Restore The Fourth

Opposing unconstitutional mass government surveillance

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    photo of Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen and of Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins
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2020 Libertarian Presidential Candidates’ Scorecard

Restore the Fourth previously reviewed the candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. With that nomination having been essentially settled with the choice of former Vice-President Biden (rated D-), and with President Trump (rated F) facing no significant opposition to becoming the Republican nominee, voters primarily concerned about surveillance and privacy should also be considering the candidates from smaller parties. This means that our next task is to evaluate the Libertarian Party candidates. That nomination will be decided by delegates from each state at the 2020 Libertarian National Convention, tentatively scheduled (coronavirus permitting) for May 22nd in Austin, TX.

As with the Democratic candidates, we attempt to evaluate the Libertarian candidates according to seven factors: (a) NSA surveillance; (b) FBI surveillance of domestic dissent; (c) DHS border surveillance; (d) police accountability; (e) commercial privacy and online publisher liability; (f) encryption; and (g) attitude to national security whistleblowers.

We also felt it would be helpful to add information on (h), the candidates’ attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic and government measures taken to stop it, as a new and key issue for civil liberties-minded people to navigate. We added points for those candidates who had articulated a position on coronavirus response that dealt with some of the civil liberties issues involved; we subtracted points for candidates who denied or minimized the severity of the pandemic.

One of the key ways libertarians distinguish themselves from both conservatives and liberals is through ingrained skepticism about the military, the police, and the intelligence services. So it’s not surprising that the Libertarian candidates tend to score higher than most of the Democratic candidates did. However, this should not be construed as an endorsement by Restore The Fourth of any candidate in particular, or of the Libertarian Party in general, because the same could also be said of other parties and candidates.

This scorecard covers only five of the candidates listed on the Libertarian Party website, focusing on those who provided feedback to us on their positions. For the full list, please go here.

Many of the Democratic candidates have held elected office, giving us a rich seam of prior votes to mine for their actual positions. Necessarily, as none of the Libertarian Party candidates have been members of Congress, we must give heavy weight to the candidates’ statements on the topics we’re interested in. By far our most detailed response was from John McAfee, so we provide the full video and his selected comments on surveillance in a separate article.

Candidate: John McAfee

Score: A-

John McAfee is an antivirus software pioneer, cryptocurrency promoter and current fugitive on tax fraud charges. He opposes surveillance by the NSA, CIA, FBI and local police surveillance cameras, describing himself as “probably the most surveilled American outside of America. During his interview with RT4’s Ed Quiggle, McAfee expressed concerns about the CIA, FBI and NSA, particularly their influence over electoral processes; Google, surveillance cameras, license plate readers, retargeted ads, unconstitutional income taxes. He says, “Laws that cannot be enforced are not laws and should be ignored.” He expressed support for privacy coins like Monero and stablecoins, but not for encrypted services like “CIA-owned” Tor. He argues that “Christ almighty, [end-to-end] encryption is useless” when used on smartphones, because what you type is visible to the authorities before being encrypted in transit, so he sees government efforts to subvert such encrypted systems as a “smokescreen.” He therefore believes that “We don’t win by fighting them, we win by leaving them.”

On the coronavirus, McAfee underestimates its severity, comparing it to diarrhea; doubts the efficacy of lockdowns in preventing coronavirus; believes that anti-pandemic measures have “no legal basis”; and believes that the number of coronavirus cases is overstated.

Jacob Hornberger

Score: A

Hornberger is a former trial attorney and 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Reserves. He founded the Future of Freedom Foundation in 1989, and has authored 17 books on libertarianism.

His perspective from his campaign website is that “The conversion of the federal government to a national-security state was a watershed event in U.S. history. That’s how we got the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and an ever-growing military-industrial complex that has embroiled us in forever wars, interventions, occupations, and alliances with dictatorial regimes. It’s also how we ended up living under a system that our American ancestors rejected, one in which the federal government wields the omnipotent power to arrest, incarcerate indefinitely, torture, secretly spy on, and assassinate people, including American citizens, without due process of law. It is impossible to reconcile a national-security state with the principles of a genuinely free society. It is time to dismantle the Pentagon, military-industrial complex, CIA, and NSA and restore a limited-government republic to our land.” He also specifically calls out the problem with “warrantless trespasses, searches, and seizures.”

On coronavirus, Hornberger supports the abolition of the CDC, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, saying that “the free market produces the best of everything.” He does not dispute the existence or the severity of the virus, but says that “Unleashed from government control, planning, and regulation, the healthcare industry would be mobilizing, advising, recommending, testing, and more quickly coming up with cures and treatments. It would be a spontaneous order, as Friedrich Hayek termed it, one in which people would be putting their faith in liberty and a free market healthcare system rather than in healthcare socialism and the state.”


Vermin Supreme

Score: A-

Vermin Love Supreme is a performance artist and activist from Massachusetts. He has aligned himself more than any other candidate with anarchist traditions, and previously ran as a Democrat in 2012 and 2016 and as a Republican in 2008. Though his campaigns are often satirical in nature, he has announced that his 2020 campaign for the Libertarian nomination is a serious one.

“It is my belief that I stand 100% with you on these issues.” Vermin said in a message to Restore the Fourth when asked about NSA surveillance and other 4th amendment issues.

His campaign website states:

“Through satire and humor, I present real issues with fantastical context, in-depth analysis, and a dose of much-needed humor in the political sphere. With thought provoking activism, I stand against the tyrannical duopoly, the violent police state, and all forms of overreaching government. I seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and are not forced to sacrifice their values for the benefit of others. I believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized. Consequently, I will always defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world I seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams, in their own ways, without interference from the government or any other authoritarian power. With honesty, empathy, courage, and free ponies for everyone, I will lead past, present, and future America to the pinnacle of freedom under the rule of the one and only Tyrant You Can Trust”

Mr. Supreme’s solution to the coronavirus, as to much else, is ponies. In this instance, the pony would apparently breathe fire and trample the virus under its mighty hooves. Good to know!


Candidate: Daniel Behrman

Score: A

Behrman, running on the slogan “Taxation Is Theft”, is a video producer and software engineer from Los Angeles. “On domestic surveillance – the government has no right. We are not their property to be monitored, they are our employees. If there was ever a national threat to be surveilled, they would need to do so with our consent, not by passing secret surveillance measures that the people who ultimately fund it, the taxpayers, are completely unaware of,” the presidential candidate told RT4 in a message. “On police accountability – Around 2014, when I learned that many Americans were unable to file complaints about police misconduct, I founded Accountable Authority. This was designed to be a public database for police corruption and tracking. To take things further, I proposed a bill called the Accountable Authority Act which would level the playing field by giving citizens equal power to investigate and file criminal charges against their own employees. Other measures meant that instead of the taxpayer getting stuck with the bill, corrupt officers would be unemployable as law enforcement and would have to pay for the damage they caused with their personal assets.” As policy, this would effectively deal with the issue of police receiving “qualified immunity” against lawsuits for abuses.

On the issue of encryption, Behrman observes, “Everything should be encrypted, and the government should not stand in the way of letting that happen. Holding one person liable for the speech made by someone else is a violation of the first amendment, and it is not an acceptable policy. Forcing companies to use encryption methods which leave a back door for the companies themselves or the government is a violation of the citizens right to privacy.” Behrman ended his message to RT4 by saying, “Civil asset forfeiture is a violation of the Fourth and Fifth amendments, a violation of due process, and a legalized criminal act.”

On the pandemic, Behrman strongly opposes police fines and arrests for violating lockdowns, and advocates instead measures to increase healthcare system capacity and deregulate entry to the health professions.

Adam Kokesh

Score: A-

Kokesh is a radio host and author campaigning for the orderly dissolution of the entire federal government. As such, he inherently opposes the surveillance programs of the NSA, CIA, FBI, and other member agencies of the intelligence community.

Kokesh calls the pandemic a “legitimate healthcare crisis, but a small one”, saying that it’s less severe than the 1919 flu pandemic or the locust swarms in East Africa; but argues that minimizing hospital overload is a concern and that vigilance about sanitation and self-care are important.


An Interview with Presidential Candidate John McAfee

Photo of John McAfee by Gaga Skidmore CC BY-SA 3.0

Restore the Fourth previously reviewed the candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States, and in an upcoming post we take a look at the 2020 nomination process for the Libertarian Party, America’s largest third party.

The 2020 Libertarian National Convention remains up in the air, a virtual convention is a possibility, and the party is considering moving the date of the convention from late May until sometime in July.

John McAfee, an antivirus software pioneer, cryptocurrency promoter, and someone who has been called the most interesting man in the world, is again seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for President after coming in 3rd place at the 2016 LNC. He is currently campaigning in exile, as he is wanted on tax fraud charges. From an undisclosed location, McAfee graciously took the time to speak with RT4 over a Skype call, using an anonymized internet connection to conceal his location. You can listen to the entire 18 minutes of audio from that interview here. Since doing the interview with RT4, he has said that he is also seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for Vice President as well.

“I am probably the most surveilled Americans outside of America,” McAfee laughs when asked for his opinion on NSA warrantless mass surveillance. “The CIA is watching me, and the NSA. The FBI is illegally watching my e-mails. Why? Because, even though I’m not on American soil, Google is an American company.” McAfee explains how the FBI was watching his wife, Janice McAfee’s, e-mails. Oddly enough they notified her a few months back, which means that they’ve stopped monitoring her, yet they continue to monitor his e-mails. “We are in a surveillance state, people.” “Go to any city in America, stand on any street corner, and just look up and count the cameras that are analyzing faces, movements. Taking photographs of license plates as they go through stop lights.”

“Use your smart phone to talk to a friend, on any medium you want to, about something specific, like brown penny loafers, and if you don’t get an ad for brown penny loafers within 5 minutes on some channel, Facebook, social media, an e-mail, then I’ll eat my shoe. ‘cause you know its true. How many times has it happened to you?”

McAfee believes marketeers have demanded that manufacturers build surveillance capabilities into their products to help them sell things and advertise to people. But if advertisers can surveil people, government and bad guys can as well. “Everything you say and do, and soon, everything that you even think will be known by our government.” He believes one of the greatest tricks ever played on the people is that they have convinced people to pay for their own surveillance. He says that him and his wife don’t have phones, but they still use the internet.

I ask him if his administration would then oppose mass surveillance programs and he admits that he will not be elected, even if he wins the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President. “It doesn’t matter who the President is anymore.” “The true power are our covert agencies, the CIA being one of them.” It seems he is running to get his message out to the people.

When asked if he thinks privacy coins like Monero give people financial privacy, he thanks me for bringing the topic of cryptocurrency up. “The only value of cryptocurrency to me are privacy coins and stable coins,” McAfee says. “Privacy coins, I use Monero, of course, everybody uses Monero. Why? It can’t be traced, no matter what you do. No one will ever know how much money you make, and what you spend, if you use Monero; and nobody should have the right to know, including your own government, for heavens sake. I don’t pay taxes. They are constitutionally in America illegal. And plus I paid $50 million or more in taxes in my lifetime, and I have not received $50 million in services. Ten years ago I said I’m not paying anymore, do what you want. They left me alone for 8 years until I went on a national stage and said I don’t pay taxes and you don’t have to either, use privacy coins and distributed exchanges, you’ll never have to pay another penny in taxes. Then they convened a grand jury to charge Janice and I with tax fraud. Well that’s bullshit, I haven’t committed tax fraud, I didn’t pay, big difference. You can only commit tax fraud if you lie. I didn’t send anything, I haven’t even filed, how can I lie? Do you understand the absurdity? Nevertheless, they have the power and they will always win, that’s just the way it works.”

Getting back onto the subject of cryptocurrencies, McAfee believes that the government will come after those making privacy coins. “They’re going to make Monero illegal, and they’re going to make distributed exchanges illegal, but who cares? Marijuana has been illegal for 75 years in America and most states, it didn’t stop a single person from smoking weed, neither will a law against privacy coins stop a single person from using them,” McAfee said. “You can’t stop it. Make all the law you want, laws that cannot be enforced are not laws and should be ignored. If they can’t be enforced it simply means they are not valid. Valid laws can be enforced because you have the support of the populace.”

McAfee believes that much of the computer hardware that people use is already vulnerable. “End-to-end encryption is useless. End-to-end encryption was designed to thwart what was called the man-in-the-middle attack. Someone who is monitoring the communication but because its encrypted cannot see what’s there. There is no man-in-the-middle anymore. Your smartphone, do you realize, before you send an encrypted message, you have to type it in in the clear? Has that occurred to anybody? And since everything you do is being watched, who cares if it’s encrypted after you’ve typed it in, or after you’ve loaded the unencrypted file? And on the receiver end, who cares that it was encrypted? I want to see it on my fucking screen. Well to do that you’ve to unencrypt it, who cares that in the middle it was encrypted? There was nobody there anyway. It’s the biggest scam going people. Christ almighty, encryption is useless. And the government’s attempt to end it is a smokescreen. A smokescreen so that we don’t notice that it doesn’t matter anyway. Please people, it is useless, no one is in the middle, they’re on both ends. You’re carrying the spy device which decrypts it, puts it on the screen, which is then captured and sent to whoever wants to fucking see it.”

“They’re all scams,” McAfee said of apps touting end-to-end encryption, and called the Tor Project “that network owned by the CIA.” “Who owns the fucking nodes? The CIA. Maybe not by money or bought, but they have all been compromised through malware. There is no safety through TOR, people you have no privacy, please stop searching for it. It does not exist and will not exist until we change this fucked up system.” “At some point of course” the system will get better, “it always does, because … at some point the people just rebel.,” McAfee said. “We’re approaching it pretty fucking rapidly if you ask me.”

“Revolution will come, I want it to be a revolution of the mind, where we voluntarily opt out of the financial system, which tens of thousands of us have done. We do not use fiat currencies, I get paid in cryptocurrency, when people work for me I pay them in cryptocurrency; buy a car, I buy it with cryptocurrency. We stayed in a hotel in London before we went underground back in July through just cryptocurrency. It’s coming people, come over to our side. This is how we win. We don’t win by fighting them, we win by leaving them. When we have all left there is nobody left to support the corruption and the excess that’s been created by our governments. McAfee went on to praise Edward Snowden for “shining a light on truth” and gave some life advice, which you can hear by listening to the entire interview.