I don't know how this will end so for the
sake of history I will state my story as it happened so that history might
judge me for what really happened, and not based on the propaganda of my
I sit here in the Ecuadorian embassy without
much freedom at all, a lukewarm existence that - when compared to how I used to
live - is pretty close to being imprisoned. The most important thing is that
I'm safe. I trust my friends in the Ecuadorian government and am thankful for
their pledge to me. For many years my overriding hope was that the world would
become a different place - a place where anyone could communicate unhindered on
the information superhighway. The end goal was to have a transparent forum to
discuss the most important issues of our day, whether technical innovation or
political or economic solutions. I saw it as a citizen government where we all
could be earnest in how we created policies and designs to help us all. I
wanted to harness direct access to the raw materials of history being written.
My aim was (and still is) to help speed up the process of finding solutions so
that our greatest thinkers and experts might be able to come closer to a more
objective view of the events defining our generation. This vision however was
flawed from the beginning, but I only realize that now. And that flaw - I admit
now - was mine.
Hubris was what brought me to where I am
now in the embassy. Some might say it was my immature idealism that blinded me
from the reality of real-world nation-state power politics, and my ignorance of
how entities behave when protecting that power. I failed to take into account
how far an organization will go to ensure their power remains undiminished from
any troublesome truths that might hinder efficient production of maintaining
that power, or inhibit the achievement of quotas within a pertinent timeframe.
Fueled with lofty thoughts and occasional wafts of marijuana in my ivory tower,
I created a submission platform for those in need of a trumpeting mouthpiece
where they remained anonymous and unstained by the burdens of identity so that
only the words and not the person might be seen. The idea, as simple as it was,
lured those who were exposed to hidden truths and gave them protection to speak
out in altruistic bursts so the world could know the real dynamics of events
and benefit from rectifying these wrongs. This new type of anonymous
whistleblower could expose the half-truths and propaganda spin that so often
resulted in the misrepresentation of reality.
The summer of 2010 was full of fast days
and work-filled nights. I spent my time polishing and perfecting the submission
platform of the website and made sure the interface was intuitive enough so that
anyone could navigate the site and send raw data pockets to us. I sought to
generate awareness through chatrooms such as 4Chan that a safe online oasis
existed. I wanted people to be better informed and to thus engage in a
meaningful debate of the issues because the information from mainstream sources
wasn't precise due to missing facts and misinformation. On the chat at 4Chan it
was always the same: smart computer geeks talking about the latest
developments, each taking sides like we did when playing online video games.
Taking a side against evil was always the beginning point. The point of
orientation was to take down and overcome evil, which almost always represented
the country that arrogantly played policeman of the world.
Was the United States too easy a target
simply because they actively sought to protect their international interests?
Were they not acting rationally as a nation state by ensuring the flow of
capital and taxable revenue in order to foster a stronger global security force
- a logistical labyrinth requiring secure channels of communication? And with
such a labyrinth the sheer volume of communications between parties were bound
to have areas that were not secure, and people who thought what they saw were
past the bounds of legality. But is this an excuse to not expose the criminal
activity of those elected to office? The noble and righteous packets of
communications far outweigh the criminal but when there is evidence of serious
criminality that reveals government boldfaced lies, how can this not be brought
to light? Can these activities be justified by wearing a national security hat?
But the essential question to ask is: Are
we living in a better world now that so many leaks have been published and read
by the international online reading body? Have these new truths shocked
governments around the world towards revolution and movements for change? Were
some of these exposures just like revealing festering wounds that needed
sunlight and air? With more great minds now aware of the real operations of the
global engine, there should be more contributions of ideas pooled and dissected
for the betterment of that engine, making it possible for a hyper-evolution
point in world history. Indeed this ‘fifth estate' will be marked as an "open-source
information exchange." Now we all have wholesale and un-redacted primary
sources available for those who know how to find them.
When thinking of how the leaks have been an
impetus for more transparency for all bodies, whether governments or banks or corporate
bodies who break the law, are they not being held accountable? Does this not
curtail and scare these bodies from committing more illegal acts? Ultimately it
is us - the average middle-class Joe - who are left at a disadvantage because
the playing field is skewered in favor of the big fish? Granted any nation
state has every right to improve its station through mutually favorable
agreements that operate within the law, but when some agreements fall outside
the law and hurt the average taxpayer or the environment and are left alone
because of lack of transparency of reporting agencies, it is bad karma in our
collective vibe and it upsets the grace for which we all strive. Wrongs and
policies that intrude into our personal lives are issues that all citizens have
a right to know, and so it should be brought to our attention.
Why is there theft of personal data without
just cause? Why do some international bodies operate with so much guile? What
about integrity and fair play and good sportsmanship?
Yet in this depersonalized world of online anonymity,
drones and soldiers who grew up on video games shoot real people expertly
looking at a screen hundreds or thousands of miles away. A target when
eliminated is one less bad guy that can end your video game, or it has
generated more points so you could get to the next level. There was always a
next level in the video game culture. And with digital photography at your
fingertips, a video clip can now be a game-changer as evidence of wrongdoing. A
helicopter gunship can inflict damage on a cluster of people on the street
below holding cameras. These errors in judgment should be investigated, and they
should be regarded as bad form by the soldiers themselves. Fair play in battle
is as old as our species. Even animals have a mercy level. There is a fair play
even in death. But from what we have seen, this etiquette appears to have
The questions raised in the first chapter are
central in my thinking about the whole thing, but to better understand how my
perspective on things evolved, let me tell you about where I came from and my
journey to where I am now.
I had a great childhood - full of adventure
and carefree. Slandering tongues and loose pens have created a myth of my
difficult upbringing but they couldn't be further from the truth. My first
years were full of carefree adventure and exploring curiosity. Australia was
open and free and overflowing with abundance. Wherever I lived there were
rivers or forests or the ocean to explore, and always a new school to conquer. As
anyone who has moved a lot during their childhood will tell you, starting at a
new school is tough, but after the first few moves I soon got the hang of it.
Somewhere along the line I had developed a demeanor of indifference that made
others work harder to earn my respect. But truth be told it was because it was
so emotionally taxing to establish myself at a new school, especially as I grew
older. Whether it was mild indifference or nonchalance, I still carry that with
me. I saw so much life in such a short amount of time and at such a young age
that I soon developed a shell to protect myself from the bullies and the cynics
I encountered at each school. I resigned from emotional reactions to safeguard
my sanity, and this as I said stayed with me throughout my upbringing. I especially
saw this aspect of myself during my divorce when I was in my late twenties.
I must say that I did miss not having a
brother during those early years, but then most who don't have a brother would
have the same feeling. Sometimes when there was so much adventuring to do and
so much to see, you needed a wingman. I was usually able to find a wingman but
after a while I grew tired of always making friends so I became comfortable going
out on my own, wherever and whenever I wanted. Thinking back to those days, I
always wore out my shoes before I outgrew them. I had scrapes and bruises from
my life of adventure but never any broken bones, choosing to go slowly through
the jungles and creeks of the outback. I came to respect the land as having the
trump card over man, and because of this at an early age I earned a respect for
the land. This was the foundation of my belief that the earth must be protected
from corporate force and government incompetence. How could Japan let Fukishima
happen? How could the Japanese government be so audacious to build a nuclear
power plant so close to the coast where there have been earthquakes since the
earliest of times? In this case it isn't really a case of accountability but
rather of blatant irresponsibility that has resulted in the killing of millions
of the population over the course of decades. Cancerous chemicals pumped into
the Pacific took only two years to have a significant impact on the health of
the fish stock along the west coast of North America. If I were a surfer from
California or a fisherman on Vancouver Island, I'd be really angry.
It makes me too emotional to discuss the
oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. All that oil was pushed down underwater where
it killed an entire ecosystem. Now called a "dead zone," the long-term effects
of destruction from corporate incompetence casts a shadow over the health of
the region. Over the next few decades the fallout of this dead zone will be
felt throughout the area.
These events are so monstrous to the world
population that fines or imprisonment are not applicable. It is a form of self-murder
through poison. Corporate executives and government leaders are essentially
poisoning their countrymen but also their own families. It makes these
catastrophes some sort of über-crime - a vast murder of millions. With more
technology and mechanical innovations, mankind's mistakes thunder
disproportionately from similar mistakes in the past. A spilt shipload of
turpentine in the sea two hundred years ago had a minor impact compared to that
of the Exaldez oil spill of 1996. Something so large in such an ecologically
sensitive area pales to spilt turpentine of previous centuries, but also pales
in comparison to the devastation of Fukishima in the Sea of Japan and the
Pacific Ocean. I believe Fukishima is referred to in the Bible when it describes
the seas turning red with death. The environmental ramifications are biblical
in proportion. Still as I write this memoir countless millions of liters of
radioactive waste is seeping into the Pacific Ocean. The irresponsible and
criminal missteps of mankind are killing life on the planet. Mortal man must
have a say to prevent this from happening again. We as a global populace deserve
to know what's happening beyond the camera lens.
But back then, during my childhood, the
Great Barrier Reef was still great. I remember the vibrant colors and the
experience of witnessing another living world just below the watery veneer. It
was a time when Australian streets were safe and the tap water was safe to
drink. There was no fracking and no flooding and no soil erosion and no fuel
shortages. Those manmade missteps had not yet happened. Nature did not yet have
laws protecting her so corporate and government corruption had more elbow room.
But there is something called immoral behavior. The pursuit of profits is a
healthy thing and necessary to survive and flourish but it can also fuel
irrational and destructive behavior. Perhaps manifesting some deeply ingrained
instinct of survival or maybe from an inclination of gambling, some people have
it in them to go beyond the realm of decorum. In these moments one of two
things can happen: either there are no serious long-term side effects, or there
are. If there is long-term destruction to nature's fabric then their names
should go on a list of being responsible for polluting the global ecosystem to
a murderous degree. Enough is enough; these people must be accountable for
sullying their neighbor's drinking water.
Perhaps due to my laissez-faire upbringing
that was spent on terra firma and that was without fences or repression, the
first of these major environmental incidents of crashing supertankers and
nuclear meltdowns made me feel helpless and angry. I remember thinking at the
time that there were no discussions. It was a news report and then it
disappeared from mainstream news programs. The newspapers stopped printing
articles that updated the quantity of destruction to our environment. I didn't
at the time know about lobby groups and the power of corporate money silencing
transparency. All I knew was that the deafening lack of sound whispered
conspiracy and collusion of some sort, an injustice by cutting off
accessibility to information and thereby silencing any constructive input as to
rescue or clean-up solutions. I wanted
to fly to northern Canada and save the oil-soaked birds I saw on the news. Now
with communication channels so open and accessible we can have a more immediate
interaction with those with the power to solve the problem.
And since it is via the Internet we can all
contribute without the self-consciousness of face or voice - only the content of
your words make up who you are. The internet can be a 24-hour costume party
with countless hidden channels full of other masked people.
The beginning of computers for me was like
others my age: it began with the Commodore 64. How could it not? The cumbersome
machine was cool looking in those days. It was a cool color and looked sleek
compared to IBM's PET. But there was no interface as we know it today, only
commands. But for me that was intriguing because it demanded that the user learn
a new language to operate it, which seemed like a fair trade to me. The first
thing I ever did was execute the print feature. BASIC was so easy because the
commands were the exact words you were doing: PRINT, GOTO, and END. Brilliant.
I didn't realize it at the time that by being taught the basics of binary
computer language I could evolve so quickly to become part of the first crop of
programmers. As BASIC morphed into the new languages like C+ and C++, we would
all dive into a world defined by a sleeker language and more precise
functionality. Very soon it became clear to me that simplicity of programming
was an art.
What I liked the most was how such a small
number of words and symbols could generate such a large effect. Playing around
with the endless loop was the first of many areas of interest for me throughout
those early years. What's interesting for me now is that this was the root of
how I was able to create an untraceable submission platform for whistleblowers.
As many of you know who have a programming background, I created an endless
loop so that the route of transportation for the submitted message is flooded
with millions and millions of other dummy messages so that the real intended
message from the whistleblower to us was impossible to find in the online
clutter. And this online confusion was created from a BASIC endless loop. Thank
you BASIC. Thank you Commodore 64.
But most of us that started at the
beginning were obsessed with the power of the UNIX red book. There is no long
introduction or lengthy explanations, only the barebones language of the
operating language of the Internet. Just like commands in BASIC could instruct
your computer's operating system, UNIX gave the user the commands to talk to
other websites parked on that ever-growing common road in cyberspace. Back then
the number of websites was very small. The Internet as we know it today was
still a good ten or fifteen years off despite the fact that the Internet did
exist. For its first ten years the Internet didn't really work - anything
before USB was more or less incompatible when interacting with another network.
And there was no bandwidth. It was a very frustrating time for all of us who
knew how it operated because we also knew how it should operate. The Internet
bubble that burst in 1997 was because the technology didn't yet deliver the
bandwidth and global compatibility that we know today.
It was all typing back then in the late eighties.
To me the mouse still feels new. And I still marvel at the thinking that created
the mouse interface. Brilliant. Xerox innovators thinking outside the box. And
then strategically lifted by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to define Windows' own
interface. In my opinion that was when computers became truly international.
The mouse is colorblind and illiterate but an expert in intuitive pictography
and innate symbolism. They mastered the language of symbols to convey meaning.
My favorite is the "undo" button. How cool is that little backwards-pointing
arrow? Who suggested it be rounded and denote going back in time? Some hippie
living in northern California?
This was the early "school" I came from.
Knowing this ethos gives you an insight into my thinking today. I suppose the
rigors and rules of computer language gave my wild childhood some much-needed
structure, a new cyber reality that was always reliable and unchanging. It soon
represented a world that was quantifiable and just, and it was accountable for
errors. If a command was incorrect, it wouldn't work. Therefore things needed
to be precise. And in that precision is where I threw myself. I loved the
nuance and creativity that happened within this Tron World of
make-believe that we all knew more and more people would discover with each passing
day. It was a world I repeatedly returned to throughout my youth, remaining the
one constant and loyal friend in the face of hardship and suffering. Then the
Mendax court case arrived. And then after that my wife left me and took my son.
Everything before these two events was my time of innocence. I wish I knew it
back then but I don't think most of us are aware of how good the early days are
until they're gone.