The Spartacus Initiative: A Bold Step Towards Transparency and Accountability

By  Noah Washington October 16, 2023

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  • Project Spartacus is inscribing WikiLeaks' Afghan War logs on the Bitcoin blockchain using the Ordinals protocol to combat censorship and support Julian Assange
  • The Afghan War logs exposed uncomfortable truths about US military operations when published by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in 2010
  • Bitcoin's decentralized and immutable ledger makes it an ideal technology for publishing information that can't be altered or censored

In an era of increasing digital surveillance, a discreet initiative has surfaced, bearing the name "Project Spartacus". This venture has set its sights on a bold and ambitious goal: To etch the classified Afghan War logs, initially unveiled by Julian Assange's WikiLeaks in 2010, onto the immutable ledger of Bitcoin.

Project Spartacus, whose motivations and origins remain shrouded in secrecy, appears poised to become the latest global rallying point in support of the embattled journalist and activist, Julian Assange.

Significance of WikiLeaks' 2010 Publication

The Afghan War logs, a trove of documents chronicling the Afghan conflict, shook the foundations of conventional wisdom when published by Julian Assange's WikiLeaks in July 2010. These logs not only diverged from mainstream media narratives but also exposed confidential truths about the events transpiring in Afghanistan. These disclosures were so seismic that they raised profound questions regarding the conduct of certain U.S. military operations.

The simultaneous release of the war logs through collaboration with reputable publications such as The Guardian and The New York Times caused an upheaval within the U.S. government. The initial indictment against Assange centered on an alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to breach a military computer.

According to the charges, the primary purpose of this conspiracy was to facilitate Manning's acquisition and transmission of classified information. However, it later became clear that the alleged hacking never occurred, and Manning possessed authorized access to the documents she was accused of leaking without requiring technical assistance from WikiLeaks.

Role of Bitcoin in Project Spartacus

Project Spartacus selected Bitcoin as its canvas for inscribing the Afghan War logs, leveraging the Ordinals protocol, a meta protocol designed for Bitcoin. This protocol facilitates the addition of arbitrary data to the Bitcoin blockchain, which, owing to its decentralized network of nodes, ensures that once data is appended, it remains unalterable and indelible.

Bitcoin Ordinals inscriptions since late 2022. Source: Dune Analytics

These properties of Bitcoin make it an ideal medium for combating censorship, particularly of vital information. Project Spartacus, it seems, is championing freedom of information and knowledge by making it impossible for any entity to tamper with the data that Julian Assange risked his liberty to bring to the public eye.

Assange himself remains in a precarious legal situation, facing the prospect of extradition to the United States, despite being an Australian citizen and the alleged offenses not occurring on U.S. soil. The outcome of this extradition case remains uncertain, while concerns for Assange's future and his quest for freedom continue to mount.

How Project Spartacus Works

The Project Spartacus website offers a public interface where anyone can "inscribe," in Ordinals parlance, a war log onto the Bitcoin blockchain. There appears to be no charge for this process, except for network fees, which are an integral part of any Bitcoin transaction.

Moreover, the website features a "donate" button, enabling users to contribute bitcoin to Assange's cause. Donations are earmarked for organizations such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation, The Information Rights Project and Reporters Without Borders.

On the main page, a conspicuous rectangular button beckons readers with the text "Publish War Log". Clicking this button initiates the process of inscribing a war log. Users can select how many logs to inscribe, with a maximum of 300 war logs per transaction. A user may also choose the transaction fee, which calculates the total payment. By hitting "Continue," users are presumably directed to complete the fee payment.

The Ordinals Protocol

The Ordinals protocol, the backbone of Project Spartacus, was conceived by Bitcoin developer Casey Rodarmor. This protocol is engineered to enable easy data addition to Bitcoin, encompassing text, images, videos, HTML and Markdown. Since its inception, it has witnessed a meteoric rise in adoption and activity.

In the first 200 days following the launch of Ordinals, more data was added to Bitcoin than the number of Ethereum NFTs created in a similar time frame after the launch of non-fungible tokens on the Ethereum network. This surge in popularity led to an increase in fees on the Bitcoin blockchain, with some critics questioning the perceived 'uselessness' of appending arbitrary data to a network primarily associated with financial transactions.

However, Bitcoin's decentralized and rules-based nature allowed this activity to persist and evolve, ultimately leading to a proliferation of applications and developments built on the original cryptocurrency. Project Spartacus takes the Ordinals protocol in a new direction, emphasizing complete data finality on a decentralized information chain. This chain operates under the control of tens of thousands of nodes scattered across various jurisdictions worldwide. In this sense, Ordinals emerge as the ultimate tool for publication that many have sought to combat information censorship and manipulation.

Freedom of Information in a Censorship-Ridden World

As Project Spartacus gains momentum, it serves as a testament to the importance of preserving freedom of information and knowledge in an age characterized by attempts at censorship and control. This initiative hints at a promising future for decentralized publishing technologies, with Bitcoin at the forefront of this movement.

With Julian Assange's fate hanging in the balance, the significance of Project Spartacus and its objectives cannot be overstated. It embodies a global effort to ensure that vital information, once released to the world, remains sacrosanct and unalterable.

This may very well start a new chapter in the ongoing battle for transparency, accountability and the protection of those who dare to expose the truth.