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FTR #895 The CIA and the “Privacy” Advocates: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [1] The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by ear­ly win­ter of 2016. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more.)  (The pre­vi­ous flash dri­ve was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012.)

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment [6].

[7]

[8]

Snow­den: Is this the face that launched a thou­sand ships?

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing analy­sis and dis­cus­sion from FTR #891 [9], we fur­ther explore the CIA-gen­er­at­ed back­ground and fund­ing of the “pri­va­cy” advo­cates who com­prise much of “Team Snow­den.” Recall that Snow­den him­self was with CIA when he chose to dou­ble on NSA.

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. Far from being the self-sac­ri­fic­ing altru­ist and minor saint he is rep­re­sent­ed as being, Snow­den is a nasty, cyn­i­cal foul-mouthed fas­cist [10]. He is also a spy.

In this pro­gram, we begin by review­ing our scruti­ny of 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.)

Plac­ing agents in oth­er branch­es of gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the mil­i­tary and oth­er intel­li­gence agen­cies, the CIA’s “focal point” net­work con­sti­tut­ed a “secret gov­ern­ment with­in a gov­ern­ment” that appears to exist to this day.

Fur­ther devel­op­ing the analy­sis pre­sent­ed in FTR #891 [9], we set forth the evo­lu­tion of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and Radio Free Asia, the par­ent orga­ni­za­tions of the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund. The OTF has cap­i­tal­ized much of the encrypt­ed “anti-sur­veil­lance” tech­nol­o­gy that has been devel­oped. “Team Snow­den,” in turn, has evolved from this milieu.

An exten­sion of the CIA’s pro­pa­gan­da and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare broad­cast­ing infra­struc­ture devel­oped dur­ing the Cold War, the milieu detailed here [11] func­tions in a sim­i­lar fash­ion. The inter­net is the lat­est form of broad­cast­ing. The Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund and relat­ed insti­tu­tions are designed to pro­vide dis­si­dents and covert oper­a­tors a means of shield­ing their inter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mobile phone mes­sages from sur­veil­lance by tar­get­ed gov­ern­ments. The prob­a­bil­i­ty is strong that U.S. intel­li­gence can mon­i­tor those com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

[12]In our past dis­cus­sions of the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy, we have not­ed that the very same covert action net­works used to over­throw and elim­i­nate gov­ern­ments and indi­vid­u­als deemed hos­tile to U.S. inter­ests were ulti­mate­ly deployed against Amer­i­cans and even the Unit­ed States itself. “Regime change” and desta­bi­liza­tion came home.

In a sim­i­lar fash­ion, it is our con­sid­ered opin­ion that a CIA-derived tech­nol­o­gy milieu devel­oped to assist and effect “ops” abroad was used to desta­bi­lize the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. (There is MUCH more to “L’Af­faire Snow­den” than just the desta­bi­liza­tion of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion [13], how­ev­er that is a major and ongo­ing out­growth of it. At the con­clu­sion of this pro­gram, we include a pre­view of analy­sis indi­cat­ing that the desta­bi­liza­tion of Oba­ma and the Hillary Clin­ton cam­paign is ongo­ing.)

” . . . 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. . . . 

“. . . . 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 [14] by Edward Snow­den, cov­ered favor­ably by ProP­ub­lica [15] 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 getIn fact, just about all the fea­tured open-source apps [16] on EFF’s recent “Secure Mes­sag­ing Score­card” were fund­ed by OTF. . . .

. . . . 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. . . .”

The pro­gram con­cludes with infor­ma­tion which sup­ple­ments the dis­cus­sion of the BBG/RFA/OTF nexus, as well as antic­i­pat­ing the forth­com­ing analy­sis of the Apple “ISIS-phone” con­tro­ver­sy.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

1. Against the back­ground of the CIA/BBG/RFA evo­lu­tion of “Team Snow­den,” 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?” Is the BBG/RFA/OTF nexus an evo­lu­tion of the “focal point net­works?”

JFK and the Unspeak­able: Why He Died and Why It Mat­ters  [19]by James W. Dou­glass; Touch­stone Books [SC]; Copy­right 2008 by James W. Dou­glass; ISBN 978–1‑4391–9388‑4; pp. 196–197. [19]

. . . . 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. . . .

2. Much of the broad­cast con­sists of a read­ing of an arti­cle we excerpt­ed at the end of FTR #891 [9]. As we exam­ine the per­son­nel and insti­tu­tions com­pris­ing “Team Snow­den,” we come to a milieu that has evolved from the CIA’s radio pro­pa­gan­da and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare capa­bil­i­ties.

An exten­sion of the CIA’s pro­pa­gan­da and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare broad­cast­ing infra­struc­ture devel­oped dur­ing the Cold War, the milieu detailed here [11] func­tions in a sim­i­lar fash­ion. The inter­net is the lat­est form of broad­cast­ing. The Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund and relat­ed insti­tu­tions are designed to pro­vide dis­si­dents and covert oper­a­tors a means of shield­ing their inter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mobile phone mes­sages from sur­veil­lance by tar­get­ed gov­ern­ments. The prob­a­bil­i­ty is strong that U.S. intel­li­gence can mon­i­tor those com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

In our past dis­cus­sions of the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy, we have not­ed that the very same covert action net­works used to over­throw and elim­i­nate gov­ern­ments and indi­vid­u­als deemed hos­tile to U.S. inter­ests were ulti­mate­ly deployed against Amer­i­cans and even the Unit­ed States itself. “Regime change” and desta­bi­liza­tion came home.

In a sim­i­lar fash­ion, it is our con­sid­ered opin­ion that a CIA-derived tech­nol­o­gy milieu devel­oped to assist and effect “ops” abroad was used to desta­bi­lize the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. (There is MUCH more to “L’Af­faire Snow­den” than just the desta­bi­liza­tion of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion [13], how­ev­er that is a major and ongo­ing out­growth of it.

” . . . 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. . . . 

. . . . 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 [14] by Edward Snow­den, cov­ered favor­ably by ProP­ub­lica [15] 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 getIn fact, just about all the fea­tured open-source apps [16] on EFF’s recent “Secure Mes­sag­ing Score­card” were fund­ed by OTF. . . .

. . . . 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. . . .”

There are numer­ous ref­er­ences to the Tor net­work in this arti­cle. Although we do not have the time to go into it in this pro­gram, the Tor net­work is dis­cussed at length in the link that fol­lows. Suf­fice it to say that the Tor net­work was devel­oped by U.S. intel­li­gence ser­vices [20] and, to no one’s sur­prise, is being mon­i­tored by intel­li­gence ser­vices, includ­ing the NSA.

“Inter­net Pri­vacy, Fund­ed by Spooks: A Brief His­tory of the BBG” by Yasha Levine; Pan­do Dai­ly; 3/01/2015.  [11]

For the past few months I’ve been cov­er­ing [21] 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 [22]. It reports direct­ly to Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry [23] 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 [24]and 2014 [25], 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 [14] by Edward Snow­den, cov­ered favor­ably by ProP­ub­lica [15] 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 [16] 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 [26]. (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 [27], the rad­i­cal anar­chist com­mu­ni­ca­tion col­lec­tive.
A Wik­ileaks alter­na­tive called Glob­aLeaks (which was endorsed [28] 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 [29] 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 [30] flow­ing through RFA and into the Open Tech­nol­ogy Fund. This $12.75 mil­lion rep­re­sented a three-fold increase [30] 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 [31] 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 [32] of covert peace­time pro­grams. And so, in 1948, Nation­al Secu­rity Coun­cil Direc­tive 10/2 [33] offi­cially autho­rized the CIA to engage in “covert oper­a­tions” against the Com­mu­nist Men­ace. Clause 5 of the direc­tive [33]e 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 [34], 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 [35]— which was run by the CIA and employed [36] some of the same Cuban exiles that took part in the failed Bay of Pigs inva­sion. Even today, the CIA boasts [32] 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 [32] in the 1970s, after the spy agency’s ties to Cold War pro­pa­ganda arms like Radio Free Europe were exposed [37]. 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 [22] 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 [38], 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 [39] (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 [40] in Cuba called Piramideo — which is dif­fer­ent from the failed covert Twit­ter clone fund­ed by USAID [41] that tried to spark a Cuban Spring rev­o­lu­tion. It has con­tracted with an anonymi­ty Inter­net proxy called SafeWeb [42], which had been fund­ed [43] 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 [44] believes that humans are being cor­rupted by invad­ing aliens [45] 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 [46] 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 [47]. BBG’s lat­est pub­licly-known Tor con­tract [48] was final­ized in mid-2012 [48]. 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 [49].)

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 [50]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.

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 [51], 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 [52] 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 [53] were the most noto­ri­ous cult [54] in the Unit­ed States, accused of abduct­ing [55] and “brain­wash­ing ” [56]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 [57] Jil­lian York, the Direc­tor for Inter­na­tional Free­dom of Expres­sion at the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion. (York recent­ly admit­ted [58] 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 [59] pro-democ­ra­cy politi­cians. The stat­ed pur­pose of Appelbaum’s RFA-fund­ed expe­di­tion was to probe Burma’s Inter­net sys­tem from with­in and col­lect infor­ma­tion [60]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 [61]— 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 [62] of pro-West­ern “col­or rev­o­lu­tions,” Gene Sharp, wrote his famous guide to non-vio­lent rev­o­lu­tions, “From Dic­ta­tor­ship to Democ­racy”, ini­tially as a guide [63] 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 [64] of the US gov­ern­ment and one Col. Robert Helvey [65], 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 [66].

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 [67] 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 [67] 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 [68] 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 [69] from Radio Free Asia’s Open Tech­nol­ogy Fund. Some­what iron­i­cally, LEAP’s tech­nol­ogy pow­ers the VPN ser­vices [70] 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 [71] 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.

3. Note the role of the BBG/RFA’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund in devel­op­ing the What­sApp encryp­tion tech­nol­o­gy at the foun­da­tion of the con­tro­ver­sy around a court case involv­ing attempts to pen­e­trate its encryp­tion tech­nol­o­gy.

“What­sApp Encryp­tion Said to Stymie Wire­tap Order” by Matt Apuz­zo; The New York Times; 3/12/2016. [17]

While the Jus­tice Depart­ment wages a pub­lic fight with Apple over access to a locked iPhone, gov­ern­ment offi­cials are pri­vate­ly debat­ing how to resolve a pro­longed stand­off with anoth­er tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny, What­sApp, over access to its pop­u­lar instant mes­sag­ing appli­ca­tion, offi­cials and oth­ers involved in the case said.
No deci­sion has been made, but a court fight with What­sApp, the world’s largest mobile mes­sag­ing ser­vice, would open a new front in the Oba­ma administration’s dis­pute with Sil­i­con Val­ley over encryp­tion, secu­ri­ty and pri­va­cy.

What­sApp, which is owned by Face­book, allows cus­tomers to send mes­sages and make phone calls over the Inter­net. In the last year, the com­pa­ny has been adding encryp­tion to those con­ver­sa­tions, mak­ing it impos­si­ble for the Jus­tice Depart­ment to read or eaves­drop, even with a judge’s wire­tap order.

As recent­ly as this past week, offi­cials said, the Jus­tice Depart­ment was dis­cussing how to pro­ceed in a con­tin­u­ing crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion in which a fed­er­al judge had approved a wire­tap, but inves­ti­ga­tors were stymied by WhatsApp’s encryp­tion.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment and What­sApp declined to com­ment. The gov­ern­ment offi­cials and oth­ers who dis­cussed the dis­pute did so on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because the wire­tap order and all the infor­ma­tion asso­ci­at­ed with it were under seal. The nature of the case was not clear, except that offi­cials said it was not a ter­ror­ism inves­ti­ga­tion. The loca­tion of the inves­ti­ga­tion was also unclear. . . .

. . . . In a twist, the gov­ern­ment helped devel­op the tech­nol­o­gy behind WhatsApp’s encryp­tion. To pro­mote civ­il rights in coun­tries with repres­sive gov­ern­ments, the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, which pro­motes open soci­eties by sup­port­ing tech­nol­o­gy that allows peo­ple to com­mu­ni­cate with­out the fear of sur­veil­lance, pro­vid­ed $2.2 mil­lion to help devel­op Open Whis­per Sys­tems, the encryp­tion back­bone behind What­sApp. . . .

. . . . Those who sup­port dig­i­tal pri­va­cy fear that if the Jus­tice Depart­ment suc­ceeds in forc­ing Apple to help break into the iPhone in the San Bernardi­no case, the government’s next move will be to force com­pa­nies like What­sApp to rewrite their soft­ware to remove encryp­tion from the accounts of cer­tain cus­tomers. “That would be like going to nuclear war with Sil­i­con Val­ley,” said Chris Soghoian, a tech­nol­o­gy ana­lyst with the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union. . . .

4. Repub­li­can James Comey–a Mitt Rom­ney sup­port­er in 2012–is tak­ing actions that are caus­ing seri­ous prob­lems for the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and for the Hillary Clin­ton can­di­da­cy. In par­tic­u­lar, the e‑mail scan­dal appears to have been Comey’s baby. He has also ruf­fled feath­ers with the alto­geth­er com­pli­cat­ed Apple “ISIS­pho­ne” con­tro­ver­sy. That con­sum­mate­ly impor­tant case, Byzan­tine in its com­plex­i­ty and mul­ti-dimen­sion­al­i­ty (to coin a term) will be dealt with in a future pro­gram.

Comey was pre­vi­ous­ly the gen­er­al coun­sel for Bridge­wa­ter Asso­ciates [72], a hedge fund that helped cap­i­tal­ize Palan­tir, which (their dis­claimers to the con­trary notwith­stand­ing) makes the Prism soft­ware that is at the epi­cen­ter of “L’Af­faire Snow­den.” (CORRECTION: In past pro­grams and posts, we incor­rect­ly iden­ti­fied Comey as gen­er­al coun­sel for Palan­tir, not Bridge­wa­ter.)

The Bridgewater/Palantir/Comey nexus is inter­est­ing, nonethe­less. Palan­tir’s top stock­hold­er [73] is Peter Thiel, a backer of Ted Cruz [74] and the man who pro­vid­ed most of the cap­i­tal for Ron Paul’s 2012 Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Ron Paul’s Super PAC was in–of all places–Provo Utah, Rom­ney coun­try. Paul is from Texas. The alleged mav­er­ick Paul was, in fact, close to Rom­ney [75].

Recall that “Eddie the Friend­ly Spook” [76] is a big Ron Paul fan and Bruce Fein, Snow­den’s first attor­ney and the coun­sel for the Snow­den fam­i­ly, was the chief legal coun­sel for Ron Paul’s cam­paign.

The pos­si­ble impli­ca­tions of these rela­tion­ships are worth con­tem­plat­ing and will be dis­cussed at greater length in future pro­grams.

“Comey’s FBI Makes Waves” by Cory Ben­nett and Julian Hat­tem; The Hill; 3/09/2016 [18].

The aggres­sive pos­ture of the FBI under Direc­tor James Comey is becom­ing a polit­i­cal prob­lem for the White House.

The FBI’s demand that Apple help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardi­no killers has out­raged Sil­i­con Val­ley, a sig­nif­i­cant source of polit­i­cal sup­port for Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and Democ­rats.

Comey, mean­while, has stirred ten­sions by link­ing ris­ing vio­lent crime rates to the Black Lives Mat­ter movement’s focus on police vio­lence and by warn­ing about “gaps” in the screen­ing process for Syr­i­an refugees.

Then there’s the biggest issue of all: the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the pri­vate email serv­er used by Hillary Clin­ton, Obama’s for­mer sec­re­tary of State and the lead­ing con­tender to win the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

A deci­sion by the FBI to charge Clin­ton or her top aides for mis­han­dling clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion would be a shock to the polit­i­cal sys­tem.

In these cas­es and more, Comey — a Repub­li­can who donat­ed in 2012 to Mitt Rom­ney — has proved he is “not attached to the strings of the White House,” said Ron Hosko, the for­mer head of the FBI’s crim­i­nal inves­tiga­tive divi­sion and a crit­ic of Obama’s law enforce­ment strate­gies.

Pub­licly, admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials have not betrayed any wor­ry about the Clin­ton probe. They have also down­played any dif­fer­ences of opin­ion on Apple.

But for­mer offi­cials say the FBI’s moves are clear­ly ruf­fling feath­ers with­in the admin­is­tra­tion.

With regards to the Apple stand­off, “It’s just not clear [Comey] is speak­ing for the admin­is­tra­tion,” said Richard Clarke, a for­mer White House coun­tert­er­ror­ism and cyber­se­cu­ri­ty chief. “We know there have been admin­is­tra­tion meet­ings on this for months. The pro­pos­al that Comey had made on encryp­tion was reject­ed by the admin­is­tra­tion.”

Comey has a rep­u­ta­tion for speak­ing truth to pow­er, dat­ing back to a dra­mat­ic con­fronta­tion in 2004 when he rushed to a hos­pi­tal to stop the Bush White House from renew­ing a war­rant­less wire­tap­ping pro­gram while Attor­ney Gen­er­al John Ashcroft was grave­ly ill. Comey was Ashcroft’s deputy at the time.

That show­down won Comey plau­dits from both sides of the aisle and made him an attrac­tive pick to lead the FBI. But now that he’s in charge of the agency, the pres­i­dent might be get­ting more than he bar­gained for.

“Part of his role is to not nec­es­sar­i­ly be in lock step with the White House,” said Mitch Sil­ber, a for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cial with the New York City Police Depart­ment and cur­rent senior man­ag­ing direc­tor at FTI Con­sult­ing.

“He takes very seri­ous­ly the fact that he works for the exec­u­tive branch,” added Leo Tad­deo, a for­mer agent in the FBI’s cyber divi­sion. “But he also under­stands the impor­tance of main­tain­ing his inde­pen­dence as a law enforce­ment agency that needs to give not just the appear­ance of inde­pen­dence but the real­i­ty of it.”

The split over Clinton’s email serv­er is the most polit­i­cal­ly charged issue fac­ing the FBI, with noth­ing less than the race for the White House poten­tial­ly at stake.

Oba­ma has pub­licly defend­ed Clin­ton, say­ing that while she “made a mis­take” with her email set­up, it was “not a sit­u­a­tion in which America’s nation­al secu­ri­ty was endan­gered.”

But the FBI direc­tor has bris­tled at that state­ment, say­ing the pres­i­dent would not have any knowl­edge of the inves­ti­ga­tion. Comey, mean­while, told law­mak­ers last week that he is “very close, per­son­al­ly,” to the probe.

Obama’s com­ments reflect­ed a pat­tern, sev­er­al for­mer agents said, of the pres­i­dent mak­ing improp­er com­ments about FBI inves­ti­ga­tions. In 2012, he made sim­i­lar­ly dis­mis­sive com­ments about a pend­ing inquiry into then-CIA Direc­tor David Petraeus, who lat­er plead­ed guilty to a mis­de­meanor charge for giv­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion to his mis­tress and biog­ra­ph­er, Paula Broad­well.

“It serves no one in the Unit­ed States for the pres­i­dent to com­ment on ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions,” Tad­deo said. “I just don’t see a pur­pose.”

Hosko sug­gest­ed that a show­down over poten­tial crim­i­nal charges for Clin­ton could lead to a reprise of the famous 2004 hos­pi­tal scene, when Comey threat­ened to resign.

“He has that man­tle,” Hosko said. “I think now there’s this expec­ta­tion — I hope it’s a fair one — that he’ll do it again if he has to.”

Comey’s inde­pen­dent streak has also been on dis­play in the Apple fight, when his bureau decid­ed to seek a court order demand­ing that the tech giant cre­ate new soft­ware to bypass secu­ri­ty tools on an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two ter­ror­ist attack­ers in San Bernardi­no, Calif.

Many observers ques­tioned whether the FBI was mak­ing an end-run around the White House, which had pre­vi­ous­ly dis­missed a series of pro­pos­als that would force com­pa­nies to decrypt data upon gov­ern­ment request.

“I think there’s actu­al­ly some peo­ple that don’t think with one mind­set on this issue with­in the admin­is­tra­tion,” said Sen. Tom Carp­er (D‑Del.), the Sen­ate Home­land Secu­ri­ty Committee’s top Demo­c­rat, at a Tues­day hear­ing. “It’s a tough issue.”

While the White House has repeat­ed­ly backed the FBI’s deci­sion, it has not ful­ly endorsed the poten­tial pol­i­cy ram­i­fi­ca­tions, leav­ing some to think a gap might devel­op as sim­i­lar cas­es pop up. The White House is poised to soon issue its own pol­i­cy paper on the sub­ject of data encryp­tion.

“The posi­tion tak­en by the FBI is at odds with the con­cerns expressed by indi­vid­u­als [in the White House] who were look­ing into the encryp­tion issue,” said Neema Singh Guliani, a leg­isla­tive coun­sel with the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union (ACLU).

This week, White House home­land secu­ri­ty advis­er Lisa Mona­co tried to down­play the dif­fer­ences between the two sides. The White House and FBI are both grap­pling with the same prob­lems, she said in a dis­cus­sion at the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions.

“There is a recog­ni­tion across the admin­is­tra­tion that the virtues of strong encryp­tion are with­out a doubt,” Mona­co said on Mon­day. “There is also uni­for­mi­ty about the recog­ni­tion that strong encryp­tion pos­es real chal­lenges.”