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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.
Introduction: Undoubtedly, many listeners have been puzzled by Mr. Emory’s take on “Eddie the Friendly Spook” Snowden. We note that the “Snowden op” is a highly complicated affair, with levels and ramifications extending around the world. We cannot do justice to the entirety of “L’Affaire Snowden” in the context of this program and its description.
Snowden is actually the opposite of what he is represented as being.
In this program, we scrutinize Edward Snowden from the perspective of Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, the Air Force “Focal Point Officer” who developed a CIA-controlled network inside of the branches of the military and other agencies of the federal government. (We note in this context that Snowden was working for CIA when he undertook his leaking operation.)
We first present material culled from Prouty’s book The Secret Team.
The analysis begins with an excerpt from The Guns of November, Part I, reviewing the circumstances surrounding the U-2 incident in May of 1960. On the cusp of a summit conference between then President Dwight D. Eisenhower and then Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev, a U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers came down in the heart of the former Soviet Union. The incident caused the cancellation of the summit conference, which was to be a prelude to detente between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.
This portion of the program was recorded as a prelude to a lengthy discussion of “The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook”–Edward Snowden, begun in 2013. Just before President Obama’s meeting with Mr. Xi, president of China, Snowden decamps to Hong Kong (in China) and leaks information about the hacking of Chinese computers. This caused enormous embarrassment to President Obama, and neutralized any attempt he might have been able to make to reduce Chinese hacking of American computers, as well as other points of dispute between the two nations.
Next, Snowden’s leaker of choice–“Citizen Greenwald”–published articles in The Guardian disclosing extensive NSA spying on Germany, which the NSA views as “a third class partner.” These articles were published just before President Obama was to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Again, it caused enormous damage to Obama and harmed U.S. relationships with Germany and other European nations. (Note that Greenwald, as an attorney, was a fellow traveler of some of the most heinous and murderous neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups).
Hitting the trifecta, Eddie the Friendly Spook [Snowden] then decamps to Moscow in Russia (like China, Russia is not renowned as a bastion of free speech or internet freedom.) This occurred just before Obama’s meeting of the G20 in Moscow and in the run-up to a scheduled summit conference with Putin. That summit conference was canceled, not unlike the 1960 conference between Khruschev and Eisenhower, which was destroyed by the U-2 incident. Colonel Prouty would not have failed to note the similarity.
Snowden’s trip to Moscow, like his journey to Hong Kong/China could only have been intended to harm President Obama’s administration and U.S. diplomacy.
Fundamental to this analysis is the fact that, in 2009, Snowden was working for the CIA when he decided to leak NSA information. Colonel Prouty would not have failed to note this, nor would he have overlooked Snowden’s vulgar, ultra-right wing views.
It also appears to have made the NSA vulnerable to possible manipulation by the CIA, as key features of the NSA’s operational blueprint were obtained by Snowden. Bear in mind that the “Earth Island Boogie” is in full swing.
Electronic intelligence about the Russian “non-invasion” of Ukraine, the “non-shootdown” of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 by Russian-backed separatists and the ambushing of Russian Su-24 fighter bomber by Turkish F-16s would all be (literally) on the NSA’s radar screen. Reigning in possible NSA whistleblowers on these matters, as well as seeing to it that NSA would not disclose CIA backing for jihadist terrorist groups in the Earth Island would be reason enough for the CIA to want to gain the upper hand on NSA.
The information gleaned by Snowden would fundamentally compromise NSA, permitting the holder of the documents to “evade or replicate” the NSA’s surveillance!
We note that Snowden’s “op” directly preceded aggressive U.S. moves against both China and Russia, both militarily and economically. In the Pacific, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which excludes China) is in the offing and U.S. naval forces are confronting China in the Pacific.
In Europe, the Snowden “op” signaled the end of the “reboot with Russia” and the onset of the Maidan covert operation, the war in Ukraine and the economic sanctions imposed on Russia.
The program concludes with a look at Jacob Applebaum, one of the technocrats involved both with the WikiLeaks and Snowden “ops.” Applebaum, like so many of the so-called “privacy activists” has a record of collaborating with the very U.S. intelligence apparat they profess to oppose.
” . . . 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. . . . 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. . . .”
Program Highlights Include: President Eisenhower’s order to suspend all U-2 overflights of the Soviet Union (Powers’ flight was dispatched against Presidential orders); the fact that Francis Gary Powers had poison and a needle with which to take his own life, in order to prevent capture (which he did not do); the fact that Powers had extensive personal identification pinpointing him as a U.S. intelligence agent, operating under civilian cover (in direct contravention of standard “sanitization” procedures); the fact that the U-2 flew at an altitude which no Soviet or American interceptor aircraft or surface-to-air missile could reach; the U-2’s use of a special hydrogen technology to permit its engine to operate at that altitude; the probability that hydrogen starvation forced down Powers’ plane; the relatively undamaged state of the U-2 aircraft, calling into question the assertion that a surface-to-air missile could have been responsible for the downing of Powers’ plane; Powers’ assertion that Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the downing of his U-2 plane (this presumably centered on Oswald’s access to radar frequencies, which had nothing to do with the downing of the plane!); Jacob Applebaum’s links to Gene Sharp, at the center of the so-called “color revolutions;”.
2a. We note that Snowden was working for CIA in the summer of 1969, when he was suddenly visited by the Angel of Mercy, who imbued him with the spirit of altruism. So inspired, he sallied resolutely forward, determined to make any necessary sacrifice for “truth, freedom and the American way.”
. . . . Hired by the CIA and granted a diplomatic cover, he was a regular old IT guy whose life was elevated by a hint of international intrigue. . . .
. . . . But as his first spring dawned in Switzerland, it must have felt cold, foreign, and expensive. Two days after his arrival in Switzerland, Snowden logged onto #arsificial, a channel on Ars Technica’s public Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server. He’d been frequenting this space for a few months, chatting with whomever happened to be hanging out. . . .
. . . . Snowden logged on to the public IRC chat room with the same username he used across the Web: TheTrueHOOHA. The chat room was a place he would return to on dozens of occasions over his years in Switzerland, and his writings fill in details about the man who may go down as the most famous leaker in US history. Over the years that he hung out in #arsificial, Snowden went from being a fairly insulated American to being a man of the world. He would wax philosophical about money, politics, and in one notable exchange, about his uncompromising views about government leakers.
Four years later, Snowden took a job with a government contractor for the specific purpose of gathering secret information on domestic spying being done by the National Security Agency (NSA). In May, he hopped a plane to Hong Kong before the NSA knew where he was going. Once there, Snowden began a process of leaking top-secret documents to journalists. Snowden’s first leak confirmed what activists had suspected but couldn’t prove: there was a dragnet government surveillance program collecting information on every American’s phone calls. [This is manifestly false, obviously, this was known well before.–D.E.]. . .
. . . . And he could be abrasive. Snowden didn’t short stocks just to make money—he did it because it was the right thing to do. He saw himself as a paladin of the markets, bringing “liquidity” to all. As for those who didn’t agree with him about the rightness of the gold standard or the need to eliminate Social Security, they weren’t just mistaken—they were “retards.” . . .
. . . . A Ron Paul man and a short-seller
If Snowden was getting comfortable in Geneva, he was fully at home in #arsificial. In a departure from his nearly 800 posts in other Ars forums, here he spoke bluntly on matters of state. In the months following the 2008 election, he discussed his embrace of a return to the gold standard and his admiration of its highest-profile champion.
In his more hyperbolic moments, Snowden spoke about the fall of the dollar in near-apocalyptic terms. “It seems like the USD and GBP are both likely to go the way of the zimbabwe dollar,” he suggested in March 2009. “Especially with that cockbag Bernanke deciding to magically print 1.2T more dollars.” . . .
. . . . The high unemployment rate that was on the way for the US didn’t phase Snowden; those wringing their hands and seeking conventional Keynesian solutions seemed softheaded to him. Obama was “planning to devalue the currency absolutely as fast as theoretically possible,” he wrote. Rising unemployment was a mere “correction,” a “necessary part of capitalism.” . . .
2b. It was while working for the CIA in 2009 that Snowden made his decision to leak NSA documents. This puff-piece from Rolling Stone is useful only that it discloses that Snowden chose to become a “leaker” during the same time period that he said that the elderly “wouldn’t be fucking helpless if you stopped sending them fucking checks so they can sit on their ass and lie in hospitals all day.”
. . . . Another person who was bothered by the Times’ treatment of the warrantless-wiretapping story – and a number of others based on classified leaks – was Edward Snowden, a patriotic young man who dreamed of a life in foreign espionage. “Those people should be shot in the balls,” Snowden, then a 25-year-old computer technician, posted to an online forum in 2009, criticizing both the anonymous sources who leaked and the publications that printed the information. “They’re reporting classified shit,” he said. “You don’t put that shit in the newspaper. . . . That shit is classified for a reason.” . . . .
. . . . Prior to 2009, Snowden had considered leaking government secrets when he was at the CIA, but held off, he later said, not wanting to harm agents in the field, and hoping that Obama would reform the system. His optimism didn’t last long. “[I] watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in,” he later said. As a result, he added, “I got hardened.” The more Snowden saw of the NSA’s actual business – and, particularly, the more he read “true information,” including a 2009 Inspector General’s report detailing the Bush era’s warrantless-surveillance program – the more he realized that there were actually two governments: the one that was elected, and the other, secret regime, governing in the dark. “If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all, secret powers become tremendously dangerous.” . . . .
3. Against the background of the Snowden “op,” we highlight the development of “focal point” personnel by the CIA. Infiltrated into other branches of government, including the military, they constituted a “government within a government.” Was Snowden one such “focal point?”
. . . . One man in a position to watch the arms of the CIA proliferate was Colonel Fletcher Prouty. He ran the office that did the proliferating. In 1955, Air Force Headquarters ordered Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, a career Army and Air Force officer since World War II, to set up a Pentagon office to provide military support for the clandestine operations of the CIA. Thus Prouty became director of the Pentagon’s “Focal Point Office for the CIA.”
CIA Director Allen Dulles was its actual creator. In the fifties, Dulles needed military support for his cover campaigns to undermine opposing nations in the Cold War. Moreover, Dulles wanted subterranean secrecy and autonomy for his projects, even from the members of his own government. Prouty’s job was to provide Pentagon support and deep cover for the CIA beneath the different branches of Washington’s bureaucracy. Dulles dictated the method Prouty was to follow.
“I want a focal point,” Dulles said. “I want an office that’s cleared to do what we have to have done; an office that knows us very, very well and then an office that has access to a system in the Pentagon. But the system will not be aware of what initiated the request–they’ll think it came from the Secretary of Defense. They won’t realize it came from the Director of Central Intelligence.
Dulles got Prouty to create a network of subordinate focal point offices in the armed services, then throughout the entire U.S. government. Each office that Prouty set up was put under a “cleared” CIA employee. That person took orders directly from the CIA but functioned under the cover of his particular office and branch of government. Such “breeding,” Prouty said decades later in an interview, resulted in a web of covert CIA representatives “in the State Department, in the FAA, in the Customs Service, in the Treasury, in the FBI and all around through the government–up in the White House . . . Then we began to assign people there who, those agencies thought, were from the Defense Department. But they actually were people that we put there from the CIA.”
The consequence in the early 1960’s, when Kennedy became president, was that the CIA had placed a secret team of its own employees through the entire U.S. government. It was accountable to no one except the CIA, headed by Allen Dulles. After Dulles was fired by Kennedy, the CIA’s Deputy Director of Plans, Richard Helms, became this invisible government’s immediate commander. No one except a tight inner circle of the CIA even knew of the existence of this top-secret intelligence network, much less the identiy of its deep-cover bureaucrats. These CIA “focal points,” as Dulles called them, constituted a powerful, unseen government within the government. Its Dulles-appointed members would act quickly, with total obedience, when called on by the CIA to assist its covert operations. . . .
4b. Snowden’s vast document theft make NO sense in terms of protection of personal privacy or civil liberties. It appears that his “data dump” of some 1.7 million documents would permit a would-be malefactor to defeat NSA surveillance. Purloining files on the military capabilities of foreign countries and the personal lives of GCHQ operatives (which Snowden has done) have nothing to do with civil liberties.
Note that there is NO WAY that Snowden could possibly have reviewed all 1.7 million documents.
Snowden’s “op” is a hostile counter-intelligence operation.
We’ve yet to see the full impact of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s unauthorized downloading of highly classified intelligence documents.
Among the roughly 1.7 million documents he walked away with — the vast majority of which have not been made public — are highly sensitive, specific intelligence reports, as well as current and historic requirements the White House has given the agency to guide its collection activities, according to a senior government official with knowledge of the situation.
The latter category involves about 2,000 unique taskings that can run to 20 pages each and give reasons for selective targeting to NSA collectors and analysts. These orders alone may run 31,500 pages.
If disclosed, that information would reveal vulnerabilities within U. S. intelligence gathering at the strategic level, the official said.
Where the copies of these sensitive tasking documents are is an unanswered question.
Snowden, in Hong Kong, distributed NSA documents during the first week in June to three journalists — Glenn Greenwald, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman. Gellman’s stories based on them have been published in The Washington Post.
Snowden went public June 9, after the first stories appeared. Then he went into hiding.
On June 24, the South China Morning Post published a story based on a June 12 interview with Snowden in which he indicated that he had more documents to leak. “If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of U.S. network operations against their people should be published,” Snowden was quoted as saying.
On July 14, the Associated Press published a story in which Greenwald said that Snowden — then in Moscow at the airport — had “literally thousands of documents” that constitute “basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built.” Greenwald, who said he had spoken to Snowden hours earlier, told the AP that in order to prove his credibility Snowden “had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do.”
These documents, Greenwald said, “would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”
But, Greenwald added, Snowden had insisted they not be made public. On July 19, Greenwald told German public broadcaster ARD that Snowden in June in Hong Kong had given him and Poitras about 9,000 to 10,000 top-secret documents.
On Oct. 17, the New York Times’ James Risen published a story based on an interview with Snowden in which he said he did not take any NSA documents with him to Russia, where he now has a year-long residency permit.
Greenwald recently told ABC News, “We published only a small fraction of the ones that we have been given so far because we have gone through each of them and made sure that nothing we are publishing endangers human lives.”
Still, there are “a lot of very significant stories that are yet to be reported,” he said during an interview for an ABC News special to be aired this month.
So where are the tasking documents? I’ve not asked Gellman, Greenwald or Poitras because were I in their positions I would not say one way or the other.
The NSA’s Ledgett considers them so important that the security of those documents is worth having a discussion with Snowden about amnesty.
“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about. I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high,” Ledgett said. . . .
5a. Jacob Appelbaum, the Wikileaks hacker/data-privacy activist/Cyperpunk utopian who has been one of the key technical analysts to review and write about the Snowden cache, had a series of tweets back in 2011 singing the praises of soft-revolution expert Gene Sharp, whose theories have been a centerpiece of the “conga-line ops” we spoke of in FTR #885.
In light of his activities funded by the very U.S. government intelligence agencies he ostensibly opposes, this suggests that there may be far more to Applebaum than we have been told.
Applebaum has been deeply involved with both the WikiLeaks and Snowden “ops,” suggesting that the possibility that he may have been another of the CIA’s plants.
The highlight of my day was meeting Gene Sharp and discussing revolutions. I feel really inspired.
4:33 PM — 18 Feb 2011
While asking questions, they located Gene Sharp books about authoritarianism and obedience. Apparently, something some passengers lack.
12:58 AM — 12 Apr 2011
If anything — Gene Sharp deserves credit for his help with many of the color revolutions; those influenced modern events. #GeneSharpTaughtMe
12:17 PM — 15 Apr 2011
5b. Appelbaum is just one of many hacktivists who are building today’s cutting-edge privacy tools and they’re not doing it for free. No, these Cypherpunk utopians are working for the same entity Gene Sharp has assisted so ably over the years: the US intelligence community.
” . . . 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. . . . . 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. . . .
. . . . 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. . . .
. . . . 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. . . .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. . . .”
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 2012and 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 appson 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.
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 directivee 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 2011to 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.
The CIA quickly discovered that their plan to foment political unrest in China had one major flaw: the Chinese were too poor to own radios.
Balloons, holding small radios tuned to Radio Free Asia’s frequency, were lofted toward the mainland from the island of Taiwan, where the Chinese Nationalists had fled after the Communist takeover of the mainland in 1949. The plan was abandoned when the balloons were blown back to Taiwan across the Formosa Strait. The CIA supposedly shuttered Radio Free Asia in the mid-1950s, but another Radio Free Asia reappeared a decade later, this time funded through a CIA-Moonie outfit called the Korean Culture and Freedom Foundation (KCFF) — a group based in Washington, D.C. that was run by a top figure in South Korea’s state intelligence agency, Colonel Bo Hi Pak, who also served as the “principle evangelist” of cult leader Rev. Sun-Myung Moon of the Unification Church.
This new Moonie iteration of Radio Free Asia was controlled by the South Korean government, including the country’s own CIA, the “KCIA.” It enjoyed high-level support from within the first Nixon Administration and even featured then-Congressman Gerald Ford on its board. According to an FBI file on Rev. Moon, Radio Free Asia “at the height of the Vietnam war produced anti-communist programs in Washington and beamed them into China, North Korea and North Vietnam.”
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 informationon 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.