Wordcarpenter Books
The Leaking Hourglass
 

Chapter Three

I am a Conduit

I did have a brother eventually but the age gap was big and we never had the same closeness as, for example, identical twins. I think that contributed to a greater need for me to have friends online within the secretive colony of hackers. Mendax was a cool name, even for those who didn't know what it meant. I met some pretty smarts dudes during the early years, before the acronyms had been invented, when typing was still respected as a skill that should be done with style. I still haven't warmed up to this lack of grammar in today's new online language.

I don't want to get involved in finger pointing or name-dropping so I will keep it general. But this is not to say I will sacrifice any truth. What I can do is only tell you how it was. It is up to you to accept this record as a primary source unredacted and untampered with any external force. The hand of propaganda has not sullied these words. Let there be no Council of Nicaea convened when discussing my story. I will not be the product of a virgin birth or try to sell you on the trinity. What I am is a visionary. What I'm not is a politician. I am a philosopher who got the idea right but who lacked the patience and foresight not to redact the Afghan war logs. I have to say that now it can be argued that my rash publication of these files resulted in the harm of numerous operatives. And for that I am at fault.

After the murders in Kenya I was mad, and it never really left me. That anger carried with me during my decisions to published unredacted documents that has led directly to my peril today. I didn't think we were getting through enough. I was still confident with my submission platform but wanted more leaks, more people to act and put themselves on the line. In this I might have been too overzealous, but for me it was a justified zeal that was required to achieve maximum impact. Perhaps some caution at this point in the battle would have served me better. The books by Solzheizen and the essays by philosophers I had read spurred me on into the fire the closer I got to the flame. In a way I became the monkey who triggers the latch and gets his mini-dose of cocaine. I had come so far and didn't want to be pushed off my newly acquired soapbox.

It was the idea of redacting that I refuted. I missed the practical side of it. In practice the effects of publishing un-redacted documents were detrimental to the countless operatives who were just and heroic that had gone unnamed until I published them. And this was done in protest against the coup that was happening at the time by my German co-worker and his accomplice in Berlin. I realize only now in hindsight that their steady, grounded heads had entrenched against this reckless and foolish act. I hadn't yet come to see where I stood on the world platform. I hadn't had time to see where I was in the midst of the hurricane. Nor could I see I was about to wreck it all by making an emotional decision rather than a cool, objective decision, especially with such sensitive data. I had flown too close to the sun. They saw I was about to scorch my Promethean feathers against the fire burning in front of us all. I couldn't see it, or perhaps I did see it but I wanted to get closer to the sun and the life-giving force of the world - one more mile closer to that great ball of energy that warms the marrow in us all.

Immediately the publication brought me misery. My freedom of movement was shrouded by shadowy agents following me to pubs and cafes where I had operated unseen for years. Landing in airports immediately became a harrowing affair. I was ill-prepared for the sophisticated techniques of the world's best surveillance teams. I inadvertently employed my naiveté to inflame the ramifications of the firestorm I had created, and I could not ignore the primal fear that reached my bones. My legs shook when I knew I was being watched, my skinny wrists commanding keystrokes at my laptop a constant reminder of how inadequate I was to take on such a beast of power. Some powder in my food or a spiked drink could leave me vulnerable to exploitation, which is close to what transpired only weeks after the publication of these unredacted files.

I didn't know at the time that they were the Pentagon Papers of my generation, nor did I see I was about to lose the goodwill and Robin Hood persona that I had been given up to that point by the world press. I'd like to blame my German co-worker, and I did for a number of years, but I know now it was all my fault. The pressure by one co-worker was what prompted me to publish un-redacted documents but I knew better. I chose to be loyal to an ideal of untampered publication and refused to accept the compromise of being a publisher of such sensitive information. I wish my German co-worker had been more diplomatic and loyal to my ideals. If so maybe this whole thing could have been avoided.

And this is what keeps me up at night: how things were at the time in 2010 and how things could have been so different if I hadn't made some choices that were based on an underestimation of how threatening my submission platform had become. The power structure in Virginia knew that with the infrastructure I had created and with the press I had been given, there was nothing stopping an Edward Snowden from stepping forward to reveal the American's poker hand at the great Texas Hold'em game unfolding at the UN Assembly in New York. This was an unacceptable danger for them. At the time I assured myself that I only provided the lectern from where to display hidden truths. The whistleblower breaks the law and I don't know who it is. I told myself I am a journalist who publishes using the available technologies. I am not responsible for the material. I facilitate. I am a conduit. Nothing more. Don't blame me. I should be invisible.

 


 

Chapter Four

White Hair

Like so many other people, I fell in love during my later years of high school. She was my first love. I still love her despite the serious scar tissue of our break up and the subsequent custody battles for our son. I'm not sure if I took the whole thing too emotionally or if it's my nature to worry more than others, but this single event was the most traumatic in my life. My online world has always followed strict, clearly defined rules yet my application of rules to life seems to fall short more often than not. I thought my wife would stick by my side no matter what. Trust and loyalty are the most valued traits for me in a relationship or friendship. Even twin brothers suffer crises of loyalty but there is a line that is never crossed. When the fun has been had and the laughter subsides, each twin will fight to the death for his brother. That is what I expected in my mate but I obviously failed.

My ex-wife left me just as I was being charged with hacking offenses, of which I'm sure is well known across the web. Mendax, despite being noble, was charged with enough criminal activity to lock me up behind bars for years. One of my co-hackers turned state's evidence against me so I bore the brunt. It is true that I was convicted of 24 counts of computer crimes but I pled guilty because it was the wisest thing to do at the time. I still harbor resentment for how the prosecutors painted the picture of what I did. It still stands as an archetypal moment in my life when I saw the evil in people and how evil was used to oppress the just. At first I couldn't understand the vile accusations being made against me. I simply could not figure it out. It wasn't until my lawyer explained to me that this is how court cases go, that the prosecution would press as hard as they could against the alleged perpetrator, which was me. It was as if I were experiencing a different universe. I had never been exposed to the bitter side of human nature. In fact I didn't see it as part of human nature at all. I thought it something that was taught - a learned behavior that stood out from man's natural state of happiness.

I can honestly say that it is because of my experience with lawyers during my hacking trial, and then during the court appearances regarding custody with my son Daniel, that I chose to fight against this tyranny. To me it was all unacceptable behavior. This angry and irrational behavior was a cancer that needed to be revealed and remedied. When you hear mental health experts say "People make people sick," this was the best example of that. These agents who spouted malicious untruths for their own gain was a poison that needed to be exposed for what it was and removed from public discourse. One could argue that without these experiences I never would have become so involved with cryptography or anything to do with the rubber-hose technology and leaks of any kind. Oh how my life would have been different!

One side of me was proud of what I had achieved - that I had exposed weak spots in firewalls of corporations and telecommunication hubs and government agencies but had not destroyed any files or otherwise wrecked anything of importance. I spent two years waiting for my court case, thinking of how the argument might go, and helpless at being so vulnerable to the temperament of the judge. It caused daily uproar in my mind and made me very nervous. It was during this time that my hair started to turn white. I internalized the emotional turbulence to such a degree that it manifest in the color of my hair.

When I met my biological father around this time I made a point of checking out his hair only to see that my white hair was not genetic. My emotional state was what had caused my hair to turn white. I had done it to myself. My aesthetic disfigurement was my own doing. But like so much of life, I did all that worrying and things worked out. I paid a fine and didn't have to spend any time in prison. It was - and still is - what scares me the most: being locked up in prison. I love my freedom too much to ever give it up for a cell. Freedom of information and freedom to living: they are the fundamental rights of humankind. And this is because time is the most important thing a man can spend. One must have unrestricted freedom to act to maximize their productive time. Quite simple really. Real Mendax stuff...

So the end result of love for me was a broken heart. What she did to me was terrible and unjust. It was wrong and untruthful and no human being should be allowed to do those things to other people. No one is perfect but there should always be a kernel of goodness in everyone's heart. Just because some misfortune befalls a man doesn't justify a reaction that causes worse destruction than the first cause. Herein lies why I am so passionate about accountability. Wrong breeds more wrong until the law can curtail the baser natures of the human animal. People make people sick. It's an axiom within the mental health field but it also holds true for movements of peoples and states. One bad turn causes the next bad turn. Expose the first wrong to eliminate the possible wrong produced from the first cause. We need a management system this transparent and accountable. It hurts those who do the first wrong and helps the countless innocents who bear the brunt of ill-gotten effects. Environmental health is a primary right to all citizens of the world.

 
   

 

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