John McAfee, formerly running for President under his own “Cyber” party, has now switched gears and is caucusing with Libertarians. What does this mean for the LP? What does it mean for the tech world? What does it mean for the international community, if he’s elected? McAfee answers all this and more in an exclusive episode of Revolution Report Live!
What makes your presidential campaign different? What’s your X factor?
Well, I can tell you what my philosophy is. I actually have not met any of the other presidential candidates in person, never had dinner with them, never went fishing with them, so I really know nothing about them other than the professed statements that they make. Those statements which are prepared by other people, polished and more or less meaningless. I can tell you who I am and then decide if there is any difference. If you read the Libertarian platform, you would know that I was Libertarian before the word was coined. I’m 70 years old, I’ve lived the American dream as it should be lived in: Freedom, taking all of the responsibilities and consequences of my actions. Which I think is really the libertarian way of life. You get to make your choices, your decisions as long as you aren’t violating someone else’s rights and you live with those consequences.
In my 70 years there is little that I’ve not done. I’m sure in my past I’ve taken more drugs than you can possibly carry, although I don’t do them anymore. My body is heavily tattooed and that’s a fairly irreversible process if you’re tattooed enough, as I am. I have done things which, at a later age I would not have done, but I’ve did it and there you have it. Some of the things, my own experimentations I would possibly do over if I had the chance but maybe not. Even the worst of experiences teaches us something. I have lived the Libertarian way, my philosophy I think isn’t as studden as many Libertarians would want, meaning you just can’t suddenly become a Libertarian president and then change the world. It does not work and it cannot work.
Take social security for example, you cannot take office and remove that program. If you are honest with the people upfront and that you say that you are then nobody will become president on that platform, it cannot be done. You have 25% of the American public that are on Social Security and the other 75% are children and grandchildren that do not want more or dad living with them if they lose their social security checks. So, you’re just not going to get elected and that’s the one of the realities that the [Libertarian] party is going to have to face if they want to be a real party. Now, if you just want to propagate an ideal, which I’m not interested in then forget politics, go home and go have some interesting dinner conversations.
However, if you are going to change the world you will have to accept the realities of the world. So in those areas, I think I differ from many of the Libertarians that I’ve spoken to. I am for a much smaller, dramatically smaller government and I believe we can remove entire departments such as the TSA [Transportation Security Administration.], I think that’s a prime example. I just came from San Francisco to Nashville, Tennessee and I had to go through that nightmare for the thousandth time and it does no good. I mean, federal marshals have gotten hand grenades, guns, all sorts of things through TSA. Keep in mind, 9/11 was done by a bunch of people armed with box cutters. What good they are doing, I do not know, other than telling the public that they are protecting us. Yet for me, I don’t feel protected when my shoes are off , my belt is off and I’m standing in line, hands in the air waiting to be frisked, while my personal belongings are being scrutinized, When they say “I’m doing this to protect you”, it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I’m the enemy.
Also, for example, if we disbanded an entire department, that budget is $7 billion a year while salaries are only $1.5 billion. We could send everybody home, continue to pay them and save five and a half billion dollars a year in overhead. So I think certain activities, certain functions of the government can be completely eradicated. We can save a fortune and not put anybody on the employment rolls. Now those people that we can send home, what do we do with them? For example, if you want to stimulate the economy of America, wouldn’t it be great if you had a marvelous entrepreneurial startup idea, no money but just a great idea we would say: that’s a great idea, if you need a certain kind of worker we will give you five employees from the laid off TSA people, FDA people…etc for two years. In that time if you make money at the end of those two years then you take them over and pay their salaries.
Doesn’t that seem a bit like crony capitalism? Helping out certain businesses that you want? Who makes that distinction? Who is to stop that from being abused?
Absolutely nothing, but is it worse than what we have now? The federal government is reduced in size, we’ve taken these people and turned them over to American businesses and no one got laid off! Nobody would have lost a job, homeless, starving children on the streets and nothing changes from that standpoint. So I’m saying it can’t be abused, anything can be abused and if you have any government at all it will be abused because we are human beings and governments are composed of human beings. We have frailties, anger, fear, hatred as well as joy, compassion, hopes and dreams. We’re imperfect creatures and so our governments will be imperfect creations. An imperfect thing cannot create a perfect thing, this is the fact of life. .
One thing that makes you unique is that unlike the other candidates, you bring to the table a wealth of IT knowledge. Seeing as Barack Obama so far is considered the “most tech savvy President” thus far, you are in a unique position to actually give solutions towards US Defenses Achilles Heel, cybersecurity. What measures can the US Government do to provide better protection from cyberattacks on our military and Government?
Well the government isn’t protecting us at all from cyber attacks, not at all. When you say “better protection” you are implying that there is some protection in place. Look at this, the Office of Personnel management, the Chinese came in and looked up close to 21 million records of every government employee that’s ever worked for the US Government the past 50 years. That’s 21 million records that weren’t even encrypted and this is one of the most sensitive departments in the US Government. Embedded covert agents, their files are all there, everything, medical records. Very compromising and sensitive information about every individual, is that protection? No. We’re not protected and people are walking all over us. Iran just disclosed that two years ago they broke into one of the electrical generating stations in New York and broke into the main center. Iran took enough information that if they wanted to, could of launched a cyber attack. We are not protected and completely illiterate in the world of Cyber Science in this country.
What steps can we take to make that better?
First of all, we need to hire people that can do something. The Government adiminately refuses to hire the only people that can save us and that is the hacking community. I’m not talking about the “black-hat” hackers that run around, destroying things. I am talking about the “white-hat” hackers who make a living from hiring out their services to industries and corporation to help make their defenses better. The government will not work with these people because they consider them “bad”. My friend, Chris Roberts who took control of the United Airlines flight last year was immediately taken into custody by the F.B.I. when he landed in Philadelphia. They should give him a medal because he showed us what a massive flaw we have in airlines and airline security. Chris showed us that someone in China can hack onto the internet and bring down an airplane. Think about this. We have TSA who are patting down our bodies and a 14 year old kid in China can push a button and planes will fall out of the sky. This is the reality. We aren’t accepting it, we aren’t acknowledging that we are incompetent or illiterate but we are. That has to change and the first thing that you have to do is hire people. I would go to DEF-CON, which I keynoted a couple years ago, you have fifty thousand hackers at that event, the brightest in the world and I would chat up booths in every single room saying “we are offering jobs, high paying jobs, whatever it takes for you to come aboard and help us” The US Government in it’s current state will never do that because it feels like [to them] it’s aiding the enemy. Well, it’s not. Our technology inside the Government is old, tired and sick and it cannot help us.
We have people in Congress who are virtually lifelong members, then have tenure and they know they have tenure because the States that the represent, the political machine in those states guarantee their re-election. What motivation do they have to learn about Cyber Security? Instead they hired “advisers” and how do they even know what to hire? On what basis do you choose an adviser? It’s like me running for president and you ask me: “Mr. McAfee can you read and write”? Well, I would go “no, no, no but I have advisers who will explain words to me so do not worry!”
These attacks that you speak of, they are extremely devastating to businesses in particular. I know that you are a businessman; you must have had some trouble with hacking while you were working and running your company. Should the Government do something to help businesses recover from these attacks?
The way it stands up, businesses need to help Government. The corporations in America are far more advanced than our Government. If a Government’s attacked and in the case of the Office of Personnel Management, what did they do first? They hired consultants to come in and make the employees feel good about themselves that was their response. You fire the people that are responsible and you bone-up and make sure you don’t lose another hundred million dollars. This is simply the way that business works. The Government doesn’t care about anything real. If it doesn’t have money, it prints it or it borrows it from social security. Well, they can’t borrow anything from social security anymore, it’s bankrupt. They’ve already taken $2.6 billion which is the entire pot and given I.O.U’s, but the government just goes ahead and does things, it spends money that it doesn’t have, it creates programs that they cannot afford and it takes action based on information it doesn’t understand. This is the truth of our Government and if we continue along this way, we might as well go back to the stone age and learn how to make flint arrows because that where we’ll be.
The US government has been forcing proprietary software companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and other for back doors and of course the NSA prohibited them from disclosing if they had done so. They even had the audacity to ask Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Open Source Operating System Linux, to put backdoors in, revealed by his father Nils Torvalds who is a member of the European Parliament. Do you believe this is unconstitutional to allow it’s citizens to be left wide open to cyberattacks from this, and why?
Well here’s the thing. I think it shows a complete lack of understanding, about the nature of cyber technology. For example, they want to put back doors in and ban encryption in certain areas. They want to put the back doors in so that the Government can be assured that if it wants to go into your software and make sure you’re not doing something devious, it can do that. However, by doing so we all know that if one person knows that backdoor, the entire world is going to know it, certainly the underground world. You gotta think quickly, this is how the world works. As far as encryption, what is encryption? Isn’t it “electronic whispering”? If I’m sitting at a table with my wife I should have the right to whisper in her ear whatever I choose. Like to make fun of the person opposite us or let’s go home and do something interesting. I should be able to whisper that, I have that right as a human being. Yet, if she’s across ground from me the Government says “No, because now you’re separated by distance and you’re using electronic whispering you aren’t allowed to do that” and we want to listen in. Well, if you want to be logical then before I can whisper in my wife’s ear at a dinner table I should have to call the NSA and say “look, I want to whisper to my wife, send somebody over to intervene so that you can hear.” That is insane, utterly insane. We have to maintain encryption in order to maintain privacy in a little electronic world. We have to have the right to whisper to the ones we love, our business associates, our sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. We have to have that and the government doesn’t understand the necessity of that.
We both understand that Trustless Encryption such as the kind used in Bitcoin, allowing parties to not have to depend so much on the reputation they are dealing with, but rather the underlying technology, is extremely beneficial. Could you explain to the average person the inherent risks with the government having backdoors in our systems, regardless of if the government is trustworthy or not?
Well, it doesn’t matter if the government is trustworthy or not. What matters if if people are trustworthy or not. It has to do with human nature. You could have the most trustworthy government, meaning the leaders are trustworthy, but if you have enough people, because of human nature you’re going to have those that cannot be trusted. I just came back from San Francisco, with my wife to visit our kids, and I always travel with guns. I take them through the TSA, and all of that rigamarole, somebody between Nashville and San Francisco before Christmas tried to break into my gun case! It had to be someone from TSA! A bagging checker, or somebody.
Now think about this; does that mean that the TSA can’t be trusted, or that some of the people working there can’t? If even one person can’t be trusted, you can’t have a backdoor, because that one person will eventually gain access to it, and sell it somebody or use it for his own personal gain.This is the problem. It’s not, “Can we trust the government?” it’s, “Can we trust human nature?” No! Well, we can, we can trust it to be human. That is; deviousness and lies, hatred and jealousy, and it’s grace and compassion. All of that. And when you trust it to be that, we go, “Good god, I don’t want backdoors!”. And we have to have encryption.
And let me tell you something about privacy that most people do not think about. Privacy is a choice that you execute hundreds of times every day, all of us. When you buy something from the checkout clerk at the store, you may choose not to tell them the deepest, darkest secrets of your life. And most of us, choose not to do that. To some of our newer friends, we may divulge a little bit more. To our older friends, we may divulge a lot. To our spouses, we may or may divulge everything. Even to the ones we love the most, our spouses. If you’re having an affair, most people might choose not to divulge that. That is a level of privacy, again. There are thousands of levels each of us exercise every single day. Without that choice, we will have chaos. Utter, complete, chaos. Because for most of us, we are judgmental creatures. And if I know something about you that I don’t like, then suddenly, we’re gonna have a problem. It is why privacy was created; in order to make a smooth society. People should have the right to choose what they divulge, and to whom. End of story.
One issue I have advocated for in local governments, is to use open sourced software, and migrate entire infrastructures to make the entire government more open and transparent as a whole. For our audience that means the code is available to individuals to review. With all the rumors of voter fraud in every election, do you think the US Government should require ballot machines to be open sourced as well, so everyone can actually ensure the code running the machines is not “tainted?”
Well, it’s not just the code. Let’s broaden this problem. We have a government that tells us nothing, and wants us to tell it everything. This is the reverse! People create governments to serve. NOT to control; to serve our needs. So, when a government reaches a power where it says, “I want to tell you people nothing, but you gotta tell me everything, then that’s craziness. It is insanity. That government needs to be abolished and replaced with a new one. This is a fact of life. So, it’s not just open source coding, it’s open everything. If we created the government, then how do we know it’s serving if we don’t know everything it’s doing?
Now, the government’s gonna go back and say, “Well, we can’t tell you everything, because the enemies will know everything!”. If we were not involved in interfering in the internal affairs of other states, would it matter? I don’t think so. If we kept our own borders secure, and let the world know what we were doing, I don’t think it would matter. If we’re not interfering with other people, why would they be angry with us? Why would there be terrorism? There would not be. At least not aimed at us.
We need to reverse the current situation, so the government knows as little as possible about us, but we know as much as possible about it. This is the fundamental problem.
Regarding your foreign policy views, I agree America needs to be less involved and scale back a bit. However, in the case of ISIS, should the US should be involved in that front seeing as they have stated their intent to attack western civilization? If yes, to what extent and why? If not, why should the US not be involved?
Well, we created ISIS. We created terrorism through our own manipulation of foreign regimes.
Think about it, why would ISIS be targeting us if we were not daily dropping bombs on people’s grandfathers, neighbors, daughters, sons, and friends? Think about it. Those people feel helpless. I’d feel helpless. I would feel angry as Hell, and we’ve been doing it for dozens of years. If that spot disappears, then the energy crisis disappears.
If we stop trying to be the policeman for the world, which we can’t afford anymore if nothing else, why would there be an ISIS focused on us? Why would it be our concern? We can’t just continue to fight knowing that the fight itself is just continuing to create more hatred and more terrorism. This is the fundamental issue. By changing our policies, and by making those policies known, isn’t that the beginning of fighting ISIS?
You have previously mentioned there are some technical issues with Bitcoin in a prior interview on “The Wake Up Mission.” Seeing as I am a Bitcoin miner, and user. What are the issues you see regarding Bitcoin, and do you think these are issues that the Bitcoin community, seeing as it is an open sourced project much like Linux, can rectify over time?
Here’s the problem with Bitcoin; it’s just like any emerging technology. The technology here isn’t Bitcoin, it’s digital currency. And with any emerging technology, the first few attempts are gonna have some problems.
Now, you cannot deny that hundreds of millions of dollars have disappeared for various reasons with Bitcoin users. It is number one, too complex for the average individual. The blockcoin mining of coins is becoming increasingly expensive. We will definitely have an electronic currency, and one very soon. Whether it will be Bitcoin or not, I cannot say, and neither can you.
I’ve been around 70 years and I’ve seen technologies rise and fall, and it appears to me that Bitcoin will be replaced by something else. What it is, I don’t know. But I promise you, we will have an electronic currency. And we have to have an electronic currency, for our own privacy if nothing else. When that happens, there will be an economic revolution throughout the world, a financial revolution. The Fed will disappear, it will become totally irrelevant. What use is the Fed in a world of electronic currency where we each are our own bank?
We can talk forever about the intricate technical problems or lack of such. But from my personal opinion, I do not think the electronic currency will be Bitcoin. I’m close friends with Ron Pierce, he’s one of the biggest enthusiasts of Bitcoin. Honestly, in private conversations with Ron, we get the same thing. There will be an electronic currency, that I promise you. And if it’s Bitcoin, great. I just don’t think it will be.
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