Blast from the Past – Adam Kokesh Interviews Charlie Shrem (October 2012)

Last week, I wrote an article expressing my disgust at the selective prosecution of BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem. The piece was titled, Some Money Launderers are More Equal than Others Part 2 – CEO of BitInstant is Arrested. The aggressiveness of the prosecution and the arrest itself reminded me of what has been done to countless others such as Aaron Swartz and Barrett Brown, to name a few.

Since then, many others have also written about the disturbing nature of this arrest, the best of which in my opinion came from Falkvinge, founder of the Pirate Party, and someone who I have highlighted in the past. He recently wrote an article titled: Harassment Arrest of Charlie Shrem Shows Dangerously Repressive U.S. Police System. What is so interesting about this piece, is how he describes what Shrem did is in no way shape or form “money laundering” under any reasonable definition. He writes:

Charlie Shrem has been arrested at JFK airport and charged with money laundering. …accused of selling over $1 million in bitcoins to Silk Road users, who would then use them to buy drugs and other illicit items.

So what?

That’s not money laundering. That’s the exact opposite of money laundering. Money laundering is a well-defined concept; it’s when you take money that has been achieved through illegal means and give them a legitimate source, concealing the past of that particular piece of wealth.

What allegedly happened here was that Shrem sold one million USD worth of bitcoin to one or more individuals, and these means were later used in turn to purchase contraband from Silk Road, obviously without Shrem having any say about it. That’s neither criminal nor money laundering – when you sell an asset, whether a car, a house, or bitcoin, you’re not liable in the slightest if that asset is later exchanged for contraband by its new rightful owner. Nor are you in any way, shape or form required to act even if you know it’s been later exchanged for contraband by its new owner, and in particular, you’re not guilty of money laundering.

Money laundering is specifically when you take actions to turn black money into white, and not when you sell white money to somebody else and they turn it black without your consent. There’s so much wrong with this bullshit arrest on every conceivable level.

Indeed, this seems to be the case. That said, I think the government’s argument is that Shrem was intentionally selling the bitcoin to this person knowing they he wanted to buy drugs with it, and that person felt gaining the BTC from Shrem would make his coins more anonymous.

Again, so what? Who did Shrem actually harm here? Who was victimized? Furthermore, let’s say what he did could be considered “money laundering.” It was one million dollars; ONE MILLION. I mean HSBC interns launder that amount in their sleep.

With all that off my chest, let’s finally get to the video. The following interview of Shrem by Adam Kokesh (a former Iraq vet turned activist who recently spent time in jail himself) from back in October 2012 is a really great watch. To hear these two highly intelligent and passionate patriots discuss the concept and potential of Bitcoin when it was a mere $11 per BTC is really entreating. In particular, I was impressed by Adam’s ability to so quickly grasp just what Bitcoin is and what it could be at such an early stage.

Enjoy this conversation with these two “felons.”

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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Blast from the Past – Adam Kokesh Interviews Charlie Shrem (October 2012) originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on February 1, 2014.

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