Wordcarpenter Books
The Leaking Hourglass

Chapter Seven

Organization of One

I used to tell people there were hundreds of volunteers but really all you need is one person to ensure a site's functionality. All else takes on a secondary degree of importance, such as replying to inquiries and uploading new material. But as things developed and grew in importance I did require more hands at the keyboards, most of the stuff handed off to secretaries who licked stamps and organized folders. I like my website's design but I did also like the simplicity of Google and the effectiveness towards action on an uncluttered interface. It was fun at the beginning as we were able to upload pages to fill out the website, but then with more data came the urgent need for a searchable database. Categorizing and classifying the documents was a huge undertaking so with the extra hands and with diligence it was completed. This might be one thing I'm truly proud of. An entire body of historical records organized on an electronic platform that can be accessed easily and intuitively. In this way I contributed to the historical canon without actually touching the documents. Like good service at a restaurant, I'm a waiter serving up data pockets wearing white gloves.

I never wanted to tamper with the data. If you think about what happened with my hacking court case (the WANK hack: Worms Against Nuclear Killers), there was the breach of security but then there was nothing destructive about it. It simply infiltrated the system and then spelled out W-A-N-K on the screen and simulated files being deleted. It scared system administrators as it should have done, but otherwise did no damage. What was so surprising at the time was that this hack had been carried out by a few young hackers from Down Under. It showed the long reach of the Internet and that no matter where you are within the Internet, there is a common language that is spoken. And if one knew this language one could exercise this long reach.

Not wanting to destroy data was what set me apart from others. My fear of being accused of being partial, and my fidelity to the ideal of impartiality, prevented me from compromising on the question of redacting documents that potentially could expose an innocent worker to danger. Is it their fault for keeping their data so unsecured and open to theft? Or is it simply the same as it has always been except now the newspaper publisher is online and the paper is electronic?

But this is also what led to my downfall (if you want to call it that). Staunchly sticking to my belief in no tampering with primary sources has put me in the hot seat more than a few times. But the true definition of primary source is au naturale - exactly as it is when the author hands it off to the library or university or newspaper. No one has the right to put his or her grubby hands on another person's creation. It's an "offside" in my book. So also in this vein of thinking came the idea of running an information submission organization with more than one person but with whom I could have complete control. Well, that was easy. Create a few characters in the plot with their own email addresses and keep them lively with sufficient pluck and ploy. It was fun to be honest. I enjoyed being more than one person at a time. Multiple sources of communication with outsiders gave the impression it was an organization with an army of supporters. I liked being Bellman because he was free to take his neuroses further and further, recording his arc on the chatrooms that line the landscape of the Internet.

And I liked being Lim. Justin Lim made the movement international in scope, and the German gave it some degree of European presence in a strictly Australian endeavor. Berlin was so free I liked hanging out there. I'd never been to a place that was more open and tolerant. It was if people went out of their way to show how tolerant they were. I saw guys walking down the street with a joint in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other walk past cops who didn't say a word. There is a level of decorum permitted, as if they were saying: "It's okay. You're not kids anymore. You can have your fun now. That's why we fought the war. Damn right we're going to exercise our right to free expression. Right on! The Sierra Club rocks! Amnesty International was the pioneer!"

I don't know how it would have worked out with me and Germany though. I was always more comfortable in Iceland than I was anywhere else, except for Ecuador. I loved Quito. Right in the middle of the world and so high up in the Andes Mountains, it was a surreal place that had a very good vibe for me. Germany for me still had ghosts of the war swirling in the ethers. Heavy ghosts, dried blood in the soil and all that. Ecuador had imperfect roads and imperfect motorcycles in a perfect land that had mountains and flatlands and beaches and lakes and islands. When I first in to Quito I said to myself: "This is a utopia." I never knew my life and well-being would depend on Ecuador.

To tell the truth I never did make a final decision on where I would go. I never clearly outlined my emergency plan B before it was too late. I should have taken the first flight out of the UK after the charges were dropped as I mentioned but I wavered. I had a misplaced trust in the integrity of the British legal system. And there were some people I wanted to meet, which of course ended up being another example of meeting celebrities who are heavy on form and short on content when you get to know them. If I had had a clearly defined plan B - like for example Edward Snowden - then I could have reached for a pre-packed bag with passport and cash and clean socks and fly to South America. The charges would have still come but I would be free to travel to any country without an extradition treaty with Sweden or the United States.

Running the website could be done from any corner of the globe with an Internet connection. Wi-Fi is a great invention. The need to clearly define where I would plant myself still remained elusive to me. I did think of it constantly but I never made a final choice on the matter. I pondered Iceland as a good place to set up shop but things took a sour turn when one of my aides turned on me. It was this lack of clearly defined next step that led me to step inside the Ecuadorian embassy. In a way I dodged a bullet after the final appeal was dismissed, but in practice it is a dull life void of variety. For the first few years I could say I enjoyed the solace and the down time to start the party in Australia and write the books, and to mine the data and build a searchable database for the site. But now, with the lack of sunlight and the loosening of my teeth and creaking bones and weakened heart, I might end up walking out of here horribly crippled. Will they be able to break my will? Or can I emerge from this state of purgatory to regain the mantle that was so surreptitiously taken from me.

But how ironic: I no longer want the mantle and its trappings. I will be anonymous, as should all those who believe in transparency of data. Let us not forget those days when a new level of knowledge was handed over to the reading and listening public. Even if I were to walk out to the mountainsides of Quito, I doubt the world needs the movement as much as it did in 2010. The watershed was reached and the tipping point hit. It was a monumental moment in history that resulted in revolution and regime change throughout the world as if there was a continental shift in the global state. Creaks and battles and new ideas were brought into the mix to create new governments, and renewed agencies of justice to right the wrongs of the past. There was a change in the geo-political power structure. And perhaps the sharing of information engineered by the anonymous submission platform enabled some of this revolution to occur.

It needs to be said that the existing pressures that had built up during the Cold War and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall finally reached bursting point, with one burst causing enough change so that its neighbor was effected, which in turn was the cause of its other neighbor to change. The chain reaction might have been brought about by this information overload that resulted in a crescendo of knowledge that enlightened scholars and social commentators that what they had suspected the entire time was in reality true. War crimes, breaking financial laws, collusion, conspiracy and lack of accountability were the major culprits that were the boomerang that flung the website into the spotlight and that gave me the stage from which I could spout my doctrine to those who had been wondering the same thing for years. It was the changing landscape caused by the morphing forces in cyberscape that gave rise to these questions. I wasn't the only one who was "in." I was merely the one who took the first step to build the baseball diamond. "Build it and he will come." Well I always liked WP Kinsella. I did build it and the submission platform provided the means for others to step forward. Truly it was a moment in history that had to happen. And I'm proud to have had a hand in it.

Chapter Eight

The Life of Neo

I identified with the character Neo in The Matrix, the film that told the story of the chosen leader who leads to a revolution of knowledge. He freed people from the shackles of ignorance by showing them the truth so that the individual could have a choice. Without choice was it truly a democracy? Was society democratic and just when ones voice and free will is suffocated by monitoring agencies acquiring personal information without your permission? I would argue that it is not. It is closer to a form of militant fascism. Your freedom to voice your true opinions and your free will are held ransom by the threat of persecution but those in power. Individuals are informed of dominant opinions through mainstream media, do dissenting voices are drowned and by the masses. Censorship is the result of rigorous propaganda by the existing power structure, something that is difficult to erase or change. Only those who have learned to think independently and have the courage to doubt and ask the tough questions pose a threat to the power structure. Transparency of governments and powerful corporations are avoided in order to maintain the corrupt status quo, keeping the populace in the dark like "mushroom mammals." In reference to Neo in The Matrix, his inquisitive nature and curiosity of man's place in the world led him down a path of investigation so choosing the blue pill was never really an option for him. Neo needed the choice but he knew he could only pursue the path of the red pill even if it meant death. He was driven to travel that road. I, too, am like that. I was driven to travel that road of inquisitive investigation.

Neo lived his life online. Friends and fellow visionaries would share their opinions and views of society in chatrooms hoping to be read. Conspiracy theories dominate chatrooms with ideas as outrageous as they are clever for their creativity. Picking out the real chunks of accurate data is one of the products that come from the anvil of free speech. It was respected most within this milieu.

When Neo chose to know what the Matrix was, he began to see the world in a new way. If he were alive today he would have seen that the World Trade Towers was an inside job, and that there were no weapons of mass destruction when NATO invaded Iraq in 2001. After ingesting the red pill he could only see the truth. It was a different world therefore than the one painted by the media landscape. He saw, for example, misinformation on a massive scale. Leaked documents submitted to my website via the submission platform unveiled real truths - ugly and reeking of human guile.

Since I am a self-confessed idealist who prefers to publish un-redacted files untainted by an editor's hand, I've struggled with another issue related to my job as editor-in-chief of my website. More often than not the raw format of the vast majority of submitted documents made reading laborious, so I've fought with the question of making recommendations of some of the more interesting and easier-to-read files to be read first. Otherwise the searcher of truth is starting in the middle of a large pile of hay looking for the needle. The question of recommended links still have yet to be resolved in my mind. Is it the editor's choice? Could that not show partiality by the items selected? What files would others choose? To what degree of importance is each file assigned? How does this change with each person? Is it my choice because I am the editor-in-chief?

Following The Matrix metaphors, like Neo I find myself pinned down by Agent Smith. I have been manhandled into a corner through a comedy of errors if the truth be told. But it's not funny. The infringement on my freedom is real. When Neo chose to engage in the real world away from his computer that's when the clean lines of good and evil blurred into images of gray squalor and sunless days. I, too, have gone from a comfortable international life to a restricted room smaller than 200 square feet. And then there's the constant threat of food poisoning. I have so little control of the food I eat. For me this is the scariest thing. I know I worry about this because of all the instances I have read of poisoning as the method of choice for so many murders. So many deaths are reported as a heart attack, but what prompted it? An untraceable injection? No trail, no prints. Done. Heart attack. Case closed. Hey, sometimes it happens. Eliminated without a trace. Why use a sword? Why draw blood? Minimal footprint.

Speaking of footprint, my website reaches around the world yet I like to think that we have no footprint at all. It is managed by one person primarily and we don't even know our contributors. I view it as a benign, impartial website that uploads the truth. Pure transparency. No advertising. No lobby groups. No corporate sponsorship. Just a site where the truth is shown. Only contributors make the noise. If a contributor wants to brag about it on a monitored chatroom then you are asking to get caught. What can I do? "Yeah, oh, thank you for your submission. Take care. No, I didn't know the guy. He merely used our service vis--vis the submission platform. How am I guilty of a crime?"

One contributor to the site must have had his own reasons for spilling such sensitive documents via the submission platform. I remember feeling fear for the first time because some of the files were so sensitive in nature. I'm sure students of international relations will be reading these war logs and correspondence as real glimpses into real politik in the 21st century. Some things should never be written down. Some things are better uttered aloud than typing a record.

It is true that some untouched files can become museum exhibits for the citizenry to enjoy and celebrate, pat-ourselves-on-the-back kind of cultural pieces that restores pride through shared achievements. But sometimes the exhibits are a bit too raw, such as a helicopter gunship killing innocent journalists on the ground peppered by blatant cowboy gung-ho cheering at the trigger far away from the splats of blood. This new form of warfare full of drones and remote control bomb-dropping is the newest arena of warfare. These same videogame players are still on the offensive with dragonfly-sized drones carrying enough sting with the right poisoned dart could take down an adversary if necessary. Science fiction is having its own era, finally in the stage of becoming, where computers and the electronic interface will become the uniting force for mankind in war.

Where will this lead us? When I play it out in my mind it always ends the same for me: those who choose to know the truth and who choose to read the documents on my website will be the ones who will form the foundation for the new regime in the wake of the west's destruction from economic ruin and overzealous fascist methods.

When thinking this way, I at times wonder if the leaks have crippled the greatest power world history has ever seen. I wonder if there is a fracture of trust between the image and integrity of the American persona with the civilized countries of the world. Canada is its most loyal ally, most of all. The UK, in prophecy, will be loyal to the end. A new caliphate will emerge across the Mediterranean where Christian power once flourished. If some countries became less threatened and thus less reliant on the United States they might be more inclined to engage in trade with their neighbors thus creating new trade routes. Local populations flourish and new military powers grow. Leaked classified documents informing people what is happening as well as social media via the Internet will usher in a new era. Maybe the new world will become a world where local militias bind together to fight for food and justice in a post-apocalyptic age.

At all costs we must protect the freedom of Internet communication. Without it and with printed newspapers a thing of the past, we lose access to truth, and truth will always be the catalyst to evolution of societies. Without Internet access to the real world, a new level of isolation will occur, when local groups will bind together to become self-sufficient like that bunch from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged living in Galt's Gulch. Independent communities will form creating micro-countries resorting to grassroots law and essential community services, bound by truths shared without Big Brother.

But even with these multiple communities operating within a larger nation, there will still be a dominant power structure operating satellites and spying on those deemed a threat to their power structure. Satellites will become even more of a major source of geographic information that binds all nations.

On a personal note, I always liked to see myself as the philosopher in Atlas Shrugged. I identified more with him than anyone else. And of course I was Howard Roark during the reading of her greatest book The Fountainhead. The builder. He built it and they arrived. He put his vision into reality. Howard Roark became who he was. Have I? Is this as far as my growth and contribution goes? Are there more data pockets out there waiting to find their moment of relevance in history? And like Neo, perhaps my role had been defined long before I was born? Will my unusual path be remembered for its collected effects of the leaks that led to a revolution of thinking, culminating with Snowden? The cat was out of the bag. The smoking gun was at hand. Teetering jitters murmured from the American corner in the wreckage that followed. I believe this readjustment in power relations was needed to maintain a more realistic playing field.

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