Wordcarpenter Books
The Leaking Hourglass


Chapter Eleven

The Cold Brick of Jail

Ever since my brush with the law when I hacked under the handle Mendax, I feel terror when I'm faced with the law. I jumped ship to be here in the embassy rather than potentially being forced into a cell. My thinking was that if I had to spend time in a cell while these charges were dropped, I might as well have Internet access. My mindset can be described as: If I'm serving time then this is a pretty good cell, a sort of prison for VIPs. I only say this because I knew the inside of a jail cell for eight days in the UK when the Swedish charges were re-introduced for round two. The cold finite tactility of brick covered with the slime of years of dirty hands was a sight I know I will never forget.

Sometimes at night this image takes over my mind and I get so worked up I can't sleep. My way of taking my mind elsewhere, far away from the cold bricks of a cell, I explore new branches of online research. It usually gets my mind off this type of stress. I try to read only primary sources. That's my favorite pastime. Reading online. It takes my mind off the slimy bricks and the finality of the wall. The walls spoke of pain of past lives punished for their trespasses. I remember asking myself: "What have I done to deserve to be in here?" I feared for my life, and I feared for my ass. I was helpless. And I never want to see a wall like that again.

With Internet access and my mock fireplace, I still manage my website despite the watching eyes that hover. It is my destiny to have spying eyes hovering over my shoulder for the rest of my years. Even in Ecuador I will need to stay under guard with a secure perimeter until I'm sufficiently incognito. With a firm security perimeter I'm sure I can lie low for a while in native valleys that are difficult to survey from spy satellites. In time I'll merge into the fabric and become native. I have been studying Spanish so I'm eager to test my language skills in Ecuadorian life. It is my primary hope - that which keeps me from despair. And for this to happen the International Court of Justice needs to make a ruling on my case. With my health in decline, there is some urgency for this case to have resolution. Let there be a ruling! Let me answer the questions with a lawyer present. Why? The most obvious answer to this is that there are "unusual circumstances" in my case. Drop the charges so I can move to Quito where I can be a productive citizen. In the meantime I suffer here in this dark and dusty corner where the right to asylum cannot reach me. It is true that these laws that apply to my situation have been changed to prevent this situation from arising again but when it was passed it wasn't allowed to be retroactive. So to the International Court of Justice I plead: "Please have mercy. Understand the back-story. See the exceptional forces in play. Find in our humanity a solution to my predicament. Let us come to an agreement."

I have to confess that this situation of being holed up here in the embassy has taken a toll on my health. I'd like to be stoic about my health and take it on the chin but I do have black periods of despair. Sometimes I dwell on the opportunity cost of my predicament, which at times makes me very sad. What I could be doing out there! I miss my family. I miss that whiff of freedom operating within the law because no laws had been broken. Good, clean, noble living, with a touch of asceticism. But everything changed when those un-redacted files were uploaded in the summer of 2010. Then "The Man" special-op'd me in Sweden by bribing those two women to follow through with their accusations. This entire thing has been manufactured by the US special intelligent branch, and this is what frustrates me the most. It keeps me up at night sometimes. I use the treadmill on this one.

But really the worst thing is that I miss my son the most. Not being part of his life because of this absurd situation upsets me to no end. I try not to think about it. So I sit here and watch the flowchart of events unfold in front of me. Might I have safe passage to the airport where I can land in my new adopted country? Why is international law not being followed? Why are my basic human rights being overlooked? When will I get my freedom?

The grand jury indictment in Virginia against me scares me to no end. To me that's the monster. It's the British ‘wall of grime' but on a whole new scale. I'm simply not built for prison. I wouldn't last at all. I would be taken alive. Thinking of the cold brick makes me shiver. It's not one of my strengths. Guys in prison are tough. I'm not that kind of tough. I'm tough in other ways.

You don't need to be a brain surgeon to see that my fear of cold brick cells contributed to my decision to take refuge in the embassy. In one way it was a no-brainer. I knew I would never get out of Sweden again, except to the cold, smelly cells in America. They would arrest me for putting American lives in danger and for aiding terrorists. Whether there are grounds for the charges or not, what matters is that my freedom has been usurped in the meantime, so I'm essentially imprisoned until all the appeals are finished. This might take ten years, so obviously the system is flawed. We need to use my case as an example of what needs to be changed. There needs to be clear legislation so this will never happen to anyone else.

I keep asking myself: Is publishing anonymously online illegal? Are there laws against publishing classified documents online where there are none for newspapers? Are there applicable ethical laws? Or is there just good and bad form? Good etiquette and poor etiquette? If so then e-publishers of sensitive data like me are merely guilty of poor etiquette?

Furthermore, can we not discuss the content of the documents and right the wrongs for the future benefit of society and not spend time focusing on the side dish? Can we stop spending so much time on me? Am I not a scapegoat? Let us come up with better solutions for the things we can improve upon. Let us spend our time constructively rather than finger pointing and name-calling. Let's all use the forum of transparency I have created. Let's create a worldwide university online where all students go to learn, so we can keep the cold brick of the prison cell away from it all. Let's not lose sight of the nobility of the movement, and take a moment to see what we have achieved.



Chapter Twelve

Cyber Vikings

I am asked often what my end goal is. Where do I want to get to? I like that question because I have a very clear answer to it: I want to reach a world where the interaction of information is seamless and fast, functioning as an efficient delivery system we get from our laptops. Am I confident we will get there? Some days I am convinced we will reach that goal having come so far over the last 25 years of the Internet's history. If we can travel as far as we already have, then our system for information delivery to all users could be efficient and crisp. But other days I get tense because I can see Big Brother censoring Internet content. Will there be an august body of Internet censorship dictating what we can read emanating from the Alps in Switzerland? To let censorship rest in the hands of the few is a deathblow to the current "golden age of the Internet." Once we have an international body that censors, the slippery slope begins. Lobby groups turn into cyber bullies and a new arena for politicking is born. Then a new Internet era of censorship begins in earnest.

Technology keeps growing and improving so our vision of instant communications is becoming more and more a reality. We were the generation to have suffered through chronic incompatibilities by Microsoft and Apple who battled against each other for the ruthless purpose of market share rather for the welfare of the end user. How many years had to pass before they both started making their machines compatible? Wasted years and cause for endless frustration for early computer users. That was our cost to get in on the ground floor with the UNIX red book and the hacker's code of fair play. And thank God I stuck with it. Computers are my world and my home. Those who spend thousands and millions on homes seem ill placed to me. Why not build a mansion online where it will live on forever? Yes, it's more difficult but it lasts longer. This is the new Camelot.

In the early days hacking was easy. There were no firewalls for a long while, and then even when you could erect a firewall most websites didn't bother protecting their intranets. There were about two or three years in the late nineties when significant amounts of data were uploaded but there were no protective systems keeping poachers at bay. Those of us who hacked back then knew it was a gold rush - that these were the golden days of the Internet. It was still years before the creation of Homeland Security, and years before the NSA or any other intelligence agency in the world really had effective policies protecting data in cyberspace. That time between Internet training wheels and full functionality was when I did most of my hacking. It's too dangerous today - too many tracks and cookies and traceable commands. I'm proud to have participated in the UNIX red book revolution and seen the Internet in its infancy. It was a beautiful thing to partake in its evolution.

Being a cyber-Viking back then required restraint because everything was exposed to the hacker's command keys. It was a new form of power for the workingman. A young kid from Estonia could hack into Canada's energy grid and turn it off if he liked. But what would be the use? Destruction. Loss. Danger. Thus Mendax: the noble breaker of laws; the one who chose his own path whether laws applied or not. Mendax was an inquisitive force preferring to look rather than to wreck. It became the motto for many hackers. Why walk on to someone's backyard and rip up their shrubberies? They're nice shrubberies. No reason to tamper. No upside. Leave it alone. What about leaving a message to let those who manage the system know that they had been trespassed? The message then becomes: Smarten up! Tighten it all up. Put in the time to see how the hack happened and correct it. We're helping you bolster your security. And sorry, I couldn't help myself. I left that picture of the smiling dog because that's how I felt when I was in your system exploring your personal financial files. I had no idea you carried so much debt. The information is useless to me. I don't care about the information.

What I care about information that reveals wrongdoing so that those responsible can be accountable. What I am not interested in is a person's personal data. That raw information should not be available to anyone who seeks it. But that being said, my belief is that it's better to live with nothing to hide rather than burdened by a thousand skeletons in the closet. Let it go and live free in this new world of surveillance and electronic spying.

My website wasn't designed to expose people's personal data. It was designed to showcase those who are guilty of crimes against its citizenry and crimes against humanity. This is why I couldn't let go of my idea of the untraceable submission platform. I was driven to make it a reality. Some parts of the code were more difficult than others, particularly incorporating features in the platform that give it better functionality. The site did show the world how a website can change the world. That's something of note. That's something I'm proud of. The world is a better place now that some secrets were spilled.




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