I have no prior connection to Ross Ulbricht. I had never heard or seen his name before news of his arrest. I had account on the Silk Road site that I used to check the place out from time to time when news items and online media posts came out relating to it. However, I never communicated with anyone there, never made any purchases, etc. Really. I swear!
When I read the news about Ross’s arrest, I instantly scrambled to find and read whatever information was available about the incident and what was revealed about Ross himself. As I knew the Silk Road to be a place where only victimless non-crimes could be arranged, I viewed the site as a frontier-pushing exemplar in terms of ending the loathsome wars against some drugs. That it was gone and its operator was charged with such offenses alarmed me. I spent a couple of hours pondering, then registered six domain names: (free)rossulbricht.(org,com,net). I spent the rest of the day preparing this website.
Regardless of the charges, everyone should have a zealous and highly competent legal defense, especially when they face the prison time contemplated in this case. The US federal courts have something like a 98% conviction rate, most of that via plea “bargains” because the USG just loves to over-charge everything they possibly can (e.g. conspiracy to X, using an interstate commerce/communication facility to do X, etc.) and to strong-arm defendants into accepting sentence rather than facing decades in prison. The drug war is part of what has turned the USG into an instrument of unspeakable evil.
In reviewing the criminal complaint from the New York district it looked clear to me that the alleged killing in British Columbia never occurred and that the whole thing was a set-up by the same individual hoping to extort money from DPR. That’s fishy. Were those actually FBI agents rather than ordinary users faking up an entrapment as one redditor suggests? And what about the completely casual nature of the alleged conversation? “You want clean or dirty?” “Eh, just let me know when it’s done and send proof.” “Here ya go.” Not to mention this kind of thing is completely out of character for the libertarian idealist DPR expressed himself as in his writings for an extended period of time.
The Maryland indictment is even stranger. It alleges that Dread Pirate Roberts arranged to have an employee tortured killed over a financial dispute and against the possibility that the employee might divulge information to police, as he had been arrested. We don’t know if this “employee” even exists (why isn’t he/she named?), and again, we don’t know whether this was some kind of set-up by FBI undercover agents. To readers who scoff at the idea that the feds would ever lie in court documents, please recall how Director of National Intelligence James Clapper perjured himself before congress; Colin Powell and G.W. Bush lying the US and other countries into war in Iraq without consequence; the entire edifice of pervasive, warrantless surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden being denied for years and then laughed off as “no big deal” by top-level officials; and three-star US Marine Corps General George Flynn supervising the details of Chelsea Manning’s torturous detention in Quantico, Viriginia all accompanied by vigorous denials that anything was amiss.
There are also very good reasons to believe that the ownership and control of Silk Road changed hands at least once, if not twice. This is analyzed elsewhere. It’s entirely possible that the Dread Pirate Roberts of the shining idealism sold or gave the Silk Road to someone else, and that it was that person who casually ordered the probably non-existent murders. It is no stretch of the imagination to believe that it was in fact the second or third owner, given the timeline.
“[The Dread Pirate] Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. He took me to his cabin and he told me his secret. ‘I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts’ he said. ‘My name is Ryan; I inherited the ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from is not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia. Then he explained the name was the important thing, for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.”
– Dread Pirate Roberts IV, The Princess Bride
Whether or not Ross Ulbricht was ever the owner of Silk Road, I have no idea. If he was the Dread Pirate Roberts of the libertarian ideals and commitments to non-violence, we have to believe either that he went all Walter White crazy or that he was lying all the time. I disbelieve in either possibility. If Ross did operate Silk Road, maybe he is “guilty” of victimless “crimes” under the fraudulent drug statutes and all the rest but he is not a killer. If that’s so, he’s a hero to me, a man who made a massive contribution to expanding the boundaries of freedom on this planet, and a hero to many others as well.