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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.”