Assassination

Counter-Surveillance

Don't try this at home

|

Notorious cypherpunk activist Jim Bell is heading to jail again for what he sees as a mere attempt to remind the government that surveillance can work both ways.

Government agents had been monitoring Bell since his 1996 essay "Assassination Politics," which suggests using secure cryptography to raise and pay bounties for the assassination of corrupt government officials. After the piece was widely distributed on the Internet, agents tapped into a cypherpunk mailing list and infiltrated meetings of a private "common law court" in Multnomah County, Oregon, to track Bell's goings-on and to collect incriminating evidence. Their surveillance of Bell even included installing a GPS tracking device on his car.

Such surveillance, combined with Bell's erratic, troublesome behavior, made him an easy target. After he was caught using fake Social Security numbers (he doesn't think anyone has a right to his real number) and setting off a stink bomb outside an IRS office, he was jailed for 3 years starting in 1997.

Now he's heading back to prison. In August, a court sentenced the MIT-graduate chemist to 10 years for stalking and harassing IRS agent Jeff Gordon. In response to the government's surveillance, Bell had been tracking down agents' home addresses (including Gordon's) through Department of Motor Vehicles records and showing up at their homes—and in one case stealing their mail. He was merely using public records for legitimate protest and free speech, he argued in court.

Advertisement

NEXT: What's Bill Bennett Smoking?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I am the subject of your December 2001 article. I invite you to correct that article: I understand that you didn’t know the truth, at the time you wrote it, but in my first direct email to you I will really open your eyes as to what was happening. One key thing: You were unaware in December 2001 (and I was too) that from the period of June 1999 through late April 2000, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a fake (forged, phony) appeal case, 99-30210, was initiated and maintained. I did not know this until June 2003: My lawsuit against the Feds is now at http://www.cryptome/jya/jdb-v-usa-106.htm, and there is an october 2004 amendment there as well. I learned of my right to appeal in very early 2000: I was released, free and clear, in April 2000, but I loudly and publicly announced that I suspected some very serious corruption associated with my prior criminal case. Remember, at that time I didn’t know of appeal case 99-30210, but the people who were responsible for it WERE! Can you imagine what would happen to them if their criminal activities were exposed?
    Do you want to not only hear the rest of the story, but get an opportunity to correct a very-mis-stated record?
    My address is 7214 Corregidor, Vancouver WA 98664, phone number 360-606-4308.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.