Beto O'Rourke was a member of America's oldest hacking group and secretly went by 'Psychedelic Warlord'

Before he was a member of the El Paso City Council, or a popular Democratic lawmaker in the deeply-red state of Texas, Beto O’Rourke was part of a notorious hacking group that helped create the era of “hacktivism,” in which human rights-driven security work has become the focus of tech savvy benefactors.

The Texas Democrat — who launched a bid for the White House this week — secretly went by the username “Psychedelic Warlord” as a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow, the oldest network of hackers in American history. 

Cult of the Dead Cow was responsible for many of the first tools that allowed users nationwide to hack computers operating with Microsoft Windows. 

More than a dozen members of the hacktivist group have come forward and shared their experiences as fellow members of the organisation along with Mr O’Rourke, who ended his membership after enrolling with Columbia University at the age of 18. 

The revelations were first reported by Reuters and detailed in a forthcoming book, titled Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World

1/22 Bernie Sanders

The 2016 runner-up has announced that he will be running again in 2020

Getty

2/22 Hillary Clinton

The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State says she is “still considering” whether she will run again.

Getty

3/22 Joe Biden

The former vice president – poised to be a frontrunner if he runs – is thought highly likely to run. He recently told supporters “save your energy, I may need it soon”

Reuters

4/22 Kamala Harris

The former California attorney general will be running for president in 2020. Introduced to the national stage during Jeff Sessions’ testimony, she has endorsed Medicare-for-all and proposed a major tax-credit for the middle class.

AP

5/22 Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts Senator has formally launched her bid for president in 2020. A progressive Democrat, she is a major supporter of regulating Wall Street.

AP

6/22 Beto O’Rourke

The former Texas congressman told Oprah Winfrey that he “has been thinking about running for presidency”, but stopped short of formally announcing his bid to run in 2020.

AFP/Getty

7/22 Kirsten Gillibrand

The New York Senator formally announced her presidential bid in January, saying that “healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.”

Getty

8/22 Cory Booker

The New Jersey Senator has announced that he will be running for the presidency in 2020. If he secures the nomination he said finding a female vice president would be a priority.

Getty

9/22 John Delaney

The Maryland congressman was the first to launch his bid for presidency, making the announcement in 2017.

AP

10/22 Julian Castro

The former San Antonio mayor announced his candidacy in January and said that his running has a “special meaning” for the Latino community in the US.

Getty

11/22 Tulsi Gabbard

The Hawaii congresswoman announced her candidacy in January, but is likely to face tough questions on her past comments on LGBT+ rights and her stance on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Getty

12/22 Pete Buttigieg

The Indiana mayor and war veteran will be running for president. If elected, he would be the first openly LGBT+ president in American history.

Getty

13/22 Andrew Yang

The entrepreneur has announced his presidential candidacy, and has pledged that he would introduce a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every American over the age of 18.

AFP/Getty

14/22 Marianne Williamson

The author and spiritual advisor has announced her intention to run for president. She had previously run for congress as an independent in 2014 but was unsuccessful.

Getty

15/22 John Kerry

The former secretary of state has said he is still thinking about whether to run.

Getty

16/22 Michael Bloomberg

The entrepreneur and former New York mayor– with a net worth of around $50bn – has said he will decide by the end of February whether to seek the presidency.

AFP

17/22 Howard Schultz

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has not yet ruled out running for president in 2020, despite criticism that his bid could help re-elect Mr Trump by dividing the Democrat vote.

AP

18/22 Eric Holder

The former attorney general has said he will decide in “the next month or so” whether to run as a 2020 presidential candidate.

AP

19/22 Eric Swalwell

The California congressman said he is “ready to do this” and will decide before April whether to run.

MSNBC

20/22 Terry McAuliffe

The former Virginia governor, who worked to elect Democratic governors during 2018 midterms, said there was a “50 per cent” chance he would run.

AP

21/22 Sherrod Brown

The Ohio senator is still undecided about whether to run for president in 2020.

22/22 Mitch Landrieu

The former New Orleans mayor said he doesn’t think he will run for president, but “never say never”.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

1/22 Bernie Sanders

The 2016 runner-up has announced that he will be running again in 2020

Getty

2/22 Hillary Clinton

The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State says she is “still considering” whether she will run again.

Getty

3/22 Joe Biden

The former vice president – poised to be a frontrunner if he runs – is thought highly likely to run. He recently told supporters “save your energy, I may need it soon”

Reuters

4/22 Kamala Harris

The former California attorney general will be running for president in 2020. Introduced to the national stage during Jeff Sessions’ testimony, she has endorsed Medicare-for-all and proposed a major tax-credit for the middle class.

AP

5/22 Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts Senator has formally launched her bid for president in 2020. A progressive Democrat, she is a major supporter of regulating Wall Street.

AP

6/22 Beto O’Rourke

The former Texas congressman told Oprah Winfrey that he “has been thinking about running for presidency”, but stopped short of formally announcing his bid to run in 2020.

AFP/Getty

7/22 Kirsten Gillibrand

The New York Senator formally announced her presidential bid in January, saying that “healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.”

Getty

8/22 Cory Booker

The New Jersey Senator has announced that he will be running for the presidency in 2020. If he secures the nomination he said finding a female vice president would be a priority.

Getty

9/22 John Delaney

The Maryland congressman was the first to launch his bid for presidency, making the announcement in 2017.

AP

10/22 Julian Castro

The former San Antonio mayor announced his candidacy in January and said that his running has a “special meaning” for the Latino community in the US.

Getty

11/22 Tulsi Gabbard

The Hawaii congresswoman announced her candidacy in January, but is likely to face tough questions on her past comments on LGBT+ rights and her stance on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Getty

12/22 Pete Buttigieg

The Indiana mayor and war veteran will be running for president. If elected, he would be the first openly LGBT+ president in American history.

Getty

13/22 Andrew Yang

The entrepreneur has announced his presidential candidacy, and has pledged that he would introduce a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every American over the age of 18.

AFP/Getty

14/22 Marianne Williamson

The author and spiritual advisor has announced her intention to run for president. She had previously run for congress as an independent in 2014 but was unsuccessful.

Getty

15/22 John Kerry

The former secretary of state has said he is still thinking about whether to run.

Getty

16/22 Michael Bloomberg

The entrepreneur and former New York mayor– with a net worth of around $50bn – has said he will decide by the end of February whether to seek the presidency.

AFP

17/22 Howard Schultz

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has not yet ruled out running for president in 2020, despite criticism that his bid could help re-elect Mr Trump by dividing the Democrat vote.

AP

18/22 Eric Holder

The former attorney general has said he will decide in “the next month or so” whether to run as a 2020 presidential candidate.

AP

19/22 Eric Swalwell

The California congressman said he is “ready to do this” and will decide before April whether to run.

MSNBC

20/22 Terry McAuliffe

The former Virginia governor, who worked to elect Democratic governors during 2018 midterms, said there was a “50 per cent” chance he would run.

AP

21/22 Sherrod Brown

The Ohio senator is still undecided about whether to run for president in 2020.

22/22 Mitch Landrieu

The former New Orleans mayor said he doesn’t think he will run for president, but “never say never”.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically and have fun while you’re doing it,” Mr O’Rourke reportedly said about his hacking experiences. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”

While Mr O’Rourke may not have participated in the most brazen hacks carried out by the group, according to Reuters, his involvement with hacking groups may have helped form his set of both liberal and libertarian ideals — as well as his support for net neutrality.

The Democrat’s longtime friends have attributed his rise in politics to his membership with the Cult of Dead Cows — which jokingly derived its name from an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse.

“When dad bought an Apple IIe and a 300-baud modem and I started to get on boards, it was the Facebook of its day,” Mr O’Rourke said. “You just wanted to be part of a community.”

He created his own digital board within the group called TacoLand, which served as an avenue for punk music enthusiasts. Mr O’Rourke was previously a member of a punk rock group that toured the state of Texas in his younger years. 

“This was the counterculture: Maximum Rock & Roll [magazine], buying records by catalogue you couldn’t find at record stores,” he said.

Mr O’Rourke regularly used the hacking boards to download “cracked” video games for free, bypassing digital rights protections, according to his fellow members, who previously kept the former lawmaker’s membership to the Cult of Dead Cows a secret. 

“I understand the democratising power of the Internet, and how transformative it was for me personally, and how it leveraged the extraordinary intelligence of these people all over the country who were sharing ideas and techniques,” he said. 

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

At The Independent, no one tells us what to write. That’s why, in an era of political lies and Brexit bias, more readers are turning to an independent source. Subscribe from just 15p a day for extra exclusives, events and ebooks – all with no ads.

Source : The Independent

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *