Jim Bell

{{Infobox person | name = Jim Bell | image = | caption = | birth_name = James Dalton Bell | birth_date | birth_place = He was imprisoned on charges of tax evasion in 1997. and “the world’s most notorious crypto-convict”.

In April 1995, Bell authored the first part of a 10-part essay called “Assassination Politics”, which described an elaborate assassination market in which anonymous benefactors could securely order the killings of government officials or others who are violating citizens’ rights. Following an investigation by the (IRS), Bell was arrested and subsequently jailed for 11 months on charges of harassment and using false .

After his April 2000 release, Bell publicly announced that he believed that there was extensive Federal Government corruption associated with his 1997–2000 criminal case, and that he was going to research the facts and file a lawsuit. Bell filed this lawsuit in 2003. Bell was put under heavy surveillance and rearrested for harassment and stalking of federal agents. He was charged with intimidation and stalking and was convicted and again imprisoned, this time for a decade-long sentence. Bell protested vociferously against the conduct of the trial, going so far as to file against two judges, at least two prosecutors, his former probation officers, and his defense attorneys, but ultimately to no avail.



Bell was born in and attended the where he earned a degree in . After graduation, he worked for as an electrical engineer before founding his own company, SemiDisk Systems in 1982. When his company closed in 1992, Bell said he developed a “” of financial and -related issues. Bell attended these meetings in order to find government ‘plants’ in that group. Bell subsequently became involved in a tax dispute with the , which stated that he owed $30,000 to the federal government. offering a reward that could be claimed by someone willing to submit an entry predicting a given person’s death at a particular time. If that person died at about that time, the correct bettor would win the pool money. Bell published his idea in a 10-part essay titled “Assassination Politics” on the alt.anarchism newsgroup. Described by as “an unholy mix of , anonymity, and to bring about the ultimate annihilation of all forms of government”, the essay was nominated for a in 1998 as “an imaginative and sophisticated prospective for improving governmental accountability”. the publication of “Assassination Politics” put Bell under the scrutiny of federal investigators in 1995. The Cypherpunks list archives includes many references to, what became known as ‘ AP’ and ‘ APster ‘ from 1996 onwards. The names “assassination politics” and “Jim Bell” also cropped up in the US government’s pursuit and prosecution of Carl Johnson (The CJ Files). In 2001, an Australian anarchist claimed to be acting on the ‘Part 10’ part of “Assassination Politics”. This was covered by Declan McCullagh in Wired’s story titled “Online Cincy Cop Threats Probed”. Later, in 2003, published a similar story titled “Online threats target Denver investigators – Anarchist says e-mails harmless; feds disagree”. This story was written by Jim Hughes. The essay attracted interest from theorists long before and after its author’s legal entanglements; economist criticised the assassination politics scheme in a pair of articles titled “The Politics of Destruction” in 2002. Murphy claimed that assassination politics was both technically infeasible and ideologically undesirable – from an perspective (crypto-anarchism being a form of anarcho-capitalism). Others, such as R. Sukumaran, argue that assassination markets as suggested by Bell are perhaps technically feasible, but because they are so revolutionary, they “threaten elites” and will be made illegal. However, Sukumaran argues that AP was revived within DARPA by Poindexter with , an attempt to “extrapolate the Iowa Presidential markets system to the prediction of terroristic events” under the “interest of national security.” Mike Huben has argued that were Assassination Politics ever to be accepted then governments would merely operate secretly (critiques of libertarianism). Almost all commentary so far has focused on the first nine parts of the essay and there is little on part 10.

Investigation, prosecution and imprisonment

According to testimony by a federal agent, the federal government began infiltrating the Multnomah County Common Law Court via Steven Walsh, a government agent who attended the meetings under a false name and who even began to lead the organization. According to court documents, Bell attended three meetings of the group nearly a year after Walsh’s infiltration. and, in July, he pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of IRS agents and the use of a false number (officials alleged that he had used four such numbers since 1984 in order to conceal his assets; Bell said that he did not believe anyone had a right to know his real Social Security number). and sentenced in December 1997 to eleven months in prison followed by three years of . As a condition of his sentence, Bell was compelled to pay, upon his release, $1,359 in for the stinkbomb attack. He was also subjected to three years of supervised release, during which he was barred from accessing computers and from possessing chemicals. Bell asserted that when he balked at that agreement in November 1997, in part due to the government’s violation of the terms, government agents instructed fellow inmate Ryan Thomas Lund to assault Bell. The lawsuit alleged that Lund did this at about 6:00 P.M. on November 25, 1997, for the purpose of intimidating Bell, and to keep Bell away from his family and the news media. Lund had also been promised a 27-month sentence for his illegal possession of firearms and methamphetamine, when the relevant federal law required a mandatory 10-year sentence. Bell alleged that the sentence reduction and lawsuit payoff were engineered to reward Lund for extorting Bell. Bell’s October 2004 amendment further alleges that, a handwritten note, “purportedly signed by Bell, but not in Bell’s handwriting style”, was forged to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He alleges that this notice of appeal was filed around June 20, 1999 (claim 505), and that, “… Ninth Circuit personnel agreed to and did continually add false records to that docket, and at various times they deleted some of those false records and substituted new false records, for the purposes of concealing the true events and for continuing to obstruct Bell’s access to justice and his constitutional rights.” (Claim 510)

Bell had conducted against agents, using public databases and legally obtained CD-ROMs, “to let them know that surveillance can be done in both directions.” that federal government employees had also illegally planted a GPS tracking transmitter in a vehicle he drove in June 1998, one which the government never disclosed. Bell further stated that his defense lawyers colluded to keep Bell from being able to demand disclosure of all such secretly planted devices. Journalist wrote, “[Bell] says, and a good number of observers agree, that the Feds are prosecuting him for doing what an investigative reporter does: Compiling information from publicly available databases, documenting what’s happening, and so on. This case could set a precedent that affects the First Amendment privilege of journalists.”

Declan McCullagh asserts that during the trial, the judge sealed the entire court file, forbade the defense from issuing to witnesses, granted the prosecution significant latitude in making negative suggestions about Bell’s character, and refused requests for a . McCullagh also asserts that he was subpoenaed by two Treasury Department agents to appear before the court, without being notified ahead of time as required by federal regulations regarding subpoenas involving the media. Bell applied for a patent on an invention which would improve communication speeds and assist in transmitting long distances. Although yet to produce any fibre, Bell states his mathematical models show the velocity of light within the fiber can be improved to from 68% to 98% of the with lower and which would allow light pulses to be transmitted for longer distances without being smeared together over time and distance.

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