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Free Minds & Free Markets

Ross Ulbricht Gets Life Sentence for Silk Road Conviction

The sentence is a miscarriage of justice, and will likely harm drug users down the road.

Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison with no parole this afternoon by Judge Katherine Forrest in U.S. District Court for the southern district of New York.

Ulbricht was convicted back in February on seven charges, all related to the operation of the darkwebsite called Silk Road, which used Tor-enabled anonymity and the cryptocurrency bitcoin to allow people to buy and sell often illegal items in safety and security, with the site providing an escrow service between buyer and seller to ensure both were satisfied.

Ulbricht was a clever entrepreneur, enthralled by libertarian ideas derived from the likes of Murray Rothbard and Samuel Konkin about the richness and justice of truly free markets not hobbled by government threats.

 The charges were:

narcotics trafficking; distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet; narcotics trafficking conspiracy; continuing criminal enterprise; conspiracy to aid and abet computer hacking; conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identity documents; and money laundering conspiracy.

None of the charges were related to either personally selling an illegal substance to anyone—Ulbricht merely ran a website that facilitated it—and none were related to causing direct harm to anyone's life or property.

Given the amazing water-muddying the prosecution achieved by talking about, but never trying Ulbricht for or proving in court beyond a reasonable doubt, allegedly planned, but never executed, murders for hire, one wonders whether the judge allowed any thoughts of those rumors, even subconsciously, to shape her sentencing decision.

sentencing letter from the U.S. attorney's office for New York essentially asked for a life sentence:

Ulbricht’s recommended sentence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines is life imprisonment, with a 20-year mandatory minimum due to his conviction for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 848. The Probation Office, too, recommends life imprisonment, finding “no factors that could overcome the severity of the instant offense.”...As set forth below, in light of the seriousness of the offense and the need for general deterrence, the Government believes that a lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum, is appropriate in this case.

Alas, they got what they wanted.

In addition to the prison time, the government also insists that Ulbricht owes them over $183 million, since they calculate that's the value of the illegal transactions carried out on Silk Road (by other people, but so what?)

As I've written before, Silk Road was undoubtedly a net positive for the health, safety, and liberty of most of its customers and sellers. Of course, its benefits went to people who choose to buy or sell things the government has decided we ought not buy or sell, and thus their health, safety, and liberty is something the government is an active enemy  of.

Despite a manifest inability on the state's part to actually wipe out the supposed scourge of drug use and sale, it will continue to spend shocking amounts of our tax money in a futile attempt to at least punish and ruin a few people involved. Today Ross Ulbricht is the butterfly they have broken on their cruel, grinding wheel.

Ulbricht recanted, partially, in a letter regarding his sentencing to Judge Forrest. (Vice has a good overall summation of the sentencing arguments made to Judge Forrest from both sides.) One will never know if he was speaking the truth of his heart—that's impossible to ever know in a society where people will be locked up in a cage for trying to, in Ross's own words on his LinkedIn site:

use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind. Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end. The most widespread and systemic use of force is amongst institutions and governments, so this is my current point of effort. The best way to change a government is to change the minds of the governed, however. To that end, I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.

But government pressure did get Ulbricht, in a letter trying to ameliorate his sentence, to turn against the dream that Silk Road represented in large part, writing that Silk Road:

turned out to be a very naive and costly idea that I deeply regret...Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices, to pursue their own happiness, however they individually saw fit.

What it turned into was, in part, a convenient way for people to satisfy their drug addictions... I never sought to create a site that would provide another avenue for people to feed their addictions.

Still, Ulbricht remained libertarian at heart, also writing, even in this letter designed to show remorse for his "crimes," that "I still don't think people should be denied the right to make this decision for themselves..."

Like any arena of commerce, some people were willing to lie and cheat (and perhaps even kill, though that remains in some doubt) over money and property even on the Silk Road. This is unavoidable as long as humans are what they are. But the wonderful technologies of Tor and Bitcoin combined with the web developer skills of Ulbricht and/or whoever else worked on Silk Road gave users and sellers of illegal drugs something amazingly useful they never had before: a forum where they could deal with each other in anonymity and safety, where a concerned community could provide the sort of "regulation" governments can only dream about: open communication about product and seller probity, and useful advice about product use safety. Silk Road was, for those who care about the health and safety of drug users, a harm reduction dream. 

There were many questionable elements of the prosecution, leading Ulbricht lawyer Josh Dratel to call for a mistrial five times during the trial—he was denied each time—and to make a failed request for an entirely new trial after conviction. (This is a different matter than an appeal, which will be happening.) Among them were the alleged criminality, revealed publicly only after Ulbricht was convicted, on the part of two of the federal agents pursuing him. There are also the Fourth Amendment implications of the mysterious way the FBI broke into Silk Road's servers. 

Dratel told me in an email yesterday that an appeal process that will detail all the things he thought were amiss about the initial prosecution will be in motion: "The Notice of Appeal gets filed within a day or two after sentencing," he wrote. "Then there’s some preliminary boilerplate paperwork followed by a schedule.  Usually the appellant’s brief is due a few months down the road.  Then the government responds, we get to reply, and then the court schedules oral argument before a three-judge panel.  A decision is issued sometime after that."

The government asked the court to "send a clear message" with Ulbricht's sentence. That message is that if you dare try to make life better by creating a realm of liberty, anonymity, and reliable information surrounding something they've forbidden, they will destroy you. That message will not work, in that other people are trying to and will continue to try to emulate Ulbricht's model. After the October 2013 takedown of the original Silk road, the sale of drugs through Silk-Road-like methods has far from stopped and is more than double in listing volume than it was then. The techniques are too useful and too good to ignore, no matter how much the government tries to wreck them.

Ulbricht, whose crime was running a website that helped people buy and sell things they wanted from and to willing sellers and buyers in a realm of comparative safety and liberty, had a heart-rending plea to Judge Forrest: "I've had my youth, and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age....Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel, an excuse to stay healthy, an excuse to dream of better days ahead, and a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker."

I don't know that he should worry about redemption per se. Ulbricht and Silk Road, despite his grim fate, sent out a more powerful message than the one the government wanted Judge Forrest to send: that ingenuity and technology and effort can create wonderfully helpful realms of freedom in markets and behavior.

It's a powerful and optimistic message that speaks well for the human future. The government's message that malign thugs will try to wreck your life for doing so is ugly and outmoded. Thanks to the bravery and intelligence of the likes of Ross Ulbricht, we may yet live to see the government's message die a deserved death, and Ulbricht's message continue to inspire those who value human liberty.

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  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    This should be the very first Paul Pardon.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Not Snowden? Pardons can be given for uncharged past "crimes", no?

  • Hey Nikki!||

    Friday nut punch.

  • ||

    It speaks volumes that he punished more harshly than many first-degree murderers. I wonder how the government fails to realize that it cannot stop this sort of thing.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Why would they want to stop it?

  • Los Doyers||

    It's like all the bullshit behind the anti-smoking campaign. The government doesn't truly want people to stop smoking, because they make tons off of the taxes.

  • ||

    We don't want you to stop smoking, because we want you to die painfully. SMOKE UP MORON

  • Los Doyers||

    Hey, my American Spirits are both organic and patriotic.

  • ||

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Nice. Thanks for that.

  • Hey Nikki!||

    Calling them "lights" is illegal and, based on this ruling, probably worse than murder.

  • Los Doyers||

    Lights? Come on, brah. I smoke those yellow mellows.

  • Tionico||

    they make far too much money at it, and have for decades. Seems the foo doesn't sh, er, the shoe doesn't fit so well on THEIR foot.

  • Joe Candle||

    Yeah Warty, I agree, but here's the thing. Reason acts like the guy is blameless. Just a guy who created and ran a website. It was other people that broke the law. But he clearly knew what it was being used for. And he profited.

    What if instead of a website, he built a warehouse, left the doors open and turned a blind-eye to all of the illegal drug selling that people were doing under that roof an turned he profit.

    Now I don't think drugs should be illegal, but again, the Reason writers act as if he isn't the least bit culpable.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    You sound like the kind of idjut who turns the barrel inside out to find even a scrap of rationalization to justify your slavery masters.

  • ||

    You sound familiar.

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    Joe Candle, hate to break to you but whatever someone does with their own body is NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS. Yeah I used caps and I don't care, it seems some of these commenters need glasses so I have to cap, they seem to not read or comprehend properly.

  • ||

    Yet that cunt Hillary and her criminal enterprise is running for the highest office.

  • Invisible Finger||

    This is the kind of legal system we tried to install in Iraq.

  • waffles||

    This feels incredibly tragic. I am saddened.

  • paranoid android||

    So am I. More depressing will be trying to explain to acquaintances why I am saddened by it, knowing they will turn around and celebrate the government's zeal in destroying this man for challenging its authority.

  • Free Society||

    We live in a world of conditioned sociopaths.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Interesting how reactions differ. I didn't see it as tragic, but as atrocious. And I wasn't saddened, but outraged.

    Fining him the entire amount that was transacted by others on the site?

    This case really does look like they're doing away with any pretense of justice or rationality.

  • Free Society||

    Empathy for Ulbricht reveals a tragedy. Loathing for the perpetrator of that tragedy is the seat of my outrage.

  • waffles||

    It started as white hot rage but over the course of the trial and now the sentencing I am just sad.

  • Raston Bot||

    That twitter graphic shows a 36% YOY increase in listings from April 2014 to April 2015. It looks to me like the good guys are winning the War on Drugs™.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Some of the people probably used Silk Road near an elementary school. Can you imagine, so close to the most vulnerable among us? Those prosecutors and that judge can now sleep well.

  • Alsø alsø wik||

    life. for facilitating voluntary transactions. the judge did indeed send a message: drugs are worse than murder.

  • Duke||

    Indeed. Unless you own a pharmaceutical company approved by the FDA. In that case, you can kill all the people you want with your drugs and at worst, face a civil lawsuit.

  • Tionico||

    methinks her message is a bit different: you played OUTSIDE the sandbox allocated for the mundanes, of which you are one. That is all, that is the core of her rage against this man.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I thought harming drug users was the point.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Shouldn't the Internet be on trial and found guilty, too?

  • Loki||

    What do you think the point of Net Neutrality is?

  • Los Doyers||

    In addition to the prison time, the government also insists that Ulbricht owes them over $183 million, since they calculate that's the value of the illegal transactions carried out on Silk Road (by other people, but so what?)

    So, they want back taxes on "illegal" transactions? Man, FedGov really throws a hissy fit when they can't thieve from transactions that are none of their fucking business. In this case, the hissy fit cost this man at least 20 years of his life. Nice envelope you got their Judge Forrest, be ashamed if you found a joker card inside...

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    +1 Marijuana Tax Stamp.

  • Hey Nikki!||

    It's not taxes, that's the total value of sales. They want all the money anyone ever made on Silk Road.

  • Los Doyers||

    Jesus Cow-slapping Christ. I assume they want it to fund schools and shit.

  • Free Society||

    Well then totally worth it.

  • Hey Nikki!||

    From Forbes:

    The hearing, which included testimonies from parents of alleged Silk Road overdose victims, lasted approximately 2.5 hours.

    Parents. Of "victims." Could they make me more sick?

  • Loki||

    Just wait until they get a law passed named after one of thode "victims".

  • Los Doyers||

    I fucking hate when websites tie me down and force the drugs down my throat.

  • Paul.||

    Your choice was false.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Failed parents.

  • Loki||

    The government's real message here is: true free markets will not be tolerated.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Compare this to the HSBC money judgement, where NOONE was indicted and went to jail. The bank admitted that it knowingly laundered drug money for Mexican cartels, presumably with the knowledge of senior bank managers, yet not one was charged. Here is the twisted logic/pat on the back statement from U.S. District Judge John Gleeson:

    “Indeed, taking into account the fact that a company cannot be imprisoned, it appears to me that much of what might have been accomplished by a criminal conviction has been agreed to in the DPA,” Gleeson wrote.

    A company cannot be imprisoned, but it's principals sure as fuck can, not that they should, but this is the kind of crap "reasoning" that these enablers use to make sure their buddies aren't held accountable for essentially the same thing that Ulbricht did.

    Unbelievable.

  • Paul.||

    Korporashuns aren't peeple, maaaan.

  • Free Society||

    If laws were truly applied equally so to the government officials and their buddies, we wouldn't live under such a draconian system of law.

  • ||

    So Ulbright's mistake was in not incorporating and not bribing, I mean, contributing to the political class.

  • ||

    If he had dropped a few million into the right campaigns before he was arrested he would be a free man today.

  • rocks||

    Not much has changed since the middle ages huh?

  • EWM||

    If he had a nuclear weapon he would be a free man today.

  • Tionico||

    incorporating would not help. He'd still be the CEO, and such courts when so inclined, can and do pierce the corporate veil quite easily. As to the bribery, your point is very well taken.

  • OldMexican||

    Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison this afternoon by Judge Katherine Forrest in U.S. District Court for the southern district of New York.


    Just goes to show you that when you break the laws that purport to punish crimes completely made-up by government, government will act swiftly and mercilessly. If you burn down a CVS in downtown Baltimore, well, what you get is time served on TV.

  • Mr Whipple||

    One of the videos I saw showed people running out of the medical clinic they had just looted carrying bottles of pills.

    I wonder how many years they'll be getting. I wonder if they were even arrested.

  • ||

    You racist bastard.

    Those people worked for Chic Fillet and needed some birth control.

  • sjl2112||

    Sadly, this is the future that awaits Libertarians. I've said before here that we will be hunted by Progs like feral hogs when they assume full control. If they could have executed him they would have.

  • Invisible Finger||

    It's forthcoming, it just won't be under color of law.

  • Cytotoxic||

    With what? The guns they are terrified of touching?

  • bacon-magic||

    They are terrified of YOU touching guns, not their brown shirts.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Their brown shirts are mostly also unfamiliar with guns.

  • Bluwater||

    Oh no they aren't. They are fully capable and fully practiced with their guns. What the hell do you think they are doing with the 1.3 trillion bullets they are pulling out of the private market? If you're buying this "we don't like guns and bullets" crap from power mongers, you're the rockhead they can control.

  • ||

    All of them that can afford it have armed bodyguards.

    They don't dislike guns.

    They just don't want the little people to have them.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Pretty sure the 1.3 trillion bullets was bullshit.

    They don't have the arms and organization and disarmed population to do what you think they are going to do. 2A wins again.

  • Free Society||

    The soft-handed socialists will happily have their top men eradicate our kind if the opportunity presented itself. They'll keep their hands clean with the ballot box and their conscience clean with the false philosophies that already allow them to sleep at night.

  • retiredfire||

    Yes, this is the future of libertarians, if they expect that flouting the laws will be forgiven by pointing out the silliness of said laws.
    Maybe they should be trying the old, worn-out idea of working to get the laws changed?
    Coupled with a little patience, it just might pay off.
    It seems to be working with MJ, with a few states legalizing, and more to follow.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Fuck off slaver. I guess MLK and the niggers should have just kept standing at the back of the bus?

  • Raston Bot||

    The biggest threat to these darknet markets are the massive scammers that setup shop, operate long enough to get $millions in escrow, then close down with all that stolen bitcoin.

    Evolution did it:
    http://www.deepdotweb.com/2015.....scam-ever/

    Blackbank may be in the process of doing it now:
    http://www.deepdotweb.com/2015.....t-scammed/

  • Mr Whipple||

    IDK about Blackbank, but Evolution had been around a while.

    Why would someone want to screw up a steady income? They had a good thing going there. A lot of traffic. Doesn't make sense.

  • ||

    Because maybe they got a huge lump sum and ran before the heat rose too high.

    Seeing Ulbright go away for life and no parole could help that decision.

  • Duke||

    So will all the cops who sell drugs to people in order to entrap them get the same fate?

  • Free Society||

    Costumes. Imagine if a mall cop convinced someone to buy his stolen goods and then kidnapped them for a decade spent in his basement.

  • Paul.||

    which used Tor-enabled anonymity

    *clearing my throat*

  • Cytotoxic||

    You can clear it all you want, there isn't any actual hard proof that Tor has been compromised as far as I know.

  • Free Society||

    Just as likely that the FBI literally tortured some knowledgeable person or foreign server host.

  • Cytotoxic||

    More likely that Ulbricht's fuck-ups led them there.

  • Bluwater||

    Ah! Trading in hypotheticals to appease imagination, then treating it as fact and next... defending it. Sorry muffin, but there's enough stupid reality here without having to resort to hyperventilating on conspiracy theory. K?

  • Free Society||

    The only hysterics in this thread are contained in your post. I stated a likelihood that the law was broken one way or the other. But alas speculating about how justice was circumvented comes with the territory when a case relies so heavily on secret evidence and the withholding of countervailing evidence.

  • Paul.||

    Tor has been comprimised, as confirmed by the Tor project.

    https://invisibler.com/tor-compromised/

    The disturbing news that Tor, the online community’s most secure and effective
    anonymizing tool has been compromised was officially confirmed July 30, 2014 in
    an advisory published by the Tor Project. The sophisticated two-pronged attack –
    thought to have begun in early February 2014 and continued until July 4, a
    period of about 5 months – raises many questions. Who launched the attack is so
    far unknown. Nor is it confirmed that the threat has been 100% neutralized. What
    is clear is that if you operated or accessed Tor hidden services during the
    attack period, you should assume that your identity has been compromised. Also,
    millions of users who rely on Tor to anonymously conduct their business using
    the Internet are all asking themselves one question: Now what?

    Also:

  • Paul.||

    Also:


    The Tor design doesn't try to protect against an attacker who can see
    or measure both traffic going into the Tor network and also traffic
    coming out of the Tor network.
    [...]
    The way we generally explain it is that Tor tries to protect against
    traffic analysis, where an attacker tries to learn whom to investigate,
    but Tor can't protect against traffic confirmation (also known as
    end-to-end correlation), where an attacker tries to confirm a
    hypothesis by monitoring the right locations in the network and then
    doing the math.

    http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2014/Mar/414

    The end-to-end correlation method is one those of that we in the network design business have been talking about for a long time.

    With it fairly well known that the Feds monitor the major switching cores and networks, the end-to-end correlation method is an EXTREMELY likely use to catch people EXACTLY LIKE Ross Ulbricht, or better said, The Dread Pirate Roberts.

    We don't know if the Feds used this method, but it's just as likely they did as use any other method.

  • Paul.||

    To be clear, Tor provides anonymity after a fashion

    It helps keep millions of users difficult to catch, or better stated, too expensive to catch.

    But if the government becomes interested in a particular user, in this case, The Dread Pirate Roberts, Tor only adds barriers and extra steps to doing so. But it can... and has been done.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I'm not aware of any actual users being caught, just HS server operators and, occasionally an exit node operator for allowing traffic across his server where the local police are not aware that the person is an exit node operator.

  • Paul.||

    If you're capturing all the traffic at a core switching center (which the NSA does) AND monitoring the server (in this case, Silk Road), I can't say how much man power and traffic analisys it would take, but I estimate that your Tor session can be compromised in exactly this way.

  • Mr Whipple||

    You need a certain percentage of active relays to carry out an effective Sybill attack.

  • Mr Whipple||

    If you live in a heavily populated area, the traffic between individual IPs and Tor relays is more difficult to narrow down. If you live out in the country somewhere and there's only 3 people connecting to Tor relays, it's probably a little easier.

  • Mr Whipple||

    And don't forget. Tor is constantly being upgraded with hundreds, maybe thousands studying the source code. The government is always one step behind.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "The government is always one step behind."

    But you never know when that step isn't always.

    The American world has become evil- and drugs and vice are last evil I'd ever consider an evil in light of what America has evolved into with literal freedom-seeking and rights-demanding Americans lauding this slide into the decay of individual rights.

  • Remnant Psyche||

    The Security Now podcast had an episode a month or so ago called Deanonymizing Tor.

    The takeaway is that it's theoretically possible for the NSA to do, but it's extremely difficult and costly. The internet was not designed for anonymity, and true anonymity is impossible to achieve.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Actually, yes it has. But it requires an awful lot of manpower to take over the number of relays necessary. They've been hitting CP sites for a while, now. And they did take down Freedom Hosting a while ago.

    Your anonymity is generally safe, but if you are operating a hidden services server, they, technically, can find you.

    https://goo.gl/ks5jfU

  • Paul.||

    It comes down to target value.

    One man printing millions of counterfeit dollars: Valuable target.

    Millions of anonymous users printing one dollar: Diffuse and difficult to catch.

    Ulbricht represented the former:

    Onion routing is vulnerable to an
    adversary who can monitor a user’s traffic as it enters and leaves
    the anonymity network; correlating that traffic using traffic analysis
    links the observed sender and receiver of the communication.

    Øverlier and Syverson first demonstrated the practicality of the attack
    in the context of discovering Tor Hidden Servers [32]. Later
    work by Murdoch and Danezis show that traffic correlation attacks
    can be done quite efficiently against Tor [29].
    Given the potential severity of traffic correlation attacks, this paper
    explores in depth users’ vulnerability to such attacks in the live
    Tor network. To quantify the anonymity offered by Tor, we examine
    path compromise rates and how quickly extended use of the
    anonymity network results in compromised paths.

    http://www.ohmygodel.com/publi.....-ccs13.pdf

  • Mr Whipple||

    The more middle relays there are, the more difficult it becomes.

    But nothing is ever 100%. There is always risk involved. The best you can do is limit the amount of risk you are exposed to.

    There are people that use outdated browsers, through a WinOS, with Javascript enabled. That's what you call "low hanging fruit", and the people that get made examples of.

    Then there are people that sandbox though Whonix or Tails, don't use a hard drive, and rout through both Tor and I2P.

  • Paul.||

    I have a theory that the U.S. government is able to essentially circumvent the relay by simply watching the endpoints. A Tor session initiated at Zulu 17:14:23.004 (going to destination unkown) and a Tor session connecting (inbound) to compromised Silk Road server at Zulu 17:14:23.010 (from source unknown) can be reasonably correlated as source and destination.

    Now, I know it's not entirely that simple, but if you can reasonably say that "I believe this connection (originating) was, with high probability, made from the San Francisco Public Library, you then start reviewing security footage before that time to see who entered... and so on.

    What are your thoughts?

  • Paul.||

    offense and the need for general deterrence

    Interesting.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Ross Ulbricht Gets Life Sentence for Being Part Of Lower Caste

  • Free Society||

    That's not the crime against the state. His crime is raising his head too high without a license.

  • TKList||

    The marketplace Ross Ulbricht setup is not the problem, the authority that locked him up is the problem.

  • Free Society||

    My heart is truly broken for this guy. What an unjust social arrangement statism is. It destroys human beings as casually as it does callously.

    That waste of human life that is Judge Katherine Forrest will go home and sleep in her warm extortion funded bed while Ross Ulbricht rots in a government rape cage never to father children or live a life worth living. Erstwhile they let people whose crime actually do have victims to plea out or grant them some prospects of a future in a bid to reform them.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Katherine Forrest - She Wolf Of The U.S.

  • ||

    "Erstwhile they let people whose crime actually do have victims to plea out or grant them some prospects of a future in a bid to reform them."

    Harry Reid, Clintons, and the Cast of Thousands who make up the political class!

  • Free Society||

    Even pretending for a moment that the political class are our rightful overlords, child rapists and murderers get fairer trials and less incarceration than Ulbricht received.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The Drug War has always held precedence over people who stabbed screwdrivers into harmless little kids in the back of vans on their way to raping their dead bodies. Potheads, coke-users, and lsd types who can live long, happy, motivated, and successful lives will always be targeted before serial-killers which is why potheads end up in prison way more than serial killers who are 'found' after their ninth killing of law enforcement's hated whore or are in some cases never found. Ever research how many murders aren't solved? But they get the fucking mom at home drinking pot tea for her fucking arthritis or the goddamn artist who trips on LSD for his latest fucking song, story, art, or fucking simple mind pursuit.

    FUCK America and your goddamn Democrats and goddamn Republicans. They are all fucking worthless trite brain-shrunken nematodes. FUCK your FUCKING professional organizations seeking to save America from its decisions.

  • Paul.||

    “In creating Silk Road, I ruined my life and destroyed my future,” Ulbricht wrote to Judge Katherine Forrest. “I could have done so much more with my life. I see that now, but it is too late. I’ve had my youth, and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age.”

    Is this what you mean by 'partially recanting'?

    I've never been facing down a life sentence- especially for pursuing my philosophical goals. I'm sure a lot of us would say things like that if trying to soften the inevitable blow that's going to come from the institution you so desperately tried to circumvent.

    It's unfortunate and I do believe this will have somewhat of a "deterring" effect.

    In the end, I don't see the Silk Road as anything else but another tally mark in the war on drugs. Yes, there will be other "silk roads", but my guess is they'll be run, not by wide-eyed people trying to make a change in the way we look at institutions, but by seasoned criminals who have experience running criminal organizations, and won't make the same mistakes Ulbricht did-- but will operate the old fashioned way: fear, intimiation, brutality. The next Silk Road will in fact be run by actual dangerous people-- in my prediction.

  • Free Society||

    The next Silk Road will in fact be run by actual dangerous people-- in my prediction.

    Government has an infallible way of poisoning the good and promoting the bad. Be it culture, philosophy, justice or you name it. And this is just what we can see, the amount of injustice it's made possible is so unfathomably high I don't think it's possible to even wrap my head around it.

  • satta||

    The vengeance of the state is always harsh. Just ask Irwin Schiff.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Or Doug Williams. Or Snowden.

    But this case is extraordinary. Ulbricht's sentence really crosses the line of cruel and unusual.

  • Pogue Mahon||

    The next generation of dark markets uses a blockchain rather than centralization. Unlike Silk Road, it can't be shut down. See, for example, FreeMarket: www.nxtfreemarket.com

    Enforcement efforts will flow around blockchain markets "like a sea of fuck you" to the state.

  • Win Bear||

    Combine with drones for anonymous delivery...

  • Cytotoxic||

    Need a way to make their destinations unknowable if the drone is captured.

  • Mr Whipple||

    The ultimate will be mesh networks.

    See: cjdns

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zINQYkl01N8

  • Paul.||

    There are also the Fourth Amendment implications of the mysterious way the FBI broke into Silk Road's servers.

    They'll set Ross Ulbricht free before they ever admit to anything questionable on this front. Guaranteed.

    They'll let a fish go before ever revealing their fishing technique.

  • Free Society||

    Not sure about that. He's got a conviction. A multitude of sadistic sociopaths will need to sign off before cutting this big fish loose. The headhunt was initiated by mighty Warlord Schumer after all.

  • Paul.||

    I agree, but I still stand by my point. If a hypothetical situation came up where they had to reveal how Ulbricht was caught, they'd let the conviction get thrown out before they reveal jack shit.

  • Paul.||

    One of those alleged victims was found dead at his desk with a used syringe and other heroin paraphernalia next to his computer, according to the filing. There, he had the Silk Road website in an open Tor browser window with a message confirming the shipment of a package of heroin. In the other window on a standard webpage, he was viewing the USPS.com website with the same tracking information.

    Is it just me or does this read like a frame-description of a political cartoon?

  • vicariance||

    Not just you.

  • John B. Egan||

    ...and our bankers walk freely every day, bringing in their big bonuses...even those that knowingly laundered drug money. Surprise!

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Governmentalized pricks also ruined Galileo's life.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Terrible, but this will not stop them from losing the War on Drugs. Ulbricht made some real stupid moves. If some smart people set up shop, don't scam people, they will be extremely difficult to stop. If they are in a jurisdiction that does not play nice with the USG's asinine drug war (ZEDE?) then there will be nothing they can do.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Let us keep in mind that 'stupid moves' can be exquisitely designed to appear so by any trillion dollar government.

  • Cytotoxic||

    There's nothing exquisite about the USG. Ulbricht at one point used his own email. With his name in it.

  • Paul.||

    Among other things, yes. He made a number of blunders which I could write an essay-length article about.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The Drug War is inexplicably horrific and brilliant because of its crass scope and a genius young man sculpts an ingenious server world for those who wish to escape government tyranny gets fucked for life over a simplistic email? Are you fucking kidding me?

  • waffles||

    It's a horror that goes unnoticed or worse condoned by most of the public. Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by pod-people for my views on the drug war.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Because waffles skull planet is an intellect-miner's paradisio. The Drug Wage will produce billions of government dollars yearly poured into our favorite liberty metaphor but hideously twisted container that literally can eviscerate poverty when practiced according to ethical purpose called the goddamn corporation. Corporations funded by the Democrat's favorite lovebug called the fucking government will live lavishly off hundreds of thousands of families being fucked up the ass from the youngest to oldest by law enforcement 'saving' the lovelies- even as these iron-clad horror tales in cock-striped cars kill with pro-glee when the drug lovelies furtive the moves or wii the hands.

  • Acheron||

    THAT is exactly right. Here's the problem: Outside of Reason's readership, and libertarian circles that are paying attention, not one person has ever heard of Silk Road. If you pulled the average citizen aside, and gave them a brief summation of what Ulbricht did in plain terms, they wouldn't have a problem with this sentence.

  • Free Society||

    The judge was receiving death threats and hacks of her personal information from internet activists supposedly in support of Ulbricht. That probably led her down the path of being a real cunt come sentencing time. http://nypost.com/2014/10/24/h.....nder-case/

  • Product Placement||

    I really hope this intensifies. I'd like to see some real pain on the bureaucrats involved.

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    Amen. Make them uncomfortable as much as you can, they should fear for their lives. The parasitic political class are worthless scum that need to be cleaned out.

  • Almanian!||

    Whoa! This is double-plus un-good.

  • Win Bear||

    The stated purpose [of the silk road] was to be beyond the law. ... Silk Road's birth and presence asserted that its creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous."

    Heaven forbid people believe that any of the laws of this country are anything less than perfect, or the justice system is anything other than run by angels and saints! Anybody who holds such beliefs must be locked away for life! If people find a way to get around the laws of this country, well, then we are just going to have to reinterpret the laws! /sarc

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Fuck your goddamn common sense you fucking intellect whore.

    The average hellacious DemoRepublocrat on your million average city streets is a ground-smashing square who'd literally be happy to be alive, have a job, and eat pizza on Friday while raising strange offsprings in the local corral under ANY goddamn administration whether communist, socialist, jihadist, or extremist Muslim states like the purdy streets running the sand rivers on Dubai or Saudi Arabian billions. When motherfuckers lost their heads over 'disobeying' the FUCKING law- your average hellacious transplanted DemoRepubloFUCK would smarmily stroke the forefinger and ooze shit-laced happy lies from their dimple-minded lips, "Ya shoulda obeyed!"

    Obedience is TV culture and collective U.S. of FUCKING A.

  • MJGreen||

    Fuck. Gross and tragic and infuriating.

    Fuck all these people.

  • bacon-magic||

    I'm still optimistic about "Libertarians in Space!" Mine the asteroid belt and all that for profitz...

  • Cytotoxic||

    ZEDEs and seasteading.

  • croaker||

    And drop rocks on shitbirds like this judge.

  • Faceless Commenter||

    Sickening.

  • Dread Pirate Roberts||

    Of course Ross Ulbricht wasn't punished like the bankers who crashed the global financial system. His crimes presented insufficient opportunities for graft.

  • ||

    May the prosecution and judge find nothing but misery in their worthless lives.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The prosecution likely went to a party in the legal burbs and drunkenly grunted coke off stripper ass- which I approve of but without the motherfucking goddamn evil hypocrisy. Winning is a sport for prosecutors- not a moral or ethical duty. Interesting how the fucking word Freedom ever found its way into the goddamn American vernacular.

  • Rockabilly||

    Creeping totalitarianism

    I have a natural right to control my own body.
    In addition, the US Constitution does not give government any authority to say what a citizen can and can't put into their body.

    Thus, the war on drugs is not only a violation of our natural rights but un Constitutional.

    I call for a mass impeachment of the DC elite.

    Their crimes, including gun control, social security, obamacare, and centralized government spying, can no longer be ignored by a nation conceived in liberty.

  • Paul.||

    Liberty is a dog-whistle for racism.

  • Acheron||

    It would have been more humane for a government stormtrooper to walk behind this poor soul deliver a bullet in the back of his head.

    See, that's what the sadistic, bloodthirsty 'law & order' conservatives don't get - the rest of your days in a cage is far worse than the prick of needle and a long nap.

  • Unable2Reason||

    Les Misérables.

  • Remnant Psyche||

    Does he love Big Brother yet?

  • Jayburd||

    Sheep, keep your heads down and look away.

  • ThomasD||

    "Given the amazing water-muddying the prosecution achieved by talking about, but never trying Ulbricht for or proving in court beyond a reasonable doubt, allegedly planned, but never executed, murders for hire..."

    this case is so egregious there is simply no excuse for that sort of willful misrepresentation (or soft pedaling) of the facts.

    Ulbricht did solicit the murder of one of his workers. Only the person he solicited turned out to be a Fed. Said Fed then staged the murder of the intended victim and then proceeded to attempt to blackmail Ulbricht over it.

    You simply cannot extort an innocent man, the only way Ulbricht pays is because he knew he was vulnerable.

    None of which excuses the gross levels of misconduct by "law enforcement" in this case, and ALL of which - truthfully and openly told - should make one wonder how anyone could have been convicted in fair and open court.

  • croaker||

    I smell bacon.

  • ||

    Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.

    This is wha- I do...... ✹✹✹✹✹✹ www.www.netjob80.com

  • D. M. Michell||

    A classic example of being punished for "sinning" against the religion of the State. A crime is when a person or persons violate the rights of others. Oh. That would be the U.S. Government, violating the rights of otherwise honest, peaceful citizens in their war on inalienable rights.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    That is just a little short of being correct.
    We allowed the Iraqi's to create a constitution based on Sharia, and there was quite a bit of pushback on the internet for that.
    But the beauty of America is that everyone, your's truly included, is allowed to make a fool of themselves.

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    The government and their enablers are a bunch of bottom feeding, parasitic scumbags. I really hope the doomsday believers are right and the system does collapse. If it does, I'll be the first one to say the bureau-rats and politicians "Hey neck, meet rope."

  • D. M. Michell||

    A secular crime is the violation of the rights of others for no good cause. Good cause consists of the defense of yourself, your loved ones, or innocent others against those who would physically or financially harm you or your property. Peaceful, honest, consensual adult behavior, even the use of drugs that some find to be immoral, is your right. The biggest rights violators in America are the Federal Government, followed by the state and local governments. Those governments, under the principle of inalienable rights, commit crimes against otherwise honest, peaceful citizens. The agents of the government carrying out drug law arrests and punishments are, in fact, criminals. The governments themselves constitute criminal organizations: organized crime.

    www.dowehaverights.blogspot.com Scroll down to "Crime, Organized Crime, and Criminals."

  • ||

    Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do...... ✹✹✹✹✹✹ www.www.netjob80.com

  • croaker||

    I see a bunch od Drug War Crimes Tribunal defendants that will receive a fair trial in Nuremberg, PA, followed by a fair execution by wood chipper.

  • johnnyp||

    What a cunt. She should be shot.

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