Basically, the evidence was massively damning, so their only serious hope of winning was by challenging the curiously nonspecific way the FBI found the Silk Road server; but they gave up their ability to do so for some dubious benefits.
The government says https://ia600603.us.archive.org/21/items/gov.uscourts.nysd.4...
>In any event, even if the FBI had somehow “hacked” into the SR Server in order to identify its IP address, such an investigative measure would not have run afoul of the Fourth Amendment. Because the SR Server was located outside the United States, the Fourth Amendment would not have required a warrant to search the server, whether for its IP address or otherwise. See United States v. Vilar, 729 F.3d 62, 86 (2d Cir. 2013) (Fourth Amendment warrant requirement does not apply extraterritorially); In re Terrorist Bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa, 552 F.3d 157, 167 (2d Cir. 2008) (same). At most, any search of the SR Server needed only to be “reasonable” – that is, justified by “legitimate governmental interests.” Vilar, 729 F.3d at 86. Given that the SR Server was hosting a blatantly criminal website, it would have been reasonable for the FBI to “hack” into it in order to search it, as any such “hack” would simply have constituted a search of foreign property known to contain criminal evidence, for which a warrant was not necessary.
which seems reasonable.
The prevailing wisdom about this case seems correct: what shattered Ulbricht's legal defense was his utterly slipshod OPSEC.
What was their probable cause before the server search?
"That search led him to a thread on bitcointalk.org called 'A Heroin Store.' One of the posts there was from a user named 'altoid' who gave instructions on how to access Silk Road.
'You guys have a ton of great ideas. Has anyone seen Silk Road yet?' altoid wrote. 'It’s kind of like an anonymous Amazon.com. I don’t think they have heroin on there, but they are selling other stuff. They basically use bitcoin and tor to broker anonymous transactions.'
Once Alford had the username, the rest was as simple as clicking around. In a separate thread, altoid posted that he was looking for an IT pro. 'If interested, please send your answers to the following questions to rossulbricht at gmail dot com.'
That’s all Alford needed to get a warrant to gain access to that email. By comparing the data found in the email to the data found on Ulbricht’s laptop, the government has created an even more convincing argument that Ross Ulbricht is, in fact, Silk Road’s Dread Pirate Roberts."
Basically, 1.) that's not how they did that, 2.) even if it was, it wasn't illegal, as they did not know at the time of the search that the server belonged to a citizen and 3.) Ulbricbht hasn't even admitted the server was his so how could we have violated his rights if the server didn't belong to him in the first place?
People keep wanting to insist the government did something illegal here, but as far as I can tell, there's no evidence that speaks to that.
I suppose it is slightly weird, but it kinda makes sense from a "lawyered!" perspective.
There's nothing at all suspicious about the tech recruiting post. It's the same thing everyone here has seen 10,000 times. https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=47811.msg568744#msg5...
He may or may not have been the first to post about Silk Road on Bitcointalk, or anywhere for that matter, but that seems awfully thin ground for getting a warrant.
I'm surprised HN seems to be in favor of such action.
...things add up and produce enough cause to get a warrant. Given the analysis from opsec people, it's not surprising that there was eventually a warrant and an arrest and a trial; given that he was leaking so much information about who he was and what he was doing, the surprising thing is that the feds didn't catch him even sooner.
He made the post looking for a developer 9 months later, on October 11, 2011.
And as I mentioned below, the fake ID issue seems to have come up after the email warrant was issued, so it wasn't a factor there.
which was apparently the first mention. So, as far as the agent could tell, this was the first person to mention Silk Road on the open Internet. That's what's reasonable.
(Also, from a pure Bayesian POV, the fact that it nailed DPR on the very first try goes a lot towards demonstrating its relevance. NB: this parenthetical is not a legal argument; otherwise you could justify any search that turns up evidence.)
Anyway, my answer was that if the police really had such strong suspicion of someone and they were right, they've got to have enough to get a warrant anyway, which is similar to what you're saying.
The fake ID thing seems to have occurred after the warrant was issued, so I'm not sure I see its relevance.
I couldn't care less one way or the other about Ulbricht or Silk Road. Not my circus, not my monkeys, as they say.
But I do think it's disturbing one moderately suspicious post is enough to have your privacy violated.
I would imagine the FBI asked Wordpress for their logged data about that, which could have provided them with additional circumstantial evidence.
* in the legal sense of being arguable via logic, as opposed to an inexplicable decision based on intuition or unthinking application of dogma.
Anywho, you can do the search that got him caught yourself.
The relevant result is now #2, but used to be #1 (http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-google-search-that-took...)
He had deleted the original comment, but someone had replied and copied the text. He subsequently posted an ad for job postings with the same username and his personal email address (I think firstname.lastname@example.org).
Basically, he was about as sloppy as it gets if you're running a criminal drug enterprise. Also, his confidant, Variety Jones/Cimon, hinted that he had done some research on Ulbricht and found some stuff. He was absurdly cocky about evading law enforcement. Makes you wonder if he has some kind of psychological disorder.
Ulbricht was found via the server - all evidence that came as a result of that (including the laptop) would have been dismissed if a 4th amendment appeal was successful.
The only evidence found outside of the server chain was the posts to the Shroomery and Bitcointalk - and as the link in grandparent comment points out, this is not sufficient probable cause for a search warrant (and a search warrant on the Gmail in any case would still not have linked Ulbricht to DPR sufficiently)
 right in the second paragraph of article linked in grandparent comment:
> The arrest of Ross Ulbricht got its start when the FBI somehow discovered the real location of the Silk Road server in Iceland.
> Every shred of evidence except for two “hey, I found this site” posts derives solely from the server seizure.
Basically USA claimed to be using the CoE Convention on Cybercrime in order to have the server raid performed. But that convention requires that USA's government bodies extend the same legal protections to those in other countries as if they were USA citizens within their own jurisdiction (and the other country has to provide the safeguards of their own law too). That is, if the Fourth protects Ulbricht if he was in USA then the same protections must be applied.
This is very sensible. It means that parties can't go off on hunting expeditions and treat the citizens/subjects of other countries in the [convention's] union worse than they treat their own citizens.
Now the testimony I linked to in that prior post at once claimed that the CoE Convention was being used and claimed they weren't certain. To me that strongly suggests the USA government agent(s) was attempting to deceive whilst under oath, perhaps not strictly lying but certainly not being helpfully informative - perhaps they realised after the fact that they'd failed to abide by the convention and so claimed it was maybe "comity" in order to have a get out clause when the issue of safeguards was raised?
> ">In any event, even if the FBI had somehow “hacked” into the SR Server" //
So, such an unauthorised intrusion may not have run afoul of the Fourth, perhaps, but it would either have broken the domestic law or breached obligations under international conventions depending on if they sort permissions from Sweden first or not. [and possibly neither if they established a protocol that bypassed international agreement].
From where I'm viewing it seems USA don't really care about the application of the rule of law neither in USA nor in other countries when it comes to USA government agents.
I think you may be reading too much into the treaty. It isn't clear to me that it demands countries extend all domestic protections (but I have not read it terribly closely). I see where it says the laws they pass to comply with the treaty should provide protections.
Beyond that, I don't think it obligates the US and Iceland to cooperate solely under that framework, what it does is create a situation where if the US comes to Iceland with a proper warrant, Iceland is obligated to comply with that warrant. If the FBI just wants to send the police in Iceland a tip and Iceland does something based on that tip, well, that's that.
>I don't think it obligates the US and Iceland to cooperate solely under that framework //
Yes, agreed. But the statement by the FBI [cf previous Scribd link] claimed they used the Convention to acquire cooperation.
>"Although the Complaint and search warrants in this case refer to the request as a “Mutual Legal
Assistance Treaty request,” this description is not technically correct, as the United States does
not have an MLAT with Iceland. The request was instead an official request to Iceland issued
pursuant to the 2001 Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and other relevant law of
Iceland, and as a matter of comity."
That statement is sketchy as anything ("we said it was MLAT but it wasn't"): it absolutely _looks_ like they concocted the rationale allowing the search after the fact and without due process.
I'm not sure if the treaty has anything about bypassing its terms either.
I really have no idea if the MLAT error would matter or not, but if the lawyer writing the brief is aware of the mistakes in the previous documents, it'd be way sketchier to not mention it.
It doesn't look like a mistake beyond the "we got caught in a lie" type of mistake.
For avoidance of doubt I don't personally think that this should invalidate the evidence gained. To me the truth is important. However, the officials involved if proven to be acting without legal rationale and without attention to due process and the rule of law should be heavily punished. Indeed if my reading of the CoE Convention is correct then an official apology would be due to Iceland for breaching the terms of the Convention as well.
I'm not sure what you are getting at here. I imagine the call went something like:
US: "We think we've found [blah blah blah]. We'd like you to seize the server."
Iceland: "Eh, OK, sounds good."
Then, if the statements that RMP followed Icelandic law are not a fabrication, they would have continued on until the RMP felt they had sufficient information to get their warrant or whatever.
I don't think the Icelandic government or police would have treated the FBI as an adversary.
I'm not suggesting they'd treat a request adversarially, I'm suggesting that they'd need to get evidence to apply to a court for a warrant (or whatever the local procedures are) under local laws or they'd need to ensure the operation met the requirements if the request was under CoE Convention say.
Perhaps I have too high an opinion of law enforcement agencies and the idea[l] of rule of law is just a charade?
Iceland are signatories to the ECHR for example which extends property and privacy rights.
Subsequently, after obtaining the legal process required under Icelandic law to search the server, and after consulting with U.S. authorities concerning the timing of the search, the RMP covertly imaged the server and shared the results with the FBI on or about July 29, 2013.
It's certainly possible that the memo is full of misrepresentations or that the FBI mislead the RMP, but I don't think it is so likely that it should be assumed to be the case.
And if Iceland gave over the info in error, that's their problem, not the US's.
If Iceland did the USA's bidding and in doing so contravened the USA's Convention agreement then it certainly looks like that should be the USA's problem - in practice USA don't seem to care about that sort of thing. The international community shouldn't allow USA to act unlawfully to parties just because they're not on USA soil.
What I'm saying is that it looks like the USA's request required them to provide certain legal protections that they didn't extend. It seems like they were prepared to flout the rule of law in order to apprehend DPR. The ends are right but I don't think they entirely justify the means.
(For example, this Bloomberg article still uses the FBI estimate of $1.2 billion in transactions even though the analysis by the prosecution's witness found $213.8 million after examining Silk Road records.)
Silkroad is a joke compared for example to some 300% increase in heroin production that Afghanistan saw after America invaded - it's just the later isn't favorable to publicize.
Notice - Even wikipedia blatantly quotes the misinformation published in the document in it's article:
It noted that, "From February 6, 2011 to July 23, 2013...
The total revenue generated from these sales was 9,519,664 Bitcoins, and the total commissions collected by Silk Road from the sales amounted to 614,305 Bitcoins. These figures are equivalent to roughly $1.2 billion in revenue and $79.8 million in commissions.
But - for the bitcoins to amount to 1.2 billion dollars they would have to be priced at a relatively high 2013 mark at least 100 magnitudes above 2011 prices (from which their estimate begins).
For the record the world-drug market is estimated at around $400 billion, so if silkroad over the course of 2.5 years had a turn over of 213 million, that would place it as accounting for .02% of the drug trade. Not the staggering blackmarket the FBI and US media have made it out to be.
Instead of simply saying that, you say "it's highest values" and "they would have to be priced at July 2013 high on MT. Gox."
Just so we're clear.. July 2013 was in the midst of the Mt Gox scandal, and the price had just recently tanked from $220 in april, down to $66 in early july. In June Mt Gox had suspended withdrawls.
> You're really stretching the truth here
It's a huge stretch of the truth to estimate all values over 2.5 years in real time.
They are retroactively estimating the number of bitcoins that passed through from February 2011 (when bitcoin was worth some $0.10 or something near there) but pricing the net total over 2.5 years as of the 2013 value. (That's already a magnitude of 100, so the difference between 200-130 there is quite little).
You're right I didn't give accurate pricing numbers, I'll double check next time before I specify months and values, but my main point still stands. (Actually prior to Feburary 2013 Bitcoin was under $10 - so again their estimate is several magnitudes off.)
Most of the time, it seems to be around $10.
Of course, if he kept his earnings in Bitcoins (which he did), then they would fluctuate with the market price.. to about $120, which was about the market price when he was arrested.
And the truth is, Bitcoin's price was above that amount for most of 2013, and all of 2014, and today it stands above that price. So he could have sold his Bitcoins for even more than $120.
Sure it's not $0.10, it's $0.7 - and yes the price is mostly around $10 - which is my point; that the estimate they given is incredulous unless literally 95% of their transactional volume over 2 years occurred between April 2013 - July 2013.
Ok.. thanks.. that was my point. The FBI estimate might be off by an order of magnitude, but the amount you made up was off by TWO orders of magnitude. At least the FBI estimate had some tie to reality (the value at the time he was arrested).
Surely the bulk of the activity came later on in Silk Road's life though right? It's not like each day had the same number of transactions.. For all we know, the FBI looked at all of the transactions into and out of SR and did a perfectly weighted average pricing query.
The defense learned during discovery that there was an affidavit from one of the investigators suggesting that Karpeles was a likely SR suspect. That suspicion was based on Karpeles position in the BTC ecosystem and, more damningly, on the fact that a public website promoting Silk Road was running from Karpeles own hardware.
It turns out that Karpeles had hardware with a Silk Road website because he ran a hosting company. Someone paid him to stand up a machine that hosted that site.
That someone? According to the evidence discovered from Ulbricht's laptop: Ross Ulbricht.
He will be in another trial.
For all the non-violence fans in the room; Should a heroin dealer who tells his lackies to beat up the competition face a longer sentence than a heroin dealer who initiates no violence? The Federal Sentencing Guidelines think so.
They work on a system of Levels to categorize how bad his crime was:
Narcotics Trafficking over 5kg of Cocaine: Level 30
Narcotics Trafficking by someone who directs violence: +2 Levels
Narcotics Trafficking by someone who promotes their enterprise via mass media: +2 Levels
Narcotics Trafficking by someone who maintains a property to produce drugs: +2 Levels
Etc. etc. So instead of the ~15 year minimum a Level 30 charge would face, Ross is looking at more like a 24 year minimum sentence that corresponds with Level 38 charges.
Ask yourself: Why wasn't he charged with these crimes?
Don't defend this man, he is manipulative human garbage.
Of the two sets of charges, one was a much more easy conviction - the drug dealing.
It's not the prosecutor's job to introduce clouds of doubt into a prosecution. And this is not a case of "better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be found guilty". He was, apparently quite overwhelmingly guilty of the charges related to running Silk Road. Why risk a conviction by charging him with something that might not stick (yes, I realize you can be found guilty of some charges and not others, but a whole world of doubt is introduced)?
Now, to be fair, these allegations (not lies, allegations) could be just that. Allegations. The prosecution will need to prove them to get a conviction. The reason he is facing these separately could be that these attempted murder of a federal witness charges are much harder to prove and thus convict on.
Using online tools correctly to becoming a subject of in-person investigation would have been of course great, too, but there should be strong backstops before "convicted" as well.
(Or you could just not do the crime.)
On the count of conspiracy to commit murder, 6 times over, if those are ever brought to trial, can come with an actual life sentence, or life sentences. It is very likely he could face numerous sentences of life in prison plus a number of years of prison on top of that. All of this depends on the judge and how s/he would like to handling the sentencing portion of this trial, which probably will not happen for weeks or months.
As there was no plea agreement accepted by the defendant, it is quite likely that the prosecution has always believes that he would be found guilty and pay a very high price for his crimes. Because of this they either a) never gave him a plea deal to consider or b) gave a very costly plea deal which wouldn't have been much better than just going through the trial and going to jail for life.
First, there is a formula which, quite literally, is a mathematical formula telling the judge a federal minimum and a federal maximum range of times for a crime. This is based on a number of data points surrounding the laws broken.
Second, each law has rules about its own sentencing guidelines baked in. Let's look at the specifics for Conspiracy for a Criminal Enterprise: 20 year minimum for first conviction, 30 year minimum for second conviction, a life sentence for a "extremely large enterprise". There are tables and figures for figuring out what all of this means for minimum to maximum and so on. I am not going to attempt to say I understand how this particular Federal judge will try to figure it out.
Third, in general sentences of multiple convictions on the same trial are supposed to be run concurrently. However, this can be changed if a court decides otherwise, for various reasons. Additionally it can be changed if a specific law states that it should not be run concurrently, but instead consecutively. The judge must actively consider whether to impose a concurrent or a consecutive sentence accounting to the US Code (18 US Code 3553 (a) ). Again I do not want to speak for a Federal judge but, I could easily see a judge interpreting these rules in this case to justify a consecutive instead of concurrent sentence.
I agree with you 100% that Mr. Ulbricht will likely not see the maximum consecutive sentence in this case. However, there are no hard and fast rules in Federal sentencing, they are guidelines. It could be decades, it could be quite a bit more.
Depending on how everything else stacks up, he could certainly see 25+ years, but most of the sentences will run concurrently.
>If a judge wants to order the sentences to run consecutively or concurrently, she must state so specifically in the sentencing order, which is the court document that sets a defendant's sentences. If she doesn't do so, the sentences will run consecutively automatically.
Especially for something like this. I haven't been following it closely at all, but presumably he hasn't stabbed/shot anyone, right? So why isn't it "prison for N years then we keep an eye on you for the rest of your life"? That'd be a whoooole lot cheaper than locking him up until he dies, and a much more reasonable punishment, IMO, for anyone who hasn't proved themselves some kind of psycho-killer.
One of the political/philosophical reasons is that the U.S. seems fonder than many countries of a retribution-based model of justice, where the goal of imprisoning someone is not only to protect society and dissuade future would-be criminals, but to "punish" them in a metaphysical sense. Many European countries have shifted in the past half-century to a more utilitarian model, in which the goal of the prison system is seen as almost purely targeted at reducing crimes. From that perspective, imprisoning people for particularly long periods of time often doesn't end up as a very appealing solution, admittedly depending strongly on how you weight factors.
e.g. (semi-randomly picked links on the topic)
hmm maybe I'm misconstruing your comment though...
Personally, I have no problem with the state putting a bullet in the head of a murder, but the thought of a wrong verdict and some of the batsh_t crazy things courts have done leaves me fearful of any capital punishment.
I am particularly unamused by some of the things prosecutors have done that have lead to false convictions and how few remedies and punishments for corrupt prosecutors.
Plus, in the sad cold-blooded way of limited budgets, I can find no justification for spending the extra money.
In a perfect world there would be no capital crimes committed. In a near perfect world courts would be 100% right. We live in neither and should act like it.
If (as too frequently is the case) original conviction is over turned you can say sorry and let the lifer out of prison.
If the justice system fucks up and convicts an innocent man, it can't be undone, the damage is permanent. (Not saying Mr. Ulbricht is innocent, the evidence suggests otherwise, but still...)
The viral spread of this narrative is exactly what the government counted on in this case.
The problem: it's not true.
Remember that until the trial began, his defenders kept on saying he wasn't DPR and had nothing to do with Silk Road (including his mother), and then the defense admitted it in the beginning of the trial.
The most significant reason I believe these charges aren't true is that the government essentially revealed its hand in trumpeting them so loudly at the bail proceeding and in public at that time, without yet charging him (the narrative is laid out here: http://www.dailydot.com/crime/silk-road-murder-charges-ross-...).
To me, I now need to see overwhelming evidence in order to buy this. And that does not exist, or at least hasn't been presented yet. So now, we have to look at what evidence does exist: the ludicrous alleged email exchange (here: http://www.wired.com/2015/02/read-transcript-silk-roads-boss...).
I don't know about you, but this seems flatly unbelievable to me. And even if the dialogue weren't so Hollywood, let's not forget that the alleged victims don't even exist.
And most importantly, if this is the only evidence, the government was obligated to say so a long time ago rather than the song and dance that occurred during the bail proceeding.
Also, the government thinks he didn't actually get people killed, but that he was tricked into thinking that he had.
Why would Ross admit to founding Silk Road if it wasn't true?
This wasn't the only evidence; there were large bitcoin payments directly from Ross's wallet, as well as journal entries. Ross is a known liar, as he claimed not to be the founder of Silk Road before admitting he was, so I don't trust what he says.
Meaning prisons are run by private companies, with the intent to make as much money as possible.
Meaning laws are influenced by the money from these companies.
It's fucking scary, really.
Info from wikipedia on the California prison guard union:
"...Although its membership is relatively small, representing only about one tenth the membership of the California Teachers Association, CCPOA political activity routinely exceeds that of all other labor unions in California. The union spends heavily on influencing political campaigns, and on lobbying legislators and other government officials. CCPOA also hires public relations firms and political polling firms."
Whether or not the hit went through, he tried to do it, which definitely puts him on the sociopathic spectrum.
If I had a button on some website that would cause someone to be killed, I wouldn't click it. A button on some website that enabled people to get the drugs they want, though? I wouldn't have quite the same moral quandaries.
Don't get me wrong, the hard drugs are bad and in essence the people who use them pathologically are victims of their own brain chemistry; I'm just not so certain that life in prison for someone who enables that is actually a solution to that problem (but the effectiveness of prohibition by force is a whole 'nother story).
It seems clear to me that the motivation for the prosecutors and LEOs involved is to crush the concept of an unregulated, international, black market. I'm definitely not convinced that this prosecution will actually produce the desired goal. Silk road was just the first of many darknet black markets that emerged to fulfill a need. Others are still thriving and as they get shut down, more will spring up in their place, gradually improving their ability to evade detection/termination.
Practically speaking, of course, that's what's going to happen anyway.
And probably the silk road decreased by some degree gang violence.
I'm more inclined to believe that the union of "drug dealers regularly involved in violence" and "drug dealers who reign in their violent ways to instead spend time on the computer filling SR orders" is near zero.
Edit: Methamphetamine is a neurotoxin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methamphetamine#Neurotoxicity
So he made a website. I would have preferred to see him convicted on the stuff he was not charged with - trying to organize hits.
Or attempt to.
Personally? I don't have much issue with the use of many (though not all) drugs, in and of themselves. But they aren't used in an isolated vacuum.
The problem with that argument is that, not only is limiting it to drugs is arbitrary (why not convict the guy who becomes morbidly obese or extremely anorexic?), but I think it often is simply wrong, because it ignores the real alternative. The medical bills of an heroin addict may be expensive, but a guy who dies in his 60s from drug use is probably much cheaper if he had died in his 90s, possibly with some chronic condition.
Besides, imprisoning him is probably more expensive still, so it's cutting your nose to spite the face anyway.
When I'm not being an IT geek, I'm working as a paramedic, so I definitely see the entire gamut.
Show me a "moridly obese"/anorexic who committed violent crime for his/her habit.
Misuse of language harms the works that people do to tackle obesogenic companies like McDonalds.
We need a War on Food.
Sure, so did Walter White.
I just wish he got away with it, I wish he were smarter about it.
ie. If he'd been using a landline and peso's instead of BTC and the internet we'd probably attach a completely different emotional response.
But, what about 100 years from now? Do you think the people of the future will think we are being silly to put him in prison for 25+ years for running an unregulated online marketplace?
While notable, I imagine people 100 years ago will pay more attention to the 30+ years we have of imprisoning, killing, fining and assaulting people and their families for selling and using highly common and sought after substances than the unregulated marketplace aspect of this case.
A movie framing the cops as the protagonists would be just as boring, as it would include a scene with someone googling something and finding the crumb they need to nail Ulbricht, followed by a scene of the arrest where they don't even need to crack the encryption on his laptop to get every single thing they needed to convict him.
A video of his arrest at the public library might have made an entertaining/viral youtube video, though.
Ever seen Catch Me If You Can?
Also, I agree a true to life story would be pretty boring. Thankfully, truth isn't exactly a requirement in hollywood storytelling.
Consider my criticism withdrawn - fiction, "based on a true story" does usually manage to be pretty entertaining.
[Edit: I do still think that a youtube video of him getting arrested would really have taken off.]
It's a shame to see his entire life wasted for an (admittedly rather large) youthful indiscretion. I keep thinking there has to be a more efficient, a more just way of discouraging criminal activity.
As an aside... Sometimes it apparently doesn't pay to be overly smart. Or rather, smart enough to get into trouble, but not smart enough to avoid the dangers.
This is one of the all-time great HN quotes.
I'm disgusted by people trying to claim he is anything but a horrible person while trying to brush away the fact that he paid for people to be murdered.
Sure, no one was killed, but that's only by the grace of his stupidity, and massive ego.
HN might hate the war on drugs and love people that write code and live in the valley but its embarrassing that self described smart people could fall so low as to latch on to that while ignoring the undeniable horrible things he did. He wasn't a smart guy, he wasn't a good guy, its like people didn't read the transcripts where they went through his journal detailing everything he did.
Given that there were people arguing Hans Reiser was unfairly convicted even after he confessed to murdering his wife, and suggesting that imprisonment was a waste of his talents, I am not particularly surprised by any expression of nerd supremacism any more. Saddened, but not surprised.
Allegedly, there's not actual evidence this actually happened... nor did the prosecution attempt to go after those charges... nor has anyone traced the actual people who were supposedly murdered (their identities don't exist -- they aren't real people), nor has anyone validated the bitcoin transactions that supposedly transferred $750,000
The fact that he was scammed and no one was murdered is irrelevant, completely and utterly, and only goes to show he's not as smart as he thought he was. He's still just as evil for trying and it more importantly celebrating when he was told it was successful.
Agreeing with tptacek, again, pretty sure your last statement is false.
The evidence is pretty damning.
Look... I'm not trying to justify what DPR allegedly did. All I'm saying is I see some positive qualities in him. Very different from a hardened and callus mob boss. Maybe it's just youth and he would have eventually become that, but I don't think so.
People do things, but it isn't necessarily the sum of what they are.
For reference, see comment about Sammy Gravano below. By ratting out others, he served only a few years after a lifetime of crime and murder. They let him out, relocated him with enough resources to start a company, (presumably to catch some bigger fish), and he continued with crime. Because, it is what he was at his very basic. A criminal and a murder. I simply don't see that with DPR. And comparing the two cases, I don't see what I consider justice. It pains me to see this guy locked up for life. It's just a personal opinion. I don't expect the justice system to honer my feelings. That's all.
I don't understand ideas like this. Do you think mob bosses don't love their children? As in, that somebody who is capable of love is somehow... I don't know... less culpable? If anything, one should argue that it's the psychopaths who are truly incapable of empathy are the ones who are 'ill' !
I believe your difference with me and others on this point is that you do not see the turning over of hundreds of unlicensed medicine merchants to the hands of the USG to be destruction of innocent lives or, indeed, in any way unethical. You'd phrase it like "These HNers are literally saying murdering someone is better than turning over information on drug dealers to the authorities".
If the extortionist was going to expose the operating covers of US agents worldwide, the execution of the extortionist would be accepted by many. I fail to see much of a defensible distinction in this particular instance.
Edit: I should add I'm only referring to the kill-the-extortionist deal, none of the others (now it's up to 5??). And Ross certainly deserves blame for running stuff so poorly that he could end up blackmailed or endangering his customers in the first place. If true, it's as bad or worse than Telegram or Cryptocat, in terms of putting people in danger.
> Had revelation about the need to eat well, get good sleep, and meditate so I can stay positive and productive.
(excerpt from his journal: http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/GX-241...)
He doesn't look stupid?
Ulbricht was not a smart guy. This was obvious from his various writings, examples:
He talks at length about his philosophy in a way that seems superficially intelligent, until you actually scratch the surface and discover that what he was saying was internally contradictory and had no intellectual merit.
Firearms and ammunition are becoming more and more regulated and controlled in many parts of the world. We actually had a site up called “The Armory” ... if we can find a model that works where people can get the equipment they need to defend themselves and their families despite what the state wants and often in defense of the state itself, I would be more than happy to provide that.
The Armory, lest we forget, sold bazookas and RPG launchers. The awful oppression he is rallying against here ("in many parts of the world") is usually a highly popular policy that's completely uncontroversial. From the perspective of people living in these places being able to buy sub-machine guns online and have them delivered to your door is not some kind of non-violent libertarian utopia. It's just horrible.
Just a few paragraphs later he is saying
We don’t allow the sale of anything that’s main purpose is to harm innocent people
His deep lack of technical knowledge was revealed by this sentence:
I’m not one hundred percent on this, but I don’t think it’s possible to do a DDoS over Tor
Ulbricht routinely conflated libertarianism, agorism and anarchism as if they are all the same. His knowledge of economics was as flaky as his knowledge of political systems:
There is also nothing morally wrong with [cartels]. If a cartel were to form, I would not attempt to break it up unless its members were breaking other rules. If you want an explanation for why cartels are nearly impossible to maintain in a free market environment, please read “Man, Economy and State” chapter 10, part 2, section D
I was curious what kind of economics textbook would state that cartels could not form in a free market. It turned out to be a book written by "the founder and leading theoretician of anarch-capitalism" (quote from wikipedia). The chapter he refers to is available online. It is a tedious text that contains no references to real world examples at any point. In fact the entire thing is abstract philosophical argument, without any attempt to cross-check against data, yet it purports to explain real economies.
Nobody smart would actually make such an absurd claim or cite such a text to support it.
Finally, for all you people who think Ulbricht was some heroic martyr for the war on drugs, here is what he had to say about it:
If prohibition is lifted, most people here will go away. You’ll go back to your lives and get your drugs from whatever state certified dispensaries are properly licensed to sell to you. Drug use will be as interesting as smoking and drinking .... If prohibition is lifted, and the drug industry is placed under the yoke of the state, then we won in a small way, but lost in a big way.
Ulbricht didn't actually want the war on drugs to end because ultimately what he wanted was anarchy.
He got Silk Road up and running. He was a grad physics student who had authored some papers. He is relatively intelligent. Objective fact.
Look, it's OK to be emotionally invested in some of the ideas Ulbricht stood for. That doesn't change the fact that many of the statements he made are flat wrong or simply contradictory.
and it's OK because we all do this. I always find that kind of comment a bit too harsh because we always tend to forget people we judge are just humans like us.
I'm sure you have contradictions of your own in your own lifestyle. And I'm sure you would look stupid by your non/partial knowledge of some subjects to some people... Doesn't mean that you are stupid.
Also a private journal is something non-relevant because if you have one (I do have mine) take a look at what you wrote a few weeks or months or years ago and you will see they generally look pretty stupid, or they were in the moment, or you just didn't care because you thought no one would be reading it.
Jack Anderson would possibly be dead since the conspiracy only halted when Watergate happened.
Surely there is redemption for Ross. Colson spent less than a year in prison even though the others (eg G Gordon Liddy) admtted they were planning to kill Anderson.
He was a physics student, an eagle scout, he started a book recycling business that gave 10% to charity. He had some (however misguided) philosophical ideas. He got poison ivy picking trash out of a tree for Pete's sake. Positive qualities... and there are plenty more.
If you sat down and had a beer with the guy I guess you wouldn't think "criminal". I'm betting if you sat down and had a beer with Sammy Gravano you would be hard pressed not to think that.
They're definitely making an example of DPR, and I don't have a problem with that. Money laundering? Drug trafficking? Hiring hit men? If a New Jersey mobster had faced these charges for meatspace crimes, he'd certainly be spending the rest of his life in jail. (We can have a conversation about whether consenting adults should be able to purchase and use drugs, but there's no doubt he intentionally and repeatedly violated many existing federal laws.)
Unlike DPR, this guy had a lifetime of criminal history dating back to childhood and actually did personally commit a number of murders.
One of these things is not like the others.
Best left to the professionals:
It's not an indiscretion to spend a few years running a drug dealing marketplace and planning to find fame through publicity deals, books, movies, beyond the mere quarter of a billion dollar fortune amassed.
He's 29, and the "indiscretion" was a carefully planned and run drug trafficking empire, with millions of dollars in profit. This isn't some college kid who got caught selling Aderall to his friends.
Now did he really do any damages by operating SR? I really don't know...
Lots of people could have done this, and lots of people were smart enough not to.
Once upon a time, the notion of civil disobedience was intimately connected to accepting and even welcoming the punishment that came with breaking the unjust law -- after all, if people just walked away untouched from it, how unjust could it be? Only by suffering actual grievous harm at the hands of the law could someone demonstrate that the law was unjust.
Now, though, the attitude seems to be "Nope, was just protesting this law I don't like, that means you shouldn't do anything to me".
As the saying goes: that's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.
That's all I'm doing.
By making your demand the freeing of someone who may be a martyr but did little to effect actual change in the laws(is not a pivotal leader in the political portion of the movement) you consider unjust, you are not progressing the ideas you believe in. Only trying to undo a single action.
If and when the laws are changed to make the bulk of their actions legal, they will likely be freed then either for legal or political reasons.
I don't agree that this matters, but if it did, then certainly DPR is a pivotal leader in the "political portion" of the movement. I'm not sure how you can say he's not?
That was not his argument. He was basically arguing "I'm not the guy that ran that site". That's is basically admitting, whoever ran that site committed a bunch of crimes.
Are you saying that you think running Silk Road didn't constitute "narcotics conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise"? Or are you saying that you don't like that those laws prevent running a site like Silk Road?
As for the charges, I'm saying that yes, those are not proper crimes in a free society, and none pass common sense constitutional muster. He didn't violate anyone's rights, defraud anyone, or engage anyone with violence. Who is the victim?
Unfortunately there is a huge distance between what libertarian philosophy argues for and what is actually legal. To me, Silk Road is a no-shit-it's-completely-illegal enterprise given the current war on drugs. Plus, it's a major thumb right into the drug enforcers eyes. Not smart if you care about staying out of jail.
Should we change the laws? Absolutely. But this guy was not doing anything to change those laws. He was just profiting from the situation because he was willing to take the risk (or dumb enough to take the risk). I don't find him especially sympathetic. If he was out there saying 'I run Silk Road, and we are not responsible for what people are doing on it', or even better 'I run Silk Road, and we are eliminating violence from the drug trade, it's a net benefit to society by eliminating gangs', he would be someone worth defending. It would be a lot harder for the state to come down on him. Maybe some people would rally behind him and demand change because he is right. Instead, I'm just seeing a guy that made a lot of money by violating laws, and wants to dodge the consequences right up until he is thrown in jail.
I can't understand how you can say that. I never used Silk Road - I buy my weed locally. But I was definitely inspired by a lot of what DPR wrote and advocated.
“If prohibition is lifted, where will you be? Will you forget about all this revolution stuff? Will you go back to ignoring that itching feeling that something isn’t right, that men in uniforms and behind desks have just a bit too much control over your life, and are taking more and more of your sovereignty every day? Will you go back to thinking that taxes are as inevitable as death and the best you can do is to pull as hard as you can for them until you mind, body and spirit are all used up? Or will you feel the loss, as one more wild west frontier comes under the dominion of the enemy, and redouble your efforts to stop it?
I know where I’ll be. I won’t rest until children are born into a world where oppression, institutional violence and control, world war, and all the other hallmarks of the state are as ancient history as pharaohs commanding armies of slaves. The drug war merely brings to light their nature and shows us who they really are. Legalizing it won’t change that and will only make them stronger. Hold on to what you DO have, and stand for the freedom you deserve!” - Dread Pirate Roberts
I won't weigh in on whether or not he should be lobbying. Activism is hard, and it's a lot easier to get approval in an internet community dedicated to your fringe views than to spend time trying to convince people to register to vote with maybe 1 success per 2 hours.
However, getting caught and prosecuted is part of civil disobedience and your activism shouldn't stop when you get caught. A public trial is a platform that can be used to make your ideas known to a larger public.
As far as Ulbritch goes, it seems to me his "activism" was only an excuse.
I disagree strongly. One of his primary objectives appears to have been to show that widespread use of drugs does not require violent criminal gangs, which is one of the main justifications for the drug war. In that regard, I think he succeeded. Simply demonstrating this and undermining that argument has done more to delegitimize the drug war than any vote or petition.
His goal was anarchy, nothing more. In particular he explicitly did NOT want the war on drugs to end, because he feared if it did people would lose interest in fighting the state.
So people who see Ulbricht through the prism of non-violent drug addiction (or whatever) ... need a reality check. That wasn't Ross.
All of the correspondence about murdering people doesn't look innocent to me.
They had, apparently, the same customers-rating-sellers quality control mechanism that Amazon itself uses, and by introducing those and removing the need for physical interactions between buyers and sellers I'd imagine that the Silk Road offered a significantly safer, less damaging marketplace than the physical one that it encroached on and will presumably now once again be replaced by.
That said, there are very different reasons why allowing him to get away with it would be difficult - it would undermine the entire "war on drugs" and the efficacy and power of the legal system. Something that HN would be sure to have a volatile view on.
I mean, seriously, you can't just do that. Society is the victim."
This is a somewhat hypocritical claim. Society is only the victim of poor drug quality control because their sale and manufacture is illegal. Underground markets of any kind have problems with quality control; the solution to that problem is to make them legal.
They are with a supposed Hell's Angel, who, right on the first email, opens up about his business dealings, what he does, how he does it, etc. It's waaaaaaaay to open and forthcoming for a hardened and experienced criminal to just flat out say things like:
> Also, we have kidnapped friendlychemists partner Xin already and are on the hunt for friendlychemist.
> We are all familiar with PGP as we have been using it for years via email linked to our smartphones. It’s the only way we communicate with each other aside from in person, since phone calls are not secure.
> After some “questioning” he admitted he was intending on moving to a different country and setting up a new seller account on this site. We don’t take too kindly to thieves. He’s gone.
> If you have your mind set on just finding his location, I can talk to them and get them to get it for you for a fee (not sure what amount as usually when we hunt someone, there is more involved after we find them).
> I can almost guarantee it, but I stop short of guaranteeing anything unless I am 100% certain I can get the job done. I do that so I don’t look like an idiot if I can’t accomplish something I have said I can.
It reads like a novel (or more likely a LE agent baiting him). Would also explain why none of the "victims" were ever really identified, nor any missing persons reports filed.
Doesn't excuse what DPR did, just saying this part of the prosecution's story doesn't sit well with me.
Here's the supposed conversation about the "hits" for reference
This is exactly what Ulbricht's lawyer tried to sell the jury on regarding Ulbricht's own actions and poor OPSEC.
Nobody believes murders were actually carried out. That's not a live issue. But what is a live issue is the question of whether Ulbricht believed he was directing two murders. And given Ulbricht's shocking naivete in every other matter concerning Silk Road, it's not hard to reach that conclusion.
Then I'd question why DPR went on to direct 4 additional murders? In the email logs an image of the supposedly dead FriendlyChemist was uploaded to DPR and he confirmed it was in fact him and was satisfied the hit was carried out... believing it enough to send an additional $500,000 for the next hits.
DPR had pictures of the real-life FriendlyChemist, as he required photo id of any insider working on SR. He also sent all of FriendlyChemists personal information (name, address, wife and kids' names, etc) to the supposed Hell's Angel during one of their email exchanges -- but none of the data is real and can't be traced to any actual people.
It's all just weird...
It clearly shows that DPR tried to have people killed, though (unless you think there's wholesale fabrication of evidence going on, which is getting into conspiracy theory land).
I don't initially think that... but, to play devil's advocate...
After the first "murder" is carried out, there is an image of the dead FriendlyChemist supposedly stripped of XIF data and uploaded to DPR, who then confirms receipt and the job was completed satisfactorily.
Now, earlier in the case it became common knowledge that DPR required anyone who worked with him to send him a lot of personal details (name, address, etc) as well as a scan of their driver's license (as a Photo ID).
The first "murder" was of an ex-insider who had taken with him a lot of confidential information including the identities (and photos) of a huge number of SR insiders.
How would DPR of received and confirmed a "hit" on a person who was never hit and very possibly had nothing to do with this scam? He surely would have recognized the "murdered" individual, or at least seen it wasn't the correct target. Some 3rd party scammer would not of had access to that information or the original target.
Also, at a point DPR sends the supposed Hell's Angel a bunch of personal information for the first target, including full name, address, wife and kids' names, etc. None of the information was able to be traced to real-life people... they don't exist... isn't that a little weird?
Quality control? I want to make sure you're trustworthy. So perhaps as a test I'll give you all this detailed demographic information ... about someone who doesn't exist.
If you come back and say "job done. killed him." - well, I now know you're not to be trusted with the real deal.
Well, after DPR supposedly confirmed the first hit was carried out properly (via uploaded image of the supposedly dead FriendlyChemist), he ultimately went on to contract 4 more "hits". Three were simply because they lived with the main target and the supposed Hell's Angel made an argument it would be "cleaner" to hit them all at the house instead of risk something in public.
Doesn't that say to you that FriendlyChemist was sharp enough to fake his identity? Which is exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from a guy working on a black market website who later goes on to steal secrets.
Not even close. The most likely story is that DPR paid someone he knew was trying to scam him so that they would leave him in peace.
This was discussed in depth on HN when the story first broke -- unless I'm wrong the story goes something like this:
S1: I will disclose the silk road's confidential information unless you pay me $500k, because I owe S2 that money.
DPR: Let me talk to S2.
S2: Hello, this is S2.
DPR: I will give you $150k to kill S1. I have paid much less for a hit, so consider yourself lucky to get this deal.
S2: Done and done, have a nice day.
Paying to "have someone killed" is a good way to give them some money, but not the money they wanted, while still scaring them off.
In total it was $750,000 for 5 "hits".
Why -wouldn't- someone feel safe discussing it there?
> "Ulbricht is charged with a murder-for-hire scheme in a separate case in federal court in Baltimore."
These are out-and-out lies, designed to impugn his public credibility. It seems to have worked with some of the comments in this thread.
If you believe that he was the violent psychopath portrayed at the bail proceeding, how do you feel about the government neglecting to charge him with those crimes?
I understand that the government will try Ulbricht for those crimes. How do you feel about being informed of the facts?
I asked you about presenting this material during the bail proceeding - and his being denied bail on that basis - without yet having charged him.
Does this not outrage you?
It does not outrage me. I'm more outraged, well maybe not outraged but concerned, by your strange and desperate claims of Ulbrict's innocence.
Indeed, Somalia (to use that one example) is a fairly heavily Islam state, which has pretty stringent and ardent anti-drug views.
Edit: and I had the wrong link. The quote is from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-12-09/us-says-s...
It's almost like Reddit is a grouping of wildly disparate communities with different ideals, some for humor, some serious. How many communities does HN have? Oh, right, one.