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New Book Unveils Beto O’Rourke History in Computer Hacking

A new book is shedding some light on Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke‘s membership in a computer hackers group when he was a teenager.

Author Joseph Menn spoke to Reuters about his upcoming book, Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World — which includes reporting on O’Rourke’s involvement with the hackers. (If you’re curious about the name, by the way, Cult of the Dead Cow is the name of the hacking collective, which took its name from a derelict slaughterhouse in Texas.)

Menn spoke to O’Rourke about the group while he was running for the U.S. Senate last year, and several other members of the Cult of the Dead Cow (CDC) agreed to go on the record to talk about the group’s activities. While there’s no evidence that O’Rourke participated in activities like breaking into other peoples’ computers or writing code to let others do so, the book does reveal a number of juicy details from the aspiring president’s past.

O’Rourke joined the group during the early days of computer socialization, and in order to connect to with online bulletin boards, he says that he used to steal long-distance service to dodge phone charges that would’ve come from making calls on his modem. These techniques are illegal under Texas state law, and two members of CDC were caught for service violations, but were let off with warnings since both of them were minors.

Since O’Rourke ended the practice when he was 18, the statute of limitations would’ve run out for him a long time ago.

The book goes touches on how O’Rourke used to write online essays under the name “Psychedelic Warlord,” some of which involved some graphic content. While there are innocuous pieces like O’Rourke imagining a world without money, there’s one piece where he and a Jewish friend of his questioned a Neo-Nazi on his beliefs, and another is a fictional essay that takes the perspective of a crazed psychopath who gets a rush out of killing people.

When asked about his CDC membership, O’Rourke said it helped formulate his political outsider mindset and his thoughts on a variety of issues.

“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. I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that,” O’Rourke said. “I understand the democratizing 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.”

Watch above, via Reuters.

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