Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #858 The NED File

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment

Introduction: Resuming a thread of analysis from FTR #857, this program examines aspects of the most inappropriately-named National Endowment for Democracy. A direct extension of the U.S. intelligence community, NED has assumed many of the functions performed by CIA in the past, and is a tool for the use of “soft power” to interfere in the affairs of other nations.

The overall goal and raison d’etre for the NED is regime change.

Since his sponsorship of Citizen Greenwald’s latest journalistic efforts, EBay kingpin Pierre Omidyar has enjoyed a lustrous public persona. His political efforts not only belie his supposed altruistic orientation but are inextricably linked with covert operations and the promotion of fascists of various kinds.

A devotee of the Austrian school of economics, Omidyar not only promoted and has benefited from the election of Hindu Nationalist/fascist Narendra Modi in India, he operated through NED and the Agency for International Development to help finance the Maidan coup in Ukraine. That coup, a covert operation that took advantage of popular dissatisfaction resulting from the endemic corruption plaguing Ukraine, brought to power the direct political heirs to the OUN/B.

Glenn Greenwald and Ron Paul

Omidyar is now partnering with the NED to establish a fact-checking service, and is also helping to finance Ukrainian media. Omidyar has also bought participation in the Ukrainian parliament.

Activities of the sort that NED engages in have moved Russian president Vladimir Putin to crack down on its operations in Russia. NED executive Carl Gershman openly called for the West to gain political control over Ukraine, as preparation for effecting “regime change” in Russia itself.

Next, the program excerpts AFA #36, detailing the projection of World War II-era fascist elements into Lithuania by the National Endowment for Democracy.

The actions of the NED and the resultant re-emergence of Baltic Waffen SS units in places like Lithuania is to be seen against the background of the Crusade For Freedom, the same “op” that resulted in the projection of the OUN/B fascists into Ukraine following the overthrow of Yanukovich.

An illegal domestic covert operation, the CFF brought Nazi allies such as the OUN/B, the Croatian Ustachi, the Romanian Iron Guard, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Bulgarian National Front and others into the United States in order to drive the political spectrum to the right.

As of 1952, the  CFF became inextricably linked with the GOP, with Arthur Bliss Lane playing a key role in the GOP’s 1952 campaign, as well as being centrally involved in the CFF. The CFF spawned the GOP’s ethnic outreach organization, which was able to deliver the swing vote in five key states in Presidential election years. It eventually became a permanent part of the GOP.

Conceived by Allen Dulles, the CFF was overseen by Richard Nixon. Its chief spokesperson was Ronald Reagan. The State Department official responsible for bringing “fascist freedom fighters” like the OUN/B into the United States was William Casey (Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager in the 1980 Presidential race and later Reagan’s CIA director.) The Nazi wing of the GOP was installed as a permanent branch of the Republican Part when George H.W. Bush was the head of the Republican National Committee.

The OUN/B was a key element of the GOP’s ethnic outreach organization. It is noteworthy that the organizations that were represented in the GOP subgroup were all affiliated with the SS during World War II. They were also inextricably linked with the Reinhard Gehlen organization.

Perhaps the most important effect of the Gehlen organization was to introduce “rollback” or “liberation theory” into American strategic thinking. Rollback was a political wafare and covert operation strategy which had its genesis in the Third Reich Ostministerium headed by Alfred Rosenberg. This strategy entailed enlisting the aid of dissident Soviet ethnic minorities to overthrow the Soviet Union. In return, these minorities and their respective republics were to be granted nominal independence while serving as satellite states of “Greater Germany.”

In its American incarnation, liberation theory called for “rolling back” communism out of Eastern Europe and the break-up of the Soviet Union into its constituent ethnic Republics. Lip-service was given to initiating democracy in the “liberated” countries. Liberation theory was projected into mainstream American political consciousness through the Crusade for Freedom.

Program Highlights Include:

  • Omidyar Ukrainian protege Svitlana Zalischuk’s political task of integrating Ukraine into NATO.
  • Putin’s application of the American law requiring political operatives funded from abroad to register as foreign agents.
  • The Washington Post‘s lurch to the right, under the stewardship of owner Jeff Bezos, the chief of Amazon.
  • How Omidyar’s partnering with NED fits into the political gambit of combatting “Russia’s information war.”
  • Review of Omidyar’s partnering with a veteran of the notorious Phoenix program in Vietnam.
  • One of the founders of NED was the late Allen Weinstein, who served as George W. Bush’s head of the National Archives. Weinstein also wrote a hatchet job on Alger Hiss, who helped expose US industrialists’ relationship to Nazi Germany. For more on Hiss, see AFA #1.

1. Mark Ames has a new update on the ever evolv­ing nature of Pierre Omidyar’s new media empire: First is now invest­ing in a new inter­na­tional “fact check­ing” ser­vice with the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy, which is inextricably linked with U.S. intelligence and frequently functions as a front for covert operations. He also invested in a Ukrain­ian news ser­vice set up on the eve of the Maidan rev­o­lu­tion. And it looks like there could be many more invest­ments in media orga­ni­za­tions yet to come because it now looks like the whole model for First Look Media has changed: instead of set­ting up a con­stel­la­tion of sep­a­rate inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­is­tic out­lets, First Look is just going to start invest­ing in exist­ing media enter­prises.

Note that one of the founders of NED was the late Allen Weinstein, who served as George W. Bush’s head of the National Archives.

“What Pierre Did Next” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 7/31/2015.

The Guardian reported on Tues­day that the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy has just been banned from Rus­sia, under strict new laws reg­u­lat­ing NGOs act­ing as for­eign agents.

In that story, the Guardian cited the fact that Inter­cept pub­lisher Pierre Omid­yar co-funded Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion groups with USAID and the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy (NED).

If the Omid­yar con­nec­tion sounds famil­iar, that’s because it was Pando that first broke the story in Feb­ru­ary 2014 (the Guardian linked to our orig­i­nal scoop in its coverage.)

In the 18 months since we broke the story, Ukraine has col­lapsed into war and despair, with up to 10,000 peo­ple killed and one and a half mil­lion internally-displaced refugees — and top US brass talk openly of a new Cold War with nuclear-armed Rus­sia, while US mil­i­tary advi­sors train and arm Ukraini­ans to wage war on Russian-backed separatists.

Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk, one of the lead­ers of the Omidyar-funded NGO that helped orga­nize last year’s rev­o­lu­tion in Kiev, is now in power as an MP in Ukraine’s par­lia­ment, a mem­ber of the new, pro-NATO president’s party bloc. She’s gone from plucky Omidyar-funded adver­sar­ial activist, to head­ing a par­lia­men­tary sub­com­mit­tee tasked with inte­grat­ing Ukraine into NATO.

I can’t think of another media tycoon who co-funded a pro-US regime change with Amer­i­can intel­li­gence cutouts like USAID and the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy. That Putin tar­geted the NED does not mean it’s either heroic or evil—the NED’s story speaks for itself: The brain­child of Reagan’s CIA direc­tor Bill Casey, the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy was set up as an intel­li­gence cutout to sup­port US geopo­lit­i­cal power and under­mine unfriendly regimes. One of the NED co-founders, Allen Wein­stein, explained its pur­pose to the Wash­ing­ton Post:

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Through­out its 30-year his­tory it’s been mired in very typ­i­cal CIA con­tro­ver­sies: In the 80s, the NED was caught fund­ing an out­lawed extreme-right French para­mil­i­tary gang dur­ing Social­ist pres­i­dent Mitterand’s rule; fund­ing a mil­i­tary leader’s vic­to­ri­ous elec­tion in Panama against a more mod­er­ate civil­ian can­di­date; and financ­ing rightwing oppo­nents of Costa Rica’s democratically-elected Nobel Peace Prize-winning pres­i­dent, whose sin was oppos­ing Reagan’s deadly, dirty war in Nicaragua.

More recently, the NED was caught fund­ing groups that orga­nized the 2002 coup against Venezuela’s democratically-elected pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez; plant­ing a “free-lance jour­nal­ist”    in the AP and New York Times to report on Haiti while the NED was simul­ta­ne­ously fund­ing rightwing groups to under­mine Haiti’s rul­ing party; and co-funding Ukraine regime-change groups with Pierre Omidyar.

This week, Omid­yar Net­work announced yet another part­ner­ship with the National Endow­ment for Democ­racy and the Poyn­ter Insti­tute to cre­ate an inter­na­tional online fact-checking hub. Given the power that a monop­oly on “objec­tive” fact-checking offers, the tie-up with the NED takes the Omid­yar alliance with the US empire and media to newer, creepier lev­els. In yet another Omidyar-as-private-arm invest­ment, Omid­yar invested in the slick new Ukrain­ian media, Hromadske.tv, which was set up on the eve of the Maidan rev­o­lu­tion with ini­tial seed fund­ing com­ing from the US Embassy in Kiev. Omidyar’s involve­ment in Ukraine media and “fact-checking” is all the more seri­ous given that now Wash­ing­ton and NATO talk about “coun­ter­ing” Russia’s over­hyped “infor­ma­tion war” on the West and on Ukraine—this “infor­ma­tion war” which I cov­ered a bit in my piece on Peter Pomer­ant­sev, is con­sid­ered a top and urgent geostrate­gic pri­or­ity for NATO and the West.

And now in the last week, the lat­est twist to the far­ci­cal “jour­nal­ism par­adise” shit­show: Omid­yar is report­edly in talks with the king of online tabloid-sleaze, Nick Den­ton, to invest in the latter’s perma-sued orga­ni­za­tion. As Pando’s Paul Carr wrote ear­lier this week, the ground seems to be being pre­pared for a full-on merger of the Inter­cept and Gawker, backed by Omidyar’s cash.

As of yes­ter­day, Nick Den­ton appointed John Cook — for­merly edi­tor of the Inter­cept — to be the “tem­po­rary” exec­u­tive edi­tor of Gawker. When Cook departed the Inter­cept, he wrote that “Work­ing with my Inter­cept col­leagues has been one of the most ful­fill­ing things I’ve done in my career, and my deci­sion to leave was a painful one to make.”

At the same time, IBT reported that Chief Rev­enue Offi­cer, Michael Rosen, had resigned from First Look Media. Rosen’s depar­ture comes just a week after John Tem­ple, First Look’s “Pres­i­dent, Audi­ence and Prod­ucts,” stepped down from his job say­ing “There clearly is much excite­ment ahead for First Look, but I feel my con­tri­bu­tion is largely complete.”

Per­haps it’s a coin­ci­dence that both the guy who is in charge of build­ing an audi­ence for the Inter­cept and the guy tasked with mak­ing it prof­itable have left. Or per­haps not: IBT quotes a source explain­ing that “First Look would soon be mov­ing away from try­ing to cre­ate a con­stel­la­tion of mag­a­zines and begin to focus on empow­er­ing ‘con­tent cre­ators.’ That is, Omid­yar will be invest­ing cash in sites like Gawker, along­side his invest­ments in fact-checking sites and Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion­ary groups.

How will the Intercept’s audi­ence, which accepted Greenwald’s deci­sion to pri­va­tize the Snow­den secrets to Omid­yar, react if Omid­yar then sells jour­nal­ism par­adise to jour­nal­ism sleaze and the Snow­den secrets — our secrets, the public’s secrets — wind up as cap­i­tal assets in First Gawker Media?

Snow­den revealed that NSA spooks were spy­ing on their lovers online habits — how will that be mon­e­tized in First Gawker Media? Where will Denton’s 20% sleaze dis­count be applied?

2. Next, the program highlights Russian president Vladimir Putin’s shutting down of NED fronts in Russia. To get an idea of the nature of the so-called “democrats” being promoted by NED and related elements, examine the political career of Alexei Navalny.

“Why Russia Shut Down NED Fronts” by Robert Parry; Consortium News; 7/30/2015.

The Washington Post’s descent into the depths of neoconservative propaganda – willfully misleading its readers on matters of grave importance – apparently knows no bounds as was demonstrated with two deceptive articles regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and why his government is cracking down on “foreign agents.”

If you read the Post’s editorial on Wednesday and a companion op-ed by National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, you would have been led to believe that Putin is delusional, paranoid and “power mad” in his concern that outside money funneled into non-governmental organizations represents a threat to Russian sovereignty.

The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians have enacted laws requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as “foreign agents” – and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman’s NED.

The Post’s editors wrote that Putin’s “latest move, announced Tuesday, is to declare the NED an ‘undesirable’ organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’

“The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts. …

“The new law on ‘undesirables’ comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations ‘foreign agents’ if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”

But there are several salient facts that the Post’s editors surely know but don’t want you to know. The first is that NED is a U.S. government-funded organization created in 1983 to do what the Central Intelligence Agency previously had done in financing organizations inside target countries to advance U.S. policy interests and, if needed, help in “regime change.”

The secret hand behind NED’s creation was CIA Director William J. Casey who worked with senior CIA covert operation specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to establish NED in 1983. Casey – from the CIA – and Raymond – from his assignment inside President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council – focused on creating a funding mechanism to support groups inside foreign countries that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. To partially replace that CIA role, the idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III – as Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment.”

NED Is Born

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured. But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill. The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented, not fully recognizing the significance of the demand.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy. Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president.

Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC. For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Currently, Gershman’s NED dispenses more than $100 million a year in U.S. government funds to various NGOs, media outlets and activists around the world. The NED also has found itself in the middle of political destabilization campaigns against governments that have gotten on the wrong side of U.S. foreign policy. For instance, prior to the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing an anti-Russian regime in Kiev, NED was funding scores of projects.

A second point left out of the Post’s editorial was the fact that Gershman took a personal hand in the Ukraine crisis and recognized it as an interim step toward regime change in Moscow. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman published an op-ed in the Washington Post that called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” In other words, NED is a U.S. government-financed entity that has set its sights on ousting Russia’s current government.

A third point that the Post ignored is that the Russian law requiring outside-funded political organizations to register as “foreign agents” was modeled on a U.S. law, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. In other words, the U.S. government also requires individuals and entities working for foreign interests and seeking to influence U.S. policies to disclose those relationships with the U.S. Justice Department or face prison.

If the Post’s editors had included any or all of these three relevant factors, you would have come away with a more balanced understanding of why Russia is acting as it is. You might still object but at least you would be aware of the full story. By concealing all three points, the Post’s editors were tricking you and other readers into accepting a propagandistic viewpoint – that the Russian actions were crazy and that Putin was, according to the Post’s headline, “power mad.”

Gershman’s Op-Ed

But you might think that Gershman would at least acknowledge some of these points in his Post op-ed, surely admitting that NED is financed by the U.S. government. But Gershman didn’t. He simply portrayed Russia’s actions as despicable and desperate.

“Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy on Tuesday was declared an “undesirable organization” prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,” Gershman wrote, adding:

“This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the ‘foreign agents’ law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.”

The reference to how a “foreign agents” registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn’t good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the op-ed.

So would an acknowledgement of where NED’s money comes from. How many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?

Not surprisingly, Gershman couldn’t find the space to include any balance in his op-ed – and the Post’s editors didn’t insist on any.

3. Exemplifying the type of activity in which the NED specializes, we review information about that organization’s successful projection of Lithuanian Nazi and fascist elements into that former Soviet Republic. In FTR #848, we examined how the seeds sown by NED took root and flowered.

“NED Meddles in Lithuania: Nurturing Baltic Reaction” by Philip Bonosky; Covert Action Quarterly; Number 25 (Fall 1990).

In April of 1990, the Soviet Republic of Lithuania startled the world by declaring itself independent of the U.S.S.R. The U.S. has not yet recognized Lithuania as independent, and Bush’s public remarks have been moderate. But beneath this facade of calm statecraft there runs a familiar current of silent U.S. involvement in the political affairs of another country.

The most visible intervention has been via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has supplied funds, equipment, and advice to the principal nationalist opposition party Sajudis. NED has chosen to funnel its Lithuanian aid through one organization: the New York-based Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid (LCRA) and its propaganda arm, Lithuanian Information Center (LIC).

These two organizations are run by arch-conservative Catholic clergy. The founder, current board chair, and the man who has “presided over the steady growth and increasing effectiveness of LCRA, Bishop Vincentas Brizgys, was allegedly a Nazi collaborator during World War II. [Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: 1961), and Charles R. Allen’s Nazi War Criminals Among Us (New York: Jewish Currents Reprint, 1963), document Brizgys’s background. Allen reproduced Nuremberg Tribunal documents relating to the Bishop.] Brizgys vehemently denies the charge. Sajudis itself is linked in a variety of ways to the symbols and sentiments of the fascist and Nazi periods of Baltic history.

The Country in Question

Lithuania lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, bordered on the south by Poland, on the north by the Latvian S.S.R., and on the east by the Byelorussian S.S.R. [Soviet Socialist Republic–a member of the former U.S.S.R.] It is the westernmost extent of the Soviet Union, with a population (1980) of just over three million. In the 14th century invading Germans conquered the area and imposed the Catholic faith. In the modern era, Lithuania has been repeatedly buffeted by the shifting political and military map of Europe.

Lithuania declared independence from Czarist Russia in 1918, but in 1926, the nationalist party took power through a military coup. Declaring himself president Augustus Voldemares and his premier, Antanas Smetona shaped Lithuania into Europe’s second fascist state, based explicitly on the example of Mussolini’s Italy. Lithuania remained a dictatorship until 1939, when Smetoma fled to the U.S. and a new parliament voted unanimously to become a constituent republic of the U.S.S.R. With the German invasion of the Soviet Union 1n 1941, Lithuania’s nationalists returned briefly to power and assisted the Nazis in the swift, systematic slaughter of more than 130,000 Lithuanian Jews, communists and other “undesirables.”

Enter NED

In April 1990, a 34-year-old American, William J.H. Hough III, was very  busy in Lithuania. Hough was sent to Lithuania–although he doesn’t speak Lithuanian–as legal adviser to Vytautas Landsbergis, the leader of the nationalist party. He was recommended by LCRA/LIC, which the U.S. press has cited as very enthusiastic about his work.

Cooperating closely with Hough, LCRA/LIC has supplied Sajudis with paper, photocopy machines, computers, laser printers, FAX machines, and video cameras. With additional political and technical expertise, Vilnius quickly became a communications hub for secessionist forces in Lithuania and other Soviet republics.

Professionally,Hough is a lawyer. He was also an editor of The New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law, which published in its Winter 1985 issue his book-length article titled, “The Annexation of the Baltic States and its Effect on the Development of Law Prohibiting Forcible Seizure of Territory.” Hough describes the interwar period of Lithuanian history [its fascist period–D.E.] as one of “political and constitutional stability” and “progress toward the restoration of full democracy.” He fails to mention the collaboration of nationalists and Nazis. In his public justifications of secession, Landsbergis has frequently referred to Hough’s interpretation of Lithuanian history.

Hough’s history of Lithuania must be reassuring to NED’s ideologues and their Lithuanian clients, some of whom share a past they might reasonably prefer to forget.

Channeling Endowment Dollars

During the past two years, NED has granted $70,000 to LCRA/LIC. They are not obviously democratic organizations. Founded in 1961 to “provide the Church under the Soviet oppression with spiritual and material assistance . . . .,” LCA’s parent organization was the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Priests’ League. The quiet obscurity of this group belies the welcome they receive in the halls of power. LCRA executive director Father Casimir Pugevicius served on an advisory committee to Senator Charles Percy (Rep.–Ill.), then a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was also welcomed in the Reagan White House in 1986.

According to LCRA/LIC, its 1990 grant application to NED requested $618,300 and outlined its ambitious proposal as follows:

. . . . five separate pro-democratic organizations would receive technical and material aid. The first, a coalition of democratic parties enjoying broad support in Lithuania and capable of assuming leading roles in the new legislature would receive computer and audio-visual equipment . . . . Communications and video equipment will also be transported to the Sajudis Information Agency . . . . [According to NED, funds went only to  Sajudis.]

The second part of the project would ensure a continuous supply of much needed paper for independent publishers and organizations. The dramatic increase in the number of democratic groups in Lithuania in the past year has caused severe shortages in the very limited pool of resources. . . . Because of the greater degree of liberalization in Lithuania, this republic has emerged as the publishing center for the independent groups throughout the Soviet Union. . . .

Within weeks of the arrival of these goods, traditional sources of information in Lithuania were suppressed or taken over by Sajudis. Nationalist sympathizers cut off broadcast programming  from Moscow, and Lithuania was soon flooded with secessionist propaganda. In the ensuing election, Sajudis managed to dominate the scene by riding the crest of a wave of nationalist sentiment. It won a majority in the Seim (parliament). In March, a hastily convened session of parliament voted for secession (91-38) in a matter of hours. Laws were passed curbing opposition newspapers and changing the flag and national anthem, reverting to versions in use during the nationalist period. As to whether, or what, of real substance should change, Sajudis remained silent.

Echoes From the Past

To Lithuanians old enough to remember the Second World War, the energetic activities of Sajudis, LCRA, and LIC must seem vaguely familiar. Landsbergis’s father was a member of the Savandoriai (nationalist militia), who fought the Russians (1918-1919), helped enforce the successive dictatorships of Voldemares and Smetona, and collaborated with the German occupation.

A reporter for Der Spiegel wrote in April 1990 that: “Everybody fears Sajudis. Anyone who attacks Sajudis is declared an an enemy of the people by Landsbergis, and that happens very quickly.”  In addition the Savandoriai (illegal under Soviet law) have been revived under the leadership of retired army officers.

Prior to the German invasion in June 1941, a Berlin-based “Lithuanian Information Bureau,” the propaganda arm of the Lithuanian Activist Front, a nationalist exile organization, sent the following message into Lithuania:

. . . . liberation is close at hand. . . . uprisings must be started in the cities, towns and villages of Lithuania. . . . communists and other traitors. . . . must be arrested at once. . . . (The traitor will be pardoned only provided beyond doubt that he has killed one Jew at least.)

In the book Blowback, Christopher Simpson crisply summarizes part of the “liberation” that followed:

. . . . municipal killing squads employing Lithuanian Nazi collaborators eliminated 46,692 Jews in fewer than three months, according to their own reports, mainly by combining clock-like liquidations of 500 Jews per day in the capital city of Vilnius with mobile “clean-up” sweeps through the surrounding countryside.

Such squads were consistently used by the Nazis for the dirty work that even the SS believed  to be beneath the dignity of the German soldier. . . . .

On August 4, 1941, the Lithuanian Activist Front, installed a provisional government, taking care to cooperate fully with the Nazis. The invaders let president Juozas Ambrazevicius’s government stand for three months, during which time the worst of the killings occurred. After the war, Ambrazevicius fled to the U.S., where he changed his name to Brazaitis.

The crimes which prompted the post-war flight of many Lithuanian nationalists were starkly documented in the “Jaeger Report,” an official count by the SS officer who supervised the massacres:

Einsatzkommando 3 Kovno, December 1, 1941

Secret State Document

Summary of all executions carried out in the sphere of action of Einsatzkommando 3 up to December 1, 1941.

Einsatzkomando 3 took over its duties as security police in Lithuania on the 2nd of July 1941. . . . In compliance with my directives and on my order the Lithuanian partisans have carried out the following executions. . . .

What followed was a chronological accounting of the activities of the killing squads. Victims were neatly categorized: Jewish men, Jewish women, Jewish children, Poles, Lithuanian communists, Russian communists, Intellectual Jews, Lunatics, Gypsies, Political Instructors, Armenians. . . .

After the first 3,000 deaths, Jaeger apparently decided that the Lithuanian nationalists alone were equal to the task;

. . . . After organizing a mobile unit under SS-Oberstumfuhrer Hamann and 8 to 10 tried men of EK 3 the following actions were carried out in cooperation with the Lithuanian partisans. . . .

. . . . Before the EK 3 assumed security duties, the partisans themselves killed [4,000 ] Jews through pogroms and executions. . . .

. . . . I can state today that the goal of solving the Jewish problem in Lithuania has been reached by EK 3. There are no Jews in Lithuania anymore except the work Jews and their families. . . .The goal to clear Lithuania of Jews could be achieved only thanks to . . . men . . . . who adopted my goal without any reservations and managed to secure the cooperation of the Lithuanian partisans and and the respective civil offices. . . .

The final tally of those killed was 137, 346. As the report clearly indicates, the Nazis were assisted by both the paramilitary bands associated with the nationalists, and by those in positions of authority–including members of the Catholic clergy.

A Nazi Collaborator Prospers in Chicago

As auxiliary Bishop of Kaunas, (Kovno) during the German occupation, Bishop Vincentas Brizgys, founder of LCRA/LIC, lent his spiritual authority to fascism. When the Nazis retreated, so did he, first to Germany, then to Chicago where he has lived, worked, and carried the nationalist banner for 25 years.

The clergy hated socialism or very clear reasons. The socialist government which came to power in 1939 had separated church and state. Church property was confiscated, including large farms where peasants labored under semi-feudal conditions eliminated elsewhere in Europe centuries before. Clergy were removed from government and the educational system, two institutions where they had long wielded powerful influence.

Archbishop Skvireckas, Brizgys’s superior, documented the bishop’s collaborationist activities with evident satisfaction. The archbishop’s diary for July 1, 1941, reveals that Brizgys made contact:

. . . . with the representative of the German government for the Baltic statics. [Dr. Groffe, formerly head of Gestapo in East Prussia who] . . . proposed . . . . that he [Brizgys] should make an appeal to the people to behave quietly and pursue their daily business with confidence, without any fear that they might be harmed. . . .

On June 30, 1941, the archbishop had written: “The ideas in Mein Kampf on the question of the Bolshevik-Jewish contagion are splendid . . . . they prove that Hitler is not only an enemy of the Jews, but generally speaking has the right ideas.”

An appeal to welcome the Nazis was broadcast by radio, ten published in a major Kaunas newspaper, signed by Skviteckas, Brizgys and Vicar General Saulys. Their signatures were also on a formal telegram of thanks to Hitler for “Lithuania’s Liberation,” sent in the middle of July 1941.

As the Nazis and their collaborators implemented the diabolical logic of Mein Kampf, Brizgys “set an example for the entire population by forbidding the clergy to aid the Jews in any way.” He also urged from his pulpit, and via radio and newspaper, that Lithuanians cooperate with the Nazis.

When the Soviet army, led by its 16th Lithuanian division, drove the Nazis out in 1944, Brizgys fled to safety in Germany, then to the U.S. Send to the archdiocese of Chicago, he helped launch Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid in 1961, and served as LCRA president until 1986. He is now chair of the board of directors.

Other Friends of Lithuanian Democracy

  • Director of Special Projects for LCRA/LIC is Rasa Razgaitis, stepdaughter of accused war criminal Jurgis Juodis. Because of his involvement as a nationalist military officer in the massacres of 1941, Juodis became the subject of a Justice Department Office of Special Investigations (OSIS) inquiry in 1981. In addition to her work with LCA, Razgaitis is head of “Americans for Due Process,” an organization “formed solely to challenge the activities of the Justice Department’s war crimes unit.” She is also a friend of Patrick Buchanan, through whom she gained access to the Reagan White House when Buchanan was Communications Director.
  • AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland is a long time member of the cold warrior clique Committee on the Present Danger, and supports CIA manipulation of labor movements around the globe. Kirkland has welcomed Landsbergis as a friend during his U.S. visits. Kirkland’s name was on an open letter to President Bush published in the April 22, 1990 New York Times calling for immediate recognition of Lithuanian independence. Kirkland is on the NED board.
  • Richard Ebeling, vice president of the Future Freedom Foundation (FFF) of Denver, has been invited by Sajudis to lecture “in Lithuania, on the principles of freedom.” In addition, six Sajudis economists have met with leaders of FFF to discuss “free market proposals . . . .  made as radical as possible.” Among others discussed were the now-familiar calls for rapid denationalization of all industries and state prosperity; decontrol of all prices and wages, both in the consumer and production markets; and privatization of social services including medical retirement pensions. . . . . .


One comment for “FTR #858 The NED File”

  1. Yasha Levine had a fascinating piece back in March on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a US government organization with quite a number of parallels with the National Endowment for Democracy. It also happens to be a government organization that’s investing millions of dollars in developing anti-surveillance tools developed by anti-surveillance activist like Jacob Appelbaum so they could build tools like TOR:

    Pando Daily
    Internet privacy, funded by spooks: A brief history of the BBG

    By Yasha Levine
    March 1, 2015

    For the past few months I’ve been covering U.S. government funding of popular Internet privacy tools like Tor, CryptoCat and Open Whisper Systems. During my reporting, one agency in particular keeps popping up: An agency with one of those really bland names that masks its wild, bizarre history: the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG.

    The BBG was formed in 1999 and runs on a $721 million annual budget. It reports directly to Secretary of State John Kerry and operates like a holding company for a host of Cold War-era CIA spinoffs and old school “psychological warfare” projects: Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Martí, Voice of America, Radio Liberation from Bolshevism (since renamed “Radio Liberty”) and a dozen other government-funded radio stations and media outlets pumping out pro-American propaganda across the globe.

    Today, the Congressionally-funded federal agency is also one of the biggest backers of grassroots and open-source Internet privacy technology. These investments started in 2012, when the BBG launched the “Open Technology Fund” (OTF) — an initiative housed within and run by Radio Free Asia (RFA), a premier BBG property that broadcasts into communist countries like North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, China and Myanmar. The BBG endowed Radio Free Asia’s Open Technology Fund with a multimillion dollar budget and a single task: “to fulfill the U.S. Congressional global mandate for Internet freedom.”

    It’s already a mouthful of proverbial Washington alphabet soup — Congress funds BBG to fund RFA to fund OTF — but, regardless of which sub-group ultimately writes the check, the important thing to understand is that all this federal government money flows, directly or indirectly, from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

    Between 2012 and 2014, Radio Free Asia’s Open Technology Fund poured more than $10 million into Internet privacy projects big and small: open-source encrypted communication apps, next-generation secure email initiatives, anti-censorship mesh networking platforms, encryption security audits, secure cloud hosting, a network of “high-capacity” Tor exit nodes and even an anonymous Tor-based tool for leakers and whistleblowers that competed with Wikileaks.

    Though many of the apps and tech backed by Radio Free Asia’s OTF are unknown to the general public, they are highly respected and extremely popular among the anti-surveillance Internet activist crowd. OTF-funded apps have been recommended by Edward Snowden, covered favorably by ProPublica and The New York Times’ technology reporters, and repeatedly promoted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Everyone seems to agree that OTF-funded privacy apps offer some of the best protection from government surveillance you can get. In fact, just about all the featured open-source apps on EFF’s recent “Secure Messaging Scorecard” were funded by OTF.

    Here’s a small sample of what the Broadcasting Board of Governors funded (through Radio Free Asia and then through the Open Technology Fund) between 2012 and 2014:

    * Open Whisper Systems, maker of free encrypted text and voice mobile apps like TextSecure and Signal/RedPhone, got a generous $1.35-million infusion. (Facebook recently started using Open Whisper Systems to secure its WhatsApp messages.)
    * CryptoCat, an encrypted chat app made by Nadim Kobeissi and promoted by EFF, received $184,000.
    * LEAP, an email encryption startup, got just over $1 million. LEAP is currently being used to run secure VPN services at RiseUp.net, the radical anarchist communication collective.
    * A Wikileaks alternative called GlobaLeaks (which was endorsed by the folks at Tor, including Jacob Appelbaum) received just under $350,000.
    * The Guardian Project — which makes an encrypted chat app called ChatSecure, as well a mobile version of Tor called Orbot — got $388,500.
    * The Tor Project received over $1 million from OTF to pay for security audits, traffic analysis tools and set up fast Tor exit nodes in the Middle East and South East Asia.

    In 2014, Congress massively upped the BBG’s “Internet freedom” budget to $25 million, with half of that money flowing through RFA and into the Open Technology Fund. This $12.75 million represented a three-fold increase in OTF’s budget from 2013 — a considerable expansion for an outfit that was just a few years old. Clearly, it’s doing something that the government likes. A lot.

    With those resources, the Open Technology Fund’s mother-agency, Radio Free Asia, plans to create a vertically integrated incubator for budding privacy technologists around the globe — providing everything from training and mentorship, to offering them a secure global cloud hosting environment to run their apps, to legal assistance.

    Radio Free Asia’s OTF operates its own “secure cloud” infrastructure, which grantees can use to safely deploy their anti-surveillance apps — with server nodes in Turkey, Cambodia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Amsterdam and Washington, D.C. It also runs a “legal lab” which provides free legal services to projects with OTF funding. The Open Technology Fund even runs a “Rapid Response Fund” providing “emergency support” (including funding and technical help) to privacy projects, protecting privacy services against DDoS attacks and other malicious assaults by hackers and hostile governments.

    And then there are the many academic programs underwritten by the Open Technology Fund, including six month fellowships that pay a $4,000 stipend at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

    Silicon Valley has opened its doors to the Open Technology Fund. In 2014, OTF launched a coordinated project with Dropbox and Google to make free, easy-to-use privacy tools, and Facebook announced it was incorporating the underlying encryption technology of one of OTF’s flagship projects — OpenWhisper Systems — into its WhatsApp text messaging service.

    Equally important is the cultural affinity: Radio Free Asia and OTF seemed to really get the hacktivists and the open-source crypto community. Its day-to-day operations are run by Dan Meredith, a young guy who used to work at Al-Jazeera in Qatar as a “technologist” and who is an alumnus of academic and think-tank privacy-activist circles. Meredith isn’t your typical stuffy State Department suit, he’s a departure from the picture in most people’s heads of the sort of person who’d lead a US government project with major foreign policy implications. He’s fluent in the crypto/open-source techie lingo that those in the grassroots community can identify with. Under Meredith’s watch, the Open Technology Fund passes itself off as a grassroots outfit with a lo-fi look and feel. Its homepage even features a cute 8-bit YouTube video outlining its do-gooder mission of using “public funds to support Internet freedom projects” which promote “human rights and open societies.”

    Readers might find it odd that a US government agency established as a way to launder the image of various shady propaganda outfits (more on that soon) is now keen to fund technologies designed to protect us from the US government. Moreover, it might seem curious that its money would be so warmly welcomed by some of the Internet’s fiercest antigovernment activists.

    But, as folks in the open-source privacy community will tell you, funding for open-source encryption/anti-surveillance tech has been hard to come by. So they’ve welcomed money from Radio Free Asia’s Open Technology Fund with open pockets. Developers and groups submitted their projects for funding, while libertarians and anti-government/anti-surveillance activists enthusiastically joined OTF’s advisory council, sitting alongside representatives from Google and the US State Department, tech lobbyists, and military consultants.

    But why is a federally-funded CIA spinoff with decades of experience in “psychological warfare” suddenly blowing tens of millions in government funds on privacy tools meant to protect people from being surveilled by another arm of the very same government? To answer that question, we have to pull the camera back and examine how all of those Cold War propaganda outlets begat the Broadcasting Board of Governors begat Radio Free Asia begat the Open Technology Fund. The story begins in the late 1940’s.

    The origins of the Broadcasting Board of Governors

    The Broadcasting Board of Governors traces its beginnings to the early Cold War years, as a covert propaganda project of the newly-created Central Intelligence Agency to wage “psychological warfare” against Communist regimes and others deemed a threat to US interests.

    George Kennan — the key architect of post-WWII foreign policy — pushed for expanding the role of covert peacetime programs. And so, in 1948,National Security Council Directive 10/2 officially authorized the CIA to engage in “covert operations” against the Communist Menace. Clause 5 of the directive defined “covert operations” as “propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”

    Propaganda quickly became one of the key weapons in the CIA’s covert operations arsenal. The agency established and funded radio stations, newspapers, magazines, historical societies, emigre “research institutes,” and cultural programs all over Europe. In many cases, it funneled money to outfits run and staffed by known World War II war criminals and Nazi collaborators, both in Europe and here in the United States.

    Christopher Simpson, author of “Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy”, details the extent of these “psychological warfare projects”:

    CIA-funded psychological warfare projects employing Eastern European émigrés became major operations during the 1950s, consuming tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars. . . .This included underwriting most of the French Paix et Liberté movement, paying the bills of the German League for Struggle Against Inhumanity , and financing a half dozen free jurists associations, a variety of European federalist groups, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, magazines, news services, book publishers, and much more. These were very broad programs designed to influence world public opinion at virtually every level, from illiterate peasants in the fields to the most sophisticated scholars in prestigious universities. They drew on a wide range of resources: labor unions, advertising agencies, college professors, journalists, and student leaders, to name a few. [emphasis added]

    In Europe, the CIA set up “Radio Free Europe” and “Radio Liberation From Bolshevism” (later renamed “Radio Liberty”), which beamed propaganda in several languages into the Soviet Union and Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe. The CIA later expanded its radio propaganda operations into Asia, targeting communist China, North Korea and Vietnam. The spy agency also funded several radio projects aimed at subverting leftist governments in Central and South America, including Radio Free Cuba and Radio Swan — which was run by the CIA and employed some of the same Cuban exiles that took part in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Even today, the CIA boasts that these early “psychological warfare” projects “would become one of the longest running and successful covert action campaigns ever mounted by the United States.”

    Officially, the CIA’s direct role in this global “psychological warfare” project diminished in the 1970s, after the spy agency’s ties to Cold War propaganda arms like Radio Free Europe were exposed. Congress agreed to take over funding of these projects from the CIA, and eventually Washington expanded them into a massive federally-funded propaganda apparatus.

    The names of the various CIA spinoffs and nonprofits changed over the years, culminating in a 1999 reorganization under President Bill Clinton which created the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a parent holding company to group new broadcasting operations around the world together with Cold War-era propaganda outfits with spooky pasts—including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.

    Today, the BBG has a $721 million budget provided by Congress, reports to the Secretary of State and is managed by a revolving crew of neocons and military think-tank experts. Among them: Kenneth Weinstein, head of the Hudson Institute, the arch-conservative Cold War-era military think tank; and Ryan C. Crocker, former ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

    Although today’s BBG is no longer covertly funded via the CIA’s black budget, its role as a soft power “psychological warfare” operation hasn’t really changed since its inception. The BBG and its subsidiaries still engage in propaganda warfare, subversion and soft-power projection against countries and foreign political movements deemed hostile to US interests. And it is still deeply intertwined with the same military and CIA-connected intelligence organizations — from USAID to DARPA to the National Endowment for Democracy.

    Today, the Broadcasting Board of Governors runs a propaganda network that blankets the globe: Radio Martí (aimed at Cuba), Radio Farda (aimed at Iran), Radio Sawa (which broadcasts in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, and Sudan), Radio Azadi (targeting Afghanistan), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (which has tailored broadcasts in over a dozen languages into Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, and Armenia), and Radio Free Asia (which targets China, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam).

    The BBG is also involved in the technology of post-Cold War, Internet-era propaganda. It has bankrolled satellite Internet access in Iran and continues to fund an SMS-based social network in Cuba called Piramideo — which is different from the failed covert Twitter clone funded by USAID that tried to spark a Cuban Spring revolution. It has contracted with an anonymity Internet proxy called SafeWeb, which had been funded by the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel. It worked with tech outfits run by practitioners of the controversial Chinese right-wing cult, Falun Gong — whose leader believes that humans are being corrupted by invading aliens from other planets/dimensions. These companies — Dynaweb and Ultrareach — provide anti-censorship tools to Chinese Internet users. As of 2012, the BBG continued to fund them to the tune of $1.5 million a year.

    As the BBG proudly outlined in a 2013 fact sheet for its “Internet Anti-Censorship” unit:

    The BBG collaborates with other Internet freedom projects and organizations, including RFA’s Open Technology Fund, the State Department, USAID, and DARPAs SAFER Warfighter Communications Program. IAC is also reaching out to other groups interested in Internet freedom such as Google, Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance.

    BBG is also one of the Tor Project’s biggest funders, paying out about $3.5 million from 2008 through 2013. BBG’s latest publicly-known Tor contract was finalized in mid-2012. The BBG gave Tor at least $1.2 million to improve security and drastically boost the bandwidth of the Tor network by funding over a hundred Tor nodes across the world — all part of the US government’s effort to find an effective soft-power weapon that can undermine Internet censorship and control in countries hostile to US interests. (We only know about the BBG’s lucrative funding of Tor thanks to the dogged efforts of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which had to sue to get its FOIA requests fulfilled.)

    As mentioned, last year Congress decided the BBG was doing such a good job advancing America’s interests abroad that it boosted the agency’s “Internet freedom” annual budget from just $1.6 million in 2011 to a whopping $25 million this year. The BBG funneled half of this taxpayer money through its Radio Free Asia subsidiary, into the “Open Technology Fund” — the “nonprofit” responsible for bankrolling many of today’s popular open-source privacy and encryption apps.

    Which brings me to the next starring agency in this recovered history of Washington DC’s privacy technology investments: Radio Free Asia.

    Radio Free Asia

    The CIA launched Radio Free Asia (RFA) in 1951 as an extension of its global anti-Communist propaganda radio network. RFA beamed its signal into mainland China from a transmitter in Manila, and its operations were based on the earlier Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberation From Bolshevism model.

    Radio Free Asia got busted in a widespread corruption scandal in the late 1970s, when the South Korean government was investigated for using the Moonie cult to influence US public opinion in order to keep the US military engaged against North Korea. Back in the 1970s, the Moonies were the most notorious cult in the United States, accused of abducting and "brainwashing" countless American youths. How it was that the CIA’s Radio Free Asia was handed off to the Moonies was never quite explained, but given laws banning the CIA (or the KCIA) from engaging in psychological warfare in the US, the obvious thing to do was to bury Radio Free Asia long enough for everyone to forget about it.

    No sooner had Radio Free Asia vanished amid scandal than it reappeared again, Terminator-like, in the 1990s — this time as a legit “independent” nonprofit wholly controlled by the BBG and funded by Congress.

    Although this latest version of Radio Free Asia was supposed to be a completely new organization and was no longer as covert and B-movie spooky, its objectives and tactics remained exactly the same: To this day it beams propaganda into the same Communist countries, including North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, China, and Burma, and fiddles around in the same sorts of spooky adventures.

    Radio Free Asia and Anti-government Hacktivists

    Which brings us up to the present, when the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Radio Free Asia and its offshoot, the Open Technology Fund, find themselves in bed with many of the very same privacy activist figures whom the public regards as the primary adversaries of outfits like Radio Free Asia and the BBG. And it’s technology that brings together these supposed adversaries — the US National Security State on the one hand, and “hacktivist”, “anti-government” libertarian privacy activists on the other:

    “I’m proud to be a volunteer OTF advisor,” declared Cory Doctorow, editor of BoingBoing and a well-known libertarian anti-surveillance activist/author.

    “Happy to have joined the Open Technology Fund’s new advisory council,” tweeted Jillian York, the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (York recently admitted that the OTF’s “Internet freedom” agenda is, at its core, about regime change, but bizarrely argued that it didn’t matter.)

    In 2012, just a few months after Radio Free Asia’s 24/7 propaganda blitz into North Korea failed to trigger regime change, RFA sent folks from the Tor Project — including core developer Jacob Appelbaum (pictured above) — into Burma, just as the military dictatorship was finally agreeing to hand political power over to US-backed pro-democracy politicians. The stated purpose of Appelbaum’s RFA-funded expedition was to probe Burma’s Internet system from within and collect information on its telecommunications infrastructure — which was then used to compile a report for Western politicians and “international investors” interested in penetrating Burma’s recently opened markets. Here you can see Appelbaum’s visa — published in the report as evidence of what you needed to do to buy a SIM card in Burma.

    Burma is a curious place for American anti-surveillance activists funded by Radio Free Asia to travel to, considering that it has long been a target of US regime-change campaigns. In fact, the guru of pro-Western “color revolutions,” Gene Sharp, wrote his famous guide to non-violent revolutions, “From Dictatorship to Democracy”, initially as a guide for Burma’s opposition movement, in order to help it overthrow the military junta in the late 1980s. Sharp had crossed into Burma illegally to train opposition activists there — all under the protection and sponsorship of the US government and one Col. Robert Helvey, a military intelligence officer.

    Jacob Appelbaum’s willingness to work directly for an old CIA cutout like Radio Free Asia in a nation long targeted for regime-change is certainly odd, to say the least. Particularly since Appelbaum made a big public show recently claiming that, though it pains him that Tor takes so much money from the US military, he would never take money from something as evil as the CIA.

    Ignorance is bliss.

    Appelbaum’s financial relationships with various CIA spinoffs like Radio Free Asia and the BBG go further. From 2012 through 2013, Radio Free Asia transferred about $1.1 million to Tor in the form of grants and contracts. This million dollars comes on top of another $3.4 million Tor received from Radio Free Asia’s parent agency, the BBG, starting from 2007.

    But Tor and Appelbaum are not the only ones happy to take money from the BBG/RFA.

    Take computer researcher/privacy activist Harry Halpin, for example. Back in November of 2014, Halpin smeared me as a conspiracy theorist, and then falsely accused me and Pando of being funded by the CIA — simply because I reported on Tor’s government funding. Turns out that Halpin’s next-generation secure communications outfit, called LEAP, took more than $1 million from Radio Free Asia’s Open Technology Fund. Somewhat ironically, LEAP’s technology powers the VPN services of RiseUp.Net, the radical anarchist tech collective that provides activists with email and secure communications tools (and forces you to sign a thinly veiled anti-Communist pledge before giving you an account).

    Then there’s the ACLU’s Christopher Soghoian. A few months ago, he had viciously attacked me and Pando for reporting on Tor’s US government funding. But just the other day, Soghoian went on Democracy Now, and in the middle of a segment criticizing the U.S. government’s runaway hacking and surveillance programs, recommended that people use a suite of encrypted text and voice apps funded by the very same intelligence-connected U.S. government apparatus he was denouncing. Specifically, Soghoian recommended apps made by Open Whisper Systems, which got $1.35 million from Radio Free Asia’s Open Technology Fund from 2013 through 2014.

    He told Amy Goodman:

    “These are best-of-breed free applications made by top security researchers, and actually subsidized by the State Department and by the U.S. taxpayer. You can download these tools today. You can make encrypted telephone calls. You can send encrypted text messages. You can really up your game and protect your communications.”

    When Goodman wondered why the U.S. government would fund privacy apps, he acknowledged that this technology is a soft-power weapon of U.S. empire but then gave a very muddled and naive answer:

    CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Because they’re tools of foreign policy. You know, the U.S. government isn’t this one machine with one person, you know, dictating all of its policies. You have these different agencies squabbling, sometimes doing contradictory things. The U.S. government, the State Department has spent millions of dollars over the last 10 years to fund the creation and the deployment and improvement to secure communications and secure computing tools that were intended to allow activists in China and Iran to communicate, that are intended to allow journalists to do their thing and spread news about democracy without fear of interception and surveillance by the Chinese and other governments.

    AMY GOODMAN: But maybe the U.S. government has a way to break in.

    CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Well, you know, it’s possible that they’ve discovered flaws, but, you know, they have—the U.S. government hasn’t been writing the software. They’ve been giving grants to highly respected research teams, security researchers and academics, and these tools are about the best that we have. You know, I agree. I think it’s a little bit odd that, you know, the State Department’s funding this, but these tools aren’t getting a lot of funding from other places. And so, as long as the State Department is willing to write them checks, I’m happy that the Tor Project and Whisper Systems and these other organizations are cashing them. They are creating great tools and great technology that can really improve our security. And I hope that they’ll get more money in the future. It’s convenient and nice to believe that one hand of the U.S. National Security State doesn’t know what the other hand is doing — especially when the livelihoods of you and your colleagues depends on it. But as the long and dark covert intelligence history of the Broadcasters Board of Governors and Radio Free Asia so clearly shows, this thinking is naive and wrong. It also shows just how effectively the U.S. National Security State brought its opposition into the fold.

    You’d think that anti-surveillance activists like Chris Soghoian, Jacob Appelbaum, Cory Doctorow and Jillian York would be staunchly against outfits like BBG and Radio Free Asia, and the role they have played — and continue to play — in working with defense and corporate interests to project and impose U.S. power abroad. Instead, these radical activists have knowingly joined the club, and in doing so, have become willing pitchmen for a wing of the very same U.S. National Security State they so adamantly oppose.

    Wow. Take a moment to digest all that (and there’s a lot more in the full article). And take extra time, if needed, to digest this:

    Here’s a small sample of what the Broadcasting Board of Governors funded (through Radio Free Asia and then through the Open Technology Fund) between 2012 and 2014:

    * Open Whisper Systems, maker of free encrypted text and voice mobile apps like TextSecure and Signal/RedPhone, got a generous $1.35-million infusion. (Facebook recently started using Open Whisper Systems to secure its WhatsApp messages.)
    * CryptoCat, an encrypted chat app made by Nadim Kobeissi and promoted by EFF, received $184,000.
    * LEAP, an email encryption startup, got just over $1 million. LEAP is currently being used to run secure VPN services at RiseUp.net, the radical anarchist communication collective.
    * A Wikileaks alternative called GlobaLeaks (which was endorsed by the folks at Tor, including Jacob Appelbaum) received just under $350,000.
    * The Guardian Project — which makes an encrypted chat app called ChatSecure, as well a mobile version of Tor called Orbot — got $388,500.
    * The Tor Project received over $1 million from OTF to pay for security audits, traffic analysis tools and set up fast Tor exit nodes in the Middle East and South East Asia.

    In 2014, Congress massively upped the BBG’s “Internet freedom” budget to $25 million, with half of that money flowing through RFA and into the Open Technology Fund. This $12.75 million represented a three-fold increase in OTF’s budget from 2013 — a considerable expansion for an outfit that was just a few years old. Clearly, it’s doing something that the government likes. A lot.

    Yes, the US government helped develop things like TOR and an Wikileaks alternative by giving millions of dollars to anti-surveillance activist like Jacob Appelbaum.

    Given all that, and given the fact that TOR is an acronym for “the onion router“, it’s almost little surprising that The Onion has apparently never written a TOR-related article. It seems like that article would write itself!

    Oh well, we’ll just have to settle for non-satirical articles that merely seem like they’re written for The Onion:

    Pando Daily
    Former TOR head now working for intelligence contractor that protects companies against TOR

    By Mark Ames

    August 18, 2015

    About a year ago, Pando’s Yasha Levine published an exposé on the Tor project’s deeply conflicted relationship with a number of US national security state agencies, including branches of the Pentagon, the State Department, and some old CIA cutouts.

    As we subsequently reported, one of Tor’s own senior developers responded to that article with a vicious, bizarre and relentless online harassment campaign in which she and others repeatedly libeled and threatened Levine and other staffers at Pando. By December of last year, the online harassment campaign had reached new levels of craziness, including planting defamatory articles about Levine in the Guardian and the Los Angeles Review of Books, both of which had to be retracted.

    Fortunately there was one person at Tor who claimed to want no part of the harassment campaign: executive director, Andrew Lewman. After we reported on the behavior of Tor developers, Lewman contacted Pando editor Paul Carr to try to bring some sanity to the debate over Tor’s conflicted financial relationship with the US government military-intelligence complex. Lewman told Carr that, while he disagreed with Pando’s articles critical of Tor’s government financing, Tor respected the value of critical investigative journalism. Most importantly, Lewman told Carr that Tor’s senior leadership in no way supported smear campaigns against journalists.

    Sure enough, Lewman later confirmed he was personally overseeing an internal investigation into the Tor developer who had led the campaign against Levine. A campaign that was most likely illegal under US laws that ban organizations funded by the US State Department and CIA from being used to influence domestic American opinion and domestic journalism. Specifically, the law still states that “no funds” from the US State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors “shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States.” Tor receives millions of dollars in funding from both the State Department and the BBG, which started out as a Cold War CIA propaganda cutout.

    Lewman concluded his investigation but before he could make the results public, the Tor Project suddenly announced that Andrew Lewman had resigned to join an unnamed “internet services company.” Around the same time, Tor announced it had hired a leading public relations firm, Thomson Communications—whose clients include NSA partner Verizon—to handle Tor’s PR problems. The internal investigation was quickly buried.

    Earlier this month, we finally learned the name of this mysterious “internet services company” that Lewman has joined: San Mateo-based Norse, which describes itself as “the global leader in live attack intelligence.”

    Actually, it goes further than that. According to Norse’s about page:


    A bunch of our folks cut their teeth at one or another of those three-letter government agencies, or proudly served in the armed forces. We know this business, from the front-lines application of human counterintel, to signals intelligence to the vanguard of cyber intelligence collection from the darkest corners of the Internet.

    That’s right, after objecting to Pando’s reporting on Tor’s ties to US government spooks, executive director Andrew Lewman quit to join a private intelligence contractor that boasts of its ties to “three-letter government agencies.”

    Among the spookiest of Norse’s top team members is board director Robert Lentz, former Chief Information Security Office for the US Department of Defense where he headed the Pentagon’s cybersecurity program. According to his Norse bio, Lentz’s 34-year career included stints in top DoD agencies as well as the National Security Agency. Norse co-founder Tommy Stiansen boasts that he served as a Homeland Security cybersecurity consultant during the Bush years, while the company’s Chief Security Strategist, Brian Contos, boasts of his work for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)—which handles communications for the executive branch and military. Contos also co-authored a book with the former deputy director of the NSA, William Crowell.

    Lewman’s move from Tor — another government funded three letter agency — to Norse is even more peculiar when you consider the company boasts of being the leading monitor of and defense against attacks from the Dark Net. The very same Dark Net that runs in large part on Tor.

    In other words, the US government funds Tor which, while headed by Andrew Lewman, helps create and exacerbate the Dark Net crime problem; which Norse then offers to solve, counting several US government agencies among its clients. What a great business that is: where you create the problem via a government-funded non-profit, and then also create the for-profit solution, pocketing profits off government contracts on the other end.

    Well, it looks like onions have a whole new way to make us cry (not that they needed more options).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 18, 2015, 6:13 pm

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