Does Silk Road’s Founder Deserve Two Centuries in Prison? | Guest: Lyn Ulbricht | Ep 33

Does Silk Road’s Founder Deserve Two Centuries in Prison? | Guest: Lyn Ulbricht | Ep 33

– Welcome to Kibbe on Liberty. This week, a very special
guest, Lyn Ulbricht. Her son, Ross Ulbricht, is
spending two life sentences plus 40 years for a non-violent crime and you and I have to figure
out a way to get him out. Check it out. (rock music) Lyn Ulbricht, welcome. We’ve been talking about doing this, I think, for several years, and it’s really an honor
to have you on the show. – Oh, thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity. – So let’s assume that a lot of people don’t know about you or your son, Ross, and let’s give them a sense
for what happened to him and why he’s in prison today. – Sure. Yeah, my son Ross is serving
double life plus 40 years without the possibility of parole in a maximum security prison
for all non-violent charges. First time offender, no
history of violence whatsoever, and it’s essentially for his role in the Silk Road website
slash marketplace, something he created on a
computer when he was 26 years old, and I feel that it is an
excessive, cruel sentence that is totally unnecessary. Ross is completely peaceful. He’s not a danger to anyone,
and I’m working very hard to have him free and
to have this sentence, which sets a terrible
precedent by the way, commuted. – And how long has he been in prison? – He’ll be starting his
seventh year in a couple weeks. – Okay, so let’s take a step back and, I know this whole story and
it gets pretty complicated. – [Lyn] Yeah, it’s complicated. – But let’s talk about Silk Road first because this was,
[Lyn] Sure. – Was this the first sort of encrypted deep web marketplace? [Lyn] Good question. – What’s the story? I don’t. – Actually, I think
there were some before. I actually don’t know the answer to that. Certainly, Ross had never
done anything like that. He was, the thing is,
Ross got very passionate about liberty and free markets and then the potential for
monetary freedom through bitcoin, which was very new, hardly
anyone had heard of it, and he was at Penn State, he was part of the Ron Paul campaign. He brought Ron Paul to Penn State, he campaigned for him, and
became very on fire for freedom, and he created a video game to give people the experience of a real free market, and he tried to get it published. He talked to people, that didn’t happen, and he turned to the internet, and he created Silk Road. Now, Silk Road was based on
the non-aggression principle of voluntary interaction so it
wasn’t a totally free market because certain things were prohibited. Anything that basically hurt a
third party, created a victim so for instance, there
was no child pornography or anything related to pedophilia allowed, no stolen property, no
weapons, no assassinations, things that could be used
to hurt a third party. Drugs were allowed because
the administration of the site felt it was a free choice
between two individuals. Carnegie Mellon did a study. The overwhelming type of
drugs that were exchanged were user amounts of cannabis, but there were other drugs on there, so, and I’m not defending that, but I’m just saying that’s what– – [Matt] But that would be– – It wasn’t the intention
to be a drug site. It was, the intention
was to be a free market that was private, uninterfered
with by the government that used bitcoin as a means of exchange. – So kind of like an encrypted
anonymous version of Amazon. – Yeah, or eBay, or something like that. – So you wouldn’t get dogged on Facebook for every time you searched
for something on Amazon. (laughing) – [Lyn] Well, good point. – Which, sounds pretty
attractive to me, yeah, but he was, I think, wasn’t he a member of
Students for Liberty? – Yeah, he was. Actually, he was one of the first members and his signature’s on their first t-shirt that’s hanging on the wall
of their office in D.C. – So he’s very motivated
by ideas and this sort of, it’s almost this, it almost
sounds like Galt’s Gulch to me, where everyone’s gonna
trade value for value and– – Yeah, he was an idealist, and he got into Austrian
economics and von Mises and all that philosophy and yeah, that’s what he became very consumed with and chose not to go on
to his Ph.D. in physics. He had a free ride to Cornell and said, well, that’s just not my passion. Of course, as a mother, I’m like, what are you talking about? Ah, no, no. – By the way, those same idea guys screwed up my life as well, (laughing) so I’m not nearly as productive as I otherwise could have been. – Well, that’s interesting. Yeah, well, it’s good to be an idealist, but when you’re 26 years old,
you’re not that realistic. He’s very remorseful about what happened. He’s like, oh my god, I can’t believe. You know, the mistakes that he made, he’s, it’s not like he would
ever, ever do it again. He’s very remorseful, but
he did create the site. – Yeah. Now these, and it, part of the technology at the core of this is Tor,
which is a government-based, basically private, way to
keep your stuff private. I’m not a technologist,
so I’m not gonna show my ignorance by trying to
explain it any more than that. – And you won’t ask me to either, right? – Yeah, no. – But it’s a, used by
dissidents and journalists and lots of people who want privacy. It’s not necessarily a
criminal thing, yeah. – Yeah, privacy’s not a criminal thing. – [Lyn] Right, yeah. – And, you know, the presumption, and there’s, and we almost, almost all of the shows that I do, no matter what we’re talking about, we just did a show, like I said, it’s running
today about Kamala Harris, and she has wanted to
hold people like Facebook accountable for everything
that’s said on Facebook, and so if it’s something criminal. – [Lyn] Very familiar. – If something criminal happens, and imagine that you
would break the internet. You would destroy it. You would destroy free speech. You would certainly destroy privacy, but there is this constant tension between government agents
who want to control people’s lives and manipulate
what they can and can’t do, and the internet, which,
and innovation and people, it will be free. – [Lyn] Right. – It will happen. People will find ways to do the
things that they want to do. – Right. Well, that’s essentially what
the point is with the whole situation with Ross, is that
he’s being held accountable and responsible for everything
that happened on a site. – [Matt] Right. – That he was not controlling it. – [Matt] Right. – I mean, they did monitor
it for those things that created victims, but
he wasn’t controlling it, and it’s, if it were a civil case, they couldn’t, they wouldn’t do that because there’s a law
where you cannot hold a website host accountable for what’s said or done on the site, but because it was a criminal case, that’s not covered, but it’s exactly the same principle. It’s vicarious liability. It’s extending the criminal umbrella, liability umbrella, to include things that you didn’t even do. – [Matt] Yeah. – And that’s what she’s
proposing, it sounds like. It’s a very slippery
slope because it can get from oh well, that’s marijuana or drugs, or this or that, and then it’s well you
said the wrong thing. – [Matt] Right. – It’s speech. It’s, you know, and that’s the direction we seem to be going in. – Yeah, so this matters, what happened to Ross matters for a lot of – [Lyn] It sets precedent. – of legal and philosophical reasons as we move forward because technology is ubiquitous and the ability of people to curate and choose and
do whatever they want is, that’s the new normal, and clearly incumbents, particularly government
incumbents don’t much like that because it’s about control, but so he built this site, and he, I assume he has since acknowledged that he’s the guy that built it. – Yeah, he had help building it because he’s not a computer programmer. – [Matt] Okay. – And that came out in trial, but he created it. He had the idea for it.
– So he was the thinker? – [Lyn] Yeah. – Yeah. – The philosopher and it’s even, the judge even said at sentencing, “We know you created this site
for philosophical reasons. “We’re just not sure it’s a
philosophy you’ve left behind.” So I’m like, oh, so
because he might still have this dangerous philosophy
of voluntary interaction, he has to die in prison? – [Matt] That’s interesting. – She said it, it’s in the
sentencing transcripts. To me, that’s a First Amendment problem. We should not be caged for our philosophy or our political views. She found them troubling and
dangerous and cited it, so. – So, he built this site and almost immediately the federal government started this massive
operation to try to figure out who it was and to take it down. There’s actually a
movie about this, right? – Right, well Deep Web,
they go into that, yeah. – And so, what happened? He was arrested and he
was charged with what? – Well, he was sentenced for
less than he was charged with, so I don’t, might as well just talk about what he was sentenced for
’cause that what matters. – [Matt] Sure, sure. – And by the way, I just want to say that all his charges and his
sentencing was non-violent and he was smeared with
allegations of murder for hire, but then when it came time to indict him and take him to trial, it wasn’t there, but the media had already talked about it. There was another indictment
that mentioned those things. It’s been dismissed with prejudice, so there are no charges of murder for hire and yet this is a lingering thing. – It’s out there in the narrative. – It’s out there, yeah, with the media, and I have been told by
criminal justice lawyers, people who have had this happen to them that this is something
that is done to people, that they are charged
with things they didn’t do that are heinous and then
gets dropped or goes away but it’s part of the narrative. – Yeah, it’s a prosecutor’s strategy. – [Lyn] Yeah, exactly. – And probably leaked to the press. – [Lyn] Mmhmm, oh yeah. – And the press, of course,
likes the most salacious thing. – [Lyn] Exactly. – And that’s why I want to bring that up, because if I talk to a
casual friend about Ross, they’re like, that guy, did
he try to kill somebody? And it’s all a lie, and
dismissed with prejudice means no one can ever charge
him with that ever again. – Right, and they didn’t need
to do that, but they did. It’s done, it’s over, but he’s in prison.
– Well, what was he, what was he convicted of? – But what he was convicted for, and it’s essentially conspiracy,
so not that he sold drugs, not that he exchanged drugs with anyone. It’s that he was in a
conspiracy to do that because people on the site
bought and sold drugs, and that’s also hacking,
computer hacking, same thing, not that he did it, but that
there was software on the site that could be used for that. No hacking was ever proven. Money laundering, same thing, that I think it was mainly
bitcoin was exchanged for fiat money or for gold or whatever. Not that he did it,
again, it’s conspiracy, and then fake ID’s. The one thing that was not, same thing, the one thing that was
not a conspiracy was, and this was towards the end, at first those were the only charges, and which come with a
10-year mandatory minimum. Then they added the kingpin charge, basically saying that a website host is analogous to El Chapo, Pablo Escobar, these violent kingpins. That’s what that law is for, the continuing criminal enterprise. That comes with its own life sentence and that comes with a
20-year mandatory minimum and so they loaded that on there so he has double life sentence and then 40 years for
all those other charges, conspiracy charges. – So, it’s inconceivable,
two life sentences, 40 years. Compare that, I saw you
speak at PorcFest recently and you were comparing it
to some comparable sentences for other murderous drug kingpins. – Oh, well murderous drug kingpins, yes, like many of them, 25 years and less. El Chapo recently got half
the sentence Ross did. That’s insane. – [Matt] Yeah, how is that possible? – But also, people in the Silk Road, the other defendants
in the Silk Road case, a person convicted for being
the biggest drug seller, who actually sold drugs, which
Ross did not, got 10 years. He has the same offense level as Ross. He got 10 years, and it
goes down from there. There was a copycat
site called Silk Road 2 that the government said was identical, except it was bigger, it sold more drugs, and the person who was
running that, Blake Benthall, was in custody for 13 days and let out and I just, Vice just broke the story that he has to pay back taxes
on two years, that’s it, so the disparity of sentencing
alone is a violation of the sentencing, I believe
it’s the Sentencing Reform Act. – Yeah, I looked up the Eighth
Amendment to the Constitution and I’ll pull it up and I
want to read it to people because I think actually
understanding the consequences of what the government did,
but while I pull that up, talk about some of the, there were some incredibly dishonest, corrupt
members of law enforcement that were the leads on
this case and tell us some of those stories
about what they were up to. – Yeah, well, we know about two of them because they’re in prison now. One is Carl Mark Force,
who was a DEA agent at the core of the investigation and the other was Shaun Bridges, who was a Secret Service agent, also on assignment from the NSA, and they had a backdoor into Silk Road and used that access to steal money. We know that was true from
different people who had, people had legal goods on there too. People, they stole money,
but at the same time they had the ability, and we don’t know, we don’t have proof, but
they had the ability to, they had passwords, they had PIN numbers, they had keys, basically
keys to the kingdom, and could, they could act as DPR, which is the moniker for
the lead administrator without DPR even knowing
and other aliases. They could change any content
in the chats, marketplace, any of that, and this was used as evidence against Ross at trial
and they’ve been proven to be corrupt, they’re in prison now. – Was that, and that
information was not available to the jury, is that right? – [Lyn] That’s correct. – That’s insane. – That’s insane. The defense objected
at a pre-trial hearing that was sealed, I mean, closed off. We couldn’t go to it, but
the prosecution argued. They said, well no you can’t bring this up because we’re still
investigating these people and this’ll tip them off,
and then we found out later they already knew. They had known for almost a year. They were interviewed by law enforcement and the defense said, okay we’ll wait. Go ahead and do your investigation, then we’ll have a full, fair trial, and the judge said no,
we have to do it now, and you cannot mention them. They’re totally precluded,
so the jury had no idea that there were corrupt
agents all over that site. – Yeah, so to repeat this,
’cause it’s so shocking it’s hard to imagine, DEA agents were, had gotten into Silk Road. – Yeah, as part of their investigation. – They were stealing money
in the form of bitcoin. – A lot of money. – A lot of money, how much? – 20,000 bitcoin is what I’ve been. – Which is, that’s real cash. – Yeah, especially now. It wasn’t worth that much then, but it’s still a lot of money. – And that information wasn’t available to the jury that convicted your son. – Correct. – Wow. – They didn’t know of their existence, and actually the prosecution
hid the existence of Shaun Bridges, the
Secret Service agent, even from the judge. That all came out two months after trial. Some other interesting
things came out too, but I don’t know if you
wanna get to that right now. – [Matt] Sure, sure. – Okay, so what happens is the lawyers, certainly in this case, the government did a huge data dump, so there was something like
four terabytes of material to go through to find the needles in the haystack that’d be helpful. Well, this is practically impossible. This is like, you would
be crushed to death if it was on paper. It’s just a huge amount of data, but after trial they kept sifting through, and discovered first of all that DPR, which just to digress one
second, is DPR stands for Dread Pirate Roberts who was a character in The Princess Bride and the whole point of Dread Pirate Roberts was
to pass on the title to, and that person would pass it on, that person would pass it on. So it’s, even within the name it’s implied that there are many of them. – [Matt] Okay. – But it’s pretty obvious when Ross was in solitary confinement that DPR logged into the Silk Road forum, and that was discovered after trial, and there were other indications, and it’s on our website, all the different anecdotal evidence as well as hard evidence that there was more than one person running the site. – So there’s more going on
here than we can get into. – [Lyn] I will, let me
say one other thing. – Sure. – There was also tampering discovered. So there was, and the suspicion is it was from a third corrupt agent. So, there were big portions of, what the jury saw was
incomplete and big portions of that evidence which was
discovered later, was deleted. So it painted a different picture. – You reference the website,
and there’s more information than people might be able to consume. – [Lyn] Yeah, there’s a lot. – And there’s, if you’re interested, you should go to and there’s a petition that
we’re gonna talk about, but let’s talk about it several times. There’s a petition on
to ask President Trump to grant clemency which is different than. – A pardon. – [Matt] A pardon. – Yeah, we’re not asking for a pardon. Ross admits that he made
a very grievous mistake. He’s not saying, oh I did
nothing wrong, pardon me, but we are asking, and he
is asking for a sentence that is not cruel, unusual,
really brutal and barbaric, that is so far beyond out
of whack with the offense and what’s necessary and so, yeah we’re asking for a commutation. – Okay, let’s talk about Ross
and what’s going on in prison. I just heard some of these stories and they’re pretty rough
as well, ’cause I want to define what cruel and
unusual punishment is, so give people a picture for
what Ross is going through, and what he started. It started rough and only
recently got a little bit better. – Yeah, it actually started in
a more transitional facility in New York, so that wasn’t,
that’s more of a mix of people, but then he was sent to a
maximum security penitentiary and that was very gang-heavy
with violent people. – Killers and rapists. – Violent gangs, yeah. It’s the one step down from Super Max, and there’s other non-violent
people in there too, but it’s very violent there. There were routinely stabbings, beatings. There have been riots there. Just recently, there were
two different suicides of people Ross knew because it’s so tough. No, it’s very dangerous
and the only reason he was in a place like that
was ’cause of his sentence because his security
score, he has no violence, he would have been in a camp, he’s such a low security score. Even when he came in, they were going, what are you doing in here? – What is a security score? – What is it? I believe it’s a 12. It might be a 10, but it’s low. – No, I mean like explain. – [Lyn] Oh, what is it, sorry. – I’m guessing what it is,
but explain to everybody what a security score is when you. – Well, it’s a score that each
inmate, each prisoner gets to show how dangerous they are. – And we’re talking about, and I’ve read some of the letters. All of his friends, everyone
tells the same story. He’s a Boy Scout. – Yeah, he’s an Eagle Scout. – He’s a peacenik Boy Scout. – Yeah, idealist geek. (chuckling) You know, believe me,
I know you know this, but he could be sitting here, you’d be having a great conversation. You would not be afraid at all. (laughing) There’s no, he’s not a danger to anyone. The guards, guards have
come up to me and gone, he doesn’t belong in here. What’s he doing in here? Kind of thing, so, and
that’s been many times. – But he has spent months in, I don’t know if the right word is solitary confinement, but small metal boxes. How did that happen?
– Yeah, he has been in actual solitary for probably
at least a couple months, but also when he, what happened
was he refused to assault, participate in an
assault on another inmate because he’s not a violent guy and he had to put himself
in protective custody because that made him a target and so protective custody was
an eight by 10 metal box, no window, nothing for 3 1/2 months. – So that’s not done, even though it is, but it’s not done to punish
him, it’s ostensibly. – No, but it’s exactly the same thing they do to punish people. It’s a place they put you in, people who are being
punished go there too. – Yeah, we need to do a second show on prison reform, I think. – [Lyn] Yes, yes absolutely. – So this, it seems like
a good time to read, I’m not gonna read the Eighth Amendment, but the Eighth Amendment
amongst other things prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and I found, I went on Wiki and I found a ’72 Supreme Court case
where Justice Brennan and the Supreme Court set the standard that a punishment would
be cruel and unusual if it was too severe for the crime, if it was arbitrary, if it offended society’s sense of
justice, or if it was not more effective than a less severe penalty. – [Lyn] Wow. – So, if that’s the standard. – [Lyn] There it is. – I feel like we just
checked all the boxes. – [Lyn] Yeah, absolutely. – Which is why you’re here, this is the point of the petition. Too few people know the story. – [Lyn] Especially the true story. – The true story, because of the narrative that the, I don’t know if
they’re the prosecutors, but the government created against Ross, so tell me about the petition drive, because we’re trying to get
the President’s attention and we’re trying to get
everybody’s attention for something that most people, maybe they haven’t heard about this. – Yeah, thanks, and the thing is, President Trump has shown
that he’s interested in redemption and giving
people second chances, that he believes in that, and mercy, and so I’m very hopeful
that he can see in this case that Ross is a perfect
candidate for clemency, ’cause he will never re-offend. He will never hurt anyone. It’s not like the kind of
situation where a President lets someone out and they do. That’s, this is not gonna happen with him and so we have a petition. You can go to
or just on our website, there’s a banner, and it
has over 206,000 signatures, and it’s only been a little over a year, and it’s just asking for a commutation saying this sentence needs to be corrected ’cause it’s very, very wrong and yeah, it’s the second
fastest growing clemency petition on that – Okay, and repeat the URL
so that people can go there. – Sure, – Okay, and after we’re done with this, we’re gonna shoot a couple short clips and try to drive some
traffic to the petition site. – [Lyn] That’d be great. – And see if we can’t get
people fired up about it. But I want to go back and take this a little bit above just
your fight as Ross’ mother and tease out some of the
public policy implications of this, and one of
them, and it’s, we had, maybe you know Dr. Jeff
Singer, Cato scholar, he’s a practicing physician
and he’s rabidly anti-drug war, and he approaches it as
a physician as opposed to just a libertarian policy
guy and one of the things this website was trying to do was to create better information. We’re in the middle of an opioid crisis and I would argue that the crisis was very much created
by the drug war itself. By prohibiting certain
kinds of legal behavior by clamping down on prescriptions, you’re pushing people
into the black market where they don’t know. Prince, and Dr. Singer talked about this, Prince died because he didn’t know, and he wasn’t legally allowed
to do what he was doing so he went to the black
market, he bought something, he didn’t know what it was.
– And he couldn’t get advice, he couldn’t get proper
advice for alternatives. – So one of the dreams of this website, and it was functioning,
was consumer feedback and advice on what potentially deadly and dangerous
drugs might do to you. – Right, there was, and
how to get off drugs. There was a book club, there was all kinds of philosophical discussions. It wasn’t, not too many
kingpins have a book club, or care about voluntary interaction. Again, I think it was naive, I think it was overly idealistic. – [Matt] Sure. – But that’s true of
a lot of young people, but yeah, there was, the
intentions were good. – And of course, as libertarians, we think that the drug war is illegitimate and I don’t think that we should be in the business of putting people in cages for choices that don’t hurt other people or take their stuff. – [Lyn] Exactly. – Now, conservatives
may not agree with that, but there’s other fundamental
issues at play here. – I’d like to just make a quick
call-out to conservatives, because, and I was very
much a conservative. I’ve become much more libertarian. – I met you at a conservative conference a long time ago.
– Yeah, we met at a, right. It was six years ago, I think. – [Matt] Yeah. – So, what I would like to say is, the drug war doesn’t work. People are still doing
drugs after over 45 years and I believe it’s, could it
possibly be a trillion dollars, it’s many billions, and it doesn’t work. So why would we keep doing it? Well, what I think the
government keeps doing it ’cause people are making tons of money and shredding our Constitution. I mean, there’s many
drug cases that they’re, oh, who cares about the
Constitution, it’s drugs. So this is really a conservative issue. It’s not just a wild
hair libertarian thing. It’s definitely something
that’s hurting our Constitution. It is unconstitutional. It’s not in the Constitution. Prohibition was a big
failure, it’s a failure now, and it’s costing tons of money
we cannot spare, so anyway. – And that is shifting in
the conservative community. The President himself has
certainly been very clear about legalizing medical cannabis. On the campaign trail, I believe he was broadly pro-legalizing cannabis and you have guys like Glenn Beck, my colleague and media
mentor here at BlazeTV. He takes my position that all
drugs should be legalized, in part because you can’t
regulate away dumb decisions would be his conservative argument, but in the process of trying to, you can create a lot of death
and destruction along the way. – [Lyn] Correct. – So that’s one issue,
but the other issues that I think might be even more concerning to Constitutional conservatives
and libertarians alike are the indiscriminate
prosecutorial discretion just to get the guy, right, the way they gamed the system and broke the rules and apparently stealing
and all sorts of stuff. Our justice system’s not gonna work if we allow that sort of thing to happen. – Right, well yeah, and it’s
obvious this is going on because 98% of people plea
and don’t go to trial. There’s a trial penalty. Now trials are our right. It’s a pillar of our justice system, but fair trials practically don’t exist and 98% of people plea
’cause they’re bullied or threatened by prosecutors
that if you go to trial, you’re gonna have a worse consequence and so many people plea to
things they’re innocent of, and I’ve been told by former prosecutors, they have told me, said they
will lie, they will cheat, anything to get that notch in their belt, get that trophy, and
there are no consequences, and there are many, many examples of it. In Ross’ case, there was a
very controlled narrative. It wasn’t allowed to be mentioned
that he was a libertarian. It wasn’t allowed to be mentioned that there were many, many
legal items on the site. Many things were not
allowed to be mentioned. It was tailored to the
prosecutor’s narrative in what was presented to the jury. – Which gets us to the broader question, and there’s sort of an emerging consensus on the Right and the Left. I mean, it’s kind of a
libertarian consensus that we put too many
non-violent kids in cages and that the cost of that,
first of all the fiscal cost. It’s bankrupting states because every time we pass a new mandatory minimum law, we build more prisons and
it’s a wildly expensive thing, but you also get this cycle of recidivism where young people go into
the sort of environment you’re describing your son is in and what’s one of the first
things he had to decide if he wanted to do, which
is to become a thug, to become a violent.
– He had to resist that, but a lot of people. Look, I’ve relocated, we
have moved to be near him, to give him a lifeline, but
most people can’t do that. We have an internet
business, we can do that, and, ’cause I think it’s so important, but when it becomes your world
and you’re trying to survive, you know, they say it’s correctional. No, it’s a criminal training ground, and a lot of people are
bullied or pressured into joining a gang, which
they never would have done and things like that. It’s, there’s a huge cost in that way. – Yeah, and it just
creates that endless cycle where once a criminal, always a criminal. There’s no way to get out of it. – You’re pegged, and the
other thing is the children, ’cause I’ve gotten to know the
families when I go in there and it’s just, oh my
gosh it’s so horrible, ’cause they’re so excited
to see their father and then when they’re leaving
these children are shattered. They are sobbing, they are harmed. These kids are being hurt, and
these are excessive sentences and often non-violent people
and one woman said to me. She goes, “You know, before this happened, “my kids were getting
straight A’s, everything was, “and now everything’s just falling apart.” So, and these kids
statistically have been proven that they will end up in the system, so it becomes, it’s
like mass incarceration has become this monster. The prison population has metastasized 800% since the drug war, 800%. Life sentences have
quintupled since the drug war. It’s become this, this
isn’t even American, which is another argument
for the conservatives. It’s like, before this you
didn’t automatically get, first of all hardly anybody got life, but you didn’t automatically go to prison. There were many other options. It wasn’t like this, and
it was a steady population and then it shot up, like I say, 800%. We’re the biggest
incarcerator in the world. This isn’t good, this is wrong, it’s evil. – Yeah, you have, and of
course President Trump, efforts were attempted
at the federal level to do some fairly nominal reforms to the criminal justice system and there’s a whole lot more to do, but President Trump has made it safe for conservatives to admit
that this system is broken, but it’s also just a
fascinating thing where Van Jones and Donald Trump
can agree on something. So you know something’s wrong if these very different guys come
together on something. Another issue for me, and this used to be a fringy libertarian thing, but now it’s become quite urgent. Well, I shouldn’t say it’s a,
I’m talking about free speech, and now it seems like a
fringy libertarian thing because you have a lot
of people including, Mark Zuckerberg suggested that Facebook be regulated for speech,
pointing to the French system, which is incredibly authoritarian and by the way, very un-American, the idea that somebody in the government, some regulatory agency is gonna decide you can say this but you can’t say that, and we sort of take our freedom to say whatever the heck is on
our mind for granted, but I’m looking at what’s
happening in Hong Kong right now, and the activists who
are risking their lives to fight for that civil liberty of actually speaking your mind, they need privacy so that the government. – [Lyn] Right! – Doesn’t come after them and
that’s what this is all about. – [Lyn] That’s right. – This is about voluntary
behavior that’s happening under a veil of privacy so that
whoever can’t mess with you and I feel like that’s
another issue that hopefully, conservatives, libertarians,
civil libertarians on the Left, like, we all used to agree on this thing. – Yeah, well we better,
because we’re gonna lose it, I think, and you know, Ross has told me that one of his motivations
was he felt like something had to be,
people needed to understand that we were losing our privacy
and how important that was. That was a big motivation for him, but yeah, I mean like I told you, the judge used his philosophy to justify her draconian sentence. This is dangerous, yeah. – Let’s get back to that ’cause that, and I heard you make this argument and we just compared Ross’
sentence to El Chapo, and if they’re both drug kingpins, you would think they would deserve the same sentence at the very least. He, of course, is a well
documented murderer. I don’t know what the body count is, but it’s something fantastic,
and the government itself has acknowledged that Ross
was absolutely not responsible for anybody’s murder, but you argue, and you always thought that this, they were trying to make
an example in the context of the drug war, but now you
think it’s something else. – Well, they said they were doing that. They said, we’re gonna make you an example and deter others, which
of course it didn’t work, but I actually think it
was about the bitcoin, but bitcoin has to do with
privacy as well and I think that because the other
sentences are so disparate. The biggest drug seller got 10 years, so obviously they weren’t
that concerned about drugs, but it came out a little over a year ago, and the Intercept broke the
story that Snowden documents show that the NSA was urgently
pursuing bitcoin users a few months before Silk
Road was taken down. I thought they were supposed
to be going after terrorists. They were urgently worried about bitcoin, and I think that was a big part of why they came down so hard on Ross. Now, the genie’s out of the
bottle, bitcoin’s out there, but, and that’s why he’s such a hero to the blockchain community is because it was the first proof of use of bitcoin. It showed it could be used as money. It became, it put it on the map, and I think this was a big
problem for financial powers. – Yeah, it sounds something like the Chinese government would do, not ours, but obviously financial
privacy and privacy in general and the democratization that’s happening because of technology, this
is a fundamental threat to people that would want
to control our lives. – [Lyn] Right, ’cause they use money. – Yeah, and there’s another
one, I think we could all agree, (chuckling) that financial privacy
is not just a good thing, but an essential thing. – [Lyn] Yeah, to freedom. – To freedom and sort of the
American way of doing things. So, there’s lots of reasons
to care about this fight and I’ve seen you give talks on, you’ve talked a lot about
criminal justice reform, very powerful perspective
from seeing it in the inside. We got a lot of work to do. – We do. It’s really become a bigger
cause for me and Ross. We’re hoping that the
high-profile nature of his case will shine a light because
it’s not just Ross. He’s not unique. He has an excessively extreme situation, but there’s a guy that he
was in prison with, Tony, who’s doing life for marijuana in Colorado, but it’s federal. – That’s so absurd, yeah. – It’s terrible, it’s just, it’s just, no violence,
and on and on and on. So it really needs to be corrected. It is un-American, it does not, it’s really antithetical
to our basic values, needs to change. – So tell us again what we
can do to help free Ross. – Thank you. Well, of course sign the petition, because the more signatures we have, I think the more convincing
it will be to say, this is important to a lot of people, and yeah, my goal is half a million. I think we can do it. Please go to, it doesn’t, or It does not take a
minute, it’s very quick. It would really help, and
please spread the word about it, and if anyone has any political
connections at any level, please get in touch with me. You can do it through the
website, Every footer has a place,
a way to contact me, and I’d really appreciate it. We’re just a family with
a few friends helping. We’re not a big organization,
we don’t have a ton of money, which is another thing we need, but there’s a way to donate.
– Yeah, talk about that, like, you’re burning through
legal bills like no tomorrow. – God, lawyers are so expensive. I knew they were expensive, I
didn’t realize how expensive. Yeah, very very expensive, so any donations are very welcome. Many people are very wealthy because of Ross’ vision about bitcoin
and how about helping us out? Some people have. – Some of those guys are watching, and I know we got a bitcoin crowd. – Yeah, and it’s just like, help him. He’s fighting for his
life to get out of a cage, and it’d be so much better if
he could be out with society. He has a lot to contribute,
and so if you’ve made a lot of money on
bitcoin, I’d be really grateful if you’d help me out a little bit, and some people have to be fair, but a lot of people have. That’s how we’ve gotten as far as we are, but it keeps, it’s a constant thing. – Right, and we won’t name names, but you’re here in Washington, D.C. and you’ve been meeting
with folks on Capitol Hill and you’re getting some traction. – Yeah, we’ve had some good response. I think most people, when
they realize this sentence, and that it’s for a non-violent,
first time offender, young, are like, what? And that’s really all you need
to know to sign the petition. It doesn’t get into all in
the details of all the stuff. It’s like, no, this sentence
sets a terrible precedent for excessive sentencing in this country which is out of control. – So political leaders,
media leaders, influencers, somebody’s gotta get to Kim Kardashian, (laughing) ’cause she knows how to get
this kind of stuff done. – Yeah, any help I really welcome. – Does anyone know Kim? No, we’ll work on that part. – Okay. – Okay, well thanks
for telling this story. – Oh thanks for having me. – I know you do this quite a bit and it can’t be a fun story to tell, but we gotta get the word out. – No, I appreciate the
opportunity. No, I really do. It’s been fun to talk to you.
– Thanks. Thanks, Lyn. – Thanks. – Thanks for watching Kibbe on Liberty. By now, you know this is
the most important event of your week, so make sure
you subscribe on YouTube, click the little bell so
you get notifications. Kibbe on Liberty, mostly
honest conversations with mostly interesting people.


6 thoughts on “Does Silk Road’s Founder Deserve Two Centuries in Prison? | Guest: Lyn Ulbricht | Ep 33”

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  • The judge's reasoning (excuse) for her brutally excessive sentence is troubling and frightening. I appreciate her honesty because it exposes a violent mentality that penalizes non-violence. She is a very dangerous person with great power. Anyone who supports the US system of injustice should examine their politics. Under this system racketeering is a serious crime, except when the racketeers are authorities. Govt. hates competition. And "Silk Road" was promoting peaceful, harmless commercial transactions, in direct competition with authoritarianism. This made govt. look bad. It exposed govt. lies & myths. Therefore, Ross Ulbricht had to be used as an example to stop others from creating a free economy. His punishment is proof that the only way govt. can stop competition is by violence, NOT reason.
    If you champion violence over reason, murder over discussion, threats/fear/fraud over voluntary interaction, you should keep voting, keep giving away your freedom to rulers, When you let fear blind you, self governance, growing up, seems scary, but you will find no safety in letting others run your life, only servitude, exploitation, and degradation.

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