQ and uploads most of it documents through a Swedish server. Under a clause in the Swedish Press Freedom Act it is a criminal offence to breach source-journalist confidentiality, and Wikileaks says it uses this law to protect itself and its sources. It claims to have never failed a source.

But Adam Weissbach, a lawyer at the Vinge law firm in Sweden, claims that Wikileaks is “simplifying things by saying that Swedish laws will protect all sources”. There are exceptions to the source-journalist clause, mostly related to national security. All media organisations operating in Sweden that want to enjoy the protection of the act need a “publishing certificate” and a named person as the legally responsible publisher of the material. No one at Wikileaks could confirm if it had either.

See? For all their talk about being protected in Sweden, if they don’t jump through the required hoops, then it is all meaningless.

Ben Laurie, a British computer security expert and member of the Wikileaks advisory board, says he wouldn’t trust Wikileaks to protect him if he were a whistleblower. “If you’re up against governments, they have a lot of resources at hand,” says Laurie. “And the things that Wikileaks relies on are not sufficiently strong to defend against those kind of resources.


“If I contributed to Wikileaks, I wouldn’t submit the documents myself,” he adds. Furthermore, Wikileaks can’t protect journalists who use its material. When Wired looked into particular UK-based claims sourced to documents on Wikileaks, a partner at Schillings law firm said that, while Wikileaks was protected by its multijurisdictional structure, Wired was not, and any mention of an injuncted document would spell trouble.

…That is the theory. But, as Wikileaks has learnt, dumping material onto the information market, with no exclusivity, diminishes its perceived value. In August 2008, to sustain Assange’s press-release theory, Wikileaks tried to auction a leak containing over 7,000 emails from the Venezuelan ambassador to Argentina, Freddy Balzan. The emails charted Balzan’s split with Hugo Chavez, recall to Venezuela and demotion. The venture failed because of the logistical problems. “There were then 50 stories about the fact we were auctioning the material,” says Assange. “But none about the Venezuelan documents in hand.”

…Sitting outside the Chaos Computer Club in Berlin, at a later meeting with Wired, Schmitt describes with amusement the reaction of the MoD. But, despite his disparaging attitude towards the secret services of various countries, both he and Assange display a degree of paranoia over being followed and “found”. Assange arrived three hours late for the Amnesty International Media Awards in June 2009 after he took multiple flights to get from Nairobi to London. In a roundabout and unspecific fashion, Assange implied that the reason for his convoluted journey was that he didn’t want to give his passport details to the airline until the last possible moment. However, he was always on the guest list for the Amnesty International Media Awards, where Wired awaited him.

Let’s back up to the first sentence of this pargraph. “Sitting outside the Chaos Computer Club”? We spent a fair amount of time on the CCC in Part 4a. I actually read this article AFTER reading the other material on the CCC that was presented. I was floored to read that they have an actual PHYSICAL facility! Right there is all you need to know about how bogus all of this is and how thoroughly penetrated by law enforcement and intelligence this group must be. Illegal hackers who bust into national security and corporate servers should be working through online networks, using secret names, as they usually do. NOT attaching themselves to a physical address! I had previously figured that the CCC was just an online “club” of anonymous data pirates.  Jeez, so brilliant, yet so little common sense…

Both Schmitt and Assange claim to have been followed on a number of occasions. Schmitt says a woman once tailed him in Berlin, though his description of her made her sound like a very clumsy stalker. And although Schmitt’s assailant doesn’t seem to fit the description of the subtle private investigator or agent, Assange’s story fits the cliché perfectly. He says that in April 2009, a friend who has no connections with Wikileaks was stopped in a Luxembourg car park by a man in a dark suit and a clipped British accent. The suited man asked questions about Assange’s whereabouts, and, he claims, said, “I think it is in your best interest to have coffee with me.”

So are Schmitt’s and Assange’s caution justified? Both are at the very heart of Wikileaks, and they weren’t exactly easy for Wired to find. But is Wikileaks the target that they think, or hope, that it is? Ben Laurie says that one of the reasons he became less involved with Wikileaks was because he “likes to stay at home” rather than living the life of a spy. Yet much of the secrecy appears entirely self-imposed.

Furthermore, can Wikileaks continue with its mission to publish all in the name of the public record? “Wikileaks depends on the enthusiasm of a small number of people, and particularly on Assange,” says Laurie. “If he met with a nasty accident, maybe Wikileaks would fizzle out.”

Here is Assange’s response to the Wired article, which I will include for posterity. I also think that Wired’s reply to his criticism is fairly solid. Reminder: Assange is REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING. As the geeks themselves would say, Assange gets “PWNED”.

Assange response:

•  While no organiyation is above criticism, a cat may look at a king, and Wired may write a story about WikiLeaks, this wired story is worthy of the yellow press. I do not have time to list the many, inaccuraces in fact, or biases in tone. but some examples: 1. There was no question as to the credibility of our Somali story in the press. 2. Daniel Schmitt, a German journalist and our spokesperson for that region, had no involvement with WikiLeaks until 2008. 3. Unless there is a specific reason to doubt a statement, the correct neutral word is “states” not “claims”. 4. I, and WikiLeaks, was at the Amnesty Media Award ceremony, because I was one of the winners (for work related to the unveiling of hundreds of extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya). Not to meet Wired’s ditzy reporter. 4. Having lost collegues in Kenya, I not appreciate this story ending, with what appears to be, a motivating call for my assassination. While such an effort would be counter-productive, Wired plays a dangerous game by not specifying why. 5. Many people were involved with the founding of WikiLeaks. Wired lists none of them other than me, this is unfair to their efforts and to history.
Julian Assange Friday, September 04, 2009 2:34:16 PM

Wired response:

•  We take all comments about our editorial standards very seriously here at Wired. And while we welcome Mr Assange’s response to our feature, we must respond in turn to his accusations: 1: Accusation: “There was no question as to the credibility of our Somali story in the press.” The Wired article actually says: “When the site’s first leak, a secret Islamic order allegedly written by Sheikh Hassan Aweys, one of the leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, went live in December 2006, there was speculation that it was fake; Wikileaks’ credibility was questioned in the press.” The question of whether this specific document was a fake was raised on Wikileaks itself, among other places:

There have indeed been questions raised in the mainstream press about how far Wikileaks could be seen as reliable – eg,8599,1581189,00.html?cnn=yes talks about “the conspiracy theories brewing that could be a front for the CIA or some other intelligence agency… Documents could easily be planted on the site by the same “corrupt” governments and corporations Wikileaks seeks to expose.” 2: Accusation: “Daniel Schmitt, a German journalist and our spokesperson for that region, had no involvement with WikiLeaks until 2008.”

Our piece says: “He got involved with Wikileaks prior to its launch in December 2006, he says, giving up his career, and salary, to work for the group.” Our reporter says her notes show this to be an accurately quote, suggesting that the 2006 date came from Daniel Schmitt. We’re calling in her notes. 3: Accusation: “Unless there is a specific reason to doubt a statement, the correct neutral word is ‘states’ not ‘claims’.” That’s a matter of house style rather than fact, but the nature of the subject matter here led us to use “claims” as we were unable to prove or disprove many of the assertions. “States” would have been fine too. 4: Accusation: “I, and WikiLeaks, was at the Amnesty Media Award ceremony, because I was one of the winners (for work related to the unveiling of hundreds of extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya). Not to meet Wired’s ditzy reporter.” The article does not suggest otherwise: it explains that you were “on the guest list for the Amnesty International Media Awards” (for which congratulations), where the reporter happened to await you. 5: Accusation: That the article’s ending “appears to be a motivating call for my assassination.” This was not Wired’s suggestion or, obviously, Wired’s hope, but a suggestion in part of a quote from an apparently disaffected former insider: “’Wikileaks depends on the enthusiasm of a small number of people, and particularly on Assange,’ says [Ben] Laurie. ‘If he met with a nasty accident, maybe Wikileaks would fizzle out.’” We certainly don’t endorse the sentiment. But people with grudges sometimes say such things.

6: Accusation: “Many people were involved with the founding of WikiLeaks. Wired lists none of them other than me, this is unfair to their efforts and to history.” We’re genuinely happy to credit a wider team: feel free to list some names on this page. We tried to convey the collective nature of Wikileaks, and it wasn’t our intention to minimise credits.
Ben Hammersley – Associated Editor, WIRED Monday, September 07, 2009 5:12:08 PM

Like I said, Gawker has been riding this one pretty hard, to the point that I just can’t help suspect that they have some ulterior motive, like collaboration with CIA. Bravo! However, I would point out that they could easily make this into “Six Bizarre Things about WikiLeaks Founder” if they included the cult. But the media has largely ignored this aspect, despite its inclusion in the New Yorker’s landmark article (WikiFreaks, pt. 3).

Maybe it takes an extraordinary man to conceive and launch an extraordinary website like WikiLeaks, the notorious hub for former secrets. Even so, the site’s founder Julian Assange is a surprisingly weird guy.

Heaven knows, we’ve feasted voraciously on WikiLeaks’ scoops. But reading the new Mother Jones profile of Assange, it’s hard not to conclude the serially successful exposer is a seriously odd fellow. Here are the most bizarre tidbits about the Aussie as revealed in the piece:

1.         His hair. See picture above, via Mother Jones.

2.         “Won’t reveal his age: ‘Why make it easy for the bastards?'”

3.         Allegedly conned the founder of secret documents clearinghouse Cryptome into registering the WikiLeaks domain name.

4.         Invented “WikiLeaks advisory board,” complete with unwitting members. Lefty intellectual Noam Chomsky, security expert Ben Laurie and a former representative of the Dalai Lama, Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, all told Mother Jones they gave no permission for use of their names. Assange defended himself by saying the board was “pretty informal.”

5.         Bit of a hobo. He sought security advice from Laurie, ignored it, and then started showing up at his house “with a rucksack… he’s a weird guy.”

Is convinced his enemies tried to ambush him, in Kenya, where the compound in which he was staying was attacked by six men with guns. The men, were scared off by a single guard, so they sound more like robbers than commandos. Then again, said Assange, “there was not anyone else worth visiting in the compound.” And around the time of the attack, WikiLeaks published evidence the Kenyan national police were linked with the torture of suspected opposition activists. Two human rights activists were assassinated in broad daylight shortly thereafter. So maybe he’s got a point.

Here is a nice, cogent explanation of the WikiCritics viewpoint.

Why Wikileaks Is as Scary as It Is Sexy

By Mike Taylor on Jul 28, 2010 10:30 AM

….Wikileaks is scary, and not for the simple reason that it publishes state secrets.Let’s take a minute to appreciate the irony that defines the site: It is an organization committed to radical transparency for others, but that itself operates in near complete obscurity.

Wikileaks is the most powerful and least accountable news organization in history. Its ability to publish well-protected secrets is evident in the work it’s produced already, and we already know that more information waits in the pipeline.

As for accountability, let’s examine what we know about the site’s operating structure. From Raffi Khatchadourian’s June 7 profile of Wikileaks founder and public face Julian Assange: “Key members are known only by initials — M, for instance — even deep within WikiLeaks.” Even Assange himself doesn’t have total control over Wikileaks’ technical operations. A high-level Wikileaks engineer told Khatchadourian that Assange and other Wikileaks members “do not have access to certain parts of the system as a measure to protect them and us.”

As Jay Rosen wrote, Wikileaks is a “stateless news organization.” This makes it all the more difficult for governments and powerful corporations to hold it to account. Although this creates an ideal situation for raising global transparency, it also poses a significant problem. Beyond the unsettling idea that there has been no legal or other force (including the U.S. government) to successfully check Wikileaks, the site is so secretive in its conduct that it’s difficult to know what principles and ethics, if any, it will abide by in the future.

…Here are some other things we know about Assange, as reported by The New Yorker. Many of them inspire something far short of confidence, given the responsibilities Assange has assigned himself:

• Assange forgets to do normal tasks like buying or confirming airplane tickets or packing before a trip and, when he’s working, can’t always be bothered to change his clothes.
• He is an accomplished if not eminent computer hacker in his own right.
• He has tried selling Wikileaks stories to news outlets.
• He says he has spent two months at a time living in one room without leaving; others say he spends long intervals without sleeping.
• He lived on the run with his mother from age 11 to 16 and has had to fight to keep himself out of jail.
• Even his friends often don’t know where he is.

We’re not psychologists, but this set of data doesn’t exactly scream stability.

…And per Gawker:

[Assange] invented “WikiLeaks advisory board,” complete with unwitting members. Lefty intellectual Noam Chomsky, security expert Ben Laurie and a former representative of the Dalai Lama, Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, all told Mother Jones they gave no permission for use of their names. Assange defended himself by saying the board was “pretty informal.”

We’re not ethicists, but we can’t help wishing we knew more about how Wikileaks weighs its decisions.

With his silver hair and even, accented speech, Assange looks and behaves like a character in a science-fiction novel — part mad scientist, part computer vigilante. The literary figures that spring most immediately to mind are Tyler Durden, Fight Club’s insomniac terrorist, and V, the Guy Fawkes mask-wearing terrorist-hero of V for Vendetta. Assange even shares V’s favorite line, “Remember, remember the fifth of November.”

….We’ve contacted Wikileaks to get clarification on its publishing policies. In the meantime, perhaps it’s best to bear in mind that Assange is running this organization with an essentially fictional advisory board.

…Neither of these qualms are as valid or significant as this: Wikileaks operates with near impunity and its apparent chief operator is something of a wild man. Although this formula has not yet yielded demonstrable collateral results (aside from the charges levied against alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning), it’s incredibly easy to imagine that a misstep or miscalculation by Wikileaks could result in disaster. It doesn’t matter whether one views Wikileaks through the parochial lens of the U.S. military or that of the doddering media elite. This organization wields life-and-death power, and appears to be making up the rules as it goes along.

Finally, I will close with this observation. While much of the Wiki defense has come from liberals who are gleeful about seeing our state secrets slip out, those same liberals have forgotten an inconvenient fact. Remember the East Anglia psyop that was supposed to “prove that global warming is a worldwide conspiracy coordinated by all the scientific institutions in the world”… uh, but then turned out to be totally void of merit? Where did that op (suspects include the oil companies and Russian intelligence) come from? WikiLeaks! Liberals have such short memories…

Julian Assange: the hacker who created WikiLeaks
By Scott Bland, Contributor
posted July 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm EDT

…Programming quickly became hacking once Assange got an Internet connection, and soon he was accessing government networks and bank mainframes. He was arrested in 1991 and charged with more than 30 criminal counts related to his hacking. Facing as many as 10 years in prison, Assange struck a plea deal.

…During sentencing, the judge ruled that Assange only had to pay a fine. Assange’s hacks were not malicious; they were the harmless result of “inquisitive intelligence,” said the judge.

…Though Assange’s most recent, well-known projects have had an antiwar bent – the recent Afghan war leaks, the infamous “collateral murder” video of a US helicopter crew gunning down a group that included two Reuters journalists in Iraq – his site does not appear to have an obvious ideology beyond exposing secrets.

In other projects, Assange published a trove of text messages sent in the US on September 11, 2001, and e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, which led many to believe that scientists were suppressing anti-global warming research and results.

WikiFreaks, Pt. 4 “The Nerds Who Played With Fire”

•September 15, 2010 • 13 Comments

Tron: most influential movie of the Internet era

“Mom packs us a lunch and we’re off to school
They call us nerds ’cause we’re so uncool
They laugh at our clothes
They laugh at our hair
The girls walk by with their nose in the air
So go ahead, put us down
One of these days we’ll turn it around
Won’t be long mark my word
Time has come for revenge of the nerds
Revenge of the nerds
Revenge of the nerds”

-Revenge of the Nerds, The Rubinoos

As this is, in many ways, a tale of nerds, it is only fitting that they get a subchapter that is all their own. For the world of hackers is so strange, so technical, and so devoid of many of the things that characterize life for other humans, that they simply need their own space to play. In this chapter, we will cover some of the bloody history of hacking in Germany, and also touch on some of the financial and technological aspects of WikiLeaks.

When investigating a group like WikiLeaks, one would think that one of the first journalistic steps would be to “Follow the Money”. However, it is a step that is often frustratingly skipped by the press, and I think that the WikiLeaks story is typical in that regard. Where does WikiLeaks get its money? Why do they need so much? What are their plans for financial transparency? Can donors feel secure in donating to such a group?  Do you really want to pay for Assange and “Daniel Schmitt”s travel expenses?

WikiLeaks Cash Flows in, Drips Out

The secret-spilling website WikiLeaks appears to be a frugal spender, tapping less than 5 percent of the funds received through two of its three donation methods, according to the third-party foundation that manages those contributions.

WikiLeaks has received 640,000 euros (U.S. $800,000) through PayPal or bank money transfers* since late December, and spent only 30,000 euros (U.S. $38,000) from that funding, says Hendrik Fulda, vice president of the Berlin-based Wau Holland Foundation.

The money has gone to pay the travel expenses of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and spokesman Daniel Schmitt, as well as to cover the costs of computer hardware, such as servers, and leasing data lines, says Fulda. WikiLeaks does not currently pay a salary to Assange or other volunteers from this funding, though there have been discussions about doing so in the future, Fulda adds. The details have not yet been worked out.

“If you are drawing from volunteers who are basically doing stuff for free and if you start paying money, the question is to whom, and to whom not, do you pay, and how much?” Fulda said. “It’s almost a moral question: How much money do you pay?”

…The foundation manages donations sent to WikiLeaks from people around the world through PayPal and wire transfers directed to a bank account controlled by the foundation. It does not handle donations submitted through Moneybookers, a PayPal-like service, that WikiLeaks also lists on its website as a method for donating.

…The Wau Holland Foundation is named after Herwart Holland-Moritz, also known as Wau Holland. He founded the Chaos Computer Club, a hacker club in Germany that has been at the forefront of the hacking community since its establishment in 1981. WikiLeaks approached the foundation last year to manage its donations because of its reputation in supporting the concept of freedom of information. Although the foundation is run by unpaid volunteers, Fulda said its advantage is that it has a more formal structure to manage funds than does WikiLeaks. Wau Holland began handling donations for the site beginning last October. The foundation adheres to Germany’s rules for accountability.

This is important. The Wau Holland Siftung is managing WikiLeaks money for them, and much of their money comes from Germany. We will come back to Wau Holland, the person, in a little bit.

A U.S. Army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning was since arrested and charged with being WikiLeaks’ source for the video. Assange and other WikiLeaks volunteers have claimed that the organization commissioned lawyers to defend Manning, and the group has campaigned for more donations from the public to cover the legal expenses.

Fulda said that no money handled by the foundation has gone to pay expenses for Manning’s defense. He didn’t know if WikiLeaks obtained money from other sources for the purpose. He said, however, that his foundation would have no problem in principle paying such legal expenses.

So their support for Manning is theoretical. See, they will go out to protect their sources… unless they don’t.

Next, we come to the real nerds who played with fire. The Wau Holland Siftung has its roots in the Chaos Computer Club, a German hacking society whose various members were caught hacking into various NATO and major corporate computer systems in return for drugs and money provided by KGB, and paid some very severe costs.  Wau Holland himself seems like he was a decent guy who was just misguided.

One who paid was “Tron”, aka Boris Floricic. He was found hung in a park back in 1998.

St. Tron?

Boris Floricic, better known by his pseudonym Tron (8 June 1972 – 17–22 October 1998), was a German hacker and phreaker whose death in unclear circumstances has led to various conspiracy theories. He is also known for his Diplom thesis presenting one of the first public implementations of a telephone with built-in voice encryption, the “Cryptophon“.

Floricic’s pseudonym was a reference to the eponymous character in the 1982 Disney film Tron. Floricic was interested in defeating computer security mechanisms; amongst other hacks, he broke the security of the German phonecard and produced working clones. He was subsequently sentenced to 15 months in jail for the physical theft of a public phone (for reverse engineering purposes) but the sentence was suspended on probation.

….Later, American scientists outlined a theoretical attack against SIM cards used for GSM mobile phones. Together with hackers from the Chaos Computer Club, Floricic successfully created a working clone of such a SIM card, thus showing the practicability of the attack. He also engaged in cloning the German phonecard and succeeded. While Floricic only wanted to demonstrate the insecurity of the system, the proven insecurity was also abused by criminals which led to the attention of law enforcement agencies and the German national phone operator Deutsche Telekom. After Deutsche Telekom changed the system, Floricic tried to remove a complete public card phone from a booth by force (using a sledgehammer) on 3 March 1995 in order to, as he told, adapt his phonecard simulators to the latest changes. He and a friend were, however, caught by the police upon this attempt. Floricic was later sentenced to a prison term of 15 months which was suspended on probation.

…Floricic disappeared on 17 October 1998 and was found dead in a local park in Britz in the Neukölln district of Berlin on 22 October[1] after being hanged from a waistbelt wrapped around his neck. The cause of death was officially recorded as suicide. Some of his peers in the Chaos Computer Club, as well as his family members and some outside critics, have been vocal in their assertions that Floricic may have been murdered.[2] It is argued that his activities in the areas of Pay TV cracking and voice scrambling might have disturbed the affairs of an intelligence agency or organized crime enough to provide a motive.

Next, we take a look at the response of hackers themselves to Tron’s alleged “suicide”. Neat little factoid about his death found in second article below: he hung himself, but his feet were on the ground when he was found.  I would imagine it’s awful hard to hang oneself while standing on the ground. I guess you could bend your knees and hang them in the air, but it would be pretty hard to fight the urge to unbend them, right? Obviously, I’m being facetious…

Out of Chaos Comes Order
Wired Magazine
David Hudson 12.28.98

BERLIN — Tempers flared at Sunday’s Chaos Communication Congress session, and the death of a famous Chaos Computer Club member was the flashpoint.

The conference assembles computer enthusiasts from around the world for three days of hacking, discussions, and workshops on topics ranging from alternative operating systems to TCP/IP penetration to the state of the hacker ethic.

This year, the mysterious disappearance of German hacker Boris Floricic — also known as Tron — on 17 October and the discovery of his body in a Berlin park five days later has been Topic A.

CCC spokesman Andy Mueller-Maguhn presented a timeline of events surrounding Floricic’s death. A heated discussion centered on two points that continue to rile CCC members.

First was a refusal by the Berlin police to waive the 48-hour waiting period before referring the case to the Bureau of Missing Persons. Second was the decision by the police to file charges against Tron.

By 20 October, the 26-year-old hacker was not only officially missing, but also under suspicion of committing computer fraud. Tron’s computer, laptop, and all his equipment and files were confiscated.

Two police officers unofficially addressed the issues Sunday. They said that the missing-person investigation was not compromised by the criminal case, since they were being handled separately.

Responding to emotional outbursts from Tron’s friends calling suicide out of the question, officer Klaus Ruckschnat reminded the crowd that the official line was still “apparent suicide.” That is, the police have not yet ruled out the possibility that Tron was murdered.

Padeluun, a longstanding member of the CCC, gently suggested that “sometimes things are what they seem.” In other words, just as the police weren’t ruling out murder, the CCC should not rule out suicide.

Mueller-Maguhn outlined the areas of Tron’s work that may have got him in trouble with any number of parties. The young hacker cracked phone cards and digital set-top boxes for pay TV, and his university dissertation was on ISDN-related cryptography.

“Tron may have underestimated the financial value of the information he uncovered,” said Mueller-Maguhn. “He was always direct and honest, but also naive.”

The CCC settled on no unified position regarding Tron’s fate, but some audience members agreed that if a lesson is to be learned from his death, it is to publish valuable information widely as soon as it’s discovered. Or risk life and limb.

Earlier, CCC co-founder Wau Holland shared his personal observations on a decade and a half of CCC history and controversy. Among its “accomplishments,” the CCC had cracked the German postal network, planted a Trojan horse in NASA’s computer system, and seen the death of one of its own before.

“In every case,” said Holland, “the club has retained its independence. We don’t take sides.”

Other conference events this week include a lockpicking contest, a robot-building contest, and a report on “Hacking the KGB: 10 Years After.”

Berlin Prepares for Chaos
by David Hudson
3:00 a.m.  24.Dec.98.PST

..The mysterious and as yet unsolved case is eerily reminiscent of the death of another CCC associate, Karl Koch, nearly 10 years ago.  Indeed, Berlin police were quick to call Tron’s death a suicide, as Koch’s had been. But the CCC, as well as Tron’s family and friends, have vehemently denied that suicide was even remotely in his nature.

Unlike Koch, Tron was not only a well-balanced personality but also a brilliant hacker. He was the first European to hack phone cards so that they could be used freely and forever, and had figured out a way to make ISDN phone calls tap-proof.

“Often, he was the focus of attention,” remembers Heinrich Seeger, a Hamburg journalist who has covered many CCC congresses. “I guess one of the reasons for that, aside from his undebatable genius and expertise, were his good looks and his charm, which made him stand out.”

Despite ruling the death a suicide, Berlin police have assigned eight officers to investigate, noting more than a few oddities about the case.Although Tron appeared to have hanged himself, for example, his feet were firmly on the ground.

German newspaper and television reports have suggested that considering the potential value of Tron’s knowledge of smartcards and telephony, organized crime may have been involved.

Our next dead Chaos Computer Club hacker is Karl Koch, who became obsessed with Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus trilogy. A German film based on his life was even called “23” due to the number’s prominence in Wilson’s book.  He was involved with the KGB scandal that involved hackers being bought by drugs in exchange for breaking into key NATO and corporate installations. . Here are several articles dealing with this case. They were originally in German and translated, so that explains the clumsiness (sometimes hilarious on multiple levels) of some of the writing.

Karl Koch

One of Cliff Stoll’s “Wily Hackers” Is Dead (Suicide?)             June 5, 1989


According to West German publications, the “Wily Hacker” Karl Koch, of Hannover, West Germany, died Friday, June 3, probably by suicide.  His body was found burnt (with gasoline) to death, in a forest near Celle (a West German
town near Hannover where he committed his hacks, as had been observed by GermanPost).

Koch was one of the 2 hackers who confessed their role in the KGB hack to the public prosecutors, therewith bringing the case to public attention.  As German newspapers report, he probably suffered from a psychic disease:  He thought he was permanently observed by alien beings named Illimunates’ which tried to kill him.  Probably, he had internalized the role of “Captain Hagbard” (his pseudonym in the hacking scene), taken from a U.S. book, who (like him) suffered from supervision by the Illuminates. Police officials evidently think that Koch committed suicide (though it is believed, that there are “some circumstances” which may also support other theories; no precise information about such moments are reported).

According to German police experts, Karl Koch’s role in the KGB case as in daily life can properly be understood when reading this unknown book.

Information Provided by Klaus Brunnstein
(University of Hamburg)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Illuminatus!                                                      June 14, 1989

The book in question is believed to be “Illuminatus!” by Harold Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.  The book is a spoof on conspiracy theories, and suggests that many and probably all human institutions are just fronts for a small group of
“enlightened ones,” who are themselves a front for the Time dwarves from Reticuli Zeta, or perhaps Atlantean Adepts, remnants of Crowley’s Golden Dawn, or even more likely the Lloigor of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.  A leading
character in this book is named Hagbard Celine.

German Hackers Break Into Los Alamos and NASA                     March 2, 1989

Three hours ago, a famous German TV-magazine revealed maybe one of the greatest scandals of espionage in computer networks:  They talk about some (three to five) West German hackers breaking into several secret data networks (Los Alamos, Nasa, some military databases, (Japanese) war industry, and many others) in the interests of the KGB, USSR.  They received sums of $50,000 to $100,000 and even drugs, all from the KGB, the head of the political television-magazine said.

The following news articles (and there are a lot) all deal with (directly and indirectly) the recent Spy scandal situation that occurred in West Germany. The majority of the articles shown here are taken from RISKS Digest, but they have been edited for this presentation.

Computer Espionage:  Three “Wily Hackers” Arrested                March 2, 1989
Three hackers have been arrested in Berlin, Hamburg and Hannover, and they are accused of computer espionage for the Soviet KGB.  According to the television magazine “Panorama” (whose journalists have first published the NASA and SPAN hacks), they intruded scientific, military and industry computers and gave passwords, access mechanisms, programs and data to 2 KGB officers; among others, intrusion is reported of the NASA headquarters, the Los Alamos and Fermilab computers, the United States Chief of Staff’s data bank OPTIMIS, and several more army computers.  In Europe, computers of the French-Italian arms manufacturer Thomson, the European Space Agency ESA, the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, CERN/GENEVA and the German Electron Accelerator DESY/Hamburg are mentioned.  The report says that they earned several 100,000 DM plus drugs (one hacker evidently was drug addict) over about 3 years.

For the German Intelligence authorities, this is “a new quality of espionage.” The top manager said that they had awaited something similar but are nevertheless surprised that it happened so soon and with such broad effects.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Computer Spy Ring Sold Top Secrets To Russia                      March 3, 1989

…In Karlsruhe, the West German Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is in charge of spy cases, would only confirm last night that three arrests have been made March 2nd during house searches in Hannover and West Berlin.

Those detained were suspected of “having obtained illegally, through hacking and in exchange for money, information which was passed on to an Eastern secret service.”

But the spokesman did not share West German television’s evaluation, which said the case was the most serious since the unmasking in 1974 of an East German agent in the office of ex-Chancellor Willy Brandt.  The Interior Ministry in
Bonn last night also confirmed several arrests and said the suspects had supplied information to the KGB.  The arrests followed months of investigations into the activities of young computer freaks based in Hamburg, Hannover and West Berlin, the ministry said.

According to the television report, the hackers gained access to the data banks of the Pentagon, NASA Space Center, and the nuclear laboratory in Los Alamos. They also penetrated leading West European computer centers and armament companies, including the French Thomson group, the European Nuclear Research Center, CERN, in Geneva; the European Space Authority, ESA, and German companies involved in nuclear research.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
News From The KGB/Wily Hackers                                    March 7, 1989
Now, five days after the “sensational” disclosure of the German (NDR) Panorama Television team, the dust of speculations begins to rise and the facts become slowly visible; moreover, some questions which could not be answered in Clifford Stoll’s Communications of the ACM paper may now be answered.  Though not all facts are known publicly, the following facts seem rather clear.

– In 1986, some hackers from West Berlin and Hannover discussed, in “hacker parties” with alcohol and drugs, how to solve some personal financial problems; at that time, first intrusions of scientific computers (probably CERN/Geneva as hacker training camp) and Chaos Computer Club’s spectacular BTX-intrusion gave many hackers (assisted by newsmedia) the *puerile impression* that they could intrude *into every computer system*; I remember contemporary discussions on 1986/87 Chaos Computer Conferences about possibilities, when one leading CCC member warned that such hacks might also attract espionage (Steffen Wernery recently  mentioned that German counter-espionage had tried several times to hire him and other CCC members as advisors — unsuccessfully).

– A “kernel group” of 5 hackers who worked together, in some way, in the “KGB case” are (according to Der SPIEGEL, who published the following names in its Monday, March 6, 1989 edition):

-> Markus Hess, 27, from Hannover, Clifford Stoll’s “Wily Hacker” who was often referred to as the Hannover Hacker and uses the alias of Mathias Speer; after having ended (unfinished) his studies in mathematics, he works as programmer, and tries to get an Informatics diploma at the University of Hagen (FRG); he is said to have good knowledge of VMS and UNIX.

-> Karl Koch, 23, from Hannover, who works as programmer; due to his luxurious lifestyle and his drug addiction, his permanent financial problems have probably added to his desire to sell “hacker knowledge” to interested institutions.

-> Hans Huebner, alias “Pengo,” from Berlin, who after having received his Informatics diploma from Technical University of West Berlin, founded a small computer house; the SPIEGEL writes that he needed money for investment in his small enterprise; though he does not belong to the Chaos Computer Club, he holds close contacts to the national hacker scenes (Hamburg: Chaos Computer Club; Munich: Bavarian Hacker Post; Cologne: Computer Artists Cologne, and other smaller groups), and he was the person to speak about UUCP as a future communications medium at the Chaos Communication Congress.

-> Dirk Brezinski, from West Berlin, programmer and sometimes “troubleshooter” for Siemens BS-2000 systems (the operating system of Siemens mainframe computers), who earned, when working for Siemens or a customer (BfA, a national insurance for employees) 20,000 DM (about $10,800) a month; he is regarded (by an intelligence officer) as “some kind of a genius.”

-> Peter Carl, from West Berlin, a former croupier, who “always had enough cocaine.”  No information about his computer knowledge or experience is available.

Next, we get to the man Wau Holland himself! Note: Like the other famous CCC members, Holland died young, of a stroke at the age of 49.

By Boris Groendahl
Berlin Bureau Chief
July 30, 2001

The year is 1981. IBM still has to introduce its first Personal Computer. The movie “WarGames” and Steven Levys book “Hackers,” which will make the self-description of alternative computer nerds a household name in the U.S, are two years away.

In Western Berlin, in the offices of the left-wing daily “die tageszeitung,” fringe computer hobbyists are sitting at a conference table, sharing their knowledge of early computers and computer networks.

Wau and his Linux Penguin

They followed the call of Wau Holland, a bearded, balding man in dungarees who looks more like an eco-warrior than an electronics enthusiast. The assembled group is about to found the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) and go down in computing history.

Twenty years later, the CCC now has to continue without its honorary president Wau Holland, also known as Herwart Holland-Moritz. Holland suffered a stroke in late May and fell into a coma; he died Sunday morning, age 49. Read today, Hollands editorial that appeared in the first issue of CCCs magazine “Datenschleuder” (roughly: “data sling”) back in 1984 appears almost visionary. For him and for the CCC, the computer was already not merely a technology but “the most important new medium.” He held that “all existing media will be increasingly networked through computers, a networking which creates a new quality of media.”

The first and foremost goal of the hackers association was to promote this new medium, by “distributing wiring diagrams and kits for cheap and universal modems.” What should have earned the CCC a medal for the advancement of the information society, however, got him in conflict with the arcane German telecom law. At the time, as Holland remembered later, “the prolongation of a telephone cable was considered worse than setting off an atomic explosion.”

Involving everybody, not just big government and big business, into the information revolution, ways always Hollands and the CCCs main goal. Its first famous hack was performed 1984 on Germanys first online service Btx, an atavistic network operated by the German postal service. The CCC found a security hole in the network, but the postal service didnt react to the warning.

So Holland and his colleague Steffen Wernry logged in, masquerading as a German savings bank, and downloaded their own billable Btx page all night long. When the tab got to 134,000 deutschmarks, they stopped the program and called German TV Btx had its first scandal only months after its launch, and it wouldnt recover for more than a decade.

The Btx hack, as it became known later, would become a pattern for every CCC action. Holland, in particular, was at least as media-savvy as he as he was computer literate. Whenever the CCC hacked into regions he wasnt supposed to see, he sought protection by seeking public attention, and used them to warn of weak security and insufficient data protection.

Though only a few of Waus CCC comrades shared his political background most joined the club as regular electronics nerds he shaped the German hackers association into a unique institution, incomparable with the U.S. hacker scene. The CCC is different from both the technology-oriented Homebrew Computer Club that gave birth to the PC in the ’70s, and the cracker gangs that dominated media attention in the early ’90s.

Holland taught his fellow CCCers to never hack for profit, to always be open about what they were up to, and to fight for an open information society. He was deeply embarrassed when some CCCers sold their discoveries from within the U.S. military computer network to the KGB. This incident and the subsequent discussions in the club brought the next generation to the CCCs helm.

While the new leadership has a less strict moralistic, more postmodern sense of hacking, it remains true to the CCCs political objectives. Holland became the clubs honorary president. Under his stewardship, the CCC gained considerable status in German politics, with its speakers invited by the parliament, telecoms firms, banks and even the secret service.

That part fascinates me. The German secret service, the BND? That is quite a process of legitimization for a supposedly “outlaw” hacker club.  As we shall see in Part 4b, the Chaos Computer Club has a physical site in Berlin, which just blew my mind as I found out fairly late in my research. Are you kidding me? A hacker gang that breaks into major corporate and defense systems has a PHYSICAL location? How naïve are these guys?

To underline the point that the story  of WikiLeaks “security” is much more myth than fact, here is an interview by former insider John Young of the website, also designed for leakers. As someone who has a fairly strong understanding of computer networks, I’ve always found it comical how secure some of these radical groups (indybay for example) think their online communications truly are. John Young hits on many of the key points. In my opinion, the world’s governments fail to police the Internet effectively not because of overwhelming technical issues, but because of political, financial, and human resource overload. The most difficult part is the sheer amount of data to go through and prosecute.  Hell, can you imagine what it would take just to police a day’s worth of Ebay transactions? Also, the business culture of America sees the free Internet as part of our national brand that we market to the world.

But when the will is there to target something, in my opinion, the government cyber-security teams of the West can be QUITE effective. They have incredibly gifted hackers on their side, many who have been brought in through plea deals to avoid 10 years of federal time.  In fact, many of those hackers are sitting right next to the outlaws at their cute little “hacker conventions”, like DefCon in Las Vegas, wearing the same piercings and black shirts with skulls on them.  The whole “libertarian hacker myth” of  courageous, sex-starved 400 lb Bohemian heroes who stay up all night hacking to save the world for Anarchy ,while eating fifty packs of Skittles and listening to Nine Inch Nails, applies to a relatively small portion of the hardcore nerd community. They are outnumbered by sex-starved 400 lb military contractors who stay up all night tracking and infiltrating other hackers while eating fifty packs of Skittles, listening to crap like the Top Gun soundtrack. Oh, and playing role-playing games on the Internet with the guys they are going after. Trust me, I’ve known guys like this. They’re the guys who had posters of F14 schematics on their dorm walls.

"Fly...Into...The...DANGER ZONE!"

And lest we forget, who created and paid for the Internet in the first place? DARPA, part of the Pentagon! Another great “libertarian hacker myth” is that the Internet was just sitting there unused by the military, and waiting in mothballs to be taken over by the world’s role-playing gamers, porn seekers, and music bootleggers.  Again, are you serious?  Nerds, you’re playing on “their” turf! While there is a significant element of “genie out of bottle” in the military’s relationship with it’s bastard stepchild, the Internet, let’s not kid ourselves…  Here’s John Young to spoil the party.

BBC: What do you think about Wikileaks being based in a country which will protect it from takedown.

Cryptome: There is no place where a takedown cannot occur. The distribution system for communication can always be blocked and servers confiscated. Only multiple, growing and changing public outlets for prohibited information can offer a chance of avoiding shutdown, demonization, corruption through finance and bribery and orchestrated distrust.

BBC: What do you think about security of web sites and communication on the Internet.

Cryptome: There is none that is not superficial and illusory. Security and/or privacy policy for the Internet and digital communication are unbelievable. Digital communication should be seen as a spying machine. The Internet is a magnificently appealing means to gather data on its bewitched users — for harvesting by governments, commerce, institutions and individuals, but especially by the providers of Internet services, distribution systems and equipment.

BBC: Why are you so paranoid about the Internet and what do you think is possible for its use in providing more public information?

Cryptome: Skepticism, not paranoia, about the Internet and digital communication is self-protective because their managers and operators are inaccessible to public scrutiny under claims of secrecy and confidentiality, and are therefore publicly unaccountable.

This is a more detailed story about Young that includes an interview. According to him, he left not only because WikiLeaks was full of shit about it’s security policies but a) he saw that Assange was about the money and knew that they were asking for money far beyond the website’s expenses and b) he saw that they were trolling for cash from Western intel-affiliated organizations to go after China, Russia, and the ‘stans. Young wasn’t willing to play this kind of CIA game and left.

Cryptome's John Young

NEW YORK–John Young was one of Wikileaks’ early founders. Now he’s one of the organization’s more prominent critics. Young, a 74-year-old architect who lives in Manhattan, publishes a document-leaking Web site called that predates Wikileaks by over a decade. He’s drawn fire from Microsoft after posting leaked internal documents about police requests, irked the U.K. government for disclosing the names of possible spies, and annoyed Homeland Security by disclosing a review of Democratic National Convention security measures.

Cryptome’s history of publicizing leaks–while not yielding to pressure to remove them–is what led Young to be invited to join Wikileaks before its launch over three years ago. He also agreed to be the public face of the organization by listing his name on the domain name registration.

Operating a Web site to post leaked documents isn’t very expensive (Young estimates he spends a little over $100 a month for Cryptome’s server space). So when other Wikileaks founders started to talk about the need to raise $5 million and complained that an initial round of publicity had affected “our delicate negotiations with the Open Society Institute and other funding bodies,” Young says, he resigned from the effort.

Open Society Institute is George Soros’ outfit, by the way.

In the last few weeks, after the arrest of Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning cast a brighter spotlight on Wikileaks, Young has been trying to trace Wikileaks’ money flows. On July 17, Wikileaks asked supporters for $200,000 to pay for Mannings’ attorneys, even though co-founder Julian Assange said a few days earlier that the organization had already raised $1 million.

CNET caught up with Young at the Next HOPE hacker conference here last weekend, where he was attending the Wikileaks keynote speech. Following is a transcript made from a recorded interview with Young, lightly edited for space.

…What you’re doing sounds a lot like what Wikileaks is doing, no?
Young: Only superficially, Declan, because, and we can talk more about this, I initially thought that was what they were going to be doing when I first agreed to participate. But it became clear right away that they were going to set up an operation with multiple people involved. So the first difference is that I don’t run an operation. I don’t have any people working on this. This is strictly–and I like the term myself, but other people hate it–it’s strictly an amateur version.

It’s not like Wikileaks and their grand goals. I’ve never had any desire to overturn governments or do any of these noble things that they want to do. Or jack up journalism. This was just a way to get certain kinds of documents out to the public.

And so when they explained the amount of money they were going to try to raise, that was the basis for parting company with them. I thought it was going to be more like Cryptome, which is a collective of people contributing their time to it and not a centralized operation raising lots of money. Cryptome is not into that kind of thing. We parted company at that point. We’re still not like Wikileaks in that we don’t do any promotional work for our activities.

CNET: Who were the other Wikileaks founders?

Young: I’m not going to talk about those. I’ll say Julian (Assange) was clearly there. I elected to conceal those names when I published these messages. And I think it’s basically a violation of Cryptome’s policy–to publish the names of people who do not want to be identified.

CNET: You had a falling-out with the other Wikileaks founders?

Young: Yes. But it was over this: someone said that the initial goal was $5 million. That caught my attention. One, because I think the type of stuff I was going to publish, you should never do it for money. Only because that contaminates the credibility and it turns it into a business opportunity where there’s great treachery and lying going on.

And it will contaminate Wikileaks. It always does. In fact, that’s the principal means by which noble endeavors are contaminated, the money trail. That’s pretty obvious. I happen to think that amateur stuff is better than paid stuff.

CNET: How long were you involved before you resigned?

Young: Not long. A few weeks. It wasn’t long. However, one of the things that happened is that somehow I got subscribed to that list under another nym and the messages kept coming in. I got to keep reading what they were saying about me after they booted me off. The messages kept coming in. So I published those too.

CNET: Did they criticize you for, well, leaking about Wikileaks?

Young: They certainly did. They accused me of being an old fart and jealous. And all these things that come up, that typically happen when someone doesn’t like you. That’s okay. I know you would never do that and journalists never do that, but ordinary people do this all the time.

CNET: Because journalism is a noble profession in all its guises?

Young: That’s right. And there’s no back-biting there.

CNET: Over the years you’ve been running Cryptome, you’ve had some encounters with federal agencies. What visits did you have and what were the agents concerned about?

Young: They were most concerned that we published lists. The names of spies. That was the first issue that brought us to their attention. There was a request, so we were told, from one of the British intelligence people to have that list removed.

CNET: And did you remove it?

Young: No. And not only that, but the FBI was always very polite. They said you’ve done nothing illegal, we’re not pursuing a criminal investigation. These are just courtesies we’re offering other governments. We had one with the Brits and one with the Japanese that brought them to our door.

CNET: You had no other interaction with, say, Homeland Security?

Young: The other was when we started our eyeball series of publishing photos. That brought one visit and one phone call. But again, they were polite and said there’s nothing illegal about this. They never used a negative term. They just said the issue has been raised with us.And by the way, I did a FOIA trying to get records of these visits, but I could never find anything. I did get business cards, though, and I asked for ID. They were very polite and gave me business cards and I published all that. They asked me not to publish their names. But what the hell, Declan, what else do I have to go with?

CNET: So if you’ve been publishing sensitive government information for so long, why have you not had the same encounters that Wikileaks has had? [Ed. Note: Wikileaks has claimed its representatives have been harassed by U.S. government agents.]

Young: I don’t think they’ve had any encounters. That’s bogus. But that’s okay. I know a lot of people who talk about how the government’s after them. It’s a fairly well-worn path. You know it from your own field. It remains to be seen whether any of this stuff holds up or not.

I take this fairly seriously from Young, who seems to have the right mix of paranoia and common sense. For him to say that WikiLeaks is exaggerating up the stories of government harassment is significant.

One of the tests is: unless you go to jail, it’s all bogus. When I go to jail, you’ll say he actually did it, finally. He came up with something that offended someone. So far that hasn’t happened, no indictments or anything. These polite visits are the closest I’ve come. Professionals are going to have nothing to do with Wikileaks, as you probably know if you check around. People who know security will not have anything to do with Wikileaks. But the public will.

CNET: Wikileaks pledges to maintain the confidentiality of sources and stressed that in the presentation over the weekend. Do you offer your contributors the same guarantee?
Young: No. That’s just a pitch. You cannot provide any security over the Internet, much less any other form of communication. We actually post periodically warnings not to trust our site. Don’t believe us. We offer no protection. You’re strictly on your own.

We also say don’t trust anyone who offers you protection, whether it’s the U.S. government or anybody else. That’s a story they put out. It’s repeated to people who are a little nervous. They think they can always find someone to protect them. No, you can’t. You’ve got to protect yourself. You know where I learned that? From the cypherpunks.

So Wikileaks cannot protect people. It’s so leaky. It’s unbelievable how leaky it is as far as security goes. But they do have a lot of smoke blowing on their site. Page after page after page about how they’re going to protect you.

And I say, oh-oh. That’s over-promising. The very over-promising is an indication that it doesn’t work. And we know that from watching the field of intelligence and how governments operate. When they over-promise, you know they’re hiding something. People who are really trustworthy do not go around broadcasting how trustworthy I am.

CNET: It sounds like you’ve become more critical of Wikileaks over time.

Young: It’s not just them. It’s also that they’re behaving like untrustworthy organizations. So yes, if the shoe fits, fine.I don’t want to limit this to Wikileaks, but yes, they’re acting like a cult. They’re acting like a religion. They’re acting like a government. They’re acting like a bunch of spies. They’re hiding their identity. They don’t account for the money. They promise all sorts of good things. They seldom let you know what they’re really up to. They have rituals and all sorts of wonderful stuff. So I admire them for their showmanship and their entertainment value. But I certainly would not trust them with information if it had any value, or if it put me at risk or anyone that I cared about at risk.

Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating development that’s come along, to monetize this kind of thing. That’s what they’re up to. You start with free samples.

CNET: You’ve been trying to follow some of Wikileaks’ money flows. You contacted the German charity and posted their response. They said they’re going to have some information to you perhaps in early August. Does that make you feel any better about the money trail?

Young: No. To clarify, they’re going to publish it on their Web site. They said, “you could mirror it or point to it.” So it’s not just for me. But it’s only a tiny sliver of what Wikileaks claims it’s raised. whether Wikileaks has raised a million dollars as they’ve claimed, or whether they’re trying to prime the pump, I don’t know. (German charity) Wal Holland has only handled a very tiny amount of this, and they’ve said that, “We know nothing about the rest.”

I notice that Wikileaks is touting the revelation that’s going to come. But it doesn’t fit the claims that Wikileaks is making about how much it’s raised. There’s nothing wrong with that. People exaggerate all the time for effect. So back to why I admire Wikileaks: they’ve got chutzpah.

CNET: What do you think of Wikileaks’ spat with Adrian Lamo? You’ve been publishing some of the correspondence.

Young: None of the stuff that Lamo has made available has been verified. Early on, I said chat logs can be forged, you can make this stuff up. So far there’s nothing of substance here. It’s a story that’s being played. I’m not seeing any credible information that this story has any substance at all other than as a story.

It’s being treated almost as if there’s something of substance here because the chat logs have come out. But I’ve not seen any verification. And chat logs are notoriously (easy to) forge by authorities and other people, as with other digital stuff. So I don’t know whether there’s anything to this or not. But I’m following it because it’s kind of a test of how gullible people can be with a good story. And all frauds work that way.

And I think Wikileaks is wary too. I think they’re not sure that anything’s actually happened here or if they’re not being sucked into a trap.

The kind of sacred character of these chat logs is weird. I don’t know why anyone believes these have any genuine quality at all, just because Lamo allegedly handed them over.

CNET: I saw the two e-mail messages that you sent to Adrian Lamo. Have you received a response to your questions? [Ed. Note: Lamo, an ex-hacker, says he tipped off authorities that Manning was leaking classified information.]
Young: Not yet, no. I don’t know if I will. But those are questions I would have liked to have asked at (Sunday afternoon’s) panel. Except there was no time.

There’s lots of interesting things going on if this is a genuine investigation. And since Lamo said (he would be) transparent so everyone would know what was happening, well, I happen to believe the whole legal thing should be transparent too. That was the basis of my questions.

If you want to get transparent, really get transparent. And don’t let the feds tell you what you can and cannot do. There are some interesting issues here because the feds don’t want this stuff to become public and yet they haven’t kept him from talking. So let’s see how far he goes. We’d all like to know more about how this is actually working.

There was suspicion from day one that this was entrapment run by someone unknown to suck a number of people into a trap. So we actually don’t know. But it’s certainly a standard counterintelligence technique. And they’re usually pretty elaborate and pretty carefully run. They’ll even prosecute people as part of the cover story. That actually was talked about at (Sunday’s) panel. They’ll try to conceal who was informing and betraying others by pretending to prosecute them.

One of the funniest aspects of this is that John Young leaked on the ‘Leakers! After leaving, he dumped their private emails onto the web, which give away the whole story. I love it, he’s so “open-source”, he whistleblew on Wikileaks! Now THAT is a hack.

These two emails are from Assange and outline what the WikiLeaks gameplan was several years ago: attract support from Western intelligence agencies, take their money, then stab them in the back several years down the road.

“Our primary targets are those highly oppressive  regimes in China, Russia and central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of  assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal  unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations.

“1. WL was founded by chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

1.1 Our advisory board, which is still forming, includes representatives from expat Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst and cryptographers.

2. There are currently 22 people directly involved in the project.

3. We haven’t sought public feedback so far, but dissident communities have been been very gracious with their assistance.”

To: Wikileaks <wikileaks[a t]>
From: John Young <jya[a t]>
Subject: Re: [WL]
Funding / who is on this list.
Date: Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 11:47:00 -0500

Cryptome is publishing the contents of this list, and how I was induced to  serve as US person for registration.

Wikileaks is a fraud: Fuck your cute hustle and disinformation campaign against legitimate dissent. Same old shit, working for the enemy.

From: WikiLeaks

[WL] Funding / who is on this list.
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 12:36:29 -0500
To: John Young <>

Heh. John, please do not do that. If you’re wondering about the WL, the  list has grown and there were enough accidental wl mentions [e.g in  the somali document and a cc] that not mentioning it became of little  additional obscurity especially since you’re receiving the mail. No one has bothered to change the warning which after all doesn’t really  hurt. Even if you think we are CIA stooges, you can’t treat everyone on the  list that way.

To: John Young
From: Wikileaks
Subject: martha stuart pgp
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 12:20:25 -0500

J. We are going to fuck them all. Chinese mostly, but not entirely a feint. Invention abounds. Lies, twists and distorts everywhere needed for protection. Hackers monitor chinese and other intel as they burrow into their targets, when they pull, so do we.

Inxhaustible supply of material. Near 100,000 documents/emails a day. We’re going to crack the world open and let it flower into something new. If fleecing the CIA will assist us, then fleece we will. We have pullbacks from NED, CFR, Freedomhouse and other CIA teats. We have all of pre 2005 afghanistan. Almost all of india fed. Half a dozen foreign ministries. Dozens of political parties and consulates, worldbank, apec, UN sections, trade groups, tibet and fulan dafa associations and… russian phishing mafia who pull data everywhere. We’re drowning. We don’t even know a tenth of what we have or who it belongs to. We stopped storing it at 1Tb.”

This final piece is from someone asking some of the right security questions. Highly recommend going to the site, as my excerpting doesn’t get across the full situation.

We hope that this PayPal account is not compromised like the previous one was – see: Follow the money – partial financial donors list email

None of these methods of funding allow financial supporters of the project to remain anonymous.Financial transactions are even easier for governments and law courts etc. to trace than IP addresses are. The email address must surely be monitored and intercepted by various Government law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Since there is no longer any published PGP Public Encryption Key (see Why have abandoned the use of PGP Encryption ?), any such financial correspondence will be at risk of being snooped on, and is likely to reveal the identities of potential and actual financial supporters.

If you do plan to contact that target email address, you should not use your usual, personally identifiable email account. What about limited liability ? Are you “jointly liable” with them, for any debts or legal fines or legal costs ?

If you become a supporter of and some Judge awards massive, inflated legal costs against in a court case, do your financial assets become targets for avaricious lawyers or governments ?

Desperate lawyers and government bureaucrats will lash out at any identifiable people, e.g. identifiable financial supporters, in order to put censorship pressure on ….When will publish any sort of financial accounts ?
They are also appealing for technical and infrastructure help:

….“you can help us by integrating new hardware into our project infrastructure or developing software for the project” – who made the technical decisions about this ?

Where is there even a high level overview of the current or proposed new Security and Anonymity Architecture plan for this ? What anonymity protection can a provider of server space or bandwidth or other infrastructure possibly be given by ?

I think we know the answer to that question…

TO BE CONCLUDED in Part 4B “The Nerd Who Kicked the Hornets Nest”

WikiFreaks, pt. 3 “Mendax the Liar”

•September 10, 2010 • 21 Comments

Would you buy a used car from this guy?

“Should’ve realised i know what you are
You’re in suspension
You’re a liar
You’re a liar
You’re a liar
Lie lie”
-Liar, The Sex Pistols

This edition is devoted to one article and one article only. In my opinion, it is the most significant article on WikiLeaks, though it is somewhat supportive, and written by someone who appears to be ignorant of the history that I will go over in Part Four. However, Rami Khatchoudourian has done some excellent work here, which deserves it’s own chaper of Wikifreaks. I would highly advise reading the full thing at the New Yorker website, as I’ve edited down to about 12 pages from what was originally 20 pages, for space reasons.

If you think Julian Assange is a commie muslim-lovin’ traitor to the West who should be hung by his entrails from the Brooklyn Bridge… forget about that for a minute. If you think Julian Assange is a Near-Deity of the “noosphere” who is making a “New Media play” that will lead us to the 2012 Singularity when all of our brains will be uploaded into the Great Hard Drive In the Sky and we’ll all live forever in binary bliss… forget about that for a minute.

At one point, I was torn about WikiLeaks, which may or may not have come across in Chapters 1 and 2. On the one hand, I can REALLY get behind the idea of a spot for leakers to anonymously post info that governments or corporations don’t want getting out. The Psychedelic Dungeon is all about that kind of stuff! I could dig through WikiLeaks for several years and just find story after story to keep me busy. On the other hand, I’m not as naïve as some WikiFreaks and am also fully conscious that counter-intel/psyops types would see WikiLeaks as a dream come true. So easy to slip out a “leak” that serves a hidden political agenda, have WikiLeaks put it out and disseminate it worldwide. So easy to slip out disinformation, let your enemies jump all over it and publicize it, THEN discredit it yourself, thus making your enemies look like idiots. Pretty basic stuff for paid, fulltime propagandists who know how to “think outside the box” as well as the WikiLeaks people do.

But, again, put the politics aside for a moment. The hurdles above may be surmountable. What ISN’T surmountable is the fact that WikiLeaks itself is not honest. They edit, manipulate, and distort the material that is delivered to them. Right there, that blows their credibility out the window. It’s all tainted. And what’s truly amazing is that, far from hiding it, they allowed this New Yorker reporter to sit in while they manipulate material! They are so “open-source” that they can’t figure out that maybe, just maybe, it’s not a good idea to do these manipulations with the “mainstream media” LITERALLY looking over their shoulder. They aren’t called “geeks” for nothing.

"Sure, we can trust the New Yorker to keep a secret!"

Assange is an international trafficker, of sorts. He and his colleagues collect documents and imagery that governments and other institutions regard as confidential and publish them on a Web site called Since it went online, three and a half years ago, the site has published an extensive catalogue of secret material, ranging from the Standard Operating Procedures at Camp Delta, in Guantánamo Bay, and the “Climategate” e-mails from the University of East Anglia, in England, to the contents of Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo account. The catalogue is especially remarkable because WikiLeaks is not quite an organization; it is better described as a media insurgency. It has no paid staff, no copiers, no desks, no office. Assange does not even have a home. He travels from country to country, staying with supporters, or friends of friends—as he once put it to me, “I’m living in airports these days.” He is the operation’s prime mover, and it is fair to say that WikiLeaks exists wherever he does. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers from around the world help maintain the Web site’s complicated infrastructure; many participate in small ways, and between three and five people dedicate themselves to it full time. Key members are known only by initials—M, for instance—even deep within WikiLeaks, where communications are conducted by encrypted online chat services. The secretiveness stems from the belief that a populist intelligence operation with virtually no resources, designed to publicize information that powerful institutions do not want public, will have serious adversaries.

Iceland was a natural place to develop Project B. In the past year, Assange has collaborated with politicians and activists there to draft a free-speech law of unprecedented strength, and a number of these same people had agreed to help him work on the video in total secrecy

Iceland is a NATO country as was discussed in the piece in Part Two by conservative commentator Marc Thiessen. Yet we find them setting up laws to protect Assange?

In his writing online, especially on Twitter, Assange is quick to lash out at perceived enemies. By contrast, on television, where he has been appearing more frequently, he acts with uncanny sang-froid. Under the studio lights, he can seem—with his spectral white hair, pallid skin, cool eyes, and expansive forehead—like a rail-thin being who has rocketed to Earth to deliver humanity some hidden truth. This impression is magnified by his rigid demeanor and his baritone voice, which he deploys slowly, at low volume.

In private, however, Assange is often bemused and energetic. He can concentrate intensely, in binges, but he is also the kind of person who will forget to reserve a plane ticket, or reserve a plane ticket and forget to pay for it, or pay for the ticket and forget to go to the airport. People around him seem to want to care for him; they make sure that he is where he needs to be, and that he has not left all his clothes in the dryer before moving on. At such times, he can seem innocent of the considerable influence that he has acquired.

I find that troubling, as if he is someone under control. This is a recurring theme in pieces about Assange.

Assange says that he has chased away strangers who have tried to take his picture for surveillance purposes. In March, he published a classified military report, created by the Army Counterintelligence Center in 2008, that argued that the site was a potential threat to the Army and briefly speculated on ways to deter government employees from leaking documents to it. Assange regarded the report as a declaration of war, and posted it with the title “U.S. Intelligence Planned to Destroy WikiLeaks.” During a trip to a conference before he came to the Bunker, he thought he was being followed, and his fear began to infect others. “I went to Sweden and stayed with a girl who is a foreign editor of a newspaper there, and she became so paranoid that the C.I.A. was trying to get me she left the house and abandoned me,” he said.

Now we get into the most critical passage in this four-part series as we go inside WikiLeaks with Khatchodourian as they formulated what would become one of their claims to fame: the leaking of the Apache attack in Baghdad. If you love Julian, hate Julian, feel like you’ve wasted your time reading this series, fine. Just read this next passage… humor me.

People gathered in front of a computer to watch. In grainy black-and-white, we join the crew of the Apache, from the Eighth Cavalry Regiment, as it hovers above Baghdad with another helicopter. A wide-angle shot frames a mosque’s dome in crosshairs. We see a jumble of buildings and palm trees and abandoned streets. We hear bursts of static, radio blips, and the clipped banter of tactical communication. Two soldiers are in mid-conversation; the first recorded words are “O.K., I got it.” Assange hit the pause button, and said, “In this video, you will see a number of people killed.” The footage, he explained, had three broad phases. “In the first phase, you will see an attack that is based upon a mistake, but certainly a very careless mistake. In the second part, the attack is clearly murder, according to the definition of the average man. And in the third part you will see the killing of innocent civilians in the course of soldiers going after a legitimate target.”

The first phase was chilling, in part because the banter of the soldiers was so far beyond the boundaries of civilian discourse. “Just fuckin’, once you get on ’em, just open ’em up,” one of them said. The crew members of the Apache came upon about a dozen men ambling down a street, a block or so from American troops, and reported that five or six of the men were armed with AK-47s; as the Apache maneuvered into position to fire at them, the crew saw one of the Reuters journalists, who were mixed in among the other men, and mistook a long-lensed camera for an RPG. The Apaches fired on the men for twenty-five seconds, killing nearly all of them instantly.

Phase two began shortly afterward. As the helicopter hovered over the carnage, the crew noticed a wounded survivor struggling on the ground. The man appeared to be unarmed. “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon,” a soldier in the Apache said. Suddenly, a van drove into view, and three unarmed men rushed to help the wounded person. “We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly, uh, picking up bodies and weapons,” the Apache reported, even though the men were helping a survivor, and were not collecting weapons. The Apache fired, killing the men and the person they were trying to save, and wounding two young children in the van’s front seat.

In phase three, the helicopter crew radioed a commander to say that at least six armed men had entered a partially constructed building in a dense urban area. Some of the armed men may have walked over from a skirmish with American troops; it is unclear. The crew asked for permission to attack the structure, which they said appeared abandoned. “We can put a missile in it,” a soldier in the Apache suggested, and the go-ahead was quickly given. Moments later, two unarmed people entered the building. Though the soldiers acknowledged them, the attack proceeded: three Hellfire missiles destroyed the building. Passersby were engulfed by clouds of debris.

Assange saw these events in sharply delineated moral terms, yet the footage did not offer easy legal judgments. In the month before the video was shot, members of the battalion on the ground, from the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment, had suffered more than a hundred and fifty attacks and roadside bombings, nineteen injuries, and four deaths; early that morning, the unit had been attacked by small-arms fire. The soldiers in the Apache were matter-of-fact about killing and spoke callously about their victims, but the first attack could be judged as a tragic misunderstanding. The attack on the van was questionable—the use of force seemed neither thoughtful nor measured—but soldiers are permitted to shoot combatants, even when they are assisting the wounded, and one could argue that the Apache’s crew, in the heat of the moment, reasonably judged the men in the van to be assisting the enemy. Phase three may have been unlawful, perhaps negligent homicide or worse. Firing missiles into a building, in daytime, to kill six people who do not appear to be of strategic importance is an excessive use of force. This attack was conducted with scant deliberation, and it is unclear why the Army did not investigate it.

I feel like I should take this moment to clarify my own feelings about this incident. To put it bluntly, it’s a war. As noted by the author “In the month before the video was shot, members of the battalion on the ground, from the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment, had suffered more than a hundred and fifty attacks and roadside bombings, nineteen injuries, and four deaths; early that morning, the unit had been attacked by small-arms fire.” I am not in a position to judge these troops who were shoved into an unpopular war (which I opposed from Day One), with unclear and poorly defined goals, and oftentimes supplied with inadequate and outright broken gear. If I saw people aiding combatants that were intending to kill me, I would have no moral qualms about killing them. It’s a war. War is hell. It truly sucks. Humanity’s focus should be to STOP wars from happening in the first place, not to nitpick about the actions taken by those forced into the cauldron of hell. As the bumper sticker says “War is bad for children and other living things”.

…The edited film, which was eighteen minutes long, began with a quote from George Orwell that Assange and M had selected: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” It then presented information about the journalists who had been killed, and about the official response to the attack. For the audio of this section, one of the film’s Icelandic editors had layered in fragments of radio banter from the soldiers. As Assange reviewed the cut, an activist named Gudmundur Gudmundsson spoke up to say that the banter allowed viewers to “make an emotional bond” with the soldiers. Assange argued that it was mostly fragmentary and garbled, but Gudmundsson insisted: “It is just used all the time for triggering emotions.”

Catch that? By allowing the audience to hear the U.S. troops banter with each other, it might almost, gosh, “humanize them!”

"The Truthulator Device has failed due to the editing, and lying, and dissembling.. Ga-hayy!"

“At the same time, we are displaying them as monsters,” the editor said.
“But emotions always rule,” Gudmundsson said. “By the way, I worked on the sound recording for a film, ‘Children of Nature,’ that was nominated for an Oscar, so I am speaking from experience.”

Sounds like a humble guy…

“Well, what is your alternative?” Assange asked.
“Basically, bursts of sounds, interrupting the quiet,” he said.

Yeah, that’s probably what Andrew Breitbart would do.

The editor made the change, stripping the voices of the soldiers from the opening, but keeping blips and whirs of radio distortion. Assange gave the edit his final approval.

…Assange wrinkled his brow and turned his attention back to the screen. He was looking at a copy of classified rules of engagement in Iraq from 2006, one of several secret American military documents that he was planning to post with the video. WikiLeaks scrubs such documents to insure that no digital traces embedded in them can identify their source. Assange was purging these traces as fast as he could.
Reykjavik’s streets were empty, and the bells of a cathedral began to toll. “Remember, remember the fifth of November,” Assange said, repeating a line from the English folk poem celebrating Guy Fawkes. He smiled, as Gonggrijp dismantled the workflow chart, removing Post-Its from the cabinets and flushing them down the toilet.

And with them sinks WikiLeaks’ credibility. Bye bye guys, thanks for playing. By the way, it puzzles me to see the idolization of Guy Fawkes within Anarchist/Libertarian circles. Yeah, I know it’s about “V for Vendetta”. Yeah, he tried to “blow up the king and parliament”. But few people remember WHY he wanted to blow them up! He was a radical Catholic who wanted to see the Catholic Church take back control of England. I wonder if the anarchists of the 23rd Century will wear Mel Gibson masks? Interesting…

Next up, we get more of the biographical details on Julian Assange. This is the passage that I excerpted for the start of Part One, establishing his connection to Anne Hamilton-Byrne’s cult. This isn’t some kind of “tangential” thing. If his version is true, then I would assume that being chased by the Australian “Family” would be a rather character-defining, if not utterly psychologically shattering experience. Which if not sufficient to convert him to the cult’s bidding, may have softened him psychologically enough for others to play with him? As you will see in Part Four, his run-in with the Family will not be the last time that he will have close contact with entities related to Australian intelligence.

The name Assange is thought to derive from Ah Sang, or Mr. Sang, a Chinese émigré who settled on Thursday Island, off the coast of Australia, in the early eighteen-hundreds, and whose descendants later moved to the continent. Assange’s maternal ancestors came to Australia in the mid-nineteenth century, from Scotland and Ireland, in search of farmland, and Assange suspects, only half in jest, that his proclivity for wandering is genetic. His phone numbers and e-mail address are ever-changing, and he can drive the people around him crazy with his elusiveness and his propensity to mask details about his life.

Remember that this is “Mr Transparency” who thinks everybody should know everything about everyone.

Assange was born in 1971, in the city of Townsville, on Australia’s northeastern coast, but it is probably more accurate to say that he was born into a blur of domestic locomotion. Shortly after his first birthday, his mother—I will call her Claire—married a theatre director, and the two collaborated on small productions. They moved often, living near Byron Bay, a beachfront community in New South Wales, and on Magnetic Island, a tiny pile of rock that Captain Cook believed had magnetic properties that distorted his compass readings. They were tough-minded nonconformists. (At seventeen, Claire had burned her schoolbooks and left home on a motorcycle.) Their house on Magnetic Island burned to the ground, and rifle cartridges that Claire had kept for shooting snakes exploded like fireworks. “Most of this period of my childhood was pretty Tom Sawyer,” Assange told me. “I had my own horse. I built my own raft. I went fishing. I was going down mine shafts and tunnels.”

Assange’s mother believed that formal education would inculcate an unhealthy respect for authority in her children and dampen their will to learn. “I didn’t want their spirits broken,” she told me. In any event, the family had moved thirty-seven times by the time Assange was fourteen, making consistent education impossible. He was homeschooled, sometimes, and he took correspondence classes and studied informally with university professors. But mostly he read on his own, voraciously. He was drawn to science. “I spent a lot of time in libraries going from one thing to another, looking closely at the books I found in citations, and followed that trail,” he recalled. He absorbed a large vocabulary, but only later did he learn how to pronounce all the words that he learned.

When Assange was eight, Claire left her husband and began seeing a musician, with whom she had another child, a boy. The relationship was tempestuous; the musician became abusive, she says, and they separated. A fight ensued over the custody of Assange’s half brother, and Claire felt threatened, fearing that the musician would take away her son. Assange recalled her saying, “Now we need to disappear,” and he lived on the run with her from the age of eleven to sixteen. When I asked him about the experience, he told me that there was evidence that the man belonged to a powerful cult called the Family—its motto was “Unseen, Unknown, and Unheard.” Some members were doctors who persuaded mothers to give up their newborn children to the cult’s leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne. The cult had moles in government, Assange suspected, who provided the musician with leads on Claire’s whereabouts. In fact, Claire often told friends where she had gone, or hid in places where she had lived before.

Interesting that there is the discrepancy in their two stories.

While on the run, Claire rented a house across the street from an electronics shop. Assange would go there to write programs on a Commodore 64, until Claire bought it for him, moving to a cheaper place to raise the money. He was soon able to crack into well-known programs, where he found hidden messages left by their creators. “The austerity of one’s interaction with a computer is something that appealed to me,” he said. “It is like chess—chess is very austere, in that you don’t have many rules, there is no randomness, and the problem is very hard.” Assange embraced life as an outsider. He later wrote of himself and a teen-age friend, “We were bright sensitive kids who didn’t fit into the dominant subculture and fiercely castigated those who did as irredeemable boneheads.”
When Assange turned sixteen, he got a modem, and his computer was transformed into a portal. Web sites did not exist yet—this was 1987—but computer networks and telecom systems were sufficiently linked to form a hidden electronic landscape that teen-agers with the requisite technical savvy could traverse. Assange called himself Mendax—from Horace’s splendide mendax, or “nobly untruthful”—and he established a reputation as a sophisticated programmer who could break into the most secure networks. He joined with two hackers to form a group that became known as the International Subversives, and they broke into computer systems in Europe and North America, including networks belonging to the U.S. Department of Defense and to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In a book called “Underground,” which he collaborated on with a writer named Suelette Dreyfus, he outlined the hacker subculture’s early Golden Rules: “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.”

Let’s just say that is a pretty good way to get yourself on the radar screen of Western intelligence.

Around this time, Assange fell in love with a sixteen-year-old girl, and he briefly moved out of his mother’s home to stay with her. “A couple of days later, police turned up, and they carted off all my computer stuff,” he recalled. The raid, he said, was carried out by the state police, and “it involved some dodgy character who was alleging that we had stolen five hundred thousand dollars from Citibank.” Assange wasn’t charged, and his equipment was returned. “At that point, I decided that it might be wise to be a bit more discreet,” he said. Assange and the girl joined a squatters’ union in Melbourne, until they learned she was pregnant, and moved to be near Claire. When Assange was eighteen, the two got married in an unofficial ceremony, and soon afterward they had a son.

Hacking remained a constant in his life, and the thrill of digital exploration was amplified by the growing knowledge, among the International Subversives, that the authorities were interested in their activities. The Australian Federal Police had set up an investigation into the group, called Operation Weather, which the hackers strove to monitor.

In September, 1991, when Assange was twenty, he hacked into the master terminal that Nortel, the Canadian telecom company, maintained in Melbourne, and began to poke around. The International Subversives had been visiting the master terminal frequently. Normally, Assange hacked into computer systems at night, when they were semi-dormant, but this time a Nortel administrator was signed on. Sensing that he might be caught, Assange approached him with humor. “I have taken control,” he wrote, without giving his name. “For years, I have been struggling in this grayness. But now I have finally seen the light.” The administrator did not reply, and Assange sent another message: “It’s been nice playing with your system. We didn’t do any damage and we even improved a few things. Please don’t call the Australian Federal Police.”

“I have taken control. For years, I have been struggling in this grayness. But now I have finally seen the light”. O-kaaay. Is this really the guy you want as the arbiter of the world’s “hidden information”?

The International Subversives’ incursions into Nortel turned out to be a critical development for Operation Weather. Federal investigators tapped phone lines to see which ones the hackers were using. “Julian was the most knowledgeable and the most secretive of the lot,” Ken Day, the lead investigator, told me. “He had some altruistic motive. I think he acted on the belief that everyone should have access to everything.”

“Underground” describes Assange’s growing fear of arrest: “Mendax dreamed of police raids all the time. He dreamed of footsteps crunching on the driveway gravel, of shadows in the pre-dawn darkness, of a gun-toting police squad bursting through his backdoor at 5 am.” Assange could relax only when he hid his disks in an apiary that he kept. By October, he was in a terrible state. His wife had left him, taking with her their infant son. His home was a mess. He barely ate or slept. On the night the police came, the twenty-ninth, he wired his phone through his stereo and listened to the busy signal until eleven-thirty, when Ken Day knocked on his door, and told him, “I think you’ve been expecting me.”

Assange was charged with thirty-one counts of hacking and related crimes. While awaiting trial, he fell into a depression, and briefly checked himself into a hospital. He tried to stay with his mother, but after a few days he took to sleeping in nearby parks. He lived and hiked among dense eucalyptus forests in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which were thick with mosquitoes whose bites scarred his face. “Your inner voice quiets down,” he told me. “Internal dialogue is stimulated by a preparatory desire to speak, but it is not actually useful if there are no other people around.” He added, “I don’t want to sound too Buddhist. But your vision of yourself disappears.”

It took more than three years for the authorities to bring the case against Assange and the other International Subversives to court. Day told me, “We had just formed the computer-crimes team, and the government said, ‘Your charter is to establish a deterrent.’ Well, to get a deterrent you have to prosecute people, and we achieved that with Julian and his group.” A computer-security team working for Nortel in Canada drafted an incident report alleging that the hacking had caused damage that would cost more than a hundred thousand dollars to repair. The chief prosecutor, describing Assange’s near-limitless access, told the court, “It was God Almighty walking around doing what you like.”

Assange, facing a potential sentence of ten years in prison, found the state’s reaction confounding. He bought Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “The First Circle,” a novel about scientists and technicians forced into the Gulag, and read it three times. (“How close the parallels to my own adventures!” he later wrote.) He was convinced that “look/see” hacking was a victimless crime, and intended to fight the charges.

Really? That’s pretty delusional and fairly informative to how out of touch some of these hackers are with reality.

But the other members of the group decided to coöperate. “When a judge says, ‘The prisoner shall now rise,’ and no one else in the room stands—that is a test of character,” he told me. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to twenty-five charges and six were dropped. But at his final sentencing the judge said, “There is just no evidence that there was anything other than sort of intelligent inquisitiveness and the pleasure of being able to—what’s the expression—surf through these various computers.” Assange’s only penalty was to pay the Australian state a small sum in damages.

Judge Roy: "This is an open and shut case of 'Boys Will Be Boys'"

I don’t buy this part. I suspect he made a plea deal. My guess is at this point he decided to work for the State in exchange for having his charges reduced to a “small sum in damages”. A very common story with hackers.

As the criminal case was unfolding, Assange and his mother were also waging a campaign to gain full custody of Assange’s son—a legal fight that was, in many ways, far more wrenching than his criminal defense. They were convinced that the boy’s mother and her new boyfriend posed a danger to the child, and they sought to restrict her rights. The state’s child-protection agency, Health and Community Services, disagreed. The specifics of the allegations are unclear; family-court records in Australia are kept anonymous. But in 1995 a parliamentary committee found that the agency maintained an “underlying philosophy of deflecting as many cases away from itself as possible.” When the agency decided that a child was living in a safe household, there was no way to immediately appeal its decision.

The custody battle evolved into a bitter fight with the state. “What we saw was a great bureaucracy that was squashing people,” Claire told me. She and Assange, along with another activist, formed an organization called Parent Inquiry Into Child Protection. “We used full-on activist methods,” Claire recalled. In meetings with Health and Community Services, “we would go in and tape-record them secretly.” The organization used the Australian Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents from Health and Community Services, and they distributed flyers to child-protection workers, encouraging them to come forward with inside information, for a “central databank” that they were creating. “You may remain anonymous if you wish,” one flyer stated. One protection worker leaked to the group an important internal manual. Assange told me, “We had moles who were inside dissidents.”

In 1999, after nearly three dozen legal hearings and appeals, Assange worked out a custody agreement with his wife. Claire told me, “We had experienced very high levels of adrenaline, and I think that after it all finished I ended up with P.T.S.D. It was like coming back from a war. You just can’t interact with normal people to the same degree, and I am sure that Jules has some P.T.S.D. that is untreated.” Not long after the court cases, she said, Assange’s hair, which had been dark brown, became drained of all color.

So that is the origin of the Family-style “silver platinum peroxide blonde” hair that we’ve heard so much about… perhaps.

Assange was burned out. He motorcycled across Vietnam. He held various jobs, and even earned money as a computer-security consultant, supporting his son to the extent that he was able. He studied physics at the University of Melbourne. He thought that trying to decrypt the secret laws governing the universe would provide the intellectual stimulation and rush of hacking. It did not. In 2006, on a blog he had started, he wrote about a conference organized by the Australian Institute of Physics, “with 900 career physicists, the body of which were sniveling fearful conformists of woefully, woefully inferior character.”
He had come to understand the defining human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution. As a student of Kafka, Koestler, and Solzhenitsyn, he believed that truth, creativity, love, and compassion are corrupted by institutional hierarchies, and by “patronage networks”—one of his favorite expressions—that contort the human spirit. He sketched out a manifesto of sorts, titled “Conspiracy as Governance,” which sought to apply graph theory to politics. Assange wrote that illegitimate governance was by definition conspiratorial—the product of functionaries in “collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population.” He argued that, when a regime’s lines of internal communication are disrupted, the information flow among conspirators must dwindle, and that, as the flow approaches zero, the conspiracy dissolves. Leaks were an instrument of information warfare.

These ideas soon evolved into WikiLeaks. In 2006, Assange barricaded himself in a house near the university and began to work. In fits of creativity, he would write out flow diagrams for the system on the walls and doors, so as not to forget them. There was a bed in the kitchen, and he invited backpackers passing through campus to stay with him, in exchange for help building the site. “He wouldn’t sleep at all,” a person who was living in the house told me. “He wouldn’t eat.”

As it now functions, the Web site is primarily hosted on a Swedish Internet service provider called, which was created to withstand both legal pressure and cyber attacks, and which fiercely preserves the anonymity of its clients. Submissions are routed first through PRQ, then to a WikiLeaks server in Belgium, and then on to “another country that has some beneficial laws,” Assange told me, where they are removed at “end-point machines” and stored elsewhere.

This will be discussed in more detail in Part 4, but PRQ not only hosts WikiLeaks, but the Pirate Bay downloading site, NAMBLA, and various pedophile forums. It is also linked to Swedish fascist Carl Lundstrom who helped to start the Pirate Bay.

These machines are maintained by exceptionally secretive engineers, the high priesthood of WikiLeaks. One of them, who would speak only by encrypted chat, told me that Assange and the other public members of WikiLeaks “do not have access to certain parts of the system as a measure to protect them and us.” The entire pipeline, along with the submissions moving through it, is encrypted, and the traffic is kept anonymous by means of a modified version of the Tor network, which sends Internet traffic through “virtual tunnels” that are extremely private. Moreover, at any given time WikiLeaks computers are feeding hundreds of thousands of fake submissions through these tunnels, obscuring the real documents. Assange told me that there are still vulnerabilities, but “this is vastly more secure than any banking network.”

Before launching the site, Assange needed to show potential contributors that it was viable. One of the WikiLeaks activists owned a server that was being used as a node for the Tor network. Millions of secret transmissions passed through it. The activist noticed that hackers from China were using the network to gather foreign governments’ information, and began to record this traffic. Only a small fraction has ever been posted on WikiLeaks, but the initial tranche served as the site’s foundation, and Assange was able to say, “We have received over one million documents from thirteen countries.”

In December, 2006, WikiLeaks posted its first document: a “secret decision,” signed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a Somali rebel leader for the Islamic Courts Union, that had been culled from traffic passing through the Tor network to China. The document called for the execution of government officials by hiring “criminals” as hit men. Assange and the others were uncertain of its authenticity, but they thought that readers, using Wikipedia-like features of the site, would help analyze it. They published the decision with a lengthy commentary, which asked, “Is it a bold manifesto by a flamboyant Islamic militant with links to Bin Laden? Or is it a clever smear by US intelligence, designed to discredit the Union, fracture Somali alliances and manipulate China?”

The document’s authenticity was never determined, and news about WikiLeaks quickly superseded the leak itself. Several weeks later, Assange flew to Kenya for the World Social Forum, an anti-capitalist convention, to make a presentation about the Web site. “He packed in the funniest way I have ever seen,” the person who had been living in the house recalled. “Someone came to pick him up, and he was asked, ‘Where is your luggage?’ And he ran back into the house. He had a sailor’s sack, and he grabbed a whole bunch of stuff and threw it in there, mostly socks.”

Assange ended up staying in Kenya for several months. He would check in with friends by phone and through the Internet from time to time, but was never precise about his movements. One friend told me, “It would always be, ‘Where is Julian?’ It was always difficult to know where he was. It was almost like he was trying to hide.”

It took about an hour on Easter morning to get from the house on Grettisgata Street to Iceland’s international airport, which is situated on a lava field by the sea. Assange, in the terminal, carried a threadbare blue backpack that contained hard drives, phone cards, and multiple cell phones. Gonggrijp had agreed to go to Washington to help with the press conference. He checked in, and the ticketing agent turned to Assange.

“I am sorry,” she said to him. “I cannot find your name.”
“Interesting,” Assange said to Gonggrijp. “Have fun at the press conference.”
“No,” Gonggrijp told the attendant. “We have a booking I.D. number.”
“It’s been confirmed,” Assange insisted.
The attendant looked perplexed. “I know,” she said. “But my booking information has it ‘cancelled.’ ”

The two men exchanged a look: was a government agency tampering with their plans? Assange waited anxiously, but it turned out that he had bought the ticket and neglected to confirm the purchase. He quickly bought another ticket, and the two men flew to New York and then rushed to catch the Acela to Washington. It was nearly two in the morning when they arrived. They got into a taxi, and Assange, who didn’t want to reveal the location of his hotel, told the driver to go to a nearby cross street.

“Here we are in the lion’s den,” Gonggrijp said as the taxi raced down Massachusetts Avenue, passing rows of nondescript office buildings. Assange said, “Not looking too lionish.”

A few hours after sunrise, Assange was standing at a lectern inside the National Press Club, ready to present “Collateral Murder” to the forty or so journalists who had come. He was dressed in a brown blazer, a black shirt, and a red tie. He played the film for the audience, pausing it to discuss various details. After the film ended, he ran footage of the Hellfire attack—a woman in the audience gasped as the first missile hit the building—and read from the e-mail sent by the Icelandic journalists who had gone to Iraq. The leak, he told the reporters, “sends a message that some people within the military don’t like what is going on.”

The video, in both raw and edited forms, was released on the site that WikiLeaks had built for it, and also on YouTube and a number of other Web sites. Within minutes after the press conference, Assange was invited to Al Jazeera’s Washington headquarters, where he spent half the day giving interviews, and that evening MSNBC ran a long segment about the footage. The video was covered in the Times, in multiple stories, and in every other major paper. On YouTube alone, more than seven million viewers have watched “Collateral Murder.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked about the footage, and said, clearly irritated, “These people can put anything out they want and are never held accountable for it.” The video was like looking at war “through a soda straw,” he said. “There is no before and there is no after.” Army spokespeople insisted that there was no violation of the rules of engagement.

At first, the media’s response hewed to Assange’s interpretation, but, in the ensuing days, as more commentators weighed in and the military offered its view, Assange grew frustrated. Much of the coverage focussed not on the Hellfire attack or the van but on the killing of the journalists and on how a soldier might reasonably mistake a camera for an RPG. On Twitter, Assange accused Gates of being “a liar,” and beseeched members of the media to “stop spinning.”

In some respects, Assange appeared to be most annoyed by the journalistic process itself—“a craven sucking up to official sources to imbue the eventual story with some kind of official basis,” as he once put it. WikiLeaks has long maintained a complicated relationship with conventional journalism. When, in 2008, the site was sued after publishing confidential documents from a Swiss bank, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and ten other news organizations filed amicus briefs in support. (The bank later withdrew its suit.) But, in the Bunker one evening, Gonggrijp told me, “We are not the press.” He considers WikiLeaks an advocacy group for sources; within the framework of the Web site, he said, “the source is no longer dependent on finding a journalist who may or may not do something good with his document.”
Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.

Again, this article is almost a “sneak preview” of Part Four, as one of the key facts about Assange is that even if he isn’t an “asset of the CIA”, as some would claim, it is clear that he thought at one point that it would be very profitable for WikiLeaks to work with Western intelligence. Author Khatchadorian is being deceptive here. When citing Assange’s writing below, I suspect he knows EXACTLY who those “potential collaborators” are, but deigns not to tell the reader. It’s CIA. Again, “Part Four”.

In an invitation to potential collaborators in 2006, he wrote, “Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behavior in their own governments and corporations.” He has argued that a “social movement” to expose secrets could “bring down many administrations that rely on concealing reality—including the US administration.”

Assange does not recognize the limits that traditional publishers do. Recently, he posted military documents that included the Social Security numbers of soldiers, and in the Bunker I asked him if WikiLeaks’ mission would have been compromised if he had redacted these small bits. He said that some leaks risked harming innocent people—“collateral damage, if you will”—but that he could not weigh the importance of every detail in every document.

When making these excerpts, I sometimes leave in small notes that I want to expand later. Sometimes it is just one word or maybe two. After that part about him leaking SSIDS of soldiers, I made a one-word note which I will leave as the final commentary without further expansion:

Perhaps the Social Security numbers would one day be important to researchers investigating wrongdoing, he said; by releasing the information he would allow judgment to occur in the open.

A year and a half ago, WikiLeaks published the results of an Army test, conducted in 2004, of electromagnetic devices designed to prevent IEDs from being triggered. The document revealed key aspects of how the devices functioned and also showed that they interfered with communication systems used by soldiers—information that an insurgent could exploit. By the time WikiLeaks published the study, the Army had begun to deploy newer technology, but some soldiers were still using the devices. I asked Assange if he would refrain from releasing information that he knew might get someone killed. He said that he had instituted a “harm-minimization policy,” whereby people named in certain documents were contacted before publication, to warn them, but that there were also instances where the members of WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands.”

And, uh, I had a two-word note after that part… which I will also leave as is:

Lieutenant Colonel Lee Packnett, the spokesperson for intelligence matters for the Army, was deeply agitated when I called him. “We’re not going to give validity to WikiLeaks,” he said. “You’re not doing anything for the Army by putting us in a conversation about WikiLeaks. You can talk to someone else. It’s not an Army issue.” As he saw it, once “Collateral Murder” had passed through the news cycle, the broader counter-intelligence problem that WikiLeaks poses to the military had disappeared as well. “It went away,” he said.

A very trenchant point. While the New Media/internet hypesters like to think they are always on top of things, they fail to understand certain aspects of reality that would help them out. The arrogance of WikiLeaks, whatever their real goal may be, has proved and will continue to prove to be their undoing. They have a significant power, for now at least, but they can’t control the news media. They can’t control the military. They don’t understand counter-intelligence, infiltration, psychological operations, to the degree they need to for survival. Blog geeks can strut and boast all they want about their “discoveries” going “viral”, but if the larger media shuffles it off onto the back pages in a few days, what impact do they really have?

In 2007, he published thousands of pages of secret military information detailing a vast number of Army procurements in Iraq and Afghanistan. He and a volunteer spent weeks building a searchable database, studying the Army’s purchasing codes, and adding up the cost of the procurements—billions of dollars in all. The database catalogued matériel that every unit had ordered: machine guns, Humvees, cash-counting machines, satellite phones. Assange hoped that journalists would pore through it, but barely any did. “I am so angry,” he said. “This was such a fucking fantastic leak: the Army’s force structure of Afghanistan and Iraq, down to the last chair, and nothing.”

… Assange has been experimenting with other ideas, too. On the principle that people won’t regard something as valuable unless they pay for it, he has tried selling documents at auction to news organizations; in 2008, he attempted this with seven thousand internal e-mails from the account of a former speechwriter for Hugo Chávez. The auction failed. He is thinking about setting up a subscription service, where high-paying members would have early access to leaks.

But experimenting with the site’s presentation and its technical operations will not answer a deeper question that WikiLeaks must address: What is it about? The Web site’s strengths—its near-total imperviousness to lawsuits and government harassment—make it an instrument for good in societies where the laws are unjust. But, unlike authoritarian regimes, democratic governments hold secrets largely because citizens agree that they should, in order to protect legitimate policy. In liberal societies, the site’s strengths are its weaknesses. Lawsuits, if they are fair, are a form of deterrence against abuse. Soon enough, Assange must confront the paradox of his creation: the thing that he seems to detest most—power without accountability—is encoded in the site’s DNA, and will only become more pronounced as WikiLeaks evolves into a real institution.

So in the end, Assange is just another capitalist, who wants to profit from this whole leaky mess. Auctioning off leaks?



WikiFreaks, Pt. 2 “Reaction”

•September 4, 2010 • 15 Comments

Peroxide Blonde Silver Platinum Hair Makes a Great Target

“Can we do anything legally about someone from another country leaking this information? Maybe not. Can we have a CIA agent with a sniper rifle rattle a bullet around his skull the next time he appears in public as a warning? You bet we can — and we should. If that’s too garish for people, then the CIA can kill him and make it look like an accident. Either way, Julian Assange deserves to die for what he’s done and he should be killed to send a message loud enough to convince other people not to publish documents like this in the future.”

When I find myself agreeing with a right-wing nut like John Hawkins, it forces me to take a step back. Personally, I’ve been greatly disturbed by the “hero worship” of Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks folks. As someone who tries to defend “The Left” from the usual Limbaughisms of “liberals want to destroy Amurrika”, all the lefties SUPPORTING someone who makes clear his disdain for American national security and has leaked files that name our overseas assets makes my job really hard.

If you think it is “cool” or “hip” to leak things like the names of courageous Afghans willing to stand up against the Taliban, then you need to check yourself. You are supporting information warfare against the people who fight and die to keep us safe, sipping mochas behind our keyboards.

However, I’m also not willing to just automatically jump on the “Julian Assange Must Die” bandwagon. I’ll ease myself slowly, with deliberation, onto that bandwagon, thank you very much. I think there are very complicated scenarios here that cannot be sorted out by the dogmatic “America-always right” conservatives or crapulent “Let’s destroy our own country!” Left.

Let’s start off with a less heated critique of the WikiLeaks people. This is from Chronicle blogger Yumi Wilson’s site. She posted a piece from a reader who served in Afghanistan. It is a nice, calm summation of why people are so pissed off about this.

In my recent posting, I noted that one of the reasons why critics are upset about WikiLeaks’ latest revelations is that it could put people’s lives at risk.It’s a point brought up by a reader, who says he is a staff sergeant who served in Afghanistan.

“I served in Afghanistan, working directly with the Afghan National Police in several provinces in southern Afghanistan. Among my duties was meeting with local nationals in various provinces who’d agreed to work with the ANP and the U.S. military in tracking down the Taliban, and securing their villages.

In other words: I know several of the individuals who are listed in the Wikileaks documents personally. I know how scared they were to even meet with us, let alone provide us with the vital information that we needed. If the Taliban knew they were working with us, they would be assassinated. Their families would be murdered.”

Next up, we have probably the best piece I’ve read from the conservative side critical of Assange. As the years go by, I can’t say that I’m “more liberal” or “more conservative” though people may think the latter. If anything, I find that I’m on the side of the GROWN-UPs. My joke of late is based on the bumper sticker “If it’s too loud, you’re too old”. My take: “it’s often too loud, I’m too old, and I’m perfectly OK with that”.

A big wakeup call for me was when I happened on the movie “Breakfast Club” a few months ago. I found myself rooting for the Principal and thinking “why don’t they just close the damn door and keep it shut”? While this commentator below is certainly more conservative than myself, I do find myself agreeing with him. He’s a grown-up. This is grown-up talk.  Cyber-brats stay out or grow up.

Principal Vernon: Hero? Damn I'm getting old...

WikiLeaks must be stopped
By Marc A. Thiessen
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Let’s be clear: WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise. Its reason for existence is to obtain classified national security information and disseminate it as widely as possible — including to the United States’ enemies. These actions are likely a violation of the Espionage Act, and they arguably constitute material support for terrorism. The Web site must be shut down and prevented from releasing more documents — and its leadership brought to justice. WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, proudly claims to have exposed more classified information than all the rest of the world press combined. He recently told the New Yorker he understands that innocent people may be hurt by his disclosures (“collateral damage” he called them) and that WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands.”

With his unprecedented release of more than 76,000 secret documents last week, he may have achieved this. The Post found that the documents exposed at least one U.S. intelligence operative and identified about 100 Afghan informants — often including the names of their villages and family members. A Taliban spokesman said the group is scouring the WikiLeaks Web site for information to find and “punish” these informers.

Beyond getting people killed, WikiLeaks’ actions make it less likely that Afghans and foreign intelligence services (whose reports WikiLeaks also exposed) will cooperate with the United States in the future. And, as former CIA director Mike Hayden has pointed out, the disclosures are a gift to adversary intelligence services, and they will place a chill on intelligence sharing within the United States government. The harm to our national security is immeasurable and irreparable.

And wikiLeaks is preparing to do more damage. Assange claims to be in possession of 15,000 even more sensitive documents, which he is reportedly preparing to release. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told ABC News that Assange had a “moral culpability” for the harm he has caused. Well, the Obama administration has a moral responsibility to stop him from wreaking even more damage.

Assange is a non-U.S. citizen operating the territory of the United States. This means the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business.

The first step is for the Justice Department to indict Assange. Such an indictment could be sealed to prevent him from knowing that the United States is seeking his arrest. The United States should then work with its international law enforcement partners to apprehend and extradite him.

Assange seems to believe, incorrectly, that he is immune to arrest so long as he stays outside the United States. He leads a nomadic existence, operating in countries such as Sweden, Belgium and Iceland, where he believes he enjoys the protection of “beneficial laws.” (He recently worked with the Icelandic parliament to pass legislation effectively making the country a haven for WikiLeaks). The United States should make clear that it will not tolerate any country — and particularly NATO allies such as Belgium and Iceland — providing safe haven for criminals who put the lives of NATO forces at risk.

With appropriate diplomatic pressure, these governments may cooperate in bringing Assange to justice. But if they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval. In 1989, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum entitled “Authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Override International Law in Extraterritorial Law Enforcement Activities.”
This memorandum declares that “the FBI may use its statutory authority to investigate and arrest individuals for violating United States law, even if the FBI’s actions contravene customary international law” and that an “arrest that is inconsistent with international or foreign law does not violate the Fourth Amendment.” In other words, we do not need permission to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators anywhere in the world.

Arresting Assange would be a major blow to his organization. But taking him off the streets is not enough; we must also recover the documents he unlawfully possesses and disable the system he has built to illegally disseminate classified information.

This should be done, ideally, through international law enforcement cooperation. But if such cooperation is not forthcoming, the United States can and should act alone. Assange recently boasted that he has created “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking.” I am sure this elicited guffaws at the National Security Agency. The United States has the capability and the authority to monitor his communications and disrupt his operations.

Last year, the Obama administration stood up a new U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) to “conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations” in defense of U.S. national security. With the stroke of his pen, the president can authorize USCYBERCOM to protect American and allied forces by eliminating WikiLeaks’ ability to disseminate classified information that puts their lives at risk.

WikiLeaks represents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States. If left unmolested, Assange will become even bolder and inspire others to imitate his example. His group is at this moment preparing to release tens of thousands of documents that will put the lives of our troops and our allies at risk. Will President Obama stop WikiLeaks from doing so — or sit back and do nothing?

Thiessen received some criticism for the part where he said that the USG had the technological power to shut down WikiLeaks. In Part 4 (yes, this turned into a four-parter…), we will examine some of the myths that hackers (and their supporters in the media) have about their own “invincibility”. In my opinion, having studied these kinds of scenarios for years, yes, the USG could do this. However, the very notion of a “free and open Internet” has become a very American brand. Destroying servers would be bad PR and counterproductive. As we shall see later, the USG has many ways of dealing with WikiLeaks…

Next, we take a break from the right-wing testosterone rage and take a look from a different view, that of WikiLeaks supporter Glenn Greenwald of Salon. Greenwald pokes at the involvement of Wired Magazine in this whole Manning affair. This is key. While I have yet to see anything assuring me of Manning’s innocence, I find Wired’s involvement intriguing. An interesting tech magazine, it has always carried a tone of libertarian elitism that I find rather appalling. I have also long suspected it of having an intelligence agenda. They’re not really hiding anything. Co-founder Louis Rosetto is an avowed right-wing Libertarian, while longtime columnist Nicholas Negroponte is the brother of John Negroponte. Yes, THAT John Negroponte. Yet they are trusted by many in the tech sphere as somehow being “up against the man”. Not really. Sometimes people learn the hard way… I’m not entirely trusting Greenwald’s defense of Manning here, but he does add detail missing from other analyses.

On June 6, Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter of Wired reported that a 22-year-old U.S. Army Private in Iraq, Bradley Manning, had been detained after he “boasted” in an Internet chat — with convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo — of leaking to WikiLeaks the now famous Apache Helicopter attack video, a yet-to-be-published video of a civilian-killing air attack in Afghanistan, and “hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records.” Lamo, who holds himself out as a “journalist” and told Manning he was one, acted instead as government informant, notifying federal authorities of what Manning allegedly told him, and then proceeded to question Manning for days as he met with federal agents, leading to Manning’s detention.

On June 10, former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, writing in The Daily Beast, gave voice to anonymous “American officials” to announce that “Pentagon investigators” were trying “to determine the whereabouts of the Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks [Julian Assange] for fear that he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security.” Some news outlets used that report to declare that there was a “Pentagon manhunt” underway for Assange — as though he’s some sort of dangerous fugitive.

From the start, this whole story was quite strange for numerous reasons. In an attempt to obtain greater clarity about what really happened here, I’ve spent the last week reviewing everything I could related to this case and speaking with several of the key participants (including Lamo, with whom I had a one-hour interview last night that can be heard on the recorder below, and Poulsen, with whom I had a lengthy email exchange, which is published in full here). A definitive understanding of what really happened is virtually impossible to acquire, largely because almost everything that is known comes from a single, extremely untrustworthy source: Lamo himself. Compounding that is the fact that most of what came from Lamo has been filtered through a single journalist — Poulsen — who has a long and strange history with Lamo, who continues to possess but not disclose key evidence, and who has been only marginally transparent about what actually happened here (I say that as someone who admires Poulsen’s work as Editor of Wired’s Threat Level blog).

Reviewing everything that is known ultimately raises more questions than it answers. Below is my perspective on what happened here. But there is one fact to keep in mind at the outset. In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a classified report (ironically leaked to and published by WikiLeaks) which — as the NYT put it — placed WikiLeaks on “the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States.” That Report discussed ways to destroy WikiLeaks’ reputation and efficacy, and emphasized creating the impression that leaking to it is unsafe (click image to enlarge):

In other words, exactly what the U.S. Government wanted to happen in order to destroy WikiLeaks has happened here: news reports that a key WikiLeaks source has been identified and arrested, followed by announcements from anonymous government officials that there is now a worldwide “manhunt” for its Editor-in-Chief. Even though WikiLeaks did absolutely nothing (either in this case or ever) to compromise the identity of its source, isn’t it easy to see how these screeching media reports — WikiLeaks source arrested; worldwide manhunt for WikiLeaks; major national security threat — would cause a prospective leaker to WikiLeaks to think twice, at least: exactly as the Pentagon Report sought to achieve? And that Pentagon Report was from 2008, before the Apache Video was released; imagine how intensified is the Pentagon’s desire to destroy WikiLeaks now. Combine that with what both the NYT and Newsweek recently realized is the Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistle-blowers, and one can’t overstate the caution that’s merited here before assuming one knows what happened.
* * * * *
Adrian Lamo and Kevin Poulsen have a long and strange history together. Both were convicted of felonies relating to computer hacking: Poulsen in 1994 (when he was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, ironically because a friend turned government informant on him), and Lamo in 2004 for hacking into The New York Times. When the U.S. Government was investigating Lamo in 2003, they subpoenaed news agencies for any documents reflecting conversations not only with Lamo, but also with Poulsen. That’s because Lamo typically sought media publicity after his hacking adventures, and almost always used Poulsen to provide that publicity.

Despite being convicted of serious hacking felonies, Poulsen was allowed by the U.S. Government to become a journalist covering the hacking world for Security Focus News. Back in 2002, Information Week described the strange Lamo-Poulsen relationship this way: “To publicize his work, [Lamo] often tapped ex-hacker-turned-journalist Kevin Poulsen as his go-between: Poulsen contacts the hacked company, alerts it to the break-in, offers Lamo’s cooperation, then reports the hack on the SecurityFocus Online Web site, where he’s a news editor.” When Lamo hacked into the NYT, it was Poulsen who notified the newspaper’s executives on Lamo’s behalf, and then wrote about it afterward. Poulsen told me that the above picture was taken at a lunch the two of them had together with convicted hacker Kevin Mitnick back in 2001. When I asked Poulsen if he considers Lamo his friend, he would respond only by saying: “He’s a subject and a source.”
Actually, over the years, Poulsen has served more or less as Lamo’s personal media voice. Back in 2000, Poulsen would quote Lamo as an expert source on hacking. That same year, Poulsen — armed with exclusive, inside information from Lamo — began writing about Lamo’s various hacking adventures. After Lamo’s conviction, Poulsen wrote about his post-detention battles with law enforcement and a leaked documentary featuring Lamo. As detailed below, Lamo is notorious in the world of hacking for being a low-level, inconsequential hacker with an insatiable need for self-promotion and media attention, and for the past decade, it has been Poulsen who satisfies that need.

On May 20 — a month ago — Poulsen, out of nowhere, despite Lamo’s not having been in the news for years, wrote a long, detailed Wired article describing serious mental health problems Lamo was experiencing. The story Poulsen wrote goes as follows: after Lamo’s backpack containing pharmaceutical products was stolen sometime in April (Lamo claims they were prescribed anti-depressants), Lamo called the police, who concluded that he was experiencing such acute psychiatric distress that they had him involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for three days. That 72-hour “involuntary psychiatric hold” was then extended by a court for six more days, after which he was released to his parents’ home. Lamo claimed he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a somewhat fashionable autism diagnosis which many stars in the computer world have also claimed. In that article, Poulsen also summarized Lamo’s extensive hacking history. Lamo told me that, while he was in the mental hospital, he called Poulsen to tell him what happened, and then told Poulsen he could write about it for a Wired article. So starved was Lamo for some media attention that he was willing to encourage Poulsen to write about his claimed psychiatric problems if it meant an article in Wired that mentioned his name.

It was just over two weeks after writing about Lamo’s Asperger’s, depression and hacking history that Poulsen, along with Kim Zetter, reported that PFC Manning had been detained, after, they said, he had “contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail.” Lamo told me that Manning first emailed him on May 20 and, according to highly edited chat logs released by Wired, had his first online chat with Manning on May 21; in other words, Manning first contacted Lamo the very day that Poulsen’s Wired article on Lamo’s involuntary commitment appeared (the Wired article is time-stamped 5:46 p.m. on May 20).

Lamo, however, told me that Manning found him not from the Wired article — which Manning never mentioned reading — but from searching the word “WikiLeaks” on Twitter, which led him to a tweet Lamo had written that included the word “WikiLeaks.” Even if Manning had really found Lamo through a Twitter search for “WikiLeaks,” Lamo could not explain why Manning focused on him, rather than the thousands of other people who have also mentioned the word “WikiLeaks” on Twitter, including countless people who have done so by expressing support for WikiLeaks.

Although none of the Wired articles ever mention this, the first Lamo-Manning communications were not actually via chat. Instead, Lamo told me that Manning first sent him a series of encrypted emails which Lamo was unable to decrypt because Manning “encrypted it to an outdated PGP key of mine” [PGP is an encryption program]. After receiving this first set of emails, Lamo says he replied — despite not knowing who these emails were from or what they were about — by inviting the emailer to chat with him on AOL IM, and provided his screen name to do so. Lamo says that Manning thereafter sent him additional emails encrypted to his current PGP key, but that Lamo never bothered to decrypt them. Instead, Lamo claims he turned over all those Manning emails to the FBI without ever reading a single one of them. Thus, the actual initial communications between Manning and Lamo — what preceded and led to their chat — are completely unknown. Lamo refuses to release the emails or chats other than the small chat snippets published by Wired.
Using the chat logs between Lamo and Manning — which Lamo provided to Poulsen — the Wired writers speculated that the Army Private trusted Lamo because he “sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker.” Poulsen and Zetter write that Manning confessed to being the leaker of the Apache attack video “very quickly in the exchange,” and then proceeded to boast that, in addition, “he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables” to WikiLeaks. Very shortly after the first chat, Lamo notified federal agents of what Manning told him, proceeded to speak to Manning for the next several days while consulting with federal agents, and then learned that Manning was detained in Iraq.

* * * * *
Many of the bizarre aspects of this case, at least as conveyed by Lamo and Wired, are self-evident. Why would a 22-year-old Private in Iraq have unfettered access to 250,000 pages of diplomatic cables so sensitive that they “could do serious damage to national security?” Why would he contact a total stranger, whom he randomly found from a Twitter search, in order to “quickly” confess to acts that he knew could send him to prison for a very long time, perhaps his whole life? And why would he choose to confess over the Internet, in an unsecured, international AOL IM chat, given the obvious ease with which that could be preserved, intercepted or otherwise surveilled? These are the actions of someone either unbelievably reckless or actually eager to be caught.

All that said, this series of events isn’t completely implausible. It’s possible that a 22-year-old who engaged in these kinds of significant leaks, sitting in isolation in Iraq, would have a desire to unburden himself by confessing to a stranger; the psychological compulsion to confess is not uncommon (see Crime and Punishment), nor is the desire to boast of such acts. It’s possible that he would have expected someone with Lamo’s hacking and “journalist” background to be sympathetic to what he did and/or to feel compelled as a journalist not to run to the Government and disclose what he learns from a source. Still, the apparent ease with which Manning quickly spilled his guts in such painstaking detail over an Internet chat concerning such serious crimes — and then proceeded to respond to Lamo’s very specific and probing interrogations over days without ever once worrying that he could not trust Lamo — is strange in the extreme.

If one assumes that this happened as the Wired version claims, what Lamo did here is despicable. He holds himself out as an “award-winning journalist” and told Manning he was one (“I did tell him that I worked as a journalist,” Lamo said). Indeed, Lamo told me (though it doesn’t appear in the chat logs published by Wired) that he told Manning early on that he was a journalist and thus could offer him confidentiality for everything they discussed under California’s shield law. Lamo also said he told Manning that he was an ordained minister and could treat Manning’s talk as a confession, which would then compel Lamo under the law to keep their discussions confidential (early on in their chats, Manning said: “I can’t believe what I’m confessing to you”). In sum, Lamo explicitly led Manning to believe he could trust him and that their discussions would be confidential — perhaps legally required to be kept confidential — only to then report everything Manning said to the Government.

Worse, Lamo breached his own confidentiality commitments and turned informant without having the slightest indication that Manning had done anything to harm national security. Indeed, Lamo acknowledged to me that he was incapable of identifying a single fact contained in any documents leaked by Manning that would harm national security. And Manning’s capacity to leak in the future was likely non-existent given that he told Lamo right away that he was “pending discharge” for “adjustment disorder,” and no longer had access to any documents (Lamo: “Why does your job afford you access?” – Manning: “because i have a workstation . . . *had*”).

…None of Lamo’s claims that he turned informant out of some grave concern for “national security” and “the lives of his fellow citizens” make any sense. Indeed, Lamo several months ago contributed $30 to WikiLeaks, which he’s use to tout his support for whistle-blowing, and told me has has long considered himself on “the far left.” Yet in the public statements he’s made about what he did to Manning, he’s incoherently invoked a slew of trite, right-wing justifications, denouncing Manning as a “traitor” and a “spy,” while darkly insinuating that Manning provided classified information to a so-called “foreign national,” meaning WikiLeaks’ Assange. Lamo told me that any embarrassment to the U.S. Government could cause a loss of American lives, and that he believes anyone who breaks the law with leaks should be prosecuted. Yet he also claims to support WikiLeaks, which is run by that very same “foreign national” and which exists to enable illegal leaks.

…..And what about Wired’s role in all of this? Both WikiLeaks as well as various Internet commentators have suggested that Poulsen violated journalistic ethical rules by being complicit with Lamo in informing on Manning. I don’t see any evidence for that. This is what Poulsen told me when I asked him about whether he participated in Lamo’s informing on Manning:

At the time when Lamo was conspiring with federal agents to induce Manning into making incriminating statements, Poulsen, by his own account, was aware that this was taking place, but there’s no indication he participated in any way with Lamo. What is true, though, is that Lamo gave Wired the full, unedited version of his chat logs with Manning, but Wired published only extremely edited samplings of it. This is what Poulsen told me when I asked if Lamo gave him all of the chat logs:

“He did, but I don’t think we’ll be publishing more any time soon. The remainder is either Manning discussing personal matters that aren’t clearly related to his arrest, or apparently sensitive government information that I’m not throwing up without vetting first.”

This part of Wired’s conduct deserves a lot more attention. First, in his interview with me, Lamo claimed that all sorts of things took place in the discussion between him and Manning that are (a) extremely relevant to what happened, (b) have nothing to do with Manning’s personal issues or sensitive national security secrets, and yet (c) are nowhere to be found in the chat logs published by Wired. That means either that Lamo is lying about what was said or Wired is concealing highly relevant aspects of their discussions. Included among that is Manning’s explanation about how he found Lamo and why he contacted him, Manning’s alleged claim that his “intention was to cripple the United States’ foreign relations for the foreseeable future,” and discussions they had about the capacity in which they were speaking.

Second, one can’t help but note the irony that two hackers-turned-journalists — Poulsen and Lamo — are now the self-anointed guardians of America’s national security, the former concealing secrets he learned as a journalist on vague national security grounds and the latter turning informant by invoking the most extreme, right-wing platitudes about “traitors” and “spies” and decrees that his actions were necessary to “save American lives.”

Third, Wired should either publish all of the chat logs, or be far more diligent about withholding only those parts which truly pertain only to Manning’s private and personal matters and/or which would reveal national security secrets. Or they should have a respected third party review the parts they have concealed to determine if there is any justification for that. At least if one believes Lamo’s claims, there are clearly relevant parts of those chats which Wired continues to conceal.

This article also focuses on the Lamo/Manning/Poulsen connection. One of the main points to consider in all of this is that the inherent naivete and trust of hackers in each other is their fatal flaw. As they well know, the most significant hacks are not done by overwhelming technical superiority. They are achieved by exploiting weak human links, not weakness in software or hardware. This is part of the code of the hacker. It is also part of the code for the counterintelligence geeks who are after them. Code may be strong, but humans are usually weak. In fact, it is a very common thing for hackers who are caught to immediately turn into state informants, intelligence assets, or become security contractors who fight hackers. A personal friend years ago was involved in exactly this scenario. He broke into the state’s computers where he lived, got caught, and was given the option of prison or contracting for the state. What do you think he went for? Luckily, he only had to secure systems and didn’t have to rat people out. However, many are not given such a plump position.

…On June 6th, published a report that military intelligence analyst Bradley Manning had been arrested for allegedly leaking the famous 2007 Apache helicopter attack video to Wikileaks. Now Wikileaks and others are questioning Wired’s involvement in the story.

The post on Wired’s Threat Level blog was a great scoop and a thrilling read: It detailed how 22 year-old intelligence specialist Bradley Manning contacted a former hacker named Adrian Lamo via IM—”he sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker”—to confess that he was the one who leaked the Apache video and a quarter million sensitive State Department cables to whistleblowing website Wikileaks. After chatting with Manning for a few days, Lamo turned him in. He told Wired: “”I wouldn’t have done this if lives weren’t in danger.”

But Lamo’s claim to be motivated by concerns for national security appears to be undermined by a long history of desperate attention-seeking, as detailed today by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald writes that “Lamo is notorious in the world of hacking for being a low-level, inconsequential hacker with an insatiable need for self-promotion and media attention”. And apparently, Lamo’s need for attention has been fulfilled for years by Wired Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen—one of the two authors of the Manning post. Poulsen, himself a former hacker, has written a slew of fawning articles on Lamo’s hacking exploits, essentially becoming Lamo’s de facto PR guy, according to Greenwald.

Here’s how it worked in the Manning case: Manning first contacted Lamo by IM on May 21st. On May 24th, Lamo called Poulsen to let him know about the potential story, but witheld details. Lamo began working with the feds to nab Manning. On May 26th, Manning was arrested. The day after Lamo learned of Manning’s arrest, he told the whole story to Poulsen, who drove miles to pick up a zip drive with the chat logs, according to the CJR. Poulsen wrote the post and published June 6th.

We see here how Lamo functions essentially as an informal stringer for Poulsen. Lamo told the BBC that he had even told Manning he was a journalist. That Lamo then turned on his source is a pretty blatant violation of journalistic ethics, but never mind; Poulsen gets his story and Lamo gets his name in the papers.
In typical hyperbolic fashion, Wikileaks has been Tweeting allegations that this means Wired was in collusion with Lamo and, thus, the US government. Really, what’s going on doesn’t differ much from any source-journalist relationship.

But Wired’s role is indeed colored by Poulsen’s strong relationship with Lamo—and the fact that Lamo turned Manning into the authorities. When hackers come to the media with, say, evidence of a massive iPad security flaw, they usually demand some sort of anonymity. Manning didn’t have this option, since, technically he wasn’t speaking with a journalist. But the fact that Lamo presumably intended from the beginning to dish to Poulsen complicates things.

The exact role of Wired in this—and the extent to which Lamo misled Manning to think he was a journalist—could presumably be answered by looking at the full chat logs Lamo gave Poulsen. But Poulsen told Greenwald that Wired didn’t release the full transcript because it detailed “personal matters” or sensitive government information. Bullshit. Poulsen and Lamo have been working as an informal hacker-journalist unit for years. It’s time to get some Wikileaks-style transparency on how it all works.

While I will reserve most of my opinions of Assange for part 4, this one belongs in this chapter, and reveals some of what Assange is about. He is a grandiose freak on a power trip with little concern for the lives he affects. I have mixed feelings about wikileaks and the role it can play in the world. I do not have such mixed feelings about Assange.

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press – Wed Jul 28, 2010
….President Barack Obama said Tuesday the leak of classified information from the battlefield “could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations,” while Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Baghdad that there was “a real potential threat there to put American lives at risk.”
U.S. officials are worried that the raw data may prove useful not only to the Taliban but to hostile intelligence services in countries such as China and Russia who have the resources to make sense of such vast vaults of data, said Ellen McCarthy, former U.S. intelligence officer and president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden described the mass release as a big gift to America’s enemies.
“If I had gotten this trove on the Taliban or al-Qaida, I would have called it priceless,” he said. “If I’m head of the Russian intelligence, I’m getting my best English speakers and saying: ‘Read every document, and I want you to tell me, how good are these guys? What are their approaches, their strengths, their weaknesses and their blind spots?'”
Back in London, Assange agreed that the files offered insight into U.S. tactics.
But he said that was none of his concern, and he noted that his Web site already carried a copy of the U.S. Special Forces’ 2006 Southern Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Manual, among other sensitive U.S. military documents. “We put out that stuff all the time,” he said.
He seemed irritated when a member of the audience pressed him on whether he believed there were ever any legitimate national security concerns that would prevent him from publishing a leaked document.
“It is not our role to play sides for states. States have national security concerns, we do not have national security concerns,” he said.
You often hear … that something may be a threat to U.S. national security,” he went on. “This must be shot down whenever this statement is made. A threat to U.S. national security? Is anyone serious? The security of the entire nation of the United States? It is ridiculous!”He said he wasn’t interested in the safety of states, only the safety of individual human beings.

This is the attitude that annoys me. This is a person who has lived his whole life in the West, protected by Western military force, yet pretends such protection does not exist. He sees himself and his org as above the concerns that everybody else in the world has to deal with. Honestly, the best thing Assange could do to earn my support for WikiLeaks would just be to shut his mouth.

Now let’s turn our attention to an article from the Wall St. Journal about some of the interesting tidbits that were found in the Wikileaks documents. Obviously, it may be tough to discern my point of view on this whole thing. In theory, I could support something like WikiLeaks. However, I find Assange either so contemptible or naive (can’t make up my mind) that it just isn’t something I can get behind. Even if I agreed with leaking things like the State Dept. docs (I don’t), I think the supporters of WikiLeaks are way off on their analysis of how “secure” it is to post there, and I also KNOW that they are greatly underestimating the power of the people they are messing with, and the many methods by which they can work. Most significantly, as they quickly found out last month, the entire narrative was stripped from the Left in the media, and turned into a debate on how little we can trust the Pakistanis! Is that really what the people who celebrated the leaks wanted to happen? However, I wasn’t too pleased to find out that Hekmatayar (former US ally, Bin Laden buddy, and major heroin trafficker) was making trips to North Korea in conjunction with the Iranians. This story should be getting more attention, as with many stories from this region.

Reports Bolster Suspicion of Iranian Ties to Extremists
July 27, 2010
WASHINGTON—Cooperation among Iran, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups is more extensive than previously known to the public, according to details buried in the tens of thousands of military intelligence documents released by an independent group Sunday.

U.S. officials and Middle East analysts said some of the most explosive information contained in the WikiLeaks documents detail Iran’s alleged ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and the facilitating role Tehran may have played in providing arms from sources as varied as North Korea and Algeria.
The officials have for years received reports of Iran smuggling arms to the Taliban. The WikiLeaks documents, however, appear to give new evidence of direct contacts between Iranian officials and the Taliban’s and al Qaeda’s senior leadership. It also outlines Iran’s alleged role in brokering arms deals between North Korea and Pakistan-based militants, particularly militant leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and al Qaeda.
…One of the more remarkable reports describes a November 2005 trip that departed from Iran in which Mr. Hekmatyar, the militant leader, and Osama bin Laden’s financial adviser traveled to North Korea to close a deal with the North Korean government to obtain remote-controlled rockets to use against coalition aircraft in Afghanistan.

We’ll end with one more piece taking on Assange. Note: I suspect that the Daily Beast, among other blogs, is being used to attack Assange on behalf of the USG. And I can’t say I’m against that! By the end of Chapter Four, I think you will have a clearer view of things. In my opinion, Assange is someone who thinks he was able to turn the world’s intelligence agencies against each other while remaining above the fray. However, I think he is being used by some of those agencies in ways that may be too far above his head to understand. He may have started off viewing himself as a Robin Hood figure, but has become closer to a Bond villain. A man with a vision of a “better world”, which he will achieve no matter the cost in human blood.

The author Varadarajan gives a preview of what will be the subject of part 3, the fact that the videos WikiLeaks releases are selectively edited! Regardless of where one stands politically, WikiLeaks simply can’t be trusted as it is willing to edit submitted material to suit its own biases… and stupid enough to do it while a reporter sits right next to them! Unbelievable.

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange is a criminal
by Tunku Varadarajan

What does Assange want? Does he really want the free world to cringe under constant threat from al Qaeda? If we fail to defeat this threat, what does Assange think will happen? Do we have any sense that he cares? Or is it the case, frighteningly, that Assange doesn’t really “want” anything, in a programmatic, civilizational sense, and that these explosive episodes of “gotcha” leaks are an end in themselves, a personal moral terminus, a sort of self-righteous, self-congratulatory onanism?

These latest leaks weren’t, of course, Assange’s debut on the world stage. This episode was preceded by “Collateral Murder,” his own Breitbart Moment, when he infamously edited the leaked video of a gunship attack by U.S. forces in Iraq to make it appear more damnable. How is that different from the editing, by Andrew Breitbart, of the clip of the lady from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the NAACP meeting? The New York Times wouldn’t touch anything Breitbart was peddling, but it gave Assange, who professes not to know where these documents came from, the full Pentagon Papers treatment.

Unless there is evidence that Assange conspired with employees of the military to procure these leaked materials, there is no scope in the law to take action against him. But let us put the law to one side. Our aversion to Assange and his ways—to his posturing, gaudy psuedo-insurgency—need not be expressed in ways prosecutorial. Let us, instead, shower him with our most basic contempt, and dismiss him as the fraud that he is. WikiLeaks is a brothel of self-promotion, Assange its puffed-up pimp.

Wikifreaks, Pt. 1 “Eat.Pray.Leak”

•September 2, 2010 • 22 Comments

"We Are Family"

“We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher leave us kids alone
Hey! Teacher! Leave us kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall”

-Another Brick In the Wall, Pink Floyd

The wikileaks story has certainly been one of the strangest stories in recent years. Heck, just going by the most boring, mainstream accounts we’ve got a seemingly unaccountable libertarian databank dictating to the world how its most important secrets will be handled, a US Army private (who seems to have a hell of a lot of data for a private!) with sexual identity issues,  and a weird geek with silvery blond hair and a big attitude who is “on the run” yet somehow has time to do talk shows.  However, that is a pretty limp version of the wikileaks story and I aim with this series to crank the weirdness several notches higher!

Part two of this series will focus on the most recent developments and political overtones behind the scenes of the wikileaks story. At that point, I will lay out on the table my own opinions about Assange and wikileaks. However, I think it is interesting to look back in time to events that may have shaped the current situation. While many have pointed out that “there is something strange about Julian Assange”, few commentators have pointed out his connection to an Australian cult. As someone who is focused on  overlaps between the intelligence community and the “New Age” and various cults, this set off an alarm for me.

I do not suspect or have any evidence that this cult is the driving force behind Assange’s actions. He himself would certainly not agree with that nor does he have positive things to say about the cult. It may just be a coincidence that this strange man who is allegedly blowing the world’s intel secrets up had interactions with a mind control cult, that “coincidentally” has connections to the Australian elite and intelligence service. Even if it has NOTHING to do with Assange’s current newsworthiness, it is an interesting and frightening tale on it’s own. And yes, Swami Muk’s cult, currently being whitewashed by “Eat.Pray.Love.” does make an appearance.

First, let’s check out this important New Yorker article. I will return to this article in part two as it has significant details within it. However, I’m focusing on one excerpt for now…

Julian Assange

When Assange was eight, Claire left her husband and began seeing a musician, with whom she had another child, a boy. The relationship was tempestuous; the musician became abusive, she says, and they separated. A fight ensued over the custody of Assange’s half brother, and Claire felt threatened, fearing that the musician would take away her son. Assange recalled her saying, “Now we need to disappear,” and he lived on the run with her from the age of eleven to sixteen. When I asked him about the experience, he told me that there was evidence that the man belonged to a powerful cult called the Family—its motto was “Unseen, Unknown, and Unheard.” Some members were doctors who persuaded mothers to give up their newborn children to the cult’s leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne. The cult had moles in government, Assange suspected, who provided the musician with leads on Claire’s whereabouts. In fact, Claire often told friends where she had gone, or hid in places where she had lived before.

This “Family” is not the same Family as the Children of God, which movie star River Phoenix was brought up in, nor is it the elite Washington, D.C. group that holds a disproportionate influence on American society. No, this is the “Family” of Anne Hamilton Byrne of Australia. The Family got its start with a group called the Santiniketan Park Association, which  took over a private hospital and used it for LSD experimentation on patients. Note: I have checked out the sources for the wikipedia page and they check out. As always, a wikipedia page is worthless if its links don’t check out. This is a decent summary of the story.

What is so astonishing about Anne Hamilton Byrne is her ability to escape serious punishment for having essentially stolen the lives of dozens of youngsters. As we go along, we shall see reasons why this may have happened.

Around 1964 Dr Raynor Johnson was hosting regular meetings of a religious and philosophical discussion group led by Hamilton-Byrne at Santiniketan, his home at Ferny Creek in the Dandenong Ranges on the eastern outskirts of Melbourne. Also connected was a series of weekly talks he gave at the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne, entitled “The Macrocosm and the Microcosm”. The group purchased an adjoining property which they named Santiniketan Park [1] in 1968 and constructed a meeting hall, Santiniketan Lodge.

The association consisted of middle class, professional people; it has been estimated that a quarter were nurses and other medical personnel, and that many were recruited by Johnson who referred them to Hamilton-Byrne’s hatha yoga classes.[2] Members mainly lived in nearby suburbs and townships in the Dandenongs, meeting each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evening [3] at Santiniketan Lodge, Crowther House in Olinda or another property in the area known as the White Lodge [4].

During the late 1960s and 1970s Newhaven Hospital in Kew was a private psychiatric hospital owned and managed by Marion Villimek, a Santiniketan member; many of its staff and attending psychiatrists were also members.

Many patients at Newhaven were treated with the hallucinogenic drug LSD [7]. The hospital was used to recruit potential new members from among the patients, and also to administer LSD to members under the direction of the Santiniketan psychiatrists Dr John Mackay and Dr Howard Whitaker . One of the original members of the Association was given LSD, electroconvulsive therapy and two leucotomies during the late 1960s.

Although the psychiatric hospital had been closed down by 1992, in that year a new inquest was ordered into the death of a Newhaven patient in 1975 after new claims that his death had been due to deep sleep therapy. The inquest heard evidence concerning the use of electroconvulsive therapy, LSD and other practices at Newhaven but found no evidence that deep sleep had been used on this patient. The Newhaven building was later reopened as a nursing home with no connections to its previous owner or uses.

Anne Hamilton-Byrne acquired fourteen infants and young children between about 1968 and 1975. Some were the natural children of Santiniketan members, others had been obtained through irregular adoptions arranged by lawyers, doctors and social workers within the group who could bypass the normal processes. The children’s identities were changed using false birth certificates or deed poll, all being given the surname ‘Hamilton-Byrne’ and dressed alike even to the extent of their hair being dyed uniformly blonde[11].

The children were kept in seclusion and home-schooled at Kia Lama, a rural property usually referred to as “Uptop”, at Taylor Bay on Lake Eildon near the town of Eildon, Victoria. They were taught that Anne Hamilton-Byrne was their biological mother, and knew the other adults in the group as ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ They were denied almost all access to the outside world, and subjected to a discipline that included frequent corporal punishment and starvation diets.

The children were frequently dosed with the psychiatric drugs Anatensol, Diazepam, Haloperidol, Largactil, Mogadon, Serepax, Stelazine, Tegretol or Tofranil[4]. On reaching adolescence they were compelled to undergo an initiation involving LSD[13]: while under the influence of the drug the child would be left in a dark room, alone apart from visits by Hamilton-Byrne or one of the psychiatrists from the group[4].

While Assange plays down his connections to the cult, I find it interesting that they were forced to dye their hair peroxide blonde, and he himself has hair described alternately as “silver”, “platinum blonde”, “blonde”, and “peroxide blonde”. I’ve heard all four personally. Here is an article on the Family from Australia. Naturally, the press didn’t seem to care when everything was going on for decades, but once the story blew up, they didn’t hesitate to exploit it. Sarah Moore is mentioned in this story as she tried to reconcile with Hamilton Byrne, despite having exposed all of her secrets in previous years. It is fascinating to see the hold over her former slaves that Hamilton Byrne has even years after separating. Even her harshest critics and apostates still can’t fight a need to forgive her.

Anne Hamilton-Byrne and Sarah Moore

EXCLUSIVE: THE leader of Australia’s most notorious cult, The Family, remains unrepentant two decades after the raid that shocked the nation.

Anne Hamilton-Byrne broke her silence yesterday, saying she was ready to die after reconciling with Sarah Moore, the “daughter” who betrayed her to the authorities.

The Family made headlines around the world in 1987 when the Australian Federal Police and Community Services Victoria raided the cult’s property at Lake Eildon and took six children into care.

Police later found 14 children had been brought up in almost complete isolation believing they were the offspring of Hamilton-Byrne and her late husband Bill.

In fact none of them was the Hamilton-Byrnes’, but children of single mothers who had been pressured into giving them up for adoption or cult members who did not want them.

But it was the way the children had been treated that really shocked the nation.

Hamilton-Byrne had ordered the children’s hair be dyed peroxide blonde and they be dressed in identical outfits.

It was also alleged they had been half-starved, beaten and forced to take large quantities of tranquilisers to “calm them down” and even fed LSD when they became adults.

Now, in the first ever interview at her sprawling Olinda compound, the cult leader has defended how she raised the children and attacked those who said she mistreated them as “lying bastards”. Of her critics, she said: “I would love to put them right, but I can’t.”

…On the issue of alleged LSD use in the cult, she said: “Everything on earth has its uses.” And asked about whether she had any regrets, she would only say: “I’ve got regrets about losing touch with daughter.”

“I’m ready to die now. I don’t mind when I go,” she said after an emotional reunion with her favourite “daughter” Dr Moore, witnessed by the Sunday Herald Sun. Inside the compound – one of at least half a dozen properties owned by Hamilton-Byrne – elderly helpers scurried around, avoiding eye contact.

The “wrinkly disciples” wore coloured wigs, with heavy make-up, and are said to be among up to 50 cult followers who still defer to Hamilton-Byrne – some living on the property and others in surrounding hills.

…Dr Moore, also known as Sarah Hamilton-Byrne, had been expelled from The Family two years before the 1987 raid for disobedience, with the curse that she go and die in the gutter, she claimed. She later qualified as a doctor and volunteered extensively in India and other parts of Asia. But four years ago her life began to unravel – she developed bipolar disorder. Suffering from chronic pain, she began self-prescribing pethidine, but was caught in 2005.

This next article includes the opinion of the top cop on the Family case who is still frustrated by the total lack of justice and accountability for this situation.

The Herald-Sun, Australia/August 16, 2009

By James Campbell

Lex De Man, the policeman who spent five years bringing The Family cult leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne to justice, is still haunted by the case and its toll on everyone involved.

And while proud that Operation Forest, the taskforce on which he worked from 1989 to 1994, eventually secured her conviction for perjury, he is still angry Hamilton-Byrne escaped punishment for alleged maltreatment of the children in her care.

Mr De Man said Hamilton-Byrne was lucky the children who had endured beatings, druggings and starvation at The Family’s Lake Eildon property were too traumatised to testify against their alleged tormentor.

“One girl looked like she was seven but was, in fact, 11. She was suffering from psycho-social dwarfism,” Mr De Man said.

“I didn’t think at that time – and even today – that many of the kids would be able to sustain giving evidence in the witness box. I think they’d been damaged too much.”

The detective’s decision to go after Hamilton-Byrne for falsifying documents came in 1991 when the cult’s solicitor, Peter Kibby, decided to co-operate with police.

“Documents don’t lie. People lie on documents. A document might be false, but it’s a human being that puts the information on it,” Mr De Man said.

Kibby then persuaded one of the former “Aunties”, Pat MacFarlane, to make a statement.

After months of interviews, and later armed with the evidence to secure a warrant to arrest Hamilton-Byrne, police still took three years to find her.

These last two stories are very key. They both establish the kinds of circles the Family moved in, including the Catholic Church AND a powerful politician who controlled the Australian Secret Service. The first discusses the Catholic Church, while the second is the autobiography of Sarah Moore, pictured above with Anne Hamilton Byrne. I had done a significant amount of research on this, suspecting some kind of intelligence connection in Australia, BEFORE I had any clue that they were directly connected to the man tasked with overseeing Australia’s intelligence community! Little details like that make everything so much easier for me to make sense of…

But first off, the Catholics! What good is an LSD mind control religious cult sexual abuse story without the Catholic Church making a guest appearance?

Ronald Conway, Hypocrite Par Excellence

For thirty years a prominent Australian Catholic psychologist, Ronald Conway, had a part-time role in assessing and helping trainee priests in the Melbourne seminary. Conway also worked as a consulting psychologist in psychiatric hospitals and in private practice, and some of his male patients say that Conway touched them sexually when they consulted him for professional help. These former patients say that, during “therapy”, they were masturbated by Conway, who encouraged the patients to touch him sexually in the same way as he touched them.

…At the requiem mass, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart gave a homily praising Conway. Hart acknowledged that Conway had been an adviser to the Melbourne archdiocese on priestly vocations. He paid tribute to Conway’s “immense contribution to the evaluation of seminarians, the ongoing assistance given to clerical and religious [people], helping people to discern their vocation.”

Hart added: “We shall never know how much following up he did with these people — in some cases, over many years.”

…In an article in the Weekend Australian on 21 March 2009, federal politician Tony Abbott (who himself was originally a trainee priest in a Catholic seminary in New South Wales) wrote about Conway: “He never contemplated joining the priesthood (as might have been expected of a bright young man of his temperament in that era) and never seems seriously to have considered marriage. He seems largely to have come to terms with any demons of his own and, in any event, chose not to make a spectacle of himself.”

To what “demons” was Abbott referring? And what did he mean about Conway not “making a spectacle of himself?

….Beginning in 1963 (according to Conway’s autobiography, page 98), he was involved in experimenting with psychodelic drugs on patients. He says these drugs eventually included LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, which has sometimes also been known as “acid”) and “the milder psilocybin (derived from the magic mushroom)”. He says that such drugs were “stocked in the special restricted cupboards of the hospital pharmacy”.

Conway writes: “[At St Vincent’s psychiatric department] we helped many a patient with LSD when all other resources, counselling, medication, psychotherapy, ECT [electro-convulsive therapy] and even thoughts of psychosurgery, had been abandoned. From my own work I concluded that no more appropriate substance for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive neuroses existed than LSD in resourceful hands.

“Its virtual abandonment due to hippy excesses and irresponsible and ignorant reporting remains one of the great tragedies of modern psychiatry [pages 98-99].”

Newhaven private hospital

Conway’s autobiography says that he began his LSD experiments at St Vincent’s Hospital. And former patients say that Conway also administered LSD to them at the Newhaven psychiatric hospital which was situated at 86 Normanby Road, Kew, in Melbourne’s inner east.

In the late 1960s and during the 1970s, Newhaven hospital was owned and managed by Marion Villimek, a member of a “New Age” sect called the Santiniketan Park Association, also known as “The Family”. A leader of the sect, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, was also an administrator at the Newhaven. Conway, Eric Seal and other therapists hired consulting rooms there on a sessional basis, and were not involved with the sect. Newhaven ceased being a hospital in 1992.

Celibacy and abuse

Ronald Conway became one of Australia’s most prominent Catholic intellectuals, writing books and newspaper articles about Australian society. He also appeared in radio and television discussion programs as a psychologist and social commentator.

When the church’s sexual scandals became news in Australia in the 1990s, Conway sometimes commented on the issues of celibacy and sexual abuse.

Judging from articles he wrote in the 1990s, Conway evidently believed that the incidence of actual abuse — that is, church personnel committing a breach of professional ethics in their pastoral relationship with children or vulnerable adults — was not as serious as many other people thought.

In July 1996, Christian Brother Robert Charles Best was convicted of indecent assault (for repeatedly putting his hand inside the pants of an eleven-year-old boy in a classroom in a Catholic primary school in Ballarat, Victoria). In an article in the Melbourne Age (25 August 2001), Conway claimed that Brother Robert Best “was seen by some students as more a nuisance and embarrassment than a threat”.

Conway evidently thought that Brother Best’s criminal offence and ethical breach were no big deal.

Conway took a similar elastic view towards the professional ethics of a psychologist by developing intimate (and sexual) relationships with some of his male patients.

The story of “Bill”

Conway’s autobiography says that one of his leisure pastimes was an involvement in amateur theatre production, during which he met a “sterling young man whom I will merely name as Bill.”

Conway says (page 99): “He [Bill] undertook, with the aid of LSD, a series of investigative treatments in a private hospital under psychiatric supervision, with myself as assisting therapist. The treatments were remarkably successful and Bill’s gratitude knew no bounds.”

…Broken Rites has been contacted by several males who received psychological counselling from Conway in the 1960s and 1970s. Conway developed intimate (and sexual) relationships with these patients.

1. “James” told Broken Rites on 17 February 1995 that when he was aged 15 to 16 in the 1960s he was having behavioural troubles, so his mother sent him to see Catholic psychiatrist Dr Eric Seal, who in turn referred him to Ronald Conway. James had counselling sessions for several years at Conway’s home, which was then situated in Torrington Street, Canterbury. Conway also took James to the Newhaven private hospital where he was placed under LSD as part of Conway’s therapy. James says that, on two occasions, Conway masturbated him — once at Newhaven Hospital while James was under LSD and once at Conway’s home. During these two sessions, Conway also allegedly exposed his own genitals to James.

2. “Pierre” told Broken Rites: “In my twenties I was having difficulty in forming relationships, so I sought help from Ron Conway. He treated me for several years at his house and at the Newhaven Hospital and the Sacred Heart Hospital, including with LSD. During several of these therapy sessions, he got me to engage in mutual masturbation with him. Eventually I realised this was not appropriate and I declined to engage in this, although I continued to associate with him as a friend. I know that Conway sexualised the relationship he had with many of his other patients. He justified that behaviour as being part of the therapy. I know of at least four other men who approached Conway for assistance and with whom he ended up having a sexual relationship.”

3. “Roger” told Broken Rites: “When I was twenty, I needed a counsellor. I heard about Conway and started having therapy sessions at his home. He said that I seemed tense, so he started touching me. At first, it was just holding hands but later it became more intimate — that is, sexual touching. In the late 1970s, Conway arranged through Dr Eric Seal for me to have a number of sessions at the Newhaven hospital, where I was given LSD to facilitate Conway’s therapy. This therapy included Conway touching my body in a sexual manner. He also displayed his own genitals to me. Later I put a stop to this sexual relationship but we kept up the friendship.”

Another ex-patient

“Damien” (a patient of Conway in the 1960s), wrote to Broken Rites on 11 May 2010 and authorised us to publish his commments:

…. “After several sessions with Conway, it was suggested that I undergo LSD therapy in Newhaven Private Hospital as an overnight patient. It was explained to me that this therapy was a way to fast-track psychoanalysis and would be very helpful in accepting my sexuality. Conway, as a psychologist, had no qualifications to administer drugs. I did not understand this at the time.

“During the last session I came to believe that I had been in the presence of God who authorized me to lead the sexual life which had been chosen for me.

“Conway then suggested that I continue to see him without the use of LSD.I explained to him that my finances were stretched and that it was not possible. He said that it was important that I continue to see him and that if I were willing he would see me at his home in Torrington Street, Canterbury, gratis.

“What a shock I got when one night he made advances to me and we ended up on the floor of his sitting room. The room was decorated as if it were the inside of an Egyptian tomb. He said this should not have happened but that, as it had, we should do it properly in his bedroom. It was a spartan room with the bed covers on a single bed already turned down and electric bar heaters turned on resting on tables either side.

…”In the early 1990s, when I was 48 years of age, I was a patient in the Freemason’s Hospital and woke up one afternoon to find Ron Conway sitting on my bed holding my hand. He had heard from someone that I was in hospital. I made it clear that I was not happy with his presence .He explained to me that he had been following my life through a work colleague of mine, another psychologist.

“Ron Conway never appeared again.”

Conway was not “religious” in the common sense and was not a “churchgoer”. In politics, he was right-wing and was opposed to political “progressives”. He was well known among the followers of the Catholic political commentator B.A. Santamaria. These Catholic connections helped him to develop his career as a psychotherapist.

From about 1969, he developed a part-time role at Melbourne’s Corpus Christi College seminary, which trained priests for all dioceses in Victoria and Tasmania. He says he “screened” or “helped” men who had applied to train for the priesthood. The church authorities also asked Conway to “help” other Catholic priests or religious brothers who were having problems, especially sexual problems.

Conway and the strange case of Father Paul David Ryan

It is unclear how the seminary’s “screening” worked and to what extent Conway was involved in it. Broken Rites has investigated the case of one Melbourne trainee priest, Paul David Ryan — and Ronald Conway certainly became involved in this case.

Ryan was originally a trainee priest at the Adelaide Catholic seminary but was expelled half-way through third year.

Despite this, Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, of the Ballarat Diocese in Victoria, accepted Ryan as a candidate for the priesthood in that diocese. In 1972 Mulkearns sponsored Ryan for admission to the Melbourne seminary.

Despite his poor references, Ryan was admitted and he stayed at the seminary for five years.

It is unclear why a reject from the Adelaide seminary was accepted into the Melbourne seminary. It is not known whether Ryan was one of the applicants who were screened by Conway at entry but Conway certainly became involved in issues surrounding Ryan in 1976, as explained below.

Broken Rites possesses copies of church documents, including correspondence between the rector of the Melbourne seminary (Fr Kevin Mogg) and a Father John Harvey in Maryland, U.S.A. (who specialized in helping priests with sexual problems). During his Melbourne seminary training (according to the church documents), Ryan “had been regularly involved in overt sexual behaviour” with about six other trainee priests. The acts (the seminary letter stated) included mutual masturbation and also some “more serious acts”.

The church authorities went ahead with Ryan’s ordination, which took place in Ballarat in May 1976, and he was due to be given an on-going appointment to a parish in the Ballarat diocese for early 1977.

But the news of his ordination alarmed a Ballarat mother, who complained to the diocesan authorities that Ryan sexually abused her teenage son (with disastrous consequences for the son) while Ryan was doing work-experience in a Ballarat parish during in the final year of his course.

The church authorities still intended to keep Ryan as a priest but they realised that this mother would go public if she saw Ryan being appointed to any Ballarat parish — and this would damage the respectable image of the Catholic Church.

The church authorities went into damage control. In late 1976 (according to the church documents) the seminary asked Ronald Conway to interview Ryan. Conway then wrote a report on Ryan and referred him to Catholic psychiatrist Dr Eric Seal.

On 18 November 1976, Dr Seal wrote to the rector of the Melbourne seminary (Fr Kevin Mogg), saying that he [Seal] had received a comprehensive report about Ryan from Ronald Conway.

Following the reports by Conway and Seal and after further discussions, the Ballarat diocese “solved” the problem of the angry Ballarat mother — the diocese arranged for Ryan to be given a trip to the United States in 1977.

Church documents (in the possession of Broken Rites) state that Ryan was allowed to work in parishes in the U.S., where he committed sexual crimes against a number of American schoolboys.

And, after returning to Australia, Ryan was also allowed to work in parishes in western Victoria, where he again committed sexual crimes (consisting of repeated indecent touching) against more boys, one of whom later committed suicide. Paul David Ryan was jailed in Australia in 2006 for his sexual crimes.

It is not known what Ronald Conway thought about the abusive behaviour of Father Paul David Ryan and similar church-offenders.

Did he think (as he said in the case of Christian Brother Robert Best who was convicted in 1996) that Ryan’s kind of criminal offences and ethical breaches were “more a nuisance and embarrassment than a threat”?

And here is the Coup De Grace from Sarah Moore. Saving the best and longest piece for last. One of the reasons this post took so long to get out was that I had to read the whole book and edit it down to the juiciest details! But I think I got the significant pages. Keep an eye out for Swami Muktanda of “Eat.Pray.Love” fame and for a certain Governor-General Casey, overseer of Australian intelligence back in the heyday of the cult.   This really gets into the nitty-gritty of what a living HELL it must have been to grow up in the Family.


by Sarah Moore (Hamilton-Byrne)

My mother was Anne Hamilton-Byrne, the leader of a small sect in the Dandenongs called the Family or the Great White Brotherhood. I was a small part of her plan to collect children in what she herself once called a “scientific experiment”. Later I discovered it was her intention that we children would continue her sect after the earth was consumed by a holocaust. She saw us as the “inheritors of the earth”. I didn’t know that then. In those days I was just a child. A child of a guru, but a child no less.

Twenty-two to twenty-eight children in all lived at Uptop in its heyday, although the fosters had varying lengths of stay

She used to say that she couldn’t remember all the dates very well because she had so many children. Maybe, in retrospect, we should have realised that was weird but then we never thought it was anything out of the ordinary. She decided upon sets of twins and triplets and gave us ages and birth-dates to fit in with that idea. Birthday changes were just something you accepted. It was as if Anne knew so much more about everything than us and she just might be revealing another piece of our life plan if she changed our birthdays.

We were the children of The Family, the children of Anne Hamilton-Byrne. We were dressed alike. Most of the girls’ hair was dyed blond, cut into fringes and worn long with identical hairstyles and identically-coloured ribbons. All the boys had bowl haircuts.

…Why did she raise us in almost total social isolation, miles from anywhere, with minimal contact with other humans apart from the sect members who looked after us? Why did she subject us to the bizarre and cruel regimen in which we grew up? Was it to demonstrate that she had the power to create a generation that would be reared with her beliefs and believing in her? I suspect perhaps that there were more sinister motives than these alone. Some of us had multiple birth certificates and passports, and citizenship of more than one country. Only she knows why thus was and why we were also all dressed alike, why most of us even had our hair dyed identically blond.

I can only conjecture because I will never know for sure. However I suspect that she went to such great lengths in order to enable her to move children around, in and out of the country. Perhaps even to be sold overseas. I’m sure there is a market somewhere in the world for small blond children with no traceable identities. If she did it, it was a perfect scam. Many ex-sect members have said that they were aware that Anne was creating children by a “breeding program” in the late 1960s. These were ‘invisible’ kids, because they had no papers and there is no proof that they ever existed. Yet we Hamilton-Byrne children had multiple identities. These identities could perhaps have been loaned to other children and the similarity of our appearance used to cover up their absence. One little blond kid looks very like another in a passport photo. I don’t suppose we will ever know the truth because only Anne Hamilton-Byrne knows the truth about the whole affair and the truth is something she will never tell.

…I am training to be a doctor but sometimes I think my medical career will be sabotaged because there are still many in the sect who have a lot of influence in professional and academic circles. It may sound melodramatic, but I know that some who were Anne’s enemies have disappeared in strange circumstances.

….You would always hear the alarm clock going off upstairs in the lounge room where Aunty Helen slept on guard against food thieves. She would come stumbling downstairs, guided by torchlight, and go first to the boys’ bedroom and wake up Aunty Liz or Trish who slept in there. They would lurch out to the bathroom and get dressed.

Aunty Helen would light the gas light in the boys’ room, and then go around checking the boys’ beds to see who had wet them the night before. The poor children guilty of this would be led by the ear into the bathroom to have a belting administered by Aunty Trish or Liz. Then they would be shoved, still in their pyjamas, under a cold shower, no matter how freezing the weather outside.

Every morning I awoke to the sounds of children howling as they got their first belting for the day. Rare was the day that no-one wet the bed, at least until 1986, and even then the younger boys continued to do so on occasions.

The unfortunate child then had to wash his own sheets out during breakfast, and often had to miss lunch as well. The sheets were piled in a corner of the bathroom until breakfast time and they smelled horrible.

…Also, once a week, or more if it was considered that an individual had a weight problem, we were weighed and the results entered in a book to be communicated to Anne. She had a horror of fatness and was obsessed with body shape and weight. She always insisted that we girls were getting too fat, even though in some cases it was malnutrition rather than extra kilos that caused our bellies to stick out.

Weighing was a very serious business – particularly serious for us because if it was considered that we were putting on too much weight we would have our food rations cut down and that was a dreadful proposition – food being the most important thing in our lives. We girls viewed the scales with hatred. They made our miserable lives even worse.

Some of the girls also showered in the morning if there was time. We showered every two days in a rostered system, some in the morning and some at night. We were allowed a maximum of three minutes under the shower, and ‘no washing down there’!. We were forbidden to look at our bodies under the shower – we were supposed to shower with our eyes shut – and also we were ordered not to look at anyone else. Particularly forbidden was girls coming into contact with boys. I do believe that I had not seen a naked male body – even in a book , as these too were heavily censored- until HSC Biology. In summer, when water was scarce, we often couldn’t shower and had to wash from a bucket or else one bath would be filled and all of us had to use it. The water was pretty dark and scungy by the time it was the turn of the last few.

…After this we had to be on the floor in position for hatha yoga by 6:25 to 6:30 at the latest. Hatha time for lasted one hour, during which we followed a prescribed order of four main asanas (positions) with intervening minor exercises and relaxation.

As we did yoga every day of our lives from a very young age, we were extremely supple. We eventually got given red towels which we had to lay out to do our yoga on; before that time we laid out blankets, which I remember used to slip around on the lino. We lay on the floor side by side, about half a metre between us. The next row was placed in between the others to form staggered rows. Each person had a specific place and one child, who lay perpendicular to the rest at the front, acted as supervisor and directed the pace of the exercise and kept the time.

Hatha finished at 7:20 – 7:25 and then the girls picked up their towels. Hatha yoga was often the only exercise we got for the day especially during the long periods of time when we were totally confined indoors. This happened when there were people in the vicinity or some suspected media or police interest. It could go on for many months. Or we could be confined simply as punishment.

While we were doing our yoga, most of the Aunties were upstairs having their breakfast. THEY got tea and toast. They also read a daily affirmation from a book called `God Calling’. Sometimes one Aunty was left downstairs to keep an eye on us or would wash our clothes.

….Anne Hamilton-Byrne believed in discipline absolutely. We believed we were her children. She was, we were told, Jesus Christ reincarnated. This was rarely explicitly said by her: it was more assumed by how she referred to herself and acted. Her religion was based on distorted perceptions of the Hindu notion of “karma”: that you reap what you sow. Suffering as children was supposed not just to expiate the sins of this life, but also the sins of our past lives. Suffering built up our chances of salvation and redemption. Anne’s religion practically called for child-abuse.

Because she travelled so much she left two books of instructions called ‘Mummy’s Rule Books’. These books listed penalties for infractions. They had entries such as : “If David rocks or sways during meditation, he is to be hit over the head with a chair” and rules about everything, even about how many hours of piano practice each child was to do. These were signed by Anne. She encouraged the Aunties to belt us.

The guiding principle of our rigid existence was discipline. Discipline was the word used to justify abuse. It was discipline that we had to agree with no matter what.

It was enforced in the early days with beltings and the deprivation of food by the missing of meals almost every day. Later this changed to public humiliation, lines to write, the missing of ‘privileges’ and less common but more severe beltings.

We often had to watch others being beaten. If we took our eyes away that would be interpreted as disapproval and if you disapproved that was a worse crime. Public beatings were held to flush out insubordinates. Anyone who got upset or refused to look or appeared to be disagreeing that the person should be punished, got beaten as well.

Punishments came in waves. Whatever Anne considered the best way of disciplining us was enforced until she changed her mind. So I remember harsh times and softer times.

….Megan Dawes once missed meals for a day because she was caught wearing odd socks. We weren’t even allowed to go to the toilet until the designated recess time and so of course kids would wet their pants and be belted for that. One time we had a baby called Madeleine staying with us for a few weeks. She was locked in a cot all day with the sides up. She had not reached the walking stage and so couldn’t get out of the cot and get to the toilet. However that didn’t stop the Aunties. She still got belted when she wet or dirtied her nappy. I remember Trish ordering me to bathe Madeleine in a basin after she had soiled herself. The water had to be icy cold as a punishment and Trish smacked her after I bathed her. She was screaming and I had difficulty holding her still in the cold water.

…We were often punished for rocking. We used to rock ourselves to sleep at night because we felt so miserable, sitting up on our haunches and swaying to and fro, or just rocking our head from side to side.. Often after a belting we would call out ‘Mummy, Daddy’ as we rocked to and fro, calling out to a Mummy and Daddy who were not there and did not care. When we were younger a few of us, myself included used to headbang as we rocked: it was a way of seeking comfort. If we were caught, we were punished with another belting, or being put outside on the concrete for the remainder of the night, or getting cold water tipped over us. Rocking was considered to be bad because , even when we were tiny children it was interpreted as a form of sexual gratification.

…For most of my early childhood, I remember being constantly hungry. We were starving and it was Anne’s policy that we were. We were so hungry we ate dirt and leaves. We were so hungry we ate grass and scavenged in the rubbish bins. We were so hungry we ate the cats’ and dogs’ food, we ate bread and seed left out for the birds. We were so hungry we stole anything we could. Vitamin C capsules were considered by us as manna from Heaven.

….The irony was that stealing food was the crime for which we were most often punished. It was a Catch-22 situation: we were so hungry we stole food and if we stole food we were made to miss more meals. In light of this miserable situation it wasn’t surprising that most of us were obsessed with food.

Extraordinary measures were taken to prevent us stealing food. The kitchen cupboards were padlocked. There was a chain and padlock around the fridge, and an Aunty was delegated to guard the kitchen at all times. Amazingly, despite these measures, we were sometimes successful in stealing food. But, more often than not, the ever-vigilant Aunties noticed immediately if anything was missing.

…As well as trying to steal, we used to scavenge for what we could. The younger children would crawl under the dining table after the meal, supposedly to sweep up any mess, but their real purpose would be to eat whatever scraps or crumbs had fallen. Others of us would raid the rubbish bins and the compost bin. I only ate leaves and grass to assuage in some way the dreadful emptiness in my stomach. It was a desperation measure. Any edible plants and flowers were dealt with very quickly. I remember the nasturtiums in particular disappeared within minutes of flowering. We also ate the honeysuckle bush, and another type of grass that had a sweet tasting centre.

…The climax of each child’s drug-taking came in the sect practice known as ‘going-through’. I describe my own experience of this in another chapter. However during this process, also known as “clearing”, we were given LSD and a number of other hallucinogenic drugs. It was a state that was basically a sustained LSD trip. It was meant to clear your soul and take you to a higher plane of understanding, and was perhaps the key to Anne’s spiritual influence.

….The end of the massive vitamin doses coincided with the death of a prominent sect member called Joan Villimek, who owned the Newhaven Private Psychiatric Hospital in Kew. We believe that she was supplying the money to buy them; as it was inconceivable that Anne dig into her own pocket to provide anything, other than the occasional bizarre gifts and dresses she bought for us.

Being ill brought few pay-offs for us children. It did not result in appropriate medication or extra emotional support and affection. In fact, it often led to punishment rather than sympathy. For instance, David, who had chronic asthma and a history of other allergies, was punished by the Aunties for coughing and wheezing all the time. He was never given bronchodilators such as Ventolin or steroids – the proper treatment for his condition. He was just told that he was a wheezer, as if this was something that was his fault. And if he woke the Aunties at night with his coughing or wheezing, they would often tip water over him and lock him outside the house for the rest of the night, or just belt him. Often he slept in the bathroom because of his ‘noise’. He was even denied meals as a deterrent. Symptoms of any illness were attributed by Anne and the Aunties as ‘all in the mind’ or ‘attention-seeking’ and if someone were really sick, they tended to just be ignored.

Homoeopathy remedies, prescribed by Anne, were given to us regularly for all sorts of reasons. Anne proclaimed herself an expert on this form of treatment and told us she had studied it for six years in Tibet. For the affliction of ‘disobedience’ we were given Stramonium, for ‘shock’ (a term meaning either physical or emotional upset) the treatment was Aconite, for ‘thinking wrongly’ Pulsatilla, for ‘rocking at night’ and for farting Nux Vomica. These homoeopathic medicines were administered in addition to our usual punishments for offences, and in addition to other drugs.

…In an attempt to cure Cassandra of her attacks, Anne and the Aunties began using imported drugs on her. The drugs came from Germany and were meant to make her grow. At the time I thought they were steroids because two of the other kids, Timothy and Arrianne, had been given a course of them once before. Dr Christobel Wallace and the other Aunties called these drugs Timothy and Arrianne were given steroids. Anne wanted Arrianne to grow because she was very small, but she never grew much. I think her growth in height was actually halted by the early doses of steroids given to her.

…Sure, it was much more fun and more exciting than the life Uptop: in America and Hawaii we even got to spend some time with Baba Muktananda. But, from memories of the rest of her performance and attitude towards us, it seems unlikely that she was spending money to take us overseas just so that we could have fun, or spend time with Baba.

I don’t quite understand either why or how Anne got involved with Baba. He certainly paid her a lot of attention and treated her with respect. In the end she ended up causing a lot of trouble in the ashram, and several of Baba’s close disciples defected to the Family, including two prominent swamis of Baba. So maybe she was in it because she saw an opportunity to establish another sphere of influence. I was present when Swami Tajomayananda got initiated by Anne into the family, and, knowing what a wonderful person he was, because he had come to stay at Eildon with us for a while before that, I am still puzzled by why he would want to join a sect where everyone was so miserable, when it seemed to me that around Baba everyone was so happy.

Whatever Anne’s reasons for taking us overseas, life there was much better than that Uptop. We still lived a fairly isolated existence, but when we were in America we had trips every day to Baba’s ashram down the road, and interacted with the other disciples in the evening activities at the ashram. We also saw Baba at a private darshan about once a week, when he could come down to our house to see us.

At these darshans Baba was very good to us. In fact, in retrospect, it was remarkable that he gave us so much time and attention because at that time he was very famous and had many thousands of devotees worldwide, and lots of demands for his time and attention. Of course at the time we did not realise that and merely lapped up his affection and enjoyed the fun we had with him. He was very fond of us and would talk and laugh with us and give us chocolates and little gifts. We worshipped and adored him – we wanted nothing better than to stay at his feet forever. Once he asked us if we wanted to leave Anne and go to Ganeshpuri and stay with him in his ashram. We all enthusiastically said yes, and were later belted and abused by Anne for being so disloyal. I am not sure if he ever knew or guessed what our life was like: he certainly never criticised Anne and treated her with a lot of respect apart from occasionally playing practical jokes on her, much to our (stifled) amusement.

…Among the many things that Anne told us children was that she was a direct descendant of the French Royal Family. She also said we were indirect descendants of Jesus Christ because, she reasoned, she and thus us as her children, were from the House of David, which was the House of Jesus. The lineage was all set out in the front of the Bible. She told us that we weren’t allowed to tell anyone about this, because royalty were no longer popular and we “might get our heads cut off”!

….In fact the sect had come to the attention of the journalist who wrote the articles purely accidentally long before that because he owned land in the Dandenongs opposite Dr John Mackay, a sect psychiatrist. The journalist, David Elias, first realised there was something strange going on when his daughter had been playing with Helen, Dr Mackay’s daughter. Elias’s daughter said Helen Mackay “didn’t just have one mummy, she had lots”.

Gradually Elias became more interested in the sect’s activities and in 1979, while he was writing a series on alternative religions, he tried to write something on the Family, he was warned off by Dr Raynor Johnson, who threatened to sue the paper. Dr Johnson was at the time a very influential man. He was the retired head of Melbourne University’s Queen’s College and was a world respected authority on religion. He was also co-founder with Anne of The Family.

After ‘The Age’ was threatened with a writ it took another four years before Elias could come up with anything else on the Family because of the incredible secrecy that surrounded them.

The information on Anne Hamilton-Byrne he unearthed came from months of digging. He learned that the woman we knew as Anne Hamilton-Byrne was born Evelyn Grace Victoria Edwards in Sale, Victoria. She was one of seven children born to a railway engine cleaner Ralph Vernon Edwards and his English second wife Florence Louise.

Apparently young Evelyn’s mother was known for setting fire to her own curly red hair and for having an interest in psychic phenomenon and talking to the dead. Subsequently other journalists have reported that Anne’s mother was mentally ill and died alone in a mental asylum. Her aunts in England were institutionalised and her sister suffered from psychiatric problems as well.

Newspapers have reported that Anne grew up in a large family. After her mother was committed to Ararat Mental Asylum, Anne spent some of her childhood in the Old Brighton Orphanage.

Although she claims to have gone to Firbank Church of England Grammar School, school records show she began at grade one at Sunshine Primary School on February 7, 1929 and that she had come there from the orphanage.

She has said she was handicapped at school but fellow school pupils do not recall any callipers. In fact according to newspaper reports they only remember “an overweight child whose nickname was ‘Puddy’.”

She has claimed to have had qualifications in psychiatric nursing, homoeopathy, physiotherapy and a pilot’s licence. She also said she had been a famous opera singer, winning the Sun Aria awards, and later studying with Dame Joan Hammond and Dame Joan Sutherland. Journalists who have searched the records find no evidence of any of those qualifications. She also has a number of aliases including Fiona Macdonald, Anne Hamilton, and Michelle Sutherland.

In 1941 she married an twenty four year old RAAF policeman named Harris and had her daughter Judith (who later called herself Natasha). Harris was killed in a car accident in 1955. Newspapers report, though with no substantiation, that Harris’s death was predicted to Anne by a Tibetan guru she had earlier met. As with anything connected to Anne, it’s hard to know the truth.

Apparently after that Anne disappeared for four years. Some reports say she spent several years in Geelong where she gave yoga lessons for $1 a head in a church hall, then set herself up as a therapist of some sort in Melbourne. It is recorded that in 1959 she enrolled in a yoga class in Melbourne.

She called herself Anne Harris but registered her name as Anne Hamilton. She was asked to leave the class after putting a ‘spell’ on a fellow student. In the sixties she married a former Navy officer named Michael Riley and went to live in the Dandenong Ranges, just outside Melbourne.

The marriage didn’t last long. But it was useful to Anne in other ways. Riley worked as Dr Raynor Johnson’s gardener in those days and this may have been how Anne came to know the man with whom she went on to co-found The Family.

A group formed around Raynor Johnson and Anne. Dr Johnson was known within the group as the John the Baptist figure to Anne’s Christ. In the study of his big old house in the hills, they met on Thursdays and Sundays and the talk would be on the principles of yoga and meditation. Finally this group became more formal and developed into the beginning of The Family. They built a place called the Santiniketan Lodge. The Lodge was named after the school founded by the Indian mystic and poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Bill Byrne was an earth-moving contractor from Traralgon in Victoria. In 1968 he took his son Michael to the Newhaven Psychiatric hospital for treatment. This was the hospital that was owned by one of the sect members and staffed in part by psychiatrists, doctors and nurses who were sect members. It didn’t take long for Bill to come under Anne’s spell and he soon left his wife and moved in with Anne. They married in 1978. Bill had been a local government councillor and was still commuting from Gippsland when the first children were arriving at Winberra.

Key passage coming up and a great line (first sentence of paragraph) to boot. Note that Lord Casey was rumoured to have contributed large sums of money to the cult and was apparently nursed back to health by them.

It has been suggested that Anne would have had no power without a syringe. She claimed a lot of knowledge of medical things. She said she had been the matron of a hospital but there is no evidence she ever did nursing. I can’t emphasise the importance of nursing in the sect enough. It was critical to the way she viewed the Aunties and, it was what she planned for the girls’ future profession. She said nursing was one of the ideal occupations because it was a form of ‘selfless service’ that led to spiritual advancement. We knew that on their weeks off from Uptop the Aunties were either training to be nurses or practised as nurses. Several of the Aunties nursed Lord Casey, a former Governor-General of Australia. Rumour has it that he made a significant donation to the sect.

Lord Casey had great taste in Doctors

Taking a quick break from Moore’s book text to supplement her mention of Lord Casey. This is from an Australian biography site and has more detail on Casey.

In public, Casey seemed to be a devoted Cold-War warrior, fervently supportive of Britain and the U.S.A., and deeply hostile towards the Soviet Union and China; he was the minister responsible for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.”

OK, back to the mind control drugs…

I have mentioned earlier the alarming drug dependency of the sect and how we were constantly administered prescription drugs. There was always a lot of medical paraphernalia around Uptop: syringes, tablets, gauges and more. I remember one whole cupboard containing hundreds of bottles of homoeopathic medicines. This cupboard was in the downstairs girls’ room, and one summer we broke in and stole lots of this homoeopathy, because the pills were sugar-coated and tasted like lollies.

…Anne was extremely vain. Appearance was all in The Family. Ugly children were treated appallingly, as if they were less worthy. According to ex-sect members, people were even screened by Anne on the basis of their looks when they were trying to get into the sect.

As for us, Anne wanted people to believe we were her children, and she thought she was beautiful, so it was a certainty that she screened us on our looks, or at least screened our parents. We were to be the ones who would carry on the work of the sect – we were a direct reflection on her – so she was intimately concerned about our appearances. She used to talk a lot about “breeding” and talk about us being from the “right stock”.

A very Nazi attitude, obviously…

Anne was always a very rich woman who never spared herself anything. Lately though, she has been crying poor. But judging by all the real estate she owns throughout the world, I estimate she is worth at least A$150 million. Broom Farm, her three-storey mansion and hundred acres or so of farmland in Langton Green, Kent, England must be worth several million alone. She owns at least one more house in England in Crowborough, and, I think, another in Red Hill. She, or her companies, Fafette and Audette, owns at least a dozen houses in Ferny Creek and another mansion in Olinda. She and Bill have or did have a few years ago, a huge property just outside Traralgon. In the United States, there is another large property of hers in the Catskill Mountains outside New York, America with three houses on it. And of course there was Uptop, five acres of waterfront land in a popular holiday area.

…Once initiated, came the ‘go-through’ and that meant LSD trips. Everyone knew that it was an inevitable consequence of initiation, one of the rituals that was integral to the spiritual development of the new initiate. I’ve been present at many ‘go-throughs’ of people in the sect and ended up having at least a dozen myself.

During a ‘go-through’ you were supposed to look at yourself and see the badness inside, to regress to significant incidents in childhood and in previous lives which affected your personality and retarded your spiritual development. The drug, which Anne sometimes called the ‘herb’ or the ‘dream medicine’, was meant to make this easier. It was also meant to make the spiritual bonding easier between master and disciple. You were supposed to recognise her as the “one true master”, Christ incarnate.

She would come in to people when they were under and ask, “Do you know who I am?” The correct answer was, “the Lord Incarnate”. The incorrect answer meant you weren’t ‘working’ hard enough. “Working” was ‘looking at yourself’ and realising what a “horrible” person you were, repenting for your sins and purifying yourself.

Before my first ‘go-through’ I was deprived of sleep for several nights and made to read ‘Yoga and the Bible’. Beforehand I’d watched one of my brothers get down on his knees and beg me not to hate him for being a closet homosexual. This confession had been wrung out of him by Anne after several days of intensive ‘working’ under the drug. He felt that he was a failure and I did my best to tell him that he’d never be a failure to me because I loved him. We were all scared of revealing our weaknesses but doubted that we would be able to hold anything back once under the influence of the drugs.

Anne’s technique, pretty typical, of keeping us awake for several days before a ‘go-through’ meant that we were incredibly vulnerable anyway. You have to hand it to Anne, she knew her stuff; this was chronic sleep deprivation and it added to the strain of the whole experience. Even today, I find if I am really tired I’m prone to flashbacks of LSD and it is harder to cope than it should be. Add to that the sensory deprivation, for I was placed in a quiet and dark room and never knew whether it was day or night.

…It was also at this time in 1984, just before my initiation, that Anne changed my name and gave me a new identity. No longer was I to be called Andree who was born in June, July or maybe September. Now, for some reason that I never knew, I was called Sarah. I was now a triplet and had even changed nationalities: I was now born in New Zealand on 16 November 1970. I even had a passport to prove this.

It may seem bizarre now but at the time I took this in my stride. I didn’t even consider it strange that Anne had never told me this information up to now, that previously I had believed I was someone else.

Next passage is interesting. Why so many identities, so many passports? What were these people being used for? Also, the paragraphs to come about as gripping and nasty as it gets. So be forewarned…

This sort of thing – sudden changes in our reality- was par for the course in our lives and we never questioned surprises. We were used to unpredictability as far as Anne was concerned. I hated the name Andree anyway and being a triplet was more interesting than being a single. I now know that there were several passports in my name, a couple of which were Australian. They all had different birth-dates. I also had several birth certificates in different names and in different states.

The drug was wearing off by then and I was very thirsty and hungry and tired. I wanted to sleep but I thought I should fight sleep. I was desperate to maintain control. Very late that night or it might have even been early the next morning, I’m not sure which, Anne came in and gave me some more LSD. She chastised me severely and said I hadn’t worked well enough. She said I needed an increased dose so that she could get me working properly.

After that I had no real idea of what was happening. Sometimes I would remember who I was and that I was ‘going-through’. Most of the time I didn’t have a clue. I remember feeling like I was floating and it seemed to go on for a very long time. Anne came in once or twice, and also sent messengers in to say that I should prepare for a spiritual experience and that I should repent for my selfishness and for the fact that I was a slut and I desired to be raped whenever I was out on the street. At this stage I didn’t even know what rape was.

Then Anne came in and made me curl into a ball, so that I could regress into babyhood. Nothing happened, probably because I didn’t know what I was meant to do. But I managed to remember and re-experience a few bad things, like the ‘Ants incident’, and Anne took that as a sign that I was getting somewhere. She gave me some more of the drug and told me to keep working and I’d get some good insights into myself soon.

I think that a few days and nights passed while I was in that state. I could only tell if another day had passed by the rattle of dishes in the kitchen below me as they prepared dinner each evening. I was completely terrified for almost the whole time and I still don’t know how long I was kept drugged in that room. The drugs made it difficult to tell what was real and what was hallucination.

I am not sure of what happened after that. I remember the door opened and a doctor came into the room. He was one of the doctors of the sect. He sat on the bed. He said I was evil and that he had been sent by my Master to cure me. My evil, he said, was that subconsciously I was wanting to be raped. I didn’t know what he meant by this. I remember a feeling of terror spreading through me. He told me he was going to give me an operation “to mix up your insides so you will never be able to have children” and that I would never want to think about sex again because I would be sick if I did. He said my Guru had ordered this as a punishment for my filthy mind and as a lesson to teach me that God is more important than sex.

He had a knife. I think he cut me. I remember screaming. I thought that I felt the knife deep inside me. In the redness of the pain I heard Anne’s laughter. She was in the room watching, goading him on. I heard her yelling, “Perhaps that will teach you, you whore, you slut. We will give you what you want.” I felt the stickiness of the blood. My blood. I passed out…

That is all I consciously remember about my go-through. The rest is the stuff of nightmares. I used to relive it every September for years, and the rest of the year I tried to forget it. It is only recently that I have gained any control over the nightmares but whenever I think about that ‘go-through’, I get a low aching in my stomach. I think I was brutalised, but how much is real and how much is drug-induced hallucination, I do not know. But I have a scar which I don’t remember existing before my going through and I certainly did not receive it afterwards.

….Some of the sect beliefs, dictated by Anne, are, however, a little more bizarre. For example, Anne decreed that Hell was not hot but cold so one of her methods of getting back at those who displeased her was to write out the name of wrong do-ers and put it in the freezer under an ice cube. Thereby consigning them to Hell. Also she said that the end of the world was going to happen very shortly and that only those that were living in the Dandenongs would survive. Another method of placing a curse upon those that had gone against her was to use wax dolls. She would stick pins in these dolls to cause discomfort and illness in people she thought had done her wrong.

…This was the Sixties and here was Anne saying anything went as long as she said so. That meant sex, drugs and power. It was a tempting combination for many of Melbourne’s professionals. Anne gave them permission to ignore all the rules of society. They were special, they belonged to Anne and that meant they were obeying a higher law than the laws ordinary people had to obey.

Moore next explains how she views the Family’s incredible ability to avoid scrutiny and prosecution.

…The bulk of the sect was made up of professional people. Without their support and participation, Anne Hamilton-Byrne would never have become what she is today. It was their names, or most importantly, the letters that went after their names, that gave her the credibility and social power she needed. It gave her the means to keep those she already had and to get more and similar people into the cult..

These professional people: doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, psychiatrists, nurses and social workers allowed her successfully to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes for more than twenty years.

Had The Family been a group of strangely dressed people meeting once or twice a week for meditation, an address by the Master, playing of music and chanting, they would never have gone unnoticed for so long. But pin-striped professionals in their conservative suits with their impeccable social credentials could get away with maintaining in their private life morals that were completely at variance with their professional ethics. They looked respectable, people thought, therefore they must be respectable.

Who were these professionals? They were doctors who wrote out the prescriptions that controlled us; lawyers, who wrote out the Deed Polls that were needed to forge passports and birth certificates that created our false identities; social workers, who allowed Anne to by-pass normal channels to allow her to adopt, or simply steal in some instances, sixteen children; doctors and nurses who gave her contacts with rich dying people who then left their estates to her. It was the same doctors who signed their death certificates; psychiatrists who had people committed to Newhaven – the Family owned psychiatric hospital; and doctors and nurses who supervised the abuse of LSD,( which for a while they actually obtained free of charge from the Swiss drug company, Sandoz).

Sandoz, which was not only the maker of LSD, but an IG Farben subsidiary as well!

It was also sect doctors who prescribed all the drugs she used to control and sedate people, because without drugs Anne’s power would have been diminished enormously. I can’t believe these educated people couldn’t have seen through Anne. Surely there must have been some among them who could have seen through the elaborately constructed veneer that was the belief system of The Family. Even if you looked at one of the basic instructions of the sect, that we live a life of asceticism, you had an instant contradiction; here was Anne living it up completely, spending money on anything that took her fancy.

….And then there were the inner core members: the Evil ones. I believe that they were only in for what they could get. They were under no delusions about Anne’s holiness and they stayed because it suited them. Their motivation was simply the quest for power. M. Scott Peck in his book ‘People of the Lie’ describes the evil personality: a person who quests for power over others, who has a need to subjugate life and liveliness in others and a total lack of insight into the enormity of their own wrong-doings. These people are recognisable by the number and complexity of their lies.

The snobbery and elitism seen among these inner core members illustrates this. The more they got away with, the more they felt superior to the rest of society and the more they attempted. The guilt of these people is unquestionable. They established the sect, they targeted patients and friends, administered drugs, ran Newhaven, falsified documents, and carried out Anne’ s dirty work. They dealt with the huge inflows and outflows of money that Anne commanded. They even rationalised it, because there were only ten or twelve of them, by claiming to be the reincarnations of Christ’s apostles working towards some great unseen spiritual goal. They will remain with her to the end. Each has multiple names and identities and their legacy is a farrago of lies.

.. In ‘The Age’ in September 1983 David Elias wrote at length about Anne’s methods and about Newhaven Hospital. The Hospital was owned by Mrs Marion Villimek and she was both a director and matron. He was contacted by a former patient, George Ellis, whose case perfectly illustrates the way the hospital was run.

In 1966 Mr Ellis was a patient at Newhaven, being treated for alcoholism. He had been a medical student at Queen’s College at Melbourne University and when Dr Raynor Johnson was still head. Dr Johnson visited a patient in the next bed and they recognised each other. Another frequent visitor to this patient was Anne Hamilton-Byrne, who was then Mrs Riley. “This was to be the lady who captivated me with her talk of spiritual things, her knowledge of God and a familiarity with things psychic and her soothsaying.”, he said.

Mr Ellis told ‘The Age’: “During her visits to Newhaven Mrs Riley became friendly with me – even then she had a sort of charisma. She suggested to me that on my discharge, it would be courting disaster to return to my bachelor flat and suggested that it would be a better idea to come and stay with her and another person at her home in Ferny Creek.” George Ellis went to live with Anne and pretty soon found he was being “introduced to the mysteries of the procedures of the sect”.

He was initiated into the cult and later married another member – at Anne’s suggestion – that marriage has since broken down. He detailed his attendances at “clearings” (also called “go-throughs”) where sect members were given drugs under the supervision of three psychiatrists. He claimed the clearings were carried out at Newhaven and in private houses. Sometimes as many as six sect members would be going-through at one time.

He talked about Anne’s method which involved having sect members sit with those going – through and reporting back to her anything that was said. Anne then used this knowledge to create the impression that she had psychic powers. He and his family were sent to England several times and once to India by Anne.

Later Anne sent him to Uptop as a cook and to look after us children. He talked about how he and other sect members had nursed Lord Casey, after a serious road accident. Mr Ellis was assigned to watch over Lord Casey at night and to give him his medication. All this despite the fact that he had only ever had a small amount of training as a medical student.

You would think the guy who oversees Australia’s intelligence service could get an actual doctor?

Finally some hyphy!

•June 12, 2010 • 32 Comments

I promised some hyphy, but haven’t provided any yet… until now. Not really that big a fan, but was inspired by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, who likes to throw his readers a curve by mixing up the usual diet of anti-Creationist, anti-jihadist, anti-birther stuff with something random like… Zawinul Syndicate live in Japan! Out of nowhere. At some point I’ll mix in some James Burke’s Connections as well.

By the way, if you haven’t watched the episode of BET’s “American Gangster” show that deals with Mac Dre and the Romper Room gang, you’re seriously missing out! Search for it on your DVR, order season 3 from Netflix, just get it done.


•June 12, 2010 • 25 Comments

Jeremy Bentham: Just hangin' out

“Just the good ole boys
Never meaning no harm
Beats all you ever saw
Been in trouble with the law
Since the day they was born”

-Dukes of Hazard theme, Waylon Jennings

Oh, sorry, that’s not Boss Hogg from Dukes of Hazard sitting in that box, all stuffed and waxy! But I sure thought it was when I was 9 or 10 and obsessed with the Guinness Book of Records and Ripleys Believe it or Not books. Then I read the stuffed guy’s name and found out he was a British social theorist from the 18th Century… which just wasn’t as cool as if it had been Boss Hogg. Either way, for most of my life, Jeremy Bentham was the “guy who had himself waxed, stuffed, and preserved in a box”. It was only in recent years that I learned of some of Bentham’s concepts and influences on the world. Also, I should point out that while I am focusing on his concept of the “Panopticon” and relating it to the modern world of social networking, Bentham was a generally progressive individual decades, if not centuries, ahead of his time, and supported notions like women’s equality and legal homosexuality.

However, it is his concept of the Panopticon, a prison in which prisoners are easily observed at all times, yet they are simultaneously unaware of their observation, that he is best known for.

“The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the incarcerated being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the “sentiment of an invisible omniscience.”

Here’s another take on it from the Journal of Business and Technical Communication:

“The architecture incorporates a tower central to a circular building that is divided into cells, each cell extending the entire thickness of the building to allow inner and outer windows. The occupants of the cells are thus backlit, isolated from one another by walls, and subject to scrutiny both collectively and individually by an observer in the tower who remains unseen. Toward this end, Bentham envisioned not only venetian blinds on the tower observation ports but also maze-like connections among tower rooms to avoid glints of light or noise that might betray the presence of an observer.”
—Barton, Ben F., and Marthalee S. Barton. “Modes of Power in Technical and Professional Visuals.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 7.1, 1993, 138-62.

Several years ago, somebody suggested to me that I join Facebook. “It’s great! You can know what’s going on with all your friends, and they can know what is going on with you. You can be in constant contact with your co-workers, boss, parents, friends, grandparents. People you haven’t seen in years will be able to easily find you! Friends can take pictures of you at parties, and tag the photo with your name so it will turn up in a web search. Your co-workers and employers will be able to see who your friends are and what they’re up to as well. It’s awesome!”

Me: “Um, is this supposed to be a GOOD thing? I thought you were trying to sell me on it?”

Needless to say, my experiences with Facebook have been rather limited. However, this is not to say that I haven’t felt the “peer pressure” that I am somehow missing out, that I am behind the times, that I must be simply ignorant or a Luddite to not jump on the “Social Networking” bandwagon, that I am crazy for missing out on things like cute baby pictures posted by ex-girlfriends I haven’t talked to in 20 years.

Turns out my Facebook skepticism may have been right on the money after all! For starters, let’s have Facebook tell you how they feel about your account and your privacy. It’s right there when you sign up:

“We may use information about you that we collect from other sources, including but not limited to newspapers and Internet sources such as blogs, instant messaging services and other users of Facebook, to supplement your profile.”

As we shall see, Facebook is alleged to be providing a bundleful of new opportunities not only for corporate marketers, but the government and organized crime as well. Is Facebook a form of a voluntary Panopticon? An opt-in prison or tool for social control? First we will take a look at some of the issues that have already bubbled to the surface in conjunction with the rise of Facebook, then we will look at some of the players behind the scenes…

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer

Women are joining Facebook in droves, but Colleen Moss refuses to sign up.Too risky, says the head of the FBI’s North Carolina cybercrimes unit. Too many personal clues, she says, for shady characters to use for identity theft or worse.“People need to realize that the Internet is not their personal diary,” she says. “It is a public domain, and if they don’t want people to know things about themselves, they need to keep it to themselves.”

…Facebook recently made more user information public by default, requiring members to master complex privacy steps to shield their information. This sparked a strong debate about privacy online. Facebook officials say making more information public lets them give members a more personalized Web browsing experience and stronger connections with people and pages they like.

… New scrutiny has also spawned a host of websites aimed at demonstrating how widely available sensitive posts can be. One of them,, features a search engine that lets anyone type in a keyword or phrase – “lost my job,” for example, – and pull up every Facebook status update that contains the phrase.

… The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has at times overridden concerns from employees who believe Facebook should make more information private by default. He has said he believes people will, over time, grow comfortable sharing more of their information publicly. The whole issue makes some users uneasy.

…Police and Internet security experts, however, say they see cybercriminals putting more emphasis on trolling social networks for victims.The FBI’s Moss said she couldn’t talk about any ongoing cases, but she noted that the eight agents in her unit are handling an increasing number of cases where online criminals use social networks to pass malicious codes and viruses along social circles. Two years ago, she noted, there were no such codes targeting social networks. By last year, 19 percent of malicious viruses and codes focused on social networks.

…Criminals can use details from your page – where you work or live or hobbies you enjoy – to craft e-mails personalized to induce you to click on their malicious attachments. Often, Moss said, those attachments can copy personal data off your hard drive. “People have an image of unsophisticated hackers out there stealing their information,” said Adam Palmer, lead cyber-security adviser for Norton Security. “But organized crime realizes there’s big money” to be gained online.

Luckily, Mark Zuckerberg is on the case, and doing everything in his power to ensure the security of his users’ data.

Facebook Grapples With Privacy Issues


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes users should be more public.

A backlash over Facebook Inc.’s privacy practices has triggered disagreement inside the company that could force Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to scale back efforts to encourage users to share more about themselves in public. Facebook’s practices have kicked off an intense debate over privacy at the company. Julia Angwin and Lauren Goode join us to discuss and tell us why it has spawned a number of new websites.

The social network has come under fire for a series of recent changes to its policies that have limited what users can keep private, as well as embarrassing technical glitches that exposed personal data. Privacy advocates have called on regulators to intervene. Some frustrated users, meanwhile, have created websites that highlight what they see as shortcomings in Facebook’s privacy controls.

…The site’s privacy travails have rattled Facebook employees and put pressure on Mr. Zuckerberg, who has argued for years that its users should be more open with their information. He has at times over-ruled employees who argue Facebook should make more information private, by default, according to people familiar with the matter. He has instead pushed to offer tools so users can control their information, these people said.

The privacy problems are piling up as the company, which is approaching 500 million users, grapples with how to build new services off all the data provided by users without offending users. The company is focused on ways to turn that vast amount of data into a multi-billion dollar ad-business.

500 million users?! That’s crazy…

In recent days, executives and other employees have hunkered down in Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters, debating how to address the backlash to two recently launched features. One encourages users to share more about their online activities with Facebook, while another personalizes other websites with information about users’ Facebook friends.

Participants are discussing whether to implement new controls that allow users to conceal their profiles more universally, according to people familiar with the matter. Such tools would represent a big shift from Facebook’s current approach of giving users multiple controls for specific parts of their profiles, and are an option Mr. Zuckerberg has resisted.

…The company can’t afford not to act. The Federal Trade Commission is taking a close look at how online social networks are using people’s data, and people close to the matter say it is increasingly focused on Facebook.

“We agree that social networks provide a valuable consumer service, but that they also raise privacy concerns,” an FTC spokesperson said, adding that it had already brought several cases against social networks. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment on the FTC scrutiny.

A cottage industry of programmers have taken to exposing Facebook privacy issues. A site called searches the public status updates of users, which have grown since Facebook began recommending users make their status updates public late last year. Any person, even someone without a Facebook account, can easily conduct searches with the tool and bring up users’ public photos and names along with what they wrote—a little-known feature within Facebook. The tool is based on technology that Facebook released to developers so third-parties can incorporate content from Facebook for their websites.

“People are sharing things they clearly don’t want to share with the entire planet,” said Will Moffat, a 32-year-old software engineer who helped build the site. Mr. Moffat said he built the site to pressure Facebook to switch its account settings so that such updates are private by default and wouldn’t be accessible to developers like himself.

…At the same time, the company previewed technology that would allow users logged into Facebook to view information about what their Facebook friends had done when they visited the same service—like music site Pandora—without indicating they wanted to see that information. A group of senators led by Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) called on Facebook to roll back the changes and more than a dozen privacy groups lodged a complaint with the FTC on grounds that Facebook was displaying user information without their consent.

Mr. Zuckerberg regularly argues in blog posts, speeches and private meetings that users have a right to control their own information. But he has made no secret that he believes users should and will want to make more information about themselves public over time.

….Facebook has accompanied the changes with new tools and has encouraged users to examine their account settings. But some privacy advocates and users argue that the approach isn’t sufficient. “Facebook needs to have a few very simple high-level controls” so users can keep data private, said Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The company, he said, should stop acting as if “they have a mission to make all of our private lives public.”

Well, that is of course the mission. Nobody is “acting”. What I find far more troubling than Facebook’s technology is the people behind this technology. Let’s take a further look at young Mark, child of the Eastern elite and prep school Phillips Exeter, and former Harvard student.

This Can't be the Man Behind the Curtain.. can it?

…Zuckerberg grew up in the well-to-do New York suburb of Dobbs Ferry, the second of four kids and the only son of a dentist (he has no cavities) and a psychiatrist (insert your own mental-health joke here). He began messing around with computers early on, teaching himself how to program. As a high school senior, at Phillips Exeter Academy, he and D’Angelo built a plug-in for the MP3 player Winamp that would learn your music listening habits, then create a playlist to meet your taste.

… Harvard didn’t offer a student directory with photos and basic information, known at most schools as a face book. Zuckerberg wanted to build an online version for Harvard, but the school “kept on saying that there were all these reasons why they couldn’t aggregate this information,” he says. “I just wanted to show that it could be done.” So one night early in his sophomore year, he hacked into Harvard’s student records. He then threw up a basic site called Facemash, which randomly paired photos of undergraduates and invited visitors to determine which one was “hotter” (not unlike the Web site Hot or Not). Four hours, 450 visitors, and 22,000 photo views later, Harvard yanked Zuckerberg’s Internet connection. After a dressing-down from the administration and an uproar on campus chronicled by The Harvard Crimson, Zuckerberg politely apologized to his fellow students. But he remained convinced he’d done the right thing: “I thought that the information should be available.” (Harvard declined to comment on the episode.)

NOTE: Gee, I can’t imagine why Harvard would have no comment on the illegal behavior of one its wealthiest former students?And while I generally want to keep my opinions to a minimum in this piece, I can’t help but point out how slimy his Student database/”hot or not” thing was: what a scumbag. And he never regretted it clearly. Why should he? It eventually made him a millionaire. Ain’t capitalism grand?

…So how does Facebook make its money? Advertising and sponsorships, mostly. Apple was an early backer, sponsoring a site for iTunes enthusiasts. JPMorgan Chase and Southwest, among others, pay for similar programs. “Flyers,” the online version of the paper ads that students use to publicize events, also provide a very modest source of revenue. And there is a nascent-but-growing local advertising business. The big money, though, comes from an ad-placement alliance with Microsoft in which the software giant will place banner ads on the site through 2011. It mirrors a deal MySpace inked with Google last year. (MySpace reportedly got $900 million over three years. Facebook hasn’t released the value of its program, and neither party will comment on the terms.) Facebook also just inked a deal with Comcast to create and Webcast an episodic show based on user-generated video content. Called “Facebook Diaries,” the series will be shown on both Facebook and, Comcast’s video-uploading site, as well as through Comcast’s video-on-demand service.

While some reading this post may think I am postulating a future “Facebook-enabled police state” or tossing out one of those heretical “conspiracy theories”, that is not the case. No, I’m merely pointing out what is happening RIGHT NOW. Honestly though, in some of these instances my contempt is higher for the stupidity of the crooks getting busted through Facebook than it is for the sneakiness of the Law who are simply utilizing the tools Facebook makes available to them.

Maxi Sopo was having so much fun “living in paradise” in Mexico that he posted about it on Facebook so all his friends could follow his adventures. Others were watching, too: A federal prosecutor in Seattle, where Sopo was wanted on bank fraud charges. Tracking Sopo through his public “friends” list, the prosecutor found his address and had Mexican authorities arrest him. Instead of sipping pina coladas, Sopo is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

Sopo learned the hard way: The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too. Law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, even going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that surfaced in a lawsuit.

The document shows that U.S. agents are logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target’s friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips. Among the purposes: Investigators can check suspects’ alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree – people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars – can link suspects or their friends to crime.

The Justice document also reminds government attorneys taking cases to trial that the public sections of social networks are a “valuable source” of information on defense witnesses. “Knowledge is power,” says the paper. “Research all witnesses on social networking sites.”

For me, it was just a gut feeling that Facebook was a bad idea that kept me out of the loop. However, until recently, I was unaware of much of the background of those powers behind not only Facebook, but apparently much of the venture capital networks behind the “social networking” phenomenon. Perhaps most intriguing is Peter Andreas Thiel. He has been described with many seemingly contradictory labels: “anti-immigration German immigrant”, “anti-privacy Libertarian”, “conservative intellectual”, etc. Bottom line as you read these next few pieces: is this the man the world wants in charge of massive chunks of the ever more important sphere of social networking? In other words, the bulk of the data that is becoming as valuable as physical resources like oil, gold, tin, etc. that wars have been fought over in the past?

PayPal’s Thiel Scores 230 Percent Gain With Soros-Style Fund

Date: Monday, December 4, 2006

Author: Deepak Gopinath,

(Bloomberg) — One morning in 1998, at Hobee’s coffee shop, near Stanford University, a young money manager named Peter Thiel decided to gamble on an Internet startup. Thiel ended up investing $240,000 in the company, which eventually became PayPal Inc., the giant of online payments. Thiel ran PayPal, took it public and, in 2002, sold it to EBay Inc. for $1.5 billion. Thiel, then 34, walked off with $60 million. He bought himself a Ferrari 360 Spyder and moved into a condo at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.

Thiel had managed to pilot PayPal through the biggest financial bubble in history. And yet, the way he saw things, that bubble had never really popped. To Thiel, the Nasdaq Stock Market frenzy of the 1990s had simply morphed into a U.S. housing frenzy and other economic dangers. People still believed the good times could last forever.

So a few weeks after selling PayPal, Thiel set out to beat the bubble a second time. He opened a hedge fund firm called Clarium Capital Management LLC in his three-bedroom apartment at the Four Seasons.

Since then, Thiel, now 39, has emerged as one of the most successful hedge fund managers in the country. He’s parlayed an initial $10 million fund into a firm with $2.1 billion in assets under management — and more than tripled investors’ money.

As of Oct. 31, Clarium, now tucked away in futuristic, glass-walled offices near the Golden Gate Bridge, had returned a cumulative 230.4 percent.


A self-styled freethinker and avowed libertarian, Thiel has had a hell of a run. A graduate of Stanford Law School, he’s practiced securities law, traded derivatives, led PayPal and built a multibillion-dollar hedge fund — all before the age of 40. He’s also bought 7 percent of Palo Alto, California-based Facebook, a social-networking Web site for high school and college students that turned down a $1 billion offer from Yahoo! Inc. in September.

Along the way, Thiel has co-authored a book decrying political correctness at Stanford, backed a Nascar magazine (it failed) and executive produced the 2005 movie “Thank You for Smoking,” a satirical look at today’s spin culture in which the hero, Big Tobacco spokesman Nick Naylor, defends the rights of smokers and cigarette makers. In September, Thiel pledged $3.5 million to Aubrey de Grey, a Cambridge University-based gerontologist searching for the key to human immortality.

Remember that last name, we will return to Mr. De Grey later.

Now, Thiel has set out to concoct a 21st-century version of the Quantum Fund, the freewheeling macro hedge fund that George Soros used to run. Macro funds trade crude oil, Eurodollars, Japanese bonds, sugar futures — you name it. The macro part comes from managers’ attempts to use macroeconomic principles to spot winning trades.

Thiel has wagered all of his clients’ money on his conviction that aftershocks from the go-go ’90s will jar the U.S. His vision of the future isn’t pretty. The housing bubble will collapse and economic growth will stall, he says. An oil shock will add to the pain.Few money managers are prepared for the turbulence ahead, Thiel says. Clarium is ready, he says.

He called that one right. But hey he’s a hedge fund guy, he’s supposed to call it right….

… Thiel is a proponent of a geologic theory known as peak oil, which holds that global oil production is now at or near its apex. Among his picks was Calgary-based EnCana Corp., which wrings oil from the tar sands of Canada. EnCana stock rose 54 percent in 2005.

That is very interesting. Tangentially, keep your eye on this space for a piece I’m working on called “Think Globally, DIE Locally” on the Peak Oil movement and some of the movers and shakers behind it.

…It’s hard to say when Peter Andreas Thiel first decided that one person could outsmart the crowd. Born in Frankfurt in 1967, Thiel bounced among seven elementary schools — from California, to Namibia, to Ohio, to South Africa — as his father, Klaus, a chemical engineer, worked around the world. Klaus; his wife, Susanne; Thiel; and Thiel’s younger brother, Patrick, eventually settled in Foster City, California, north of Silicon Valley.

….When the time came for Thiel to head to college, he didn’t go far. He enrolled at nearby Stanford in 1985 and majored in philosophy. It was there, he says, that his politics tilted further toward free-market libertarianism. Thiel says people should be free to do as they please, provided they don’t abridge others’ freedoms.

….By the time Thiel arrived at Stanford, America’s culture wars, smoldering since the 1960s, were flaring on campus. Students were complaining the curriculum was skewed toward the European canon of great books — Aristotle, Shakespeare and the like — and gave short shrift to non-Western cultures, women and minorities. Students debated whether to impose a speech code prohibiting racist, sexist and homophobic remarks.

Thiel says the shift toward political correctness troubled him. Students weren’t just attacking Chaucer or Kant — they were undermining academic rigor and the freedom of speech, he says. So, in 1987, as a sophomore, Thiel founded the Stanford Review, now the university’s main conservative newspaper. The Review’s motto is Fiat Lux, which is Latin for Let There Be Light. Several of the paper’s former editors, including Ken Howery and David Sacks, later joined Thiel at PayPal. Clarium General Counsel Gibney was also a Review editor.

“The Review stood for free speech, no speech code, admission on merit and great works in the curriculum,” says Sacks, who later got Thiel to help him produce “Thank You for Smoking.” Sacks is now president of Los Angeles-based Room 9 Entertainment.

The Review set out to provoke and offend, says Rachel Maddow, a former Stanford activist who is now a host on Air America Radio, a progressive talk station. “They took a particularly mean-spirited and juvenile approach to the consequences of their actions,” Maddow says. “They were very good at generating an uproar.”

…In 1995, the pair wrote an op-ed essay in the Wall Street Journal poking fun at Stanford’s curriculum. The piece prompted a letter to the editor from then Stanford President Gerhard Casper and then Provost Condoleezza Rice, now U.S. Secretary of State. “[They] concoct a cartoon, not a description, of our freshman curriculum,” Casper and Rice wrote. Later that year, Sacks and Thiel made headlines with a book entitled “The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and the Political Intolerance on Campus.” One of the examples of political correctness that Thiel and Sacks cite in their book involves a law student named Keith Rabois.

Here is an example, apparently, of the type of employee Thiel prefers for his companies…

…In a misguided attempt to assert his freedom of speech, Rabois yelled “Faggot! Faggot! Hope you die of AIDS” outside a lecturer’s home. He was hounded out of Stanford, Thiel and Sacks say. Rabois later joined PayPal. Rabois’s behavior was offensive and stupid, Thiel says. He says he still thinks the incident was overblown. “The extreme reaction to it was not quite proportionate to what happened,” he says.

One of Thiel’s first jobs after leaving law school was with Sullivan and Cromwell, white-shoe law firm, and a name that should be familiar to any serious students of America’s hidden history. For starters, it was the law firm which employed Allen Dulles, longtime head of the CIA and the Bush family lawyer. Sullivan and Cromwell was used to hide away Prescott Bush’s economic alliances with the Nazis. After Sullivan and Cromwell, Thiel went on to work for a subsidiary of Credit Suisse, a company that was forced to settle a massive lawsuit for its role in the Holocaust. These are some VERY interesting first “career choices” for a right-wing German immigrant to be making, no?

After collecting his law degree, Thiel clerked for U.S. Federal Circuit Judge Larry Edmondson in Atlanta and then joined Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York. He lasted seven months and three days before quitting out of boredom, he says. He jumped to CS Financial Products, a unit of what’s now Credit Suisse Group, where he traded derivatives and currency options for a little more than a year. Then he went home to California, raised $1 million from his friends and family and started his first macro fund, Thiel Capital Management.

Truly a Horatio Alger story of an immigrant scraping his way up from the bottom…next, Thiel finds a way to create the international money transfer market of his dreams.

….“There were two desks and no windows, so Peter brought in pictures of outdoor scenes to put on the wall,” Howery, now 31, says. It was about this time that Thiel happened upon a young software engineer named Max Levchin. What followed would change both men’s lives forever.

PayPal Opportunity

It was a sweltering August day, and Levchin — who was dreaming about an Internet startup — was milling around campus looking for a place to escape the heat. He stumbled into an air- conditioned building where Thiel was lecturing students on international finance. The two hit it off and agreed to meet for breakfast at Hobee’s, a Palo Alto institution known for its blueberry coffeecake.

There, Levchin, then 23, asked Thiel to invest in his idea for a startup to develop a secure way for handheld computers to communicate. Thiel bought in.

“We thought we would only be there for six months to help the company raise additional financing,” Howery says.Instead, Thiel ended up putting his hedge fund career on hold and devoting the next four years to the company, which grew into PayPal.

…Thiel had grand ambitions for the company. “PayPal was the new currency for the world economy,” he says. Like many young dot- commers, he believed the Internet would empower the individual. For Thiel, PayPal was all about freedom: It would enable people to skirt currency controls and move money around the globe.

God’s gift to money launderers…Next we see how Peter is lots of fun at parties.

"Staring contest? Best two ouf of three?"

…The day PayPal stock began trading, Feb. 15, 2002, the shares soared 55 percent. Out in the parking lot of PayPal’s Palo Alto offices, Thiel and his crew celebrated by doing “keg stands.” That’s when you’re held upside down over a running beer keg and chug as much of the flowing brew as you can. Thiel raced around playing 10 games of speed chess simultaneously. He won all but one, against his Stanford buddy Sacks. Thiel, who says he hates to lose at anything, swept the pieces off the board. “Peter smashed the pieces,” Sacks recalls. Thiel doesn’t apologize for his competitive streak. When someone calls him a bad loser, he replies, “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”

Thiel won big with PayPal. Eight months later, in October 2002, EBay agreed to buy the company for $1.5 billion. The PayPal crew cashed-in and moved on. Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim founded video-sharing Web site YouTube Inc. and sold it to Google Inc. in October for $1.65 billion. Levchin went off and founded Slide, a photo-sharing site.

Executive Vice President Reid Hoffman founded Linked-In Corp., a business networking site. Vice President Jeremy Stoppelman created Yelp, a site that helps people find restaurants, shops and other businesses in their area. And Thiel went back to hedge funds and founded Clarium.

This puts many of the world’s most significant online services into a very small nexus as we shall see further in this piece, thanks to some helpful charts. This is not “conspiracy theory”, it is networking. Social networking. It is how the powerful get things done.

…Mark Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook with zero business experience, calls Thiel a mentor. “He helped shape the way I think about the business,” Zuckerberg, 22, says. When Thiel backed the startup in 2004, he told Zuckerberg to move to Silicon Valley. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard and did just that. If Facebook one day pulls off a deal like YouTube’s, Thiel would pocket about $100 million.

…“They only need to have one good idea a year,” Thiel says. Thiel’s alter ego at Clarium is a physicist named Kevin Harrington, who used to do mathematical research for the U.S. Department of Defense. The two sometimes talk strategy for five hours at a stretch.

“Peter is my foil, and I’m his foil,” Harrington, 37, says.

…Thiel’s homes look like stage sets, and it’s hard to tell someone actually lives in them. There are no photos, magazines or personal mementos. The San Francisco pad overlooks a swan-filled lake and the remains of the Exploratorium, site of the 1915 World’s Fair. From the penthouse lounge, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge. His New York apartment boasts an $8,000 armchair designed by 20th-century designer Tommi Parzinger, whose clients included Marilyn Monroe; a $15,000 sofa by Mattaliano; and $25,000 Neidermaier dining chairs.

…Thiel didn’t say much, until one of the guests mentioned someone who had made a religious slur. Thiel jumped in. “Was the statement offensive — or was it perceived as offensive?” he asked. He sounded like he was still editing the Stanford Review, zigging when everyone around him zags. It’s a habit that’s made Thiel millions. His hedge fund investors can only hope it will pay off for them, too.

Peter Can't Hang with Cheech

Apparently, Thiel is not “Down with Brown”. What sucks more than “anti-immigrant immigrants”? I have always found disturbing the lack of concern for the civil rights of minorities among so-called “libertarians”, particularly those who call themselves “paleo-Libertarians”. It is particularly appalling considering that Lysander Spooner, one of the founders of Libertarianism, was an abolitionist. Yet, there is a constant thread within Libertarianism that “Lincoln turned the Republic into dictatorship” and “the South was right”. Anyone who uses the words “liberty” and “the South was right” too often needs to get bitchslapped in the head. Paleolibs: you suck. This piece was written, however, by a Libertarian who still seems to understand the “liberte'” part of his political philosophy.

…Insiders at Clarium Capital, the $5.3 billion hedge fund run by Facebook investor Peter Thiel, are buzzing about their boss’s $1 million donation to NumbersUSA, an anti-immigrant group. The donation is an open secret within Clarium, and it has enraged several staff members who joined Clarium because they believed Thiel shared their libertarian ideals. When I asked Thiel if he’d made the donation, an underling passed on a nondenial saying the company didn’t comment on “gossip and heresy.” A typo — he meant to say “hearsay” — but a suggestive one. Thiel has fallen under the sway of Robertson “Rob” Morrow III, a Christian right-wing thinker who has personally donated to NumbersUSA, and persuaded Thiel to make his own, much larger donation.

Morrow is a controversial figure within Clarium, a hedge fund Thiel founded after leaving PayPal, the payments company he cofounded and sold to eBay for $1.5 billion. Morrow was once chief investment officer at the San Francisco-based company, but was pushed out of Thiel’s inner circle after he had a nervous breakdown on the trading floor. Morrow slowly worked his way back into Thiel’s good graces, and was assigned to run the company’s then-small New York office. Recently, his influence over Thiel and Clarium has grown.

Earlier this year, Morrow wrote a paper called “The Bull Market in Politics.” His thesis was that “government influence — over trade policy, social programs, decisions of war and peace — becomes much more important” to investors. One key policy area: immigration, where Morrow thinks there is a rising consensus for restrictions.

A politically driven drop in immigration has broad economic implications, especially on the housing market; with less population growth, housing prices will continue to suffer for much longer than most anticipate.

But Morrow is not merely forecasting the market. He has cajoled his influential boss to spend money to make his forecast a reality.

A NumbersUSA spokesman called me to deny that Thiel had made a donation. But the money trail out of Clarium is clear, insiders say, and it would be a simple matter for Thiel to have arranged to make his donation through a third party like DonorsTrust, a conservative foundation through which charitable grants can be directed. The reason why Thiel would want his donation to be anonymous is simple: Even while he’s betting against immigration with his hedge fund, he’s making money off of immigrant-run startups in Silicon Valley.

However Thiel is getting the money to NumbersUSA, it has specific goals: upgrading NumbersUSA’s computer system; hiring a full-time fundraiser to solicit large donations from the wealthy; and hiring Luntz Maslansky Strategic Research to run focus groups on public attitudes toward immigration.

So Thiel, like many wealthy sorts, is getting into politics. What’s interesting about this is his shift from outspoken Libertarian. At PayPal, he had ambitions of using his payments startup to undermine illiberal economies and create a new world financial order. Many of his employees, first at PayPal and then at Clarium, were attracted by this powerful (if outlandish) vision.

That he’s now fallen under the sway of a right-wing Christian conservative is a bit crushing to the true believers Thiel attracted to his cause. Thiel once aimed to overturn the system. Now he just wants to work within it. As much as his anti-immigration views render him noxious to the Northern California mainstream, his turning away from an embrace of freedom make him an enemy to the rebellious thinkers he’s hired.

The current conspiracy theories swirling around the nexus of social networking companies seem to focus mostly on the connections to InQTel, the venture capital wing of the CIA. I am agnostic on these theories. However, I would not be surprised if the government’s privatized data mining efforts to combat terrorism overlap with the social networking world. We do see some of this overlapping with the boards of In-Q-Tel and some of the companies within the Thiel network.

Here is In-Q-Tel’s description of itself:

In-Q-Tel was established in 1999 as an independent, private, not-for-profit company to help the CIA and the greater US Intelligence Community (IC) to identify, acquire, and deploy cutting-edge technologies. In-Q-Tel’s entrepreneurial strategic investment and technology advancement model gives it the agility – lacking within traditional government approaches – to help the IC benefit from the rapid pace of change in information technology and other emerging technology fields.

In-Q-Tel’s mission is to deliver leading-edge capabilities to the CIA and the IC by investing in the development of promising technologies. Because early-stage technologies are often unproven, In-Q-Tel takes the calculated risks necessary to develop, prove, and deliver them to the Intelligence Community.

This article from New Zealand takes a quick look at some of the overlapping…

…Facebook’s first round of venture capital funding ($US500,000) came from former Paypal CEO Peter Thiel. Author of anti-multicultural tome ‘The Diversity Myth’, he is also on the board of radical conservative group VanguardPAC.

The second round of funding into Facebook ($US12.7 million) came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company’s key areas of expertise are in “data mining technologies”. Breyer also served on the board of R&D firm BBN Technologies, which was one of those companies responsible for the rise of the internet.

Dr Anita Jones joined the firm, which included Gilman Louie. She had also served on the In-Q-Tel’s board, and had been director of Defence Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defence.

This is probably the best editorial rant against Facebook I’ve ever read. Covers much of the territory I am looking at in this piece, yet tosses in some righteous anger as well. This was the toughest article to excerpt from, as the whole thing is worth reading. Read it in its entirety at the below link. From the British Guardian:

Facebook has 59 million users – and 2 million new ones join each week. But you won’t catch Tom Hodgkinson volunteering his personal information – not now that he knows the politics of the people behind the social networking site

…I despise Facebook. This enormously successful American business describes itself as “a social utility that connects you with the people around you”. But hang on. Why on God’s earth would I need a computer to connect with the people around me? Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California? What was wrong with the pub?

And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn’t it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.

Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and self-importance in us, too. If I put up a flattering picture of myself with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval. (“I like Facebook,” said another friend. “I got a shag out of it.”) It also encourages a disturbing competitivness around friendship: it seems that with friends today, quality counts for nothing and quantity is king. The more friends you have, the better you are. You are “popular”, in the sense much loved in American high schools. Witness the cover line on Dennis Publishing’s new Facebook magazine: “How To Double Your Friends List.”

…Facebook is a well-funded project, and the people behind the funding, a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, have a clearly thought out ideology that they are hoping to spread around the world. Facebook is one manifestation of this ideology. Like PayPal before it, it is a social experiment, an expression of a particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism. On Facebook, you can be free to be who you want to be, as long as you don’t mind being bombarded by adverts for the world’s biggest brands. As with PayPal, national boundaries are a thing of the past.

Although the project was initially conceived by media cover star Mark Zuckerberg, the real face behind Facebook is the 40-year-old Silicon Valley venture capitalist and futurist philosopher Peter Thiel. There are only three board members on Facebook, and they are Thiel, Zuckerberg and a third investor called Jim Breyer from a venture capital firm called Accel Partners (more on him later). Thiel invested $500,000 in Facebook when Harvard students Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskowitz went to meet him in San Francisco in June 2004, soon after they had launched the site. Thiel now reportedly owns 7% of Facebook, which, at Facebook’s current valuation of $15bn, would be worth more than $1bn. There is much debate on who exactly were the original co-founders of Facebook, but whoever they were, Zuckerberg is the only one left on the board, although Hughes and Moskowitz still work for the company.

Thiel is widely regarded in Silicon Valley and in the US venture capital scene as a libertarian genius. He is the co-founder and CEO of the virtual banking system PayPal, which he sold to Ebay for $1.5bn, taking $55m for himself. He also runs a £3bn hedge fund called Clarium Capital Management and a venture capital fund called Founders Fund. Bloomberg Markets magazine recently called him “one of the most successful hedge fund managers in the country”. He has made money by betting on rising oil prices and by correctly predicting that the dollar would weaken. He and his absurdly wealthy Silicon Valley mates have recently been labelled “The PayPal Mafia” by Fortune magazine, whose reporter also observed that Thiel has a uniformed butler and a $500,000 McLaren supercar. Thiel is also a chess master and intensely competitive. He has been known to sweep the chessmen off the table in a fury when losing. And he does not apologise for this hyper-competitveness, saying: “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”


But Thiel is more than just a clever and avaricious capitalist. He is a futurist philosopher and neocon activist. A philosophy graduate from Stanford, in 1998 he co-wrote a book called The Diversity Myth, which is a detailed attack on liberalism and the multiculturalist ideology that dominated Stanford. He claimed that the “multiculture” led to a lessening of individual freedoms. While a student at Stanford, Thiel founded a rightwing journal, still up and running, called The Stanford Review – motto: Fiat Lux (“Let there be light”). Thiel is a member of TheVanguard.Org, an internet-based neoconservative pressure group that was set up to attack, a liberal pressure group that works on the web. Thiel calls himself “way libertarian”.

TheVanguard is run by one Rod D Martin, a philosopher-capitalist whom Thiel greatly admires. On the site, Thiel says: “Rod is one of our nation’s leading minds in the creation of new and needed ideas for public policy. He possesses a more complete understanding of America than most executives have of their own businesses.”

This little taster from their website will give you an idea of their vision for the world: “TheVanguard.Org is an online community of Americans who believe in conservative values, the free market and limited government as the best means to bring hope and ever-increasing opportunity to everyone, especially the poorest among us.” Their aim is to promote policies that will “reshape America and the globe”. TheVanguard describes its politics as “Reaganite/Thatcherite”. The chairman’s message says: “Today we’ll teach MoveOn [the liberal website], Hillary and the leftwing media some lessons they never imagined.”

So, Thiel’s politics are not in doubt. What about his philosophy? I listened to a podcast of an address Thiel gave about his ideas for the future. His philosophy, briefly, is this: since the 17th century, certain enlightened thinkers have been taking the world away from the old-fashioned nature-bound life, and here he quotes Thomas Hobbes’ famous characterisation of life as “nasty, brutish and short”, and towards a new virtual world where we have conquered nature. Value now exists in imaginary things. Thiel says that PayPal was motivated by this belief: that you can find value not in real manufactured objects, but in the relations between human beings. PayPal was a way of moving money around the world with no restriction. Bloomberg Markets puts it like this: “For Thiel, PayPal was all about freedom: it would enable people to skirt currency controls and move money around the globe.”

Clearly, Facebook is another uber-capitalist experiment: can you make money out of friendship? Can you create communities free of national boundaries – and then sell Coca-Cola to them? Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway.

Thiel’s philosophical mentor is one René Girard of Stanford University, proponent of a theory of human behaviour called mimetic desire. Girard reckons that people are essentially sheep-like and will copy one another without much reflection. The theory would also seem to be proved correct in the case of Thiel’s virtual worlds: the desired object is irrelevant; all you need to know is that human beings will tend to move in flocks. Hence financial bubbles. Hence the enormous popularity of Facebook. Girard is a regular at Thiel’s intellectual soirees. What you don’t hear about in Thiel’s philosophy, by the way, are old-fashioned real-world concepts such as art, beauty, love, pleasure and truth.

The internet is immensely appealing to neocons such as Thiel because it promises a certain sort of freedom in human relations and in business, freedom from pesky national laws, national boundaries and suchlike. The internet opens up a world of free trade and laissez-faire expansion. Thiel also seems to approve of offshore tax havens, and claims that 40% of the world’s wealth resides in places such as Vanuatu, the Cayman Islands, Monaco and Barbados. I think it’s fair to say that Thiel, like Rupert Murdoch, is against tax. He also likes the globalisation of digital culture because it makes the banking overlords hard to attack: “You can’t have a workers’ revolution to take over a bank if the bank is in Vanuatu,” he says.

Well put, Petey. Thiel is fairly clear about the world he wants: less smelly minorities, no taxes, and rich people have their brains uploaded into computers and live forever. Got it.

If life in the past was nasty, brutish and short, then in the future Thiel wants to make it much longer, and to this end he has also invested in a firm that is exploring life-extension technologies. He has pledged £3.5m to a Cambridge-based gerontologist called Aubrey de Grey, who is searching for the key to immortality. Thiel is also on the board of advisers of something called the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. From its fantastical website, the following: “The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. There are several technologies … heading in this direction … Artificial Intelligence … direct brain-computer interfaces … genetic engineering … different technologies which, if they reached a threshold level of sophistication, would enable the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.”

So by his own admission, Thiel is trying to destroy the real world, which he also calls “nature”, and install a virtual world in its place, and it is in this context that we must view the rise of Facebook. Facebook is a deliberate experiment in global manipulation, and Thiel is a bright young thing in the neoconservative pantheon, with a penchant for far-out techno-utopian fantasies. Not someone I want to help get any richer.

Note: Hear hear.

The third board member of Facebook is Jim Breyer. He is a partner in the venture capital firm Accel Partners, who put $12.7m into Facebook in April 2005. On the board of such US giants as Wal-Mart and Marvel Entertainment, he is also a former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Now these are the people who are really making things happen in America, because they invest in the new young talent, the Zuckerbergs and the like. Facebook’s most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock’s senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What’s In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA. After 9/11, the US intelligence community became so excited by the possibilities of new technology and the innovations being made in the private sector, that in 1999 they set up their own venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel, which “identifies and partners with companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help deliver these solutions to the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community (IC) to further their missions”.

The US defence department and the CIA love technology because it makes spying easier. “We need to find new ways to deter new adversaries,” defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2003. “We need to make the leap into the information age, which is the critical foundation of our transformation efforts.” In-Q-Tel’s first chairman was Gilman Louie, who served on the board of the NVCA with Breyer. Another key figure in the In-Q-Tel team is Anita K Jones, former director of defence research and engineering for the US department of defence, and – with Breyer – board member of BBN Technologies. When she left the US department of defence, Senator Chuck Robb paid her the following tribute: “She brought the technology and operational military communities together to design detailed plans to sustain US dominance on the battlefield into the next century.”

…Futhermore, have you Facebook users ever actually read the privacy policy? It tells you that you don’t have much privacy. Facebook pretends to be about freedom, but isn’t it really more like an ideologically motivated virtual totalitarian regime with a population that will very soon exceed the UK’s? Thiel and the rest have created their own country, a country of consumers.

Now, you may, like Thiel and the other new masters of the cyberverse, find this social experiment tremendously exciting. Here at last is the Enlightenment state longed for since the Puritans of the 17th century sailed away to North America, a world where everyone is free to express themselves as they please, according to who is watching. National boundaries are a thing of the past and everyone cavorts together in freewheeling virtual space. Nature has been conquered through man’s boundless ingenuity. Yes, and you may decide to send genius investor Thiel all your money, and certainly you’ll be waiting impatiently for the public flotation of the unstoppable Facebook.

Or you might reflect that you don’t really want to be part of this heavily-funded programme to create an arid global virtual republic, where your own self and your relationships with your friends are converted into commodites on sale to giant global brands. You may decide that you don’t want to be part of this takeover bid for the world.

For my own part, I am going to retreat from the whole thing, remain as unplugged as possible, and spend the time I save by not going on Facebook doing something useful, such as reading books. Why would I want to waste my time on Facebook when I still haven’t read Keats’ Endymion? And when there are seeds to be sown in my own back yard? I don’t want to retreat from nature, I want to reconnect with it. Damn air-conditioning! And if I want to connect with the people around me, I will revert to an old piece of technology. It’s free, it’s easy and it delivers a uniquely individual experience in sharing information: it’s called talking.

Peter Andreas Thiel is hardly the only member of the “social network” that has interesting political connections. For example, there is Roelof Botha of South Africa.

The Art of Selling Out
Erika Brown 02.12.07

….Roelof Botha has been a venture capitalist for three years, and he dreams of putting up the early money for a Google-scale success that is adored on Wall Street and feared by rivals. But Botha, 33, is one of the hottest dealmakers in Silicon Valley for taking the opposite tack: selling out.

Botha joined Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s elite venture capital firms, in 2003; he had helped run the PayPal online outfit. In February 2005 two PayPal pals of his started a video Weblet called YouTube. Botha put up $8.5 million in Sequoia cash for a 30% stake. In November Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. Sequoia will reap a 65-fold return, catapulting Botha onto the Forbes Midas List of top tech dealmakers; he ranks 23rd (see p. 49; full list of 100 dealmakers, plus stories and video interviews, is at

…But Sequoia’s Botha clings to his big dream. He says high-tech upstarts must be built for longevity, not for speed of buyout. YouTube’s founders, Chad Hurley and Steven Chen, “were always talking about ways to draw people in and make it better, not how they could tweak it so they could get a better acquisition price. That is a hallmark of all the great companies.”

Sequoia just raised an $800 million fund, and Botha is deep into consumer Web plays like InsiderPages (a network of community guides) and Xoom (a new take on Western Union). They aim to expand their user ranks cheaply and virally, à la YouTube. “I think of myself as just another consumer,” he says.

Botha was born and bred in South Africa, the grandson of Roelof (Pik) Botha, a foreign minister (1977–94) in the apartheid government who supported the release of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and later served in his government (1994–96). The grandson recalls the tense times and how his grandfather was besieged by people when the family went out to eat. “Part of why I came here was to not be someone’s grandson but to just be me,” he says.

He graduated college in South Africa in 1996, joined McKinsey & Co. and came to the U.S. in 1998 to attend Stanford Business School. He became chief financial officer of PayPal while finishing his M.B.A. Shortly after selling to Ebay, Botha was lured to Sequoia by Michael Moritz, who is number one on the Midas List for the second consecutive year.

Moritz put Sequoia into PayPal and Google, reaping huge payoffs by ignoring buyout offers and letting the companies make it through public offerings. “The [Sequoia] companies that have eventually become large,” says Moritz, “have all started with an idea which, at first, seemed small and tenuous.” Assuming no one sold too soon.

Roelof himself is less interesting to me than his grandfather, Pik Botha. Keep in mind that the South African National Party was a direct outgrowth of Nazism, and that ties between that government and fugitive nazis around the world lasted long after WW2. I found this article on one of Pik Botha’s good German pals rather interesting…

Times of Zambia

Franz Richter: Pioneer of game tourism in SA

Chris Barron Published:Dec 02, 2007

LIVING HIS DREAM: Franz Richter, who was born in Romania, always had a passion for Africa

Franz Richter, who was murdered this week in a robbery near his game ranch outside Johannesburg at the age of 80, was one of the pioneers of game tourism in South Africa. Richter, who was born in Romania on October 27 1927, was an orphan by the age of five. As a youth in communist-run Romania, all he dreamt about was having a full stomach. That and Africa. When he was 15, he made his way to Germany where he was promptly drafted into the Hitler Youth and forced to fight in the German army.

After all, every Romanian boy surely dreams about going to Africa by way of the Hitler Youth. Of course…

After the war, he worked in a coal mine, an experience which haunted him for years. Richter described the conditions on the mine as so horrifying that it was a job fit only for somebody who had killed his mother and father. He considered responding to advertisements offering jobs in Canada but his passion was always for Africa. When he saw jobs advertised for the Joburg gold mines, he wasted no time in applying.

As one of 80 chosen applicants (out of 1 000), he had to sign a contract with the South African government binding him to work in the mines for a minimum of four and a half years. Richter worked 3.5km underground for Crown Mines � and was eventually made a shift boss.

Before leaving Germany for South Africa, he had become a qualified motor mechanic. This equipped him for life after mining. When he left the mines, he took his tool box to a number of workshops before opening his own Richter Motors garage. Eventually he owned four garages in Johannesburg.

He had a team of mechanics at Kyalami race track and became close friends with racing legend Jackie Stewart and his boss Ken Tyrrell. Whenever they had mechanical problems, Richter would see them right at one of his garages. His reputation became widespread in the car industry and BMW in Germany approached him for help and advice when they came to South Africa.

In 1970 Richter realised a lifelong dream when he bought 1100ha of virgin bush infested with snakes and scorpions in Muldersdrift, northwest of Johannesburg.

His decision was not purely romantic; it also made good business sense. He saw that there was nothing much to offer tourists who wanted a taste of the bush and decided to exploit the gap. Today his ranch provides employment for 200 people from the surrounding community.

According to Pik, Richter was a “great philosopher”.

SA is at war: ‘Declare State of Emergency’ warns ex-Minister Pik Botha

Date Posted: Sunday 02-Dec-2007

The Afrikaans Sunday weekly “Rapport” newspaper interviewed the National-Party era Foreign Affairs minister Pik Botha after the assassination-style murder of his long-time friend, German-born hotelier Franz Richter (80) near the hugely popular tourist attraction, the “Cradle of Mankind’ (Sterkfontein caves).

And local residents want the SA government to send defence-force patrols to the crime-besieged semi-rural area to restore law and order. More than 32 armed attacks by well-organised large gangs have hit the area over the past ten months. Richter’s daughter, who runs a local top hotel, says a major international tour group cancelled a large number of bookings shortly afterwards.

“South Africa doesn’t have ‘normal crime and murderers’ — we are engaged in a form of warfare,’ commented an angered Pik Botha, who has known the murdered man for many years.

….Botha said the 80-year-old murdered Richter was a ‘great philosopher who added spiritual and material value to his new homeland.’ German-born hotelier and entrepreneur Richter’s brutal assassination-style murder, just like that of the Austrian soccer-player Peter Burgstaller on a KZN golf course shortly before FIFA’s high-publicity WC2010 draw event was about to take place in Durban – have hit the Germanic world’s headlines this week.

Recently, I asked a friend who is fairly well schooled in the history of fascism, nazism, apartheid, and the right in general what he knew of Pik Botha. His response: “oh yeah, that was the guy that got tipped off about Pan Am 103 that crashed over Lockerbie”. Gulp. I hadn’t known that. Now,Pan Am 103 is far too big a topic for this post. However, for those interested in it, and the fate of the “McKee Team” that many think was the target of this terror attack, here is an interesting article. There have been a swirl of “conspiracy theories” over the years that the flight was targeted as part of an internecine fight within the US government involving various MidEastern terrorist groups and heroin traffickers.,9171,975399,00.html

Mention of Botha… sure enough, my friend who is usually right on such matters was right again.

…Several pieces of evidence (see H and W) suggest that the authorities knew in advance that the Boeing 747 which blew up over Lockerbie in southern Scotland on December 21 1988 was in danger. The German newspaper Die Zeit claimed that the South African foreign minister, Pik Botha, intended to fly on Pan Am 103 but had been warned off. Mr Botha flew on an earlier flight, Pan Am 101, which, unlike flight 103, had special security checks at Heathrow. No one has been able to definitively confirm or refute the Die Zeit story.

For this next one, you really have to go to the link itself and view the networks that I have been discussing here. The guy who took the time to put these together gets a serious Wayne and Garth “we’re not worthy!”. Good work, man… I’m putting the text in here anyway, but don’t expect to understand it without going to the link and checking out the detailed charts of interrelations there.

I have to mention that the Mets just won to extend the series to it’s final game. Not that I’m such a huge baseball fan, nor a Mets fan, but including the word “Playoffs” in the title allowed it to roll off the tongue. On to the networking…

Miguel Helft, who used to be often read in the Mercury, is now a tech writer for the NY Times and had an article on the front page business section on Tuesday about the pals from PayPal and their microcosmic Silicon Valley networking effect, and how that small group has hatched and reared some of the most successful companies (and exits) in the tech world. However, Helft is not yet familiar with our LinkSViewer tool that does visual networking for Silicon Valley tech and VC networks. As such, I can’t blame him for the illustration from the times – a network of sorts, but I can credit him with the inspiration to put up some of my own constructed networks of this power cluster that has achieved the kind of success to which we all aspire.

…It is important to remember that in this network both Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman are represented twice; once as an investor with a yellow node, and once as a person (board or management team member) by a pink or purple node – as noted in the legend at the bottom of the full size map. In the center of the map, the three person nodes for Thiel, Hoffman, and Roelof are very central because of their involvement with companies across this entire network. The investor nodes for Hoffman and Thiel create the bottom section of the network because of their investments in companies like Wink, Facebook, SixApart, and LinkedIn.

…The bottom left of the image is dominated by PayPal and all of the people linked to it, but the center and top right portions of the map are populated by all of the newer adventures of the PayPal pals, including LinkedIn, Xoom, Facebook, Tagged, Wink, Friendster, and Grassroots Enterprise.

The next image focuses on just the newer adventures after PayPal. This network is constructed around the company LinkedIn; the people Roelof Botha, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman; and the investors Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel.

In this network you can see the powerhouse of company involvement around these individuals. Hoffman, Thiel and Botha are especially important because these networks only include board members and management team. Even though YouTube’s founders are no doubt going to assume more and more central roles in this network if they continue their involvement with new tech adventures, but they were not management team level employees at PayPal.

Here’s one last image which includes all of the pendants which were removed from the previous maps. This makes the network messier and a little bit harder to sift through for beginners, but it includes more information, including nodes for Steve Chen, Chad Hurley – two of the three co-founders for YouTube (Jawed Karim will be included the next time the data set gets updated, but I didn’t want to wait to post this).

Not only can we now see the connections for Chad Hurley and Steven Chen, but Sequoia Capital’s key involvement in many of these companies by way of Roelof Botha is also clear.

Ok, so I haven’t settled on one perfect representative network, but I stand by my claim that there is more information in these. What do you see in these networks?

I see power. I see networking. I see “social” networking. One of the strangest things in Thiel’s background is his support for the immortality movement. Whether Thiel is a true believer in Alcor and just another sucker like the family of baseball “immortal” Ted William, OR is in on the joke that this is all a bunch of pseudoscience remains to be seen.

You trust this guy?

Peter Thiel puts his weight behind Dr. Aubrey de Grey’s engineering blueprint for alleviating the debilities caused by aging

San Francisco’s Peter A. Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of online payments system PayPal, Founder and Managing Member of Clarium Capital Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, and angel investor in social networking site Facebook, has announced his pledge of $3.5 Million to support scientific research into the alleviation and eventual reversal of the debilities caused by aging, to be conducted under the auspices of the Methuselah Foundation, a charity co-founded and Chaired by Dr. Aubrey de Grey.

Mr. Thiel commented “Rapid advances in biological science foretell of a treasure trove of discoveries this century, including dramatically improved health and longevity for all. I’m backing Dr. de Grey, because I believe that his revolutionary approach to aging research will accelerate this process, allowing many people alive today to enjoy radically longer and healthier lives for themselves and their loved ones.

Mr. Thiel will donate a total of $500,000 over the next three years to fund pilot research projects intended to deliver early stage validation of the SENS approach to combating the debilitation caused by aging.

Additionally, from now until the end of 2009, Mr. Thiel promises to match every Dollar donated to the Methuselah Foundation for SENS research with a 50 cent matching contribution from himself, up to a maximum of $3 Million of matching funds.

Dr. de Grey said “I am extremely grateful to Peter for his bold and visionary initiative. I have been working with leading biologists and biochemists around the world in identifying promising research projects, and with this generous donation we will go to work straightaway.”

Alcor, like Pan Am 103, is just way too huge a topic to do justice right now. However, it is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever come across. A whistleblower named Larry Johnson came out with a tell-all expose last year that should have dismantled Alcor. Yet he seemed to get very little press for his claims. If you read this AMAZING thread (seriously, one of the coolest bits of collaborative web research I’ve ever come across), you will be blown away and asking yourself “how the hell are they getting away with this shit?” Well, when one sees folks like Thiel in the mix, among other Silicon Valley elites, it is less difficult to understand.,64749,page=1

Their board appears to have overlap with the Singularity Institute as well, including Ralph Merckle and Aubrey De Grey.

And Thiel is a speaker at the “Singularity Summit”. The “Singularity”, by the way, is a computer geek’s version of the New Age, a grand moment when artificial intelligence passes human intelligence, and makes the decision that we would be better off with our brains uploaded into a computer. Or some bullshit like that. Get this: according to much of the Silicon Valley elite, this is a good thing and highly desirable. But, shhh, they don’t want anybody to know that yet, so keep it quiet, will ya? Thanks…

Peter Thiel is President of Clarium Capital Management and the Chairman of the firm’s Investment Committee, which oversees the firm’s research, investment, and trading strategies.

We’ll finish up with this post from Nicholas Carr’s brilliant “Rough Type” Silicon Valley blog about the Singularity Summit. I particulary like his “New Age wing of the Military Industrial Complex” line. Go there for the picture of all the “posthuman” geeks…

This Post Will Self-Destruct in Five Minutes
October 2008

It was all very hush-hush. On Saturday, September 20, 2008, a carefully selected group of the tech world’s best and brightest assembled in a windowless conference room at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley – barely a mile from the Googleplex as the rocket flies – to discuss preparations for our impending post-human future. This was the founding meeting of Singularity University, an academic institution whose mission, as founder Dr. Peter Diamandis told the elite audience, would be “to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies (bio, nano, info, etc); and to apply, focus and guide these to the best benefit of humanity and its environment.”

Also speaking that day were Ames Research Center Director Dr. S. Pete Worden, inventor and chief singularitarian Dr. Ray Kurzweil, Google founder and co-president Larry Page, Dr. Aubrey de Grey of the Methuselah Foundation, Dr. Larry Smarr of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (his slides, misdated by a day, are here), Director of Cisco Systems Space and Intelligence Initiatives Rick Sanford, Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha of IBM’s Cognitive Computing Group, leading nanotechnologist Dr. Ralph Merkle, and artificial intelligence impresarios Bruce Klein and Susan Fonseca-Klein. Among the few dozen in the audience were Second Life’s Philip Rosedale, Powerset’s Barney Pell, and Wired editor Chris Anderson.

The day after the meeting, IBM’s Modha wrote a brief post about the event, but his words were quickly erased from his web site – not, however, before they were copied to the MindBroker site. “All in all,” wrote Modha, “a weekend day well spent in company of brilliant and sincere people trying to make a positive impact on the world!”

Modha’s post is one of the few public clues to the existence of Singularity University. (Another person who posted news of Singularity University was, he reports, “immediately contacted by people involved with the SU launch and asked [nicely and as a favor, nothing like cease and desist] to remove the post from the web archive, the reason being that the web sources quoted [not available anymore on the web, but still in Google cache and some blogs] had been posted without authorization and in breach of confidentiality.”) Attendees of the Ames meeting were asked to keep their lips zipped: “The Singularity University founding meeting and the details around the Singularity University are being held confidential until a public announcement is officially made. Please do not discuss or share this information publicly. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.” The last thing you want to do is frighten the humans.

Count me in as one of the frightened humans…

PWNED! Sad or Porno for Commies?

•June 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Threw the bums a dime in your prime,
Didn’t you?
Yeah, people’d call, say “Beware doll, you’re
bound to fall”
You thought they were just kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
And now you don’t walk so proud
Now you don’t talk so loud
About having to be scrounging
Your next meal”
-Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan

Here are some of the pieces from the archives that I had planned on making into a longer series on the economy… but just got too depressed to finish. Dumped some of the older ones, and added a new one. A couple of my “sad” ones were off the web now, including the Wayback Machine, but I found a new one to replace them.


Let’s start with the two flat-out SAD stories. This one is fairly dated, but I haven’t heard anything about a miraculous Las Vegas “recovery” yet and would imagine the jobs situation there is still fairly dire.

In-N-Out Burger on the Strip

…In the recent past, the expected opening of a casino is what drew reporters to long lines of prospective employees. This week it was the expected opening of an In-N-Out Burger. Las Vegas Sun reporter Timothy Pratt observed Monday the growing amazement of Grace Robinson, manager of the Holiday Inn Express where applications for entry-level jobs at the restaurant were being taken. She had not prepared for the steady inflow of so many people, most of them desperate. As Pratt reported, she scrambled to find extra rooms and chairs as jobless men and women kept arriving on a cold and rainy morning.

It was estimated that the two-day opportunity to apply for the at-most 50 jobs that pay $10 an hour to start would draw more than 1,000 people. Privately owned In-N-Out Burger turned 60 years old this year, and it has earned a reputation as a good place to work. But on Monday and Tuesday the people pouring in may not have known that. They were looking for work wherever they could find it. The local economy is getting worse, mirroring the national crisis that erupted last year and whose momentum seems unending.

In line Monday was a 42-year-old woman, Freda Beckwith. She has been jobless since Sept. 17, when she was laid off from the Bellagio where she was a cashier. Her dwindling hope rests with her work history that includes nine years as a cook at New York-New York. She carried documents showing she had once been employee of the month and that she had never been late or absent. Behind on her mortgage, she said she thinks the dozens of jobs she has applied for are going to younger people. “Sometimes I just want to sit down and cry,” she said. The federal government, whose rescue plans are focused on bailing out big financial institutions, should be more aware that good people who want to work are on the verge of tears.

You think? Next up, we find a horrifying tale of the latest trend in Human Resources: companies only accepting applications from those who already have jobs! No more sifting through the apps of the dirty, poor losers who somehow found themselves jobless in the biggest economic crash in 80 years. I mean, how can you expect to get a job if you don’t have one right now? Jeez, what’s wrong with you folks! Makes everything neat, tidy, and efficient for every beloved American HR hack.

Disclosure: as always, this is no endorsement for the Huffington Post, just this one article.

Next exit: Maybe a double entendre from the folks at "People Place"?

Still waiting for a response to the 300 resumés you sent out last month? Bad news: Some companies are ignoring all unemployed applicants. In a current job posting on People Place , a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a “Quality Engineer.” Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, “Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason.”

In a nearly identical job posting for the same position on the Benchmark Electronics website, the red print is missing. But a human resources representative for the company confirmed to HuffPost that the The People Place ad accurately reflects the company’s recruitment policies.

“It’s our preference that they currently be employed,” he said. “We typically go after people that are happy where they are and then tell them about the opportunities here. We do get a lot of applications blindly from people who are currently unemployed — with the economy being what it is, we’ve had a lot of people contact us that don’t have the skill sets we want, so we try to minimize the amount of time we spent on that and try to rifle-shoot the folks we’re interested in.”

Sony Ericsson, a global phone manufacturer that recently announced that it would be bringing 180 new jobs to the Buckhead, Ga. area, also recently posted an ad for a marketing position on The People Place. The add specified: “NO UNEMPLOYED CANDIDATES WILL BE CONSIDERED AT ALL.” When asked about the ad, a spokeswoman said, “This was a mistake, and once it was noticed it was removed.” Ads asking the unemployed not to apply are easy to find. A Craigslist ad for assistant restaurant managers in Edgewater, N.J. specifies, “Must be currently employed.” Another job posting for a tax manager at an unnamed “top 25 CPA firm” in New York City contains the same line in all caps.

A company’s choice to ignore unemployed applicants and recycle the current workforce ignores the effect of the recession on millions of highly-qualified workers and could prolong the unemployment crisis, said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project. “In the current economy, where millions of people have lost their jobs through absolutely no fault of their own, I find it beyond unconscionable that any employer would not consider unemployed workers for current job openings,” she said. “Not only are these employers short-sighted in their search for the best qualified workers, but they are clearly not good corporate citizens of the communities in which they work. Increasingly, politicians and policy makers are trying to blame the unemployed for their condition, and to see this shameful propaganda trickle down to hiring decisions is truly sad and despicable.”

There is no law prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed, though advocates said the practice could be illegal if it had a “disparate impact” on minority groups. Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.), whose home state of Michigan has a 14 percent unemployment rate, was particularly disappointed to hear about the ads.
“While I appreciate that many employers are facing unprecedented competition for job openings, to close the door on such a large population of potential employees is shortsighted,” he said. “Being unemployed is not a choice many workers choose to make. I would hope that companies that are discriminating against the unemployed will take into consideration that this choice is only further contributing to long-term unemployment in our country.”


The above two stories illustrate the sadness, cruelty, and viciousness of a major economic downturn, and how it affects regular folk who simply want living wages, a roof over their head, and “three hots and a cot”. Now here’s the FUN part of an economic downturn: watching spoiled, entitled rich people pout, bitch, and whine about their newfound circumstances. You know, life like the rest of us! Pure schaudenfraude.

First, let’s start off with the “Baglady papers” of one Alexandra Penney, Daily Beast columnist and author of “How to Make Love to a Man”, who lost all her money to Madoff. I have very little sympathy for Madoff victims. They had zero moral qualms about where their money was going as long as they got 10% profit every year, and were stupid enough to risk their whole fortunes with him. Get your popcorn, hold the kleenex…

“Yeah, the princess on the steeple
All the pretty people
Drinkin’, thinkin’ that they
Got it made
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts
But you’d better take that diamond ring,
You’d better pawn it babe”

-more Like a Rolling Stone

Brotha, can you spare a cabin in Palm Beach?

Last Thursday at around 5 p.m., I had just checked on a rising cheese soufflé in my oven when my best friend called. “Heard Madoff’s been arrested,” she said. “I hope it’s a rumor. Doesn’t he handle most of your money?” Indeed, he did. More than a decade ago, when I was in my late 40s, I handed over my life savings to Madoff’s firm. It was money I’d been tucking away since I was 16 years old, when I began working summers in Lord & Taylor, earning about $65 a week. Not a penny was inherited. Not one cent was from my divorce. I earned all of it myself, through a long string of jobs that included working as a cashier at Rosedale fish market in New York City in my 20s, and later, writing bestselling sex books.

When I hung up with my friend, I turned on the TV and began to scour Google for news until the message became nauseatingly clear: Forty years of savings—the money I’d counted on to take me comfortably through the next 30 years—had likely evaporated in Madoff’s scheme. THAT MOTHERFUCKER!! The soufflé fell.

I called Dennis, my consort of 16 years, and he canceled the dinner guests. I took half of a very strong tranquilizer that I’d been stashing for years in case of a death in the family.

….I began to think about my options: I’d have to sell the cottage in West Palm Beach immediately. I’d need to lay off Yolanda. I could cancel the newspaper subscriptions and read everything online. I only needed a cell phone. I’d have to stop taking taxis. And who could highlight my hair for almost no money? And how hard was it to give yourself a really good pedicure?

Then there is my jewelry. I’ve always collected nice watches and pearls. In the back of my mind I’d think, “Buy good stuff because if you’re ever a bag lady, you can sell it.” It might have been a rationalization then—but here I am now: The nightmare may be coming true.

Before I reached for a bedtime Tylenol PM that night, I Googled the Hemlock Society. I wanted to know a painless way to die. Would you believe the Hemlock Society no longer exists?

…In the early 1980s, needing more money, I came up with a book idea: How to Make Love to a Man. My parents told me I’d lost my dignity and didn’t speak to me for nine years. Lawyers have advised me not to speak in specific numbers, but the book sold millions of copies worldwide. Four others followed; all hit The New York Times bestseller list. Checks started rolling in. I bought a one-bedroom apartment on Fifth Avenue, the first thing I’d ever owned. A few years later, Si Newhouse offered me a job as editor-in-chief of Self Magazine. I worked there until the mid-1990s, when I left to pursue my art full time.

…I suddenly had a lot of money. I was in my late 40s, and I felt that I was just too old to have it in a plain old bank account. But I was a creative person, not a savvy investor, so I asked around and talked to my smartest friends with Harvard and Wharton MBAs. There appeared to be a secret society of Madoff investors. A friend who was older, wealthier, and more established somehow got me in. I’ve always had good luck, and I thought it was another stroke of good fortune to be invested with the legendary Bernard Madoff.

Every month I got detailed statements, and my money looked to be growing around 9 to 11 percent. It didn’t seem greedy because I knew other people who were making 15 or 20 percent. I thought, “This is just a very smart investor.”

….It is too painful to think I will lose my Florida cottage, maybe my studio. This is everything I have worked for. I started out life as a painter. Since those days, my dream has been to have a studio to do the work I want to do, to be my own boss, to make the smartest art I can conceive. I finally found my studio two years ago: a small SoHo space awash in light and sun and energy and hope. I will almost surely have to give it up: It is an amputation I may not be able to bear. Not hearing the click of the key to “AP Studio” room 803 makes my thoughts turn to those sweet almondy cyanide capsules.

….I wear a classic clean white shirt every day of the week. I have about 40 white shirts. They make me feel fresh and ready to face whatever battles I may be fighting in the studio to get the best out of my work. How am I going to iron those shirts so I can still feel like a poor civilized person? Even the no iron ones need touching up.

Yolanda makes my life work. She comes in three mornings a week, whirlwinds around, and voila! The shirts are ironed, the sheets are changed, the floors are vacuumed. She’s worked with me for seven years and is a big part of my life. She needs money. She sends it to her family in Colombia. I have more than affection for Yolanda, I love her as part of my family.

…The art market, as everyone pretty much knows, is dead. If I can’t sell my work, I am going to have to find some way to make money. I’ve lived a great and interesting life. I love beautiful things: high thread count sheets, old china, watches, jewelry, Hermes purses, and Louboutin shoes. I like expensive French milled soap, good wines, and white truffles. I have given extravagant gifts like diamond earrings. I traveled a lot. In this last year, I’ve been Laos, Cambodia, India, Russia, and Berlin for my first solo art show. Will I ever be able to explore exotic places again?

….Yesterday, I took my first subway ride in 30 years. Dennis came with me to show me how to get a MetroCard. The world looks very different from a crowded Lexington Avenue No. 6 train.

Yeah, it sure does, honey, it sure does. Hell, that would make a great plot for “Sex and the City Three: Baglady Carrie”. Mr. Big dumps her, pulls out a prenup that he had her sign after three or four drinks one night, and tosses her out on the street. This next one is great, though, yes, a little dated as well. But laughing at Lehman snobs who helped crash the American economy yet also burned up their own fortunes and lifestyle as well never gets old!

Party over in the Hamptons?

Only months ago, ordering that $1,950 bottle of 2003 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon at Craft restaurant or the $26-per-ounce Wagyu beef at Nobu, or sliding into Masa for the $600 prix fixe dinner (not including tax, tip, or drinks), was a way of life for many Wall Street investment bankers. “The culture was that if you didn’t spend extravagantly you’d be ridiculed at work,” says a former Lehmanite. But that was when there were investment banks. Now many bankers, along with discovering $15 bottles of wine, are finding other ways to cut back—if not out of necessity, then from collective guilt and fear: the fitness trainer from three times a week to once a week; the haircut and highlights every eight weeks instead of every five. One prominent “hedgie” recently flew to China for business—but not on a private plane, as before. “Why should I pay $250,000 for a private plane,” he said to a friend, “when I can pay $20,000 to fly commercial first class?”

The new thriftiness takes a bit of getting used to. “I was at the Food Emporium in Bedford [in Westchester County] yesterday, using my Food Emporium discount card,” recounts one Greenwich woman. “The well-dressed wife of a Wall Street guy was standing behind me. She asked me how to get one. Then she said, ‘Have you ever used coupons?’ I said, ‘Sure, maybe not lately, but sure.’ She said, ‘It’s all the rage now—where do you get them?’”

One former Lehman executive in her 40s stood in her vast clothes closet not long ago, talking to her personal stylist. On shelves around her were at least 10 designer handbags that had cost her anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 each.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I guess I’ll have to get rid of the maid.” Why not sell a few of those bags?, the stylist thought, but didn’t say so.
“Well,” the executive said after a moment, “I guess I’ll cut her from five days a week to four

But the mid-30s or mid-40s Lehman banker who lived up to his high compensation—or beyond it—is reeling, hurting, and possibly bankrupt. One Sunday evening in October, a former Lehmanite in his mid-30s settles into a velvet banquette at the Gramercy Park Hotel’s elegant Rose Bar. At first he’s circumspect. But after a couple of Johnnie Walker Blacks on the rocks, he opens up.

“Let’s take a guy who makes $5 million a year,” the banker suggests. “He’s paid two and a half million dollars of that in equity compensation”—Lehman Brothers stock. Plus he gets to buy that stock at a 30 percent discount, so he’s really getting $3.25 million in stock. “Plus appreciation? Over five years? That’s $25 to $30 million!

“Then let’s say a guy in that position borrowed $5 million against the $30 million in stock. It would seem a very conservative loan, right? Until the $30 million goes down to zero, which is what happened. So now he’s negative $5 million.”

True, that same Lehman banker got the other half of his compensation in cash. The banker nods. “For five years, he made two and a half million dollars a year in cash. So that’s twelve and a half million dollars. But of course he’s had to pay more or less 50 percent in taxes, so divide that and he’s got six and a quarter million. He’s probably spent that money over those five years—$1 million a year, it’s not so hard to do, right? So he has nothing—and he has to repay that $5 million loan.”

A month before the bankruptcy, the banker muses, his peers were complaining about the $10,000 or $20,000 they had to pay for lifetime dibs on the best season tickets in the New York Giants’ new stadium. But they were paying. They were complaining about private-school tuitions. “But it was actually a way of saying, ‘I’m rich—rich enough to afford it.’

“The day Lehman went bankrupt, people realized they were going to get no bonuses, no severance, and no equity. Oh—and no health care. And no salary.”

…Before Lehman’s stock began to plummet, Lebenthal suggests, Blake’s annual compensation was $9.5 million—much of that in company stock. He was carrying a $2 million loan used for a house in the Hamptons, but felt perfectly able to afford his annual expenses: the Park Avenue apartment maintenance ($120,000); the Hamptons house mortgage ($75,000); the nanny and driver ($100,000); his wife’s clothing ($100,000); the personal trainer three times a week ($18,000); food, including restaurants ($30,000); charitable benefits and other nonprofit causes ($200,000); private school for three children ($78,000); Christmas in Palm Beach ($15,000); spring in Aspen ($15,000); and a wedding-anniversary diamond necklace for Grigsby ($50,000).

At least Blake has been hired on by Barclays. But his Lehman stock portfolio is now worthless. He and Grigsby have to cut their annual living expenses from about $1 million to a fraction of that, and do it in ways that don’t show, for the worst—the worst—would be the public disgrace of falling out of their social class.

First to go: vacations, the trainer, the driver, and entertaining. No restaurants, no shopping excursions, no new ball clothes for Grigsby (last year’s will have to do). But, for now—for appearances—the Somersets will scrimp to keep the kids in their schools, and the nanny, and the Hamptons house. For now.

… Greenwich estate manager Jacqueline de Bar describes how wealthy locals are cutting back: letting the pastures grow, canceling the leaf blowers, doing the storm windows themselves. At Betteridge Jewelers—known as Wall Street’s jeweler—third-generation owner Terry Betteridge says a lot more customers are coming in since the meltdown, to sell, not buy. “I’ve seen some bad ones in the last two months,” he says. “I know a Wall Street guy who’s literally been selling jewelry to make the mortgage payments. He and his wife came in together, bringing things to sell.… Just this morning, we took in a $2.7 million lot. An amazing collection, some of the best jewelry in the world, everything signed—extraordinary things I couldn’t buy before. No matter what I bid wasn’t enough. Now I can.”

… In this global economy, the age’s excesses and aftermath are spread wide, nowhere as vividly as in London. Notting Hill was the epicenter of London’s gilded age, where every driveway, it seemed, had a Maserati, every mansion a makeover, often including an underground pool. Now, says Sunday Times columnist Rachel Johnson, who chronicled the invasion of the financiers in her 2006 novel, Notting Hell, bankers are staggering around like lost souls, while their wives gather at 202, the stylish Westbourne Grove restaurant in Nicole Farhi’s boutique, to share their fears. “What they’re crying about is they’ve lost all their stock, and their houses are worth less than they were,” says Johnson of the wives, “but they’re really upset that on January 31 they have to pay huge tax bills. Even though they don’t have the cash anymore, the liability remains on what they earned before.”

Let’s finish off with a longtime figure on the New Age circuit, vegetarian activist and Baskin-Robbins heir John Robbins. I had always thought him to be a slightly pretentious, but generally harmless fellow, who talked a lot about “sustainability”, “right livelihood”, “alternative energy”, blah blah blah. Turns out he had ALL his money in with Madoff. And to top it off, he convinced our local paper to not only run this story on this “tragedy”, but even got them to add a plug for his “Save John Robbins” donation campaign! Pathetic. Now he is back on the circuit with a new book… more or less  “Surviving the Crash for Greedy New Age Hypocrites”. This article dates from when he first experienced poverty. I’m also including a short exchange I had with someone on the chat forum about this story.

“No one put a gun to his head to invest with Madoff. John should have put his money where his mouth was and invested in companies that were concerned with more than the bottom line.”

-No kidding! Total hypocrite. “Sustainable”, “socially conscious”, businesses don’t pull down 10% year after year. So he invested in the nastiest of hedge funds, not giving a **** what type of stuff they were invested in: 3rd world logging, sweatshops, who cares as long as I get my 10%? But, YOU all you New Age peons who buy my books: invest in a vegan restaurant! Recycle! Give up your interest in “material items”!
Unbelievable that the Sentinel would give him the little “donate” blurb. I think I’ll mail him a **** rock… an “organic, earthy rock!”
(Psychedelic Dungeon)

Six weeks ago, renowned vegetarian author and Soquel resident John Robbins was painfully reminded of what he’s always known to be true. Robbins, the Soquel resident who walked away from the Baskin-Robbins fortune to seek a simple life grounded in sustainable food practices, lost his entire life savings in the $50 billion Ponzi scheme allegedly headed by Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff.

“I know at this moment more than ever that our real wealth is in the love in our hearts, and the people we care about and who care about us, and in the quality of relationships to the spirit and natural worlds,” Robbins, 61, said in an interview Thursday.

Robbins, the best-selling author of “Diet for a New America” and “The Food Revolution,” said he and his wife of 42 years, Deo, lost 98 percent of their net worth in the vast investment sham that has sapped international banks, movie stars and charitable organizations. As a famous longtime resister of what he calls the “toxic mythology” that “self-worth is defined by net worth,” Robbins acknowledged the inescapable irony of losing more than $1 million in a market-driven scheme fueled by old-fashioned greed.

“We are all part of the system, I’ve always known that,” he said. “There is no truly cruelty-free lifestyle. We can minimize the damage, and increase the level of respect we manifest toward others, and, in our economic dealings, try to be as socially responsible as we can be. I believed I was doing that.”

Robbins, who has spoken at the United Nations and appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” said he began investing small amounts with Madoff Securities International Ltd. through a trusted friend and attorney in Marin County whose family had been Madoff clients for 35 years. Then, after several years of steady earnings from what he thought was a portfolio in line with his principles, Robbins decided to place all of his holdings from book royalties and speaking fees with Madoff, who faces a host of federal charges.

“This wasn’t a bad investment,” Robbins said. “This was a theft, a criminal action.” Robbins assumed his savings were safe because he knew much wealthier people were longtime investors with Madoff, a former Nasdaq chairman who had earlier been cleared by federal investigators.

“I’m not a financier, I’m an activist,” he said. “I took comfort that these people saw fit to invest.” On Dec. 11, the friend who had steered Robbins into the Madoff fund called with the bad news: They had both lost everything. Since then, Robbins has taken in tenants on the 8-acre property he and his wife share in the Santa Cruz Mountains with son Ocean, daughter-in-law Michelle and twin grandsons, River and Bodhi, who have developmental disabilities. “It’s just a shame — it’s a terrible thing to happen to anybody,” said Jeff Nelson, who along with wife Sabrina became vegetarian and founded the Web site after reading “Diet for a New America.”

The critically acclaimed 1987 book impeaching America’s meat-rich eating habits champions a vegetarian diet for the betterment of human health and animal welfare. Robbins followed it up with “The Food Revolution,” which argued against processed food, in 2001. The Nelsons are now friends with Robbins and are using their Web site to promote a fundraising effort launched by the author’s former agent, Patti Breitman of Fairfax, to help the Robbins family stay afloat. “He saved all this money from a lifetime of work and it’s been stolen,” Nelson said. “It’s like somebody burned his house down.”

Ever since Robbins left the legendary ice cream company started by father Irv Robbins and uncle Burt Baskin, Robbins said he has lived frugally, donating to charities and speaking for free in recent years. Robbins said he and his wife, who has gone back to work, nearly lost their home of 11 years last month, but were rescued by donations from supporters. Robbins said he also has submitted a proposal for a new book to his publisher.