Who is Dread Pirate Roberts?
January 16, 2015 9:07 AM   Subscribe

The trial of supposed Silk Road chief Ross Ulbricht is now underway. His defense rests on the claim that while Ulbricht did found Silk Road as an experiment, he relinquished control a number of years ago and is now the "fall guy" for those who were truly in charge. According to Ulbricht's defense, he was not Dread Pirate Roberts, and that there may be a number of other people who were. One of those possible operators? According to a DHS agent who took the stand yesterday, it could have been Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpelès.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates (36 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's really not enough popcorn for how this trial is shaping up.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:15 AM on January 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


Do they have an organ player in the court room for dramatic reveals?
posted by indubitable at 9:16 AM on January 16, 2015 [26 favorites]


I am the Real Slim Spartacus!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:20 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't remember the identity of Dread Pirate Roberts, for I have... AMNESIA!!!
posted by Behemoth at 9:21 AM on January 16, 2015 [27 favorites]


Serrin Turner? Every one of these people has an unconvincing name.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:21 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't believe it... but I really, really want to. Simplistically, Mark Karpeles is the most hated man in the Bitcoin community. It would be like me finding out that Elizabeth Warren is secretly backed by the Koch Brothers.
posted by muddgirl at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


A successful defense of this sort is exactly what prosecutors fear most. It's probably already impossible to prove on-line identity to a legal standard for someone using state-of-the-art privacy tools. The Internet is close to becoming a place where some laws cannot be enforced. Where that will lead is fascinating speculation.
posted by srt19170 at 9:28 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I wasn't that gripped by the articles Ars Technica has been doing about the lead up to the trial (jury selection and what not), but the day-to-day reporting they've been doing this week as the trial's actually has been started has been just completely fascinating to me. From the fact that they ended up catching Ubricht red-handed in a library (that I knew about from when he was arrested) because of some pills a random agent found in the mail to .... This defense that bears a very strong resemblance to the story of the Dread Pirates Roberts as given in Princess Bride. The main difference being that he's claiming he somehow re-inherited the ship he built, as it were.

As NoxAeternum said, not enough popcorn for this trial so far.
posted by sparkletone at 9:43 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm curious about the mysterious IRS guy who says out of nowhere that DPR is Ulbricht.
posted by smackfu at 9:44 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


"He is Spartacus!"

There's just something inherently funny about 'Dread Pirate Roberts' being the focal point of an actual trial. Given the number of online crimes that'll be tried in the future and the anonymity behind accounts I can't wait for "United States v. xXB00tyLuVrXx" down the road
posted by splen at 9:52 AM on January 16, 2015 [10 favorites]




I'm waiting for him to throw down a smokebomb of crazy purple knockout gas and disappear, cackling and twirling his mustache.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Internet is close to becoming a place where some laws cannot be enforced

It has always been such a place. The idea that the offline world could somehow impose its various wills onto cyberspace is a relatively new and deeply unfortunate state of affairs which will hopefully be cleared up as soon as we stop wasting our time with centralized services.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2015


The Internet is close to becoming a place where some laws cannot be enforced. Where that will lead is fascinating speculation.

It's also terrifying; see the gamer grooblers for why.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Or just how women are treated online, period.
posted by phearlez at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


The Internet is close to becoming a place where some laws cannot be enforced

I got into an argument with a linux kernel developer who maintained that Hans Reiser's conviction was a travesty of justice because his guilt could not logically follow from the investigation; this, after Reiser led police to the body of his wife. Something about the Internet being involved makes people feel like the legal system is going to be outwitted by clever technical dodges.

In reality, Reiser was convicted because he looked as guilty as someone possibly could to the jury, who didn't buy his bullshit testimony, even without a body. While the Princess Bride narrative makes for juicy reporting, deliberately fed by the defence, I don't see how a juror possibly buys it. He was logged into the admin panel of the site when arrested. He had a journal in which he'd literally made notes about having people killed (and he hasn't disputed the journal). And "I was framed... by MARK KARPELES!" smells desperate, especially after conceding that he was, in fact, DPR for a while at least.

I wasn't aware that Karpeles was an actual suspect for a while, and that an agent actually built a substantial case against him. But the trial will come down to whether or not the jury believes Ulrich, and I think your average juror finds logical technicalities much less compelling than programmers do.
posted by fatbird at 10:25 AM on January 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


It would be like me finding out that Elizabeth Warren is secretly backed by the Koch Brothers.

So you're saying it's...INCONCEIVABLE!
posted by yoink at 10:26 AM on January 16, 2015 [26 favorites]


I thought of a better analogy. It's like Obama pulls off a mask and underneath it's Rob Blagojevich, and he shakes his fist and says, "I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling nerds."
posted by muddgirl at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]




You know, Bartholomew Roberts's body was never recovered and he was actually a dread pirate...
posted by Jahaza at 11:40 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Where that will lead is fascinating speculation.

My money's on totalitarianism.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:41 AM on January 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Where that will lead is fascinating speculation.
My money's on totalitarianism.
Most of the money is.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:48 AM on January 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Silk Road judge to jury: "don't go watch Princess Bride over the weekend."
posted by larrybob at 11:49 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dwugs, Twue Dwugs.
posted by benzenedream at 11:50 AM on January 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


I haven't coded perl + wget/curl + regex scripts in a long time, but I'd love to be notified if the prosecution uses the word "inconceivable". Maybe a google news filter...
posted by sidereal at 1:10 PM on January 16, 2015


It's the Tim Burton defense. Whether I'm guilty or not, I'm going to make the movie of this trial a a postmodern drama/comedy.

It's proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Not proof beyond any doubt. And the whole story of the guy getting, loosing, and getting admin privileges for a site that handled millions of dollars in cryptocurrency doesn't strike me as reasonable doubt.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:34 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I kind of have a feeling that a jury won't convict here. Defence is going to snow them with technical bafflegab until they don't know which way is up.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:42 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Burn.
posted by bq at 3:57 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If this is the best the defense has the jury is going to convict. It's one thing to spread doubt, it's another to say "well, yeah my client was caught red handed... but he's just a patsy!" That seems pretty desperate. If Ross Ulbricht really was a patsy, the time for him to use that was before the trial.

The best chance Ross had was in denying the government's evidence. Once it was clear the judge wasn't going to allow that, he was fucked.
posted by aspo at 4:17 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]




Also, even if he gets off on this one, he still gets to look forward to getting tried for paying for 6 people to be tortured and murdered.
Luckily the hitmen he hired were a combination of scammers and FBI agents.
He wrote about his commissioned hits in his own journal too.
I wonder if he goes for that Sideshow Bob defense "No one gets a noble prize for attempted Chemistry!"
posted by Iax at 12:04 AM on January 18, 2015


The computer also contained what appears to be Ulbricht's personal journal. It goes back to 2010, in which Ulbricht describes his early plans to create Silk Road and seed it by growing psychedelic mushrooms, and selling them for cheap. He describes his personal goals and his days spent working, surfing, or drinking with friends. He also describes lies told to friends, and the pain it brought.

That diary was read into the public record today.

"I went out with Jessica," said Howard, reading Ulbricht's diary into the public record in a rote monotone. "Our conversation was somewhat deep. I felt compelled to reveal myself to her... It was terrible. I told her I have secrets."
It's hard out there for a dread pirate.
posted by sparkletone at 5:20 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]




Also, yesterday, we found out what his OK Cupid profile was like.
posted by sparkletone at 12:32 AM on January 30, 2015


The defense's closing argument prompted William Gibson to wonder aloud on twitter, "Is the narrative in the defence's closing statement in that Silk Road case more Borgesian than Pynchonian? It's a very close call." He's not wrong there.

But it didn't matter as today, after a bit over 3 hours of deliberation, Ulbricht was found guilty on all counts.
posted by sparkletone at 1:21 PM on February 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


The transcript of DPR ordering the assassinations of 5 people.

So... were they murdered or not? Looking around, it says they can't confirm the existence of a "Blake Krokoff." That would make sense if the Hell's Angels guy was also in on the con, and made up an identity to knock off. But it's DPR who is providing the name and details, so either that is a real person or the con was very complex, starting from the time FriendlyChemist and Lucydrop set up accounts. Which would be some real Mamet shit.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:42 AM on February 6, 2015


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