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Baby Face Snowden Meets the Cyber-Wandervogel

The Santiniketan Park Association, aka "The Family"

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” . . . . sort of Jewish . . . .” Julian Assange’s characterization of the BBC.  [Assange was charging that British news outlet with fronting for an international Jewish conspiracy against him.]

“. . . they’re act­ing like a cult. They’re act­ing like a reli­gion. They’re act­ing like a gov­ern­ment. They’re act­ing like a bunch of spies. They’re hid­ing their iden­tity. They don’t account for the money. They promise all sorts of good things. They sel­dom let you know what they’re really up to. . . There was sus­pi­cion from day one that this was entrap­ment run by some­one unknown to suck a num­ber of peo­ple into a trap. So we actu­ally don’t know. But it’s cer­tainly a stan­dard coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence tech­nique. . . .” John Young, an original WikiLeaks founder on why he broke with the group.

COMMENT: It comes as no surprise that the milieu of WikiLeaks and that of Baby Face Snowden are now professionally overlapped. (Snowden’s leaker of choice, Glenn Greenwald, was also involved with the WikiLeaks affair.)

One of WikiLeaks’ financial assistants has offered to fly Snowden to Iceland, in order to receive political Asylum. Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson, head of DataCell (which has been accepting funds for WikiLeaks), is ponying up for the aircraft.

Sigurvinsson’s DataCell is presided over by Andreas Fink, a member of the Swiss Pirate Party–see text excerpt below. (The “Pirate Vortex,” as we call the Pirate Bay/Pirate Party crowd, are of “anarcho/Utopian” political orientation, but have been maneuvered into backing hard-core fascist institutions and undertakings. Hell, they haven’t even come to terms with their Nazi financial angel Carl Lundstrom’s activities. Germany’s Pirate Party has taken stock of the Nazi infiltration of its ranks.)

Is this Julian Assange?

Our lengthy discussions about WikiLeaks and the Snowden operation are beyond the scope of this individual post.

(For an overview of WikiLeaks, we recommend that readers/listeners stretch take time to peruse FTR #’s 724, 725, 732, 745.)

Suffice it to say that WikiLeaks, as well as the U-2 Incident-like activities of Snowden, give every indication of being far-right, Nazi-linked spook operations.

When one follows the obligatory professional ethic of “following the money,” both WikiLeaks and the individuals and institutions involved with the Snowden “op” track back to far right and overtly fascist elements.

It is interesting and depressingly significant that WikiLeaks and its associated Pirate Bay/Pirate Party/Anonymous milieu have successfully attracted and utilized the efforts of idealistic young people of “anarcho/Utopian” political orientation. Those misguided individuals have, in turn been mislead into assisting with the fascist covert-operation that manifested as the “Arab Spring.”

Ron Paul Text by A.J. Weberman

Snowden is a political supporter of  Ron Paul, whose pro-marijuana, anti-surveillance campaign themes have attracted naifs to the political camp of a hard-core fascist of long-standing. Many of those enmeshed in the spider webs of WikiLeaks and/or Ron Paul might be called “Cyber-Wandervogel,” after the young idealists who were, ultimately, drawn into Adolf Hitler’s political vortex. (See text excerpt below.)

Julian Assange and Joran Jermas aka "Israel Shamir"

A career spook, Snowden himself must be held to a more rigorous analytic standard than the “cyber-wandervogel,” however. Snowden’s political support for the same Nazi/white supremacist whose campaign was financially underwritten by Peter Thiel is central to the analysis we have been developing.

(Thiel’s Palantir firm can be safely assumed to have developed the PRISM software (denials to the contrary notwithstanding. The notion that NSA/intelligence community would be using two data analytics software programs with identical names defies logic. There would have been  litigation and Thiel could certainly have afforded the legal bills.)

Angela Merkel and Ecuadorian president Correa

David Duke is one of the figures networked with both the fascist/white supremacist milieu with which Ron Paul has associated himself, as well as the international fascist mileiu incorporating Pirate Bay’s fascist financial angel Carl Lundstrom and Assange’s Holocaust-denying political ally Joran Jermas, aka “Israel Shamir.” (WikiLeaks’ operations moved to Pirate Bay’s servers through the efforts of Jermas. See excerpts below.)

Updating our inquiry, Assange’s Australian WikiLeaks Party appears to have deliberately undermined its biggest legislative supporter, in favor of far-right, fascist parties Down Under. (See text excerpts below.)

 In passing, we also note that Ecuador and the Correa government, which has sheltered Assange and is apparently moving to shelter Snowden as well, have strong links to Germany and the EU. In a recent visit, Merkel was negotiating with Correa for closer ties between Germany, Ecuador and the EU. (See text excerpt below. In this regard, we must remember that the German economy is governed by the Bormann capital network.)

“Icelandic Businessman Says Plane Ready to Take Snowden to Iceland” by  Robert Robertsson; and Alistair Scrutton; Reuters; 6/21/2013.

EXCERPT: An Icelandic businessman linked to WikiLeaks said he has readied a private plane to take Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who exposed secret U.S. surveillance programs, to Iceland if the government grants him asylum.

“We have made everything ready at our end now we only have to wait for confirmation from the (Icelandic) Interior Ministry,” Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson told Reuters. He is a former director of DataCell, a company which processed payments for WikiLeaks.

“A private jet is in place in China and we could fly Snowden over tomorrow if we get positive reaction from the Interior Ministry. We need to get confirmation of asylum and that he will not be extradited to the U.S. We would most want him to get a citizenship as well,” Sigurvinsson said.

Neither a WikiLeaks spokesman nor the Icelandic government were immediately available for comment. . . .

“Wik­iLeaks Party’s ‘Admin­is­tra­tive Errors’ Incense Greens” by Bernard Keane;  Crikey.com.au; 8/19/2013.

EXCERPT: A deci­sion by the Wik­iLeaks Party to direct pref­er­ences away from Julian Assange’s strongest polit­i­cal sup­porter has incensed sup­port­ers. They should have known better.

The fledg­ling Wik­iLeaks Party has inflicted major dam­age on itself after a dis­as­trous pref­er­ence allo­ca­tion that saw it pref­er­enc­ing far-right par­ties, apol­o­gis­ing for an “admin­is­tra­tive error” and pref­er­enc­ing the WA Nation­als ahead of Julian Assange’s strongest polit­i­cal sup­porter, Greens Sen­a­tor Scott Ludlam.

The Sen­ate pref­er­ence allo­ca­tions revealed yes­ter­day showed, in New South Wales, Wik­iLeaks had pref­er­enced the right-wing Shoot­ers and Fish­ers Party and the extreme-right Aus­tralia First Party, run by con­victed crim­i­nal and for­mer neo-Nazi Jim Saleam, ahead of the Greens and the major par­ties. Aus­tralia First wants to end all immi­gra­tion and to restore the death penalty.

Soon after the release of the pref­er­ences and a firestorm of crit­i­cism erupted on social media, the party issued a state­ment on its Face­book page blam­ing the pref­er­enc­ing on “some admin­is­tra­tive errors”.

The “error”, the exact nature of which remains unex­plained, appears to have par­tic­u­larly incensed pro­gres­sive vot­ers who had assumed Wik­iLeaks would be a left-wing, Greens-style party. How­ever, Julian Assange has already crit­i­cised the Greens’ totemic asy­lum seeker pol­icy as “sim­plis­tic and fool­ish” dur­ing the cam­paign and backed off­shore pro­cess­ing, while crit­i­cis­ing both the major par­ties on the issue. On the week­end, Assange said he admired US lib­er­tar­ian Repub­li­cans Ron and Rand Paul, though he expressed con­cern about their posi­tion on issues like abor­tion. Swap­ping pref­er­ences with minor par­ties of very dif­fer­ent ori­en­ta­tions is also stan­dard prac­tice for all par­ties. One party source told Crikey the “admin­is­tra­tive error” in NSW was quite inten­tional and aimed at the Greens. . . .

. . . . Lud­lam has been Assange’s strongest sup­porter inside fed­eral Par­lia­ment, hound­ing the gov­ern­ment over its lack of sup­port for him and its deal­ings with the US over its cam­paign against Assange and Wik­iLeaks. Lud­lam trav­elled to Europe at his own expense in 2011 to talk to Swedish author­i­ties and Aus­tralian offi­cials in the UK about the case.

The deci­sion to pref­er­ence the Nation­als’ David Wirrpanda ahead of Lud­lam, strength­en­ing the chances of the Nation­als snar­ing the sixth Sen­ate spot ahead of the Greens, is thus an extra­or­di­nary betrayal. . . .

“Wik­ileaks Party Sen­ate Can­di­date: NSW Pref­er­ences a ‘Poor Judge­ment Call’, not Admin Error” by Ter­ence Huynh; Techgeek.com;  8/26/2013.

EXCERPT: Gerry Geor­gatos, the num­ber one Sen­ate can­di­date for the Wik­ileaks Party in West­ern Aus­tralia, has said that the Wik­ileaks Party’s New South Wales pref­er­ences fiasco was a “poor judge­ment call” and not an admin­is­tra­tive error.

It was not an admin­is­tra­tive error, it was a poor judge­ment call. I’m not [going to come out] here and bull­shit the audi­ence,” he told the Indy­media pro­gramme (24 min­utes into the pro­gramme) on Perth’s RTR yes­ter­day. His state­ment appears to con­tra­dicts the offi­cial posi­tion given by the Wik­ileaks Party that the pref­er­ences were an “admin­is­tra­tive error”.

In New South Wales, the Wik­ileaks Party pref­er­enced the Shoot­ers and Fish­ers and far-right Aus­tralia First party above the Greens – in direct con­tra­dic­tion to the deci­sions made by the National Coun­cil. The fiasco, in addi­tion to the West­ern Aus­tralian pref­er­ences, saw Leslie Can­nold, four National Coun­cil mem­bers and sev­eral vol­un­teers left the party. . . . .

Eco­fas­cism: Lessons from the Ger­man Expe­ri­ence; by Janet Biehl and Peter Stau­den­maier; AK Press [SC] 1995; Copy­right 1995 by Janet Biehl and Peter Stau­den­maier; ISBN 1–873176-73–2; pp. 9–10.

EXCERPT:  . . . The chief vehi­cle for car­ry­ing this ide­o­log­i­cal con­stel­la­tion to promi­nence was the youth move­ment, an amor­phous phe­nom­e­non which played a deci­sive but highly ambiva­lent role in shap­ing Ger­man pop­u­lar cul­ture dur­ing the first three tumul­tuous decades of the cen­tury. Also known as the Wan­der­vo­gel, (which trans­lates roughly as ‘wan­der­ing free spir­its’), the youth move­ment was a hodge-podge of counter-cultural ele­ments, blend­ing neo-Romanticism, East­ern philoso­phies, nature mys­ti­cism, hos­til­ity to rea­son, and a strong com­mu­nal impulse in a con­fused but no less ardent search for authen­tic, non-alienated social rela­tions.

Their back-to-the-land empha­sis spurred a pas­sion­ate sen­si­tiv­ity to the nat­ural world and the dam­age it suf­fered. They have been accu­rately char­ac­ter­ized as ‘right-wing hip­pies,’ for although some sec­tors of the move­ment grav­i­tated toward var­i­ous forms of eman­ci­pa­tory pol­i­tics (though usu­ally shed­ding their envi­ron­men­tal trap­pings in the process), most of the Wan­der­vo­gel were even­tu­ally absorbed by the Nazis. This shift from nature wor­ship to fuhrer wor­ship is worth exam­in­ing. . . .

“Revealed: Antisemite was key to WikiLeaks Operation” by Martin Bright; Jewish Chronicle; 6/2/2011.

EXCERPT: The noto­ri­ous anti­se­mitic jour­nal­ist Israel Shamir was actively involved in devel­op­ing the Wik­iLeaks net­work — and was not just another free­lance writer who hap­pened to strike up a work­ing rela­tion­ship with the website’s founder Julian Assange, accord­ing to newly-revealed cor­re­spon­dence. [Emphasis added.]

Emails seen by the Swedish anti-racist mag­a­zine, Expo, demon­strate that the two men co-operated for sev­eral years. As early as 2008 Mr Shamir was asked to rec­om­mend poten­tial asso­ciates in Swe­den. [Emphasis added.] He sug­gested his own son, Johannes Wahlström: “He is a Swedish cit­i­zen, and lives in Swe­den. Prob­a­bly, he’ll be able to give advice about press freedom.”

Like his father, Mr Wahlström has devel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion for stri­dent anti­se­mitic views. In 2005, left-wing mag­a­zine Ord­front was forced to with­draw one of his arti­cles, which argued that Israel con­trolled the Swedish media.

An email from June 2010 shows that Mr Shamir was still play­ing a part in the Swedish Wik­iLeaks net­work at that point. “I have a lot of good guys who can help to analyze the trea­sure and it would be good to start spread­ing the news,” he told Mr Assange. “I am now in Paris, and peo­ple want to know more! Tues­day I go to Swe­den, and there is a whole oper­a­tion for your ben­e­fit!” Mr Assange replied: “There cer­tainly is! Tell the team to get ready. Give them my best. We have a lot of work to do.” . . . [Emphasis added.]

“Israeli Writer Is Swedish Anti-Semite” by Tor Bach, Sven Johansen and Lise Apfelbum; The Searchlight; May/2004.

EXCERPT: A man who claims to be one of Israel’s leading intellectuals is also a Swedish anti-Semitic writer. Israel Shamir presents himself on his website as a leading Russian-Israeli intellectual and a writer, translator and journalist. But in 2001 he changed his name to Jöran Jermas and has surrounded himself in Sweden and Norway with anti-Semites and strange conspiracy theorists. . . .. . . Jermas’s translator in Norway is Hans Olav Brendberg, a teacher, who was recently asked to leave the executive committee of a branch of the Red Electoral Alliance (RV). The left-wing RV, which took 1.2% of the vote in the general election in 2001 and has over 80 local councillors, accused Brendberg of making anti-Jewish statements on the internet and in his work as Jermas’s translator.

Brendberg, 35, stirred up controversy after writing articles for the left-wing daily Klassekampen in which he charged the Jews with killing Christ and hating all non-Jews. But it is through the KK-forum, Klassekampen’s semi-official web-based discussion forum, that Brendberg has gained most notoriety for statements such as: “Millions of nice Germans have always existed but not one of them is mentioned in Anne Frank’s Diaries. As for the broader picture: is not the world bigger than the attic of a Dutch city apartment block?”

On several occasions, Brendberg has referred to Kevin MacDonald, an extreme right-wing American, as an authority on Jewish matters. MacDonald, a professor at an obscure Californian university, is a white racist, antisemitic, anti-black, anti-left apologist for Hitler’s genocide and an inveterate fascist.

MacDonald is perhaps most infamous for his claim that the Jews have effected a breeding programme to conquer other “races”. He appeared in court as a witness on behalf of David Irving, the British quasi-historian and Hitler admirer, in his libel case against Deborah Lipstadt. . . .

. . . Shamir has found other, even more extreme friends in Sweden. One of his Swedish translators, Lars Adelskog, is not only a leading figure in the Swedish UFO movement but can also be found in the jungle of conspiracy theories where the Illuminati, the Freemasons and lizards in human form are supposedly working together to end civilisation as we know it.

Adelskog’s last book bore the profound title En tom säck kan inte stå (An empty bag cannot stand) and was published by the openly nazi publisher Nordiska Förlaget. [NB–Carl Lundstrom patronizes this same publishing outfit, as seen below.) This organization also sells books by MacDonald, Hitler and Irving. In his latest book, Adelskog tries in typical nazi style to “prove” that the Nazi genocide of the Jews never took place.

Adelskog was previously the editor of the Swedish “alternative” magazine Nexus, where he also spread his pet conspiracy theories. The Nationalsocialistisk Front later touted unsold issues of Nexus through its website.

Jermas/Shamir himself is no stranger to conspiracy theories. When he visited Norway in 2001, he made the laughable claim in the mainstream newspaper Adresseavisa that many Jews received text messages warning them to get out of the World Trade Centre in New York before the terror attacks of 11 September.

Another outlet that eagerly promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories is the Russian magazine Zavtra and its editor Alexander Prokhanov. While in Moscow, Jermas worked as a journalist for Zavtra, which has been described as Russia’s most antisemitic rag. When the notorious racist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke went to Russia to promote his new book, Jewish Supremacism, and his National Association for the Advancement of White People, it was on Prokhanov’s invitation.

Despite the dogs with which he is willing to lie down, Jermas does not seem afraid of catching fleas. In the USA, Alex Linder of Kirksville, Missouri, who has seemingly fallen from grace in the Nazi National Alliance (NA), has set up his own outfit called the Vanguard News Network. Lindner [sic] is eagerly promoting a forthcoming congress of Holocaust liars in Sacramento this year and published parts of a peculiar email correspondence with Jermas, posing under his old name of Shamir. . . .

“The Goal: Take over all Piracy” by Peter Karlsson; realtid.se; 3/10/2006.

TRANSLATED EXCERPT: . . . Lundström har inte gjort någon hemlighet av sina sympatier för främlingsfientliga grupper, och förra året fanns hans namn med på kundregistret hos det nazistiska bokförlaget Nordiska Förlaget. Lundstrom has made no secret of his sympathy for the xenophobic groups, and last year was his name with the customer code of the Nazi publishing house Nordic Publishers.

– Jag stöder dem genom att köpa böcker och musik. – I support them by buying books and music. Ni i media vill bara sprida missaktning om olika personer. You in the media just want to spread contempt for different people. Ni i media är fyllda av hat till Pirate Bay, avslutar en mycket upprörd Carl Lundström. You in the media is full of hatred to the Pirate Bay, finishing a very upset Carl Lundström.

Nordiska Förlaget säljer vit makt musik och böcker som hyllar rasistiska våldshandlingar. Nordic publishing company sells white power music and books that celebrates the racist violence. Förlaget stöder nazisternas demonstration i Salem och bjöd in Ku Klux Klan ledaren till en föredragturné i Sverige. Publisher supports the Nazi demonstration in Salem and invited the Ku Klux Klan leader [David Duke] for a lecture tour in Sweden. . . .

“Ron Paul Was Implicated In Failed White Supremacist Island Invasion” by Casey Gane-McCalla; newsone.com; 1/20/2012.

EXCERPT: In 1981, a lawyer tried to subpoena Ron Paul to testify in the trial of Don Black, a Grand Wizard for the Ku Klux Klan who would later go on to found the white supremacist, neo-Nazi website, Stormfront. Black was charged along with two other Klansmen with planning to violently overthrow the small Caribbean country of Dominica in what they called “Operation Red Dog.” While a judge refused to subpoena Paul, Don Black would come back to haunt him many years later.

In 1981 a group of American and Canadian white supremacists lead by Klansman and mercenary, Michael (Mike) Perdue planned on taking over a small West Indian country called Dominica by overthrowing the government and Prime Minister Eugenia Charles and restoring its previous prime minister, Patrick Johns into power. The group planned to create an Aryan paradise in Dominica and make money through casinos, cocaine and brothels.

On the day the group of white supremacists were supposed to travel to Dominica, they were arrested by ATF agents and were found with over thirty automatic weapons, shotguns, rifles, handguns, dynamite, ammunition, a confederate flag and a Nazi flag. The plan would be dubbed “The Bayou Of Pigs” after the failed invasion of Cuba.

The leader of the group, Michael Perdue, would plead guilty to planning the coup and turned state’s evidence. Perdue would testify that several other people helped organize and fund the coup and that two Texas politicians were aware of the plan. Among those Perdue implicated were infamous white supremacist, David Duke, former Texas Governor, John Connally and Congressman, Ron Paul whom he claimed knew about the plot. Connally was credited with helping Paul win his first congressional election. . . .

“Germany aims to be a good partner”; bundesregierung.de; 4/17/2013.

EXCERPT: After their talks the Chancellor reported on the issues that are currently of particular political importance: a free trade agreement, an investment protection agreement and vocational training.

Angela Merkel and Rafael Correa discussed the situation in Latin America as a whole. Bilateral relations and also the relations with Latin America are “eminently interesting”. “Germany would like to be an increasingly good partner,” said the Chancellor.

EU free trade agreement with Ecuador

Ecuador is interested in joining the existing free trade agreement between the European Union and Colombia and Peru. Germany, said Angela Merkel, could help support the positive development of relations between the EU and Ecuador. “I have said that we will once again be speaking with the European Commission in order to generate an impetus to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion,” she said.

A stable legal framework for economic agreement

The talks also touched on the legal conditions for improved economic cooperation, and thus the conclusion of a German-Ecuadorian investment protection agreement. “We need a stable legal framework,” said the Chancellor. More talks are to be held between Germany and Ecuador on this point.
The German economy is also interested in expanding infrastructure, including airports and roads, said Angela Merkel. She made special mention of cooperation in the field of vocational training, and gave the example of the vocational school in Quito, which is attached to the city’s German school.

Successful development cooperation

One focus of bilateral relations is development cooperation. On the basis of international agreements, the two sides have been cooperating closely for some 50 years. In the face of global climate change, it is particularly important to conserve tropical rainforests. Germany is one of Ecuador’s largest bilateral donors in the field of development cooperation.

In October 2012 government negotiations took place in Quito to decide on cooperation over the next three years. For the priority areas of environmental protection and conservation of natural resources and state decentralisation and modernisation, a total of 60.9 million euros was pledged, i.e. 20.3 million euros a year. Total assistance already stands at some 600 million euros.

Andreas Fink

EXCERPT: . . . . I’m a member of the pirate party in the secTion of Basel where I live.

My company DataCell operates a datacenter in Reykjavik, Iceland and has been the credit card processor of Wikileaks in 2010 with all kinds of consequences. . .



20 comments for “Baby Face Snowden Meets the Cyber-Wandervogel”

  1. And now we’re going to get the treat of endless stories talking about how there’s just no feasible way the government can remove private contractors from key intelligence and defense roles because, you know, it just makes fiscal sense to hire temporary contractors instead of hiring federal employees and they provide special skills that you just can’t find amongst government workers. Even if those federal contractors tend to be former government employees and have an economic incentive to be wildly more expensive for as long as possible without actually producing results:

    Booz Allen, the World’s Most Profitable Spy Organization
    By Drake Bennett and Michael Riley on June 20, 2013

    In 1940, a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy began to think about what a war with Germany would look like. The admirals worried in particular about the Kriegsmarine’s fleet of U-boats, which were preying on Allied shipping and proving impossible to find, much less sink. Stymied, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox turned to Booz, Fry, Allen & Hamilton, a consulting firm in Chicago whose best-known clients were Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT) and Montgomery Ward. The firm had effectively invented management consulting, deploying whiz kids from top schools as analysts and acumen-for-hire to corporate clients. Working with the Navy’s own planners, Booz consultants developed a special sensor system that could track the U-boats’ brief-burst radio communications and helped design an attack strategy around it. With its aid, the Allies by war’s end had sunk or crippled most of the German submarine fleet.

    That project was the start of a long collaboration. As the Cold War set in, intensified, thawed, and was supplanted by global terrorism in the minds of national security strategists, the firm, now called Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), focused more and more on government work. In 2008 it split off its less lucrative commercial consulting arm—under the name Booz & Co.—and became a pure government contractor, publicly traded and majority-owned by private equity firm Carlyle Group (CG). In the fiscal year ended in March 2013, Booz Allen Hamilton reported $5.76 billion in revenue, 99 percent of which came from government contracts, and $219 million in net income. Almost a quarter of its revenue—$1.3 billion—was from major U.S. intelligence agencies. Along with competitors such as Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), CACI, and BAE Systems (BAESY), the McLean (Va.)-based firm is a prime beneficiary of an explosion in government spending on intelligence contractors over the past decade. About 70 percent of the 2013 U.S. intelligence budget is contracted out, according to a Bloomberg Industries analysis; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) says almost a fifth of intelligence personnel work in the private sector.

    It’s safe to say that most Americans, if they’d heard of Booz Allen at all, had no idea how huge a role it plays in the U.S. intelligence infrastructure. They do now. On June 9, a 29-year-old Booz Allen computer technician, Edward Snowden, revealed himself to be the source of news stories showing the extent of phone and Internet eavesdropping by the National Security Agency. Snowden leaked classified documents he loaded onto a thumb drive while working for Booz Allen at an NSA listening post in Hawaii, and he’s promised to leak many more. After fleeing to Hong Kong, he’s been in hiding. (He didn’t respond to a request for comment relayed by an intermediary.)

    The attention has been bad for Booz Allen’s stock, which fell more than 4 percent the morning after Snowden went public and still hasn’t recovered. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Select Committee on Intelligence, has called for a reexamination of the role of private contractors in intelligence work and announced she’ll seek to restrict their access to classified information. Booz Allen declined to comment on Snowden beyond its initial public statement announcing his termination.

    The firm has long kept a low profile—with the federal government as practically its sole client, there’s no need for publicity. It does little, if any, lobbying. Its ability to win contracts is ensured by the roster of intelligence community heavyweights who work there. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper—President Obama’s top intelligence adviser—is a former Booz Allen executive. The firm’s vice chairman, Mike McConnell, was President George W. Bush’s director of national intelligence and, before that, director of the NSA. Of Booz Allen’s 25,000 employees, 76 percent have classified clearances, and almost half have top-secret clearances. In a 2003 speech, Joan Dempsey, a former CIA deputy director, referred to Booz Allen as the “shadow IC” (for intelligence community) because of the profusion of “former secretaries of this and directors of that,” according to a 2008 book, Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. Today Dempsey works for Booz Allen.

    It’s possible that fallout from the Snowden revelations will lead to significant changes in intelligence contracting. The Senate intelligence committee has been pressuring spy agencies for years to reduce their reliance on contractors. And in the age of the sequester, even once untouchable line items such as defense and intelligence spending are vulnerable to cuts.

    Yet conversations with current and former employees of Booz Allen and U.S. intelligence officials suggest that these contractors aren’t going anywhere soon. Even if Snowden ends up costing his former employer business, the work will probably just go to its rivals. Although Booz Allen and the rest of the shadow intelligence community arose as stopgap solutions—meant to buy time as shrunken, post-Cold War agencies tried to rebuild after Sept. 11—they’ve become the vine that supports the wall. As much as contractors such as Booz Allen have come to rely on the federal government, the government relies on them even more.

    Edward Snowden was not hired as a spy. He’s a mostly self-taught computer technician who never completed high school, and his first intelligence job was as a security guard at an NSA facility. In an interview in the Guardian, he says he was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency for his computer skills to work on network security. In 2009 he left for the private sector, eventually ending up at Booz Allen. The job he did as a contractor for the NSA appears to have been basic tech support and troubleshooting. He was the IT guy.

    The large-scale hiring of intelligence contractors can be traced directly to Sept. 11. The al-Qaeda attacks triggered a bipartisan chorus on Capitol Hill for more and better intelligence—and correspondingly massive increases in the federal budget to pay for it. There’s plenty of evidence that the effort has disrupted terrorist plots. It has also created a lot more contractor work. The intelligence community had been shrinking throughout the 1990s; with the Soviet Union gone, intelligence didn’t seem as important to politicians, and there were budget cuts and a wave of retirements at the CIA, NSA, and DIA. In late 2001 the only way to get enough experienced people to meet demand was with contractors, many of them the same experts the government had trained decades before and then let go. “We were able to expand very, very quickly by using contract personnel,” said Ronald Sanders, then ODNI’s associate director for human capital, in a 2008 call with reporters. “They were able to come in quickly and perform the mission even as we were busy recovering the IC’s military and civilian workforce.”

    Contractors such as Booz Allen were seen as a temporary measure—surge capacity—to give the government time to hire and train its own employees. Michael Brown, a retired rear admiral, tells about trying to develop the Navy’s cyberwarfare programs in 2001. None of his personnel were cybersecurity experts, so he trained Navy linguists—traditionally considered some of the brainier sailors—for the job. “The Navy was able to use contractors to augment those trainees while it developed a permanent program,” Brown says. He himself now works for RSA Security (EMC), a Bedford (Mass.) cybersecurity company that does a lot of business with the government.

    As the government intelligence workforce has grown, however, contractor head count hasn’t returned to pre-Sept. 11 levels. In the 2008 interview, Sanders said only 5 percent of contractors working for various intelligence agencies were for “surge requirements.” In a report published this March, the Senate intelligence committee complained that “some elements of the IC have been hiring additional contractors after they have converted or otherwise removed other contractors, resulting in an overall workforce that continues to grow.” The ODNI’s public affairs office disputes this, saying “core contractor personnel” has been cut by 36 percent since 2007.

    Proponents of intelligence contracting say there are good reasons private firms have become a permanent part of the landscape. Not every task requires a full-time federal employee. Building a classified facility or a new database is a short-term project that’s ideal for contract labor—the job takes a few months or a couple years, and it doesn’t make sense to hire and train new employees just for that. In theory, contract labor is cheaper, since the government isn’t on the hook for the worker’s salary after the job is over, much less his health care or pension. For the military, it’s often the only way to get additional work done without violating the caps on manpower written into legislation. And it’s abetted by the dysfunctional funding environment in Washington, where money even for long-term projects is increasingly appropriated in year-to-year emergency supplemental spending bills, creating a sense of uncertainty that makes it harder to hire permanent employees.

    Senior intelligence officials also say contractors are a pipeline to innovation in the private sector. The contemporary version of Q’s laboratory—that storied incubator for James Bond’s spy toys—is Silicon Valley, where startups are developing technology that can discern patterns and connections in oceans of raw data, among other feats of computer science. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Vice Chairman McConnell points out that while Booz Allen is well-known for hiring former spies like himself, the company also recruits heavily from tech. A 2008 study by the ODNI reported that 56 percent of intelligence contractors provided unique expertise not found among government intelligence officers.

    “As DNI, I absolutely wanted the lift and creativity and the power of the private sector,” says McConnell, using the initials for his old job. “Because I’d become irrelevant if I didn’t stay in tune with technology and its evolution. The most innovative, creative, dominant country in the world is the United States, and it’s mostly because of the efficiency of the free market.” Some intelligence contractors, such as Palo Alto (Calif.)-based Palantir Technologies, have gone so far as to locate in commercial tech hubs rather than the traditional intelligence corridor that stretches 50 miles from Reston, Va., to the Fort Meade (Md.) headquarters of the NSA.

    Even so, spending can spin way out of control. According to the ODNI, a typical contractor employee costs $207,000 a year, while a government counterpart costs $125,000, including benefits and pension. One of the most notorious projects was the NSA’s Trailblazer. Intended as an advanced program to sort and analyze the vast volume of phone and Web traffic that the NSA collects hourly, Trailblazer was originally set to cost $280 million and take 26 months. Booz Allen was part of a five-company consortium working on the project. (SAIC was the lead contractor.) “In Trailblazer, NSA is capturing the best of industry technology and experience to further their mission,” Booz Allen Vice President Marty Hill said in a 2002 press release. In 2006, when the program shut down, it had failed to meet any of its goals, and its cost had run into the billions of dollars. An NSA inspector general report found “excessive labor rates for contractor personnel,” without naming the contractors. Several NSA employees who denounced the waste were fired; one, a senior executive named Thomas Andrews Drake, was charged under the Espionage Act after he spoke to a reporter. (The charges were eventually dropped.)

    A U.S. Department of Homeland Security computer systems contract awarded to Booz Allen around the same time had similar issues. Over the course of three years, costs exploded from the original $2 million to $124 million, in large part, auditors at the Government Accountability Office would later report, because of poor planning and oversight. But even when the problems came to light, as the Washington Post reported, DHS continued to renew the contract and even give Booz Allen new ones, because the agency determined it couldn’t build, or even run, the system on its own.

    Booz Allen spokesman James Fisher and NSA spokeswoman Vaneé Vines both declined to comment on Trailblazer. (Former NSA Director Michael Hayden has since said publicly that the project failed because the spy agency’s plan for it was unrealistic.) Fisher also declined to comment on the DHS contract; Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for that agency, did not immediately return a call for comment.

    Booz Allen and its competitors are able to keep landing contracts and keep growing, critics charge, not because their expertise is irreplaceable but because their Rolodexes are. Name a retired senior official from the NSA or the CIA or the various military intelligence branches, and there’s a good chance he works for a contractor—most likely Booz Allen. Name a senior intelligence official serving in the government, and there’s a good chance he used to work for Booz Allen. (ODNI’s Sanders, who made the case for contractors, is now a vice president at the firm, which declined to make him available for an interview.) McConnell and others at Booz Allen are quick to point out that the contracting process has safeguards and oversight built in and that it has matured since the frenzied years just after Sept. 11. At the same time, the firm’s tendency to scoop up—and lavishly pay—high-ranking intelligence officers once they retire suggests the value it places on their address books and in having their successors inside government consider Booz Allen as part of their own retirement plans.

    Rich contractor salaries create a classic public-private revolving door. They pull people from government intelligence, deplete the ranks, and put more experience and knowledge in the private sector, which makes contractors even more vital to the government. “Now you go into government for two or three years, get a clearance, and migrate to one of the high-paying contractors,” says Steven Aftergood, who heads the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. That’s what Snowden did. “You have to have a well-developed sense of patriotism to turn that money down,” Aftergood says.

    As a result, says Golden, the headhunter, a common complaint in spy agencies is that “the damn contractors know more than we do.” That could have been a factor in the Snowden leak—his computer proficiency may have allowed him to access information he shouldn’t have been allowed to see. Snowden is an anomaly, though. What he did with that information—copying it, getting it to the press, and publicly identifying himself as the leaker—cost him his job and potentially his freedom, all for what appear so far to be idealistic motives. The more common temptation would be to use knowledge, legally and perhaps not even consciously, to generate more business.

    In the wake of the Snowden leak, Congress is paying more attention to contractors like Booz Allen and the role they play in intelligence gathering. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say that the ease with which Snowden was able to gain access to and divulge classified information highlights the need for greater oversight of contractors’ activities. “I’m just stunned that an individual who did not even have a high school diploma, who did not successfully complete his military service, and who is only age 29 had access to some of the most highly classified information in our government,” Senator Susan Collins (R-Me.) told reporters on Capitol Hill on June 11. “That’s astonishing to me, and it suggests real problems with the vetting process. The rules are not being applied well or they need to be more strict.”

    Changing them, however, may be easier said than done. “At the very highest level, whether at the White House or the Pentagon, there will always be a contractor in the room,” says Golden. “And the powers that be will turn around and say, ‘That’s a brilliant plan, how do we make that work?’ And a contractor will say, ‘I can do that.’?”

    So is all of this justified in the minds of the intelligence community leaders along the lines of “government is bad so looting it is good”? Or are their internal excuses even more crass?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 22, 2013, 7:21 pm
  2. Your articles offer the most comprehensive analysis of the Snow-Wald dynamics. What do you think the end game is? Also, thank you, Pterirrafractyl for the article.

    Posted by Kathleen | June 23, 2013, 7:10 am
  3. Dave, Joseph Cannon doesn’t seem to care much for your evidence that Wikileaks and Snowden might be tied to the far right, evidence be damned. He is lecturing his readers about “laws of physics” and tinfoil hat conspiracies he doesn’t like. While at the same time trying to warm up the left to some more Wikileaks and Snowden love. Snowden aligned himself with China which is not helpful to the left’s cause. Russell Tice would seem to be a better example of how to do legit whistleblowing that the left can get behind. An American movement to support a guy (Snowden) doing deals with the Communist Chinese government is doomed from the start. And all of the fake left know better.

    In his post on Michael Hastings at the top of the page, Cannon ties CIA Director Richard M. Helms into a 2005 vice.com story about Trapwire. What is Trapwire? Go google it and read up on some of the tons of Russia Today articles on it. Russian run Russia Today was all over that particular story. And it was Wikileaks that first leaked it. I myself am not against whistleblowing, especially when it serves to fight corruption but I’m still waiting to see the Wikileaks data dump that exposes the details of the transnational group of players involved with tricking the USA and its allies into war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, that bit of sleuthing is never going to come from German Wau Holland Foundation connected Wikileaks. Go google Paypal and see who’s behind it (German, Ukrainian, South African, Polish). Is that an alignment that might look familiar? Wikileaks seems to have spent a lot of focus trashing the USA and corrupt mid-east secular governments targeted by the Arab spring which then became corrupt Muslim brotherhood governments. And Assange seems to be a believer in the “Official Theory” of 9/11. All of this should be a bright red flashing warning sign for anyone truly on the left.

    Cannon seems to think the Helms in the Trapwire related quote from 2005 is the same as CIA Director Richard Helms, if so that that would make CIA Director Helms 92 in 2005 (Helms died in 2002). You would think that would be an easy one for Joe to figure out but he can’t even get that right. But apparently he thinks he has the authority to lecture readers on physics and which conspiracies are valid to discuss. This from the guy who somehow thinks that if only Hillary Clinton were president she would be somehow immune to the PTB and fix everything Obama can’t seem to fix. (Remember Joseph Cannon was feeding his leftwing readers a boatload of anti-Obama bullshit from Republican spook Larry Johnson in 2008).

    The Richard Helms he meant to tie into this particular conspiracy is Richard “Hollis” Helms, CEO of Trapwire. Who the hell is Richard H.Helms? Who knows? other than a few references to him from Wikileaks, Russia Today and Birchers, I don’t see a lot of info on this particular Richard Helms. I don’t seem him described in the mainstream media.

    Boiling Frogs Blog says it has an audio interview of Russell Tice naming names of official “culprits” involved with illegal spying on everyone! Good, we are getting to the bottom of this mess! Except, this is slightly misleading… Tice in his interview(which was good) mostly names the names of all of the American politicians that he claims are being TARGETED for spying and blackmail, not those really behind all of this. I am sure that was just another oversight on the part of the editors at Boiling Frogs. But this wouldn’t be the first time I have been disappointed by Sibel Edmond’s claiming to “name names” and then getting only a bunch of Neocons, Democrats, Jews and Low Hanging Fruit Republicans. So many stuck in their own little bubbles apparently unaware of how transparent those bubbles are to the rest looking in.


    Posted by Patternizer | June 23, 2013, 1:38 pm
  4. Interesting turn of events…
    Hong Kong has allowed Snowden to escape U.S. extradition by going to Russia. Looks like he will then be heading to Ecuador:

    Posted by Patternizer | June 23, 2013, 2:13 pm
  5. @Patternizer–

    At least Cannon spelled my name right.



    Posted by Dave Emory | June 23, 2013, 4:54 pm
  6. Worth noting….

    South China Morning Post
    EXCLUSIVE: Snowden sought Booz Allen job to gather evidence on NSA surveillance

    Tue Jun 25, 2013, Updated: 12:55am

    Edward Snowden tells the Post he took a job at NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton to collect proof of surveillance programme.

    Edward Snowden secured a job with a US government contractor for one reason alone – to obtain evidence on Washington’s cyberspying networks, the South China Morning Post can reveal.

    For the first time, Snowden has admitted he sought a position at Booz Allen Hamilton so he could collect proof about the US National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programmes ahead of planned leaks to the media.

    “My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” he told the Post on June 12. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

    Snowden is understood to be heading for Ecuador to seek political asylum with the help of WikiLeaks, which claimed to have secured his safe passage to the South American country.

    Snowden, who arrived in Hong Kong on May 20, first contacted documentary maker Laura Poitras in January, claiming to have information about the intelligence community. But it was several months later before Snowden met Poitras and two British reporters in the city.

    He spent the time collecting a cache of classified documents as a computer systems administrator at Booz Allen Hamilton.

    In his interview with the Post, Snowden divulged information that he claimed showed hacking by the NSA into computers in Hong Kong and mainland China.

    “I did not release them earlier because I don’t want to simply dump huge amounts of documents without regard to their content,” he said.

    “I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists.”

    Asked if he specifically went to Booz Allen Hamilton to gather evidence of surveillance, he replied: “Correct on Booz.”

    His intention was to collect information about the NSA hacking into “the whole world” and “not specifically Hong Kong and China”.

    The documents he divulged to the Post were obtained during his tenure at Booz Allen Hamilton in April, he said.

    He also signalled his intention to leak more of those documents at a later date.

    If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published.

    Two days after Snowden broke cover in Hong Kong as the source of the NSA leaks, Booz Allen Hamilton sacked him.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 24, 2013, 9:55 am
  7. http://allthingsd.com/20130413/computer-security-legend-mudge-leaves-darpa-for-google-job/

    Peiter Zatko, of Cult of the Dead Cow fame, leaves DARPA and now works for google.

    Posted by You can delete this | June 29, 2013, 2:13 pm
  8. http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/13795

    Competition time! Who said it: Julian Assange or David Icke?

    See if you can allocate each nutty quote to the right nutty dude.

    9 July 2013

    Julian Assange and David Icke become more alike every day. Both are white-haired blokes with a messiah complex who love nothing more than wagging an erect index finger at the hidden conspiracies of evil men who control world affairs and stupid people’s minds. Can you tell Assange’s ravings from Icke’s bollocks? It’s time to find out. See if you can guess which of Britain’s two best-loved bonkers spectres said the following. (The answers come directly after each quotation, but, like the Illuminati, they are hidden – click ‘Answer’ to see them revealed. Don’t cheat. We are watching. We are always watching.)

    1) ‘Information flows from conspirator to conspirator. Not every conspirator trusts or knows every other conspirator even though all are connected.’


    2) ‘[My relationship with the UK media] is not that great, particularly the BBC. They are going to broadcast a show… we finally found out that the producer’s wife for this show was part of the Zionist movement.’


    3) ‘Zionism is a subject that all but a few are either too ignorant or too frightened to tackle and expose, but it must be made public.’


    4) ‘We saw the smirking American politicians yesterday. The honey-trap has been sprung. Dark forces are at work. After what we’ve seen so far, you can reasonably conclude this is [all] part of a greater plan.’


    Posted by Vanfield | July 10, 2013, 9:34 pm
  9. The WikiLeaks Party is officially here:

    The New York Times
    WikiLeaks Founder to Run for Australian Senate
    Published: July 25, 2013

    SYDNEY, Australia — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, formally inaugurated a new political party bearing the name of his antisecrecy organization on Thursday and declared his own unorthodox candidacy for a seat in the Australian Senate in national elections to be held later this year.

    In a telephone interview, Mr. Assange said he had every confidence in his ability to run a campaign from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been living under asylum for more than a year to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault accusations.

    “It’s not unlike running the WikiLeaks organization,” he said. “We have people on every continent. We have to deal with over a dozen legal cases at once.”

    “However, it’s nice to be politically engaged in my home country,” he added.

    Mr. Assange, 42, an Australian computer hacker who rose to prominence as an evangelist for radical government transparency and a critic of United States foreign policy, is a deeply polarizing figure. Many believe that the WikiLeaks Party is simply a vanity project for Mr. Assange, although several polls conducted since plans to establish the party emerged earlier this year suggest that it could fare better than expected.

    The Australian Senate has a long history of successful protest candidates, John Wanna, a political science professor at Australian National University in Canberra, said in an interview. Mr. Assange is probably hoping to trade on his name recognition and follow in the footsteps of other rabble-rousing, single-issue senators, Professor Wanna said.

    “He’s basically a nuisance candidate who may attract a bit of attention, because he’s not really about governing and sitting in Parliament,” Professor Wanna said. “He’s not standing to do the work, he’s standing for the nuisance value.”

    If elected, Mr. Assange said, his party will work to advance “transparency, justice and accountability.”

    “My plans are to essentially parachute in a crack troop of investigative journalists into the Senate and to do what we have done with WikiLeaks, in holding banks and government and intelligence agencies to account,” Mr. Assange said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 25, 2013, 11:52 am
  10. We’re now learning that Snowden started downloading documents in April 2012, shortly after he moved to Hawaii and a year earlier than was previous stated:

    Snowden downloaded NSA secrets while working for Dell, sources say

    Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:50pm EDT

    * Snowden worked for Dell from 2009 until earlier this year

    * Assigned as contractor to NSA facilities in U.S., Japan

    * Dell declines comment on any aspect of his employment

    By Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden began downloading documents describing the U.S. government’s electronic spying programs while he was working for Dell Inc in April 2012, almost a year earlier than previously reported, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the matter.

    Snowden, who was granted a year’s asylum by Russia on Aug. 1, worked for Dell from 2009 until earlier this year, assigned as a contractor to U.S. National Security Agency facilities in the United States and Japan.

    Snowden downloaded information while employed by Dell about eavesdropping programs run by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, and left an electronic footprint indicating when he accessed the documents, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    David Frink, a spokesman for Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, declined to comment on any aspect of Snowden’s employment with the company, saying Dell’s “customer” – presumably the NSA – had asked Dell not to talk publicly about him.

    Since Snowden disclosed documents on previously secret U.S. internet and phone surveillance programs in June, his three-month tenure with U.S. contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp starting in late March of this year has been the focus of considerable attention. His time at Dell has received little attention.

    Lawmakers have questioned how a relatively low-level systems administrator was able to gain access to so many top-secret documents without raising red flags. Some lawmakers have called the leaks one of the worst security breaches in U.S. history.

    News that Snowden was downloading documents while he worked at Dell could increase pressure on U.S. intelligence agencies to tighten security protocols to prevent future leaks. The NSA has said it would tighten access to classified material and put in place stricter controls for accessing and downloading such information.


    Some of the material Snowden downloaded in April 2012 while a Dell employee related to NSA collection from fiber-optic cables, including transoceanic cables, of large quantities of internet traffic and other communications, the sources said.

    Snowden has said he left Dell for a job at Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii around March of this year, specifically to gain access to additional top-secret documents that could be leaked to the media.

    In February 2010, while working for Dell, Snowden wrote in an internet technology forum, Ars Technica, that he was bothered by technology companies allegedly giving the U.S. government access to private computer servers.

    “It really concerns me how little this sort of corporate behavior bothers those outside of technology circles,” Snowden wrote under the screen name “The True HooHA.” “Society really seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types.”

    In addition to a Justice Department investigation, which has produced criminal charges against Snowden, U.S. intelligence agencies are conducting an extensive inquiry to determine precisely what documents Snowden had access to, what he downloaded and how much damage his actions have caused.

    Jacob Appelbaum, one of the Wikileaks-affiliated hackers who has worked with Laura Poitras in interviewing Snowden, also had a birthday celebration in Hawaii in early April 2012 with 20 friends, so this is likely to raise a lot more questions about the overall timeline of who Snowden was working with.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 16, 2013, 1:33 pm
  11. Unfortunately, it seems that few in the mainstream media have little interest in asking, much less answering, questions about Snowden’s activities. Dave and Joshua Foust are the only people I’ve seen who are putting their energies into asking questions and trying to connect dots.

    Posted by Kathleen | August 16, 2013, 5:34 pm
  12. Julian Assange gave an interview with some right-wing college campus reform group, where he praised Matt Drudge as a media innovator, called himself a “big admirer” of Ron and Rand Paul, and said that Libertarianism is “the only hope” for US electoral politics. Check out the video:

    Julian Assange Praises ‘Innovator’ Matt Drudge, ‘Principled’ Rand Paul
    by Matt Wilstein | 5:43 pm, August 16th, 2013

    Friday morning, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participated in an online chat session hosted by Campus Reform, in which he offered up some special praise for conservatives Matt Drudge and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Assange applauded The Drudge Report for disrupting the “self-censorship of the establishment press” and held up Paul as one of the most “principled” members of the U.S. Congress.

    Responding to questions from Campus Reform editor-in-chief Josiah Ryan, Assange began by calling Drudge a “news media innovator” who has been on the rise since the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “It is as a result of the self-censorship of the establishment press in the United States that gave Matt Drudge such a platform,” Assange said, “and so of course he should be applauded for breaking a lot of that censorship.”

    He also noted that social media has supplanted much of what Drudge is known for, which he described as “collecting interesting rumors that looked like they might be true and publishing them.” Assange said he only agrees with “some” of Drudge’s political opinions.

    “I am a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul for their very principled positions in the U.S. Congress on a number of issues,” Assange said, saying they have been some of his “strongest supporters” when it comes to attacks on WikiLeaks. He called the position of the “libertarian Republican right” an “interesting phenomenon.” He pointed out that they principle of “non-violence” could include being against both drone warfare and abortion.

    Watch video below, via Campus Reform:
    [see video]

    The longer video of the interview is available here.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 17, 2013, 3:09 pm
  13. @Pterrafractyl–

    It comes as no surprise that Citizen Assange would be part of the “Paulistinian Libertarian Organization.”

    Amazing to watch all these so-called progressives lining up behind this piece of garbage–Assange, that is.

    The whole of Snowden’s Ride, as I call it, is a goodamn Underground Reich/Nazi psy-op!

    How depressing to watch all of these progressive lint heads getting co-opted.

    Not really all that surprising, but depressing nonetheless.

    Keep up the great work!



    Posted by Dave Emory | August 17, 2013, 4:22 pm
  14. It sounds like this “administrative error” might end up unseating a Green Party Senator that was also Assange’s biggest supporter in the Australian Senate:

    WikiLeaks Party’s ‘administrative errors’ incense Greens
    Bernard Keane | Aug 19, 2013 11:59AM

    A decision by the WikiLeaks Party to direct preferences away from Julian Assange’s strongest political supporter has incensed supporters. They should have known better.

    The fledgling WikiLeaks Party has inflicted major damage on itself after a disastrous preference allocation that saw it preferencing far-right parties, apologising for an “administrative error” and preferencing the WA Nationals ahead of Julian Assange’s strongest political supporter, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

    The Senate preference allocations revealed yesterday showed, in New South Wales, WikiLeaks had preferenced the right-wing Shooters and Fishers Party and the extreme-right Australia First Party, run by convicted criminal and former neo-Nazi Jim Saleam, ahead of the Greens and the major parties. Australia First wants to end all immigration and to restore the death penalty.

    Soon after the release of the preferences and a firestorm of criticism erupted on social media, the party issued a statement on its Facebook page blaming the preferencing on “some administrative errors”.

    The “error”, the exact nature of which remains unexplained, appears to have particularly incensed progressive voters who had assumed WikiLeaks would be a left-wing, Greens-style party. However, Julian Assange has already criticised the Greens’ totemic asylum seeker policy as “simplistic and foolish” during the campaign and backed offshore processing, while criticising both the major parties on the issue. On the weekend, Assange said he admired US libertarian Republicans Ron and Rand Paul, though he expressed concern about their position on issues like abortion. Swapping preferences with minor parties of very different orientations is also standard practice for all parties. One party source told Crikey the “administrative error” in NSW was quite intentional and aimed at the Greens.

    However, the fury over the party’s decision to preference the Nationals ahead of the Greens in Western Australia is unrelated to ideology: the decision reduces the chances of the Greens’ Scott Ludlam, who faces a challenge to hang onto his Senate spot, being re-elected.

    Ludlam has been Assange’s strongest supporter inside federal Parliament, hounding the government over its lack of support for him and its dealings with the US over its campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks. Ludlam travelled to Europe at his own expense in 2011 to talk to Swedish authorities and Australian officials in the UK about the case.

    The decision to preference the Nationals’ David Wirrpanda ahead of Ludlam, strengthening the chances of the Nationals snaring the sixth Senate spot ahead of the Greens, is thus an extraordinary betrayal. The party’s WA Volunteer Coordinator, journalist and former political staffer Natalie Banks, announced her resignation after the allocation was revealed.

    According to the party’s campaign director Greg Barns, the decision to preference the Nationals ahead of the Greens was made by the party’s main Senate candidate in Western Australia, Gerry Georgatos. Georgatos is an investigative journalist and former Greens member who broke with the party and sought to establish a party called “the Real Greens” in 2009.

    Georgatos told Crikey he understood the Australian political landscape and had his “finger on the pulse”: “I’m a conviction politician and we haven’t done any deals for preferences. It’s all merit-based. Scott Ludlam will get all these votes. Wirrpanda won’t get any more than 3-4%.”

    Ludlam, Georgatos claimed, was a “shoo-in” for the sixth spot and might even get the fifth Senate spot; it was, he said, “disingenuous” and “bullshit” to suggest Wirrpanda – a “good human being” – was a serious threat to Ludlam. “He’s our effective first preference. The work he’s done with Julian Assange is to be commended. All power to him,” he said.

    Georgatos’s confidence in Ludlam’s chances is shared by precisely no one else either within the Greens or elsewhere; Antony Green has explained in detail why the Nationals are a serious contender for a fourth conservative Senate spot in the west. If it’s the Nationals, the WikiLeaks Party will have helped drive from the Senate the Australian politician who has done more for Assange than any other.

    Ludlam himself sees the preferencing decisions as clearly hostile, but he’s getting on with his “day job” of campaigning. “We’ve all got jobs to do,” he said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 18, 2013, 7:13 pm
  15. @Pterrafractyl–

    Still more evidence of the fascist nature of WikiLeaks.

    Truly, the Cyber-Wandervogel in action.

    I wonder if that organization’s supporters will ever learn.

    Assange is such a prick, and more than a little obvious, when one takes the time to check him out.

    Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde is living in Germany and had begun PB while in the employ of Siemens (inextricably linked with German intelligence).

    PB a major supporter of WL.

    Note that WikiLeaks’ Aussie supporters expected a Green Party to be “left.” Such an analysis fails to take into account the Bruderschaft/SS/Nazi roots of the original Green Party in Germany.

    See FTR #’s 628, 629.



    Keep up the good work!


    Posted by Dave Emory | August 18, 2013, 8:00 pm
  16. Ouch, it looks like the WikiLeaks Party’s internal review of the process that led to the endorsement of far-right candidates over the Greens will, itself, be delayed until after the election and not be independent. That hasn’t gone over well with some of the party members:

    Leslie Cannold quits as WikiLeaks party candidate

    Victoria Senate candidate resigns after party lodged preferences placing rightwingers over Greens

    Gabrielle Chan, political correspondent
    theguardian.com, Wednesday 21 August 2013 04.10 EDT

    The WikiLeaks party’s number two Victoria Senate candidate, Leslie Cannold, has resigned amid a storm over the party’s preferences, which favoured rightwing extremists ahead of the Greens.

    Cannold’s decision came as Julian Assange’s party declared it would issue a how-to-vote card to its supporters to override the lodged preferences.

    The party also announced an independent review into the communications and decision-making process around preferences, though it has claimed it was an “administrative error”.

    Cannold said she discovered the review, promised immediately, would be delayed until after the election and would not be independent. She said it reflected problems with the “capacity of the party”.

    “This is the final straw,” Cannold said.

    “As long as I believed there was a chance that democracy, transparency and accountability could prevail in the party I was willing to stay on and fight for it.

    “But where a party member makes a bid to subvert the party’s own processes, asking others to join in a secret, alternative power centre that subverts the properly constituted one, nothing makes sense any more. This is an unacceptable mode of operation for any organisation but even more so for an organisation explicitly committed to democracy, transparency and accountability.

    “Even if I stop campaigning this minute, remaining in my role implicitly invites voters to trust the WikiLeaks party. By staying in this role I am implicitly vouching for the worthiness of this party to receive the votes of the Australian people. I can no longer do this because I no longer believe it is true, and so I must resign.”

    Earlier in the day, WikiLeaks had promised a how-to-vote card but for for it to take effect, it would require WikiLeaks voters to number every box below the line.

    WikiLeaks released part of an email on Wednesday to try to stem the damage of the preference storm, which broke at the weekend after the close of lodgement of party preferences with the Australian Electoral Commission.

    WikiLeaks said it was in discussions with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) over the preferences. However, an AEC spokesman, Phil Diak, said the commission was bound by the deadline.

    “The deadline for lodgement group voting tickets was Saturday midday, 17 August and that is a legislated deadline so AEC has published and lodged group voting tickets.”

    Diak said once the deadline passes, “the basis for the preferences are allocated”.

    The WikiLeaks party (WLP) email suggests in New South Wales the party placed the Greens above Family First, Shooters and Fishers and and Christian Right. In Western Australia, the email says: “WLP puts Greens first of major parties and above Christian Right and Shooters.”

    But the group voting ticket actually lodged had preferences going to parties including the rightwing nationalist Australia First and the Shooters and Fishers ahead of the Greens on its NSW Senate ticket.

    Ludlam said he had spoken at many forums with Christine Assange and appreciated her support. He said the independent review into the WikiLeaks preferences and the how-to-vote cards was “better than nothing”, even though many found it onerous to fill out every box on the Senate paper.

    Also, regarding the assertion that it was merely an “administrative error” that somehow happened at the last minute, Scott Ludlam – the Green senator and long-time Assange supporter betrayed by this move – says that the Greens were told well before the final decision that the WikiLeaks Party was planning on supporting the far-right over the Greens. That might be an error in judgment, but it’s a bit of a stretch to call that an “administrative error”:

    Greens slam WikiLeaks Party’s ‘hostile’ voting preferences

    Summary: Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam has slammed the decision of the WikiLeaks Party to preference Nationals Senate candidates over the Greens in Western Australia.
    By Josh Taylor | August 19, 2013 — 07:22 GMT (00:22 PDT)

    After defending the actions of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange in parliament, a decision by the WikiLeaks Party to preference WA Nationals Senate candidates over sitting Western Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam could cost the senator his seat in the parliament.

    Ludlam, who has been one of the most vocal parliamentarians on the importance of WikiLeaks and the rise of the surveillance state, faces a difficult re-election contest for his Senate spot in Western Australia. He told ZDNet that the last WA slot in the Senate will come down to either a Nationals or Greens candidate.

    Australia’s compulsory preferential voting system ensures that every vote cast ultimately ends up for a particular candidate who is voted in. This means that a vote for a candidate who doesn’t meet the required quota to be elected is transferred to the next preferred candidate. In voting for Senate candidates, a person can decide to vote for a particular party rather than a particular order of candidates, in which case the allocation of voting preferences from that vote is determined by the party.

    Alternatively, a voter can number all of their candidate preferences individually, but, as this election’s Senate ballot in New South Wales shows, it can be more time consuming and prone to error, with 110 candidates up for election in that state.

    The Senate group voting tickets released yesterday indicate how those preferences will flow if a voter does choose to vote for a party. It revealed that in Western Australia, the newly formed WikiLeaks party has preferenced the conservative-leaning Nationals above the progressive Greens candidates, including Ludlam.

    Ludlam said that the Greens position in WA is on a knife’s edge, and WikiLeaks did not help the situation.

    “It’s pretty poor. It’s an unexpected and hostile decision which I can’t pretend to understand,” Ludlam said. “What we do know is that the last Senate spot is likely to come down to the Greens or the Nationals, so to have WikiLeaks preference that way is profoundly unhelpful.”

    WikiLeaks has not commented on the situation in WA, but a similar preferencing arrangement in NSW that sees the extreme right-wing parties of The Shooters & Fishers and Australia First preferenced above the Greens was labelled as an “administrative error” by the WikiLeaks Party yesterday. Ludlam said that the Greens had known the WikiLeaks Party was planning to preference that way last week.

    “There’s no administrative error. One of our guys was told last week well before this decision got locked away that that was what they were going to do,” Ludlam said.

    Ludlam said that if he fails to get back in, the other Greens senators will be there to ensure that either the Labor or Coalition government is held to account.

    “I think it has been mischaracterised, as I’m the only one in parliament who cares about or works on these issues, but we’ve got a strong Greens team who will continue to take on these issues no matter what. I’m hoping that I’m part of it, but even if I’m not, we’ll continue to do that work,” he said.

    If the Coalition wins, and controls both houses of parliament, Ludlam warned that the ability of the Senate Estimates committees and parliamentary committees to do oversight work would be reduced.

    “A lot of the accountability mechanisms we’ve been able to put to good effect in the last few years [will] get closed down,” he said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 21, 2013, 2:17 pm
  17. The Wikileaks Party’s claims that the far-right endorsements were an “administrative error” have now been refuted by one of the party’s own Senate candidates:

    Wikileaks Party Senate candidate: NSW preferences a “poor judgement call”, not admin error

    By Terence Huynh on August 26, 2013

    Gerry Georgatos, the number one Senate candidate for the Wikileaks Party in Western Australia, has said that the Wikileaks Party’s New South Wales preferences fiasco was a “poor judgement call” and not an administrative error.

    “It was not an administrative error, it was a poor judgement call. I’m not [going to come out] here and bullshit the audience,” he told the Indymedia programme (24 minutes into the programme) on Perth’s RTR yesterday. His statement appears to contradicts the official position given by the Wikileaks Party that the preferences were an “administrative error”.

    In New South Wales, the Wikileaks Party preferenced the Shooters and Fishers and far-right Australia First party above the Greens – in direct contradiction to the decisions made by the National Council. The fiasco, in addition to the Western Australian preferences, saw Leslie Cannold, four National Council members and several volunteers left the party.

    In response to those leaving the party, Georgatos said that he has contacted them to get them back and said that the party should not be “held hostage to their mistakes” and be “above these things”.

    “If we blow this opportunity away – what’s everybody want, to blow the opportunity of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Wikileaks senators into the Senate? This is madness,” Georgatos told the programme. He also told the programme that he was disappointed by the move but did not leave the party.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 28, 2013, 10:55 am
  18. Jacob Appelbaum’s apartment in Berlin appears to have been broken into and his computer was turned off and on. Appelbaum speculated that this was the US government’s way of saying “we’re watching you”. Sounds very possible:

    Snowden ally Applebaum says his Berlin apartment subject to raids
    Published time: December 21, 2013 19:44

    Jacob Appelbaum, a Berlin-based US journalist with access to some of Edward Snowden’s documents, claims there have been a series of raids on his apartment, saying he suspects possible US involvement.

    In an interview with “Berliner Zeitung” published on Saturday he described strange scenarios which have been haunting him. “When I flew away for an appointment, I installed four alarm systems in my apartment,” Appelbaum said.

    “When I returned, three of them had been turned off. The fourth, however, had registered that somebody was in my flat – although I’m the only one with a key. Some of my effects – the positions of which I carefully note – were indeed askew. My computers had been turned on and off,” he added.

    “The monitoring pressure has ultimately destroyed my relationship with my girlfriend,” he mourned. The internet activist, journalist and cybersecurity specialist is a core member of the Tor encrypted network and has well-documented ties to WikiLeaks.

    dHis decision to move to Berlin was made because he considered Germany to have better privacy protection, and because he felt unsafe in the US after repeated detentions at American airports following his trips abroad.

    However, he suspects that he remains the subject of investigation. “When one begins to keep a register, then the growing frequency falls on you,” he told the paper.

    “On 10 October, for example, there were two women trying to get into my apartment. They pretended that the property management had given them a key to enter because they wanted to rent the apartment. I called the property management – they knew nothing about it and had not issued a key”

    Appelbaum believes that the intention behind the incidents is to make him feel uncomfortable – so that he knows they “care” about him “while leaving no possible evidence.”

    Appelbaum is one of the few people with access to some of the data obtained by Snowden. Since June, Snowden has been releasing scandalous information about the extent of NSA surveillance practices, and in August in Berlin, Appelbaum read out Snowden’s acceptance speech when he received the Whistleblower Prize from a group of NGOs.

    He has been no stranger to problems with the law, having been detained by US Customs multiple times and has had cell phones and laptops seized and searched. His affiliation with hacking collectives and WikiLeaks has made him a frequent target of federal probes, often without any real repercussions.

    Appelbaum could easily be correct when he speculates that the US government is tracking him and maybe even breaking into his apartment. At least, it’s a pretty reasonably assumption that the US and UK would be very interested in what’s sitting on Appelbaum’s computers given that he’s one of the few people has access to some of the Snowden documents and we still don’t know who has Snowden’s “Dead Man’s Switch”. And who knows just how interested the BND might be in getting their hands on those documents (assuming Appelbaum hasn’t already handed them over to the BND…just imagine how many hackers in Berlin are getting courted by the BND and other intelligence agencies these days).

    But, like the theft of Greenwald’s laptop shortly after the Snowden affair began, Appelbaum claims also raise the interesting question of just how many other governments and private groups around the globe might be interested in what’s sitting on their computers? The whole world knows these guys have A LOT of secret information, but nobody really knows what all is sitting in there. That makes it a pretty tempting treasure trove for a wide variety of parties. So, obviously, governments would be curious about what’s on Appelbaum’s computers and might be tempted to either access his computer or at least send a “we’re watching you” message if they’re fearing what could be released. But what private interest groups might also be willing to risk a break to get a peak at Appelbaum’s computers? For instance, how much criminal hacking is done by the mob nowadays and how much money could you make with information about the NSA’s backdoors? Could competent hackers hack with impunity if they had the NSA’s “blueprint”? In other words, Appelbaum is probably right to be paranoid about the governments spying on him but he might need to be worried about more than just governments at this point all things considered.

    Fortunately for Appelbaum, if he has to live off the grid and anonymously to stay safe he’s probably pretty good at it by now:

    Rolling Stone
    The American Wikileaks Hacker
    Jacob Appelbaum fights repressive regimes around the world – including his own.

    By Nathaniel Rich
    December 1, 2010 6:34 PM ET

    On July 29th, returning from a trip to Europe, Jacob Appelbaum, a lanky, unassuming 27-year-old wearing a black T-shirt with the slogan “Be the trouble you want to see in the world,” was detained at customs by a posse of federal agents. In an interrogation room at Newark Liberty airport, he was grilled about his role in Wikileaks, the whistle-blower group that has exposed the government’s most closely guarded intelligence reports about the war in Afghanistan. The agents photocopied his receipts, seized three of his cellphones — he owns more than a dozen — and confiscated his computer. They informed him that he was under government surveillance. They questioned him about the trove of 91,000 classified military documents that Wikileaks had released the week before, a leak that Vietnam-era activist Daniel Ellsberg called “the largest unauthorized disclosure since the Pentagon Papers.” They demanded to know where Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was hiding. They pressed him on his opinions about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Appelbaum refused to answer. Finally, after three hours, he was released.

    Appelbaum is the only known American member of Wikileaks and the leading evangelist for the software program that helped make the leak possible. In a sense, he’s a bizarro version of Mark Zuckerberg: If Facebook’s ambition is to “make the world more open and connected,” Appelbaum has dedicated his life to fighting for anonymity and privacy. An anarchist street kid raised by a heroin- addict father, he dropped out of high school, taught himself the intricacies of code and developed a healthy paranoia along the way. “I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is watched all the time,” he says. “I want to be left alone as much as possible. I don’t want a data trail to tell a story that isn’t true.” We have transferred our most intimate and personal information — our bank accounts, e-mails, photographs, phone conversations, medical records — to digital networks, trusting that it’s all locked away in some secret crypt. But Appelbaum knows that this information is not safe. He knows, because he can find it.

    No one has done more to spread the gospel of anonymity than Appelbaum, whose day job is to serve as the public face of the Tor Project, a group that promotes Internet privacy through a software program invented 15 years ago by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He travels the world teaching spooks, political dissidents and human rights activists how to use Tor to prevent some of the world’s most repressive regimes from tracking their movements online. He considers himself a freedom-of-speech absolutist. “The only way we’ll make progress in the human race is if we have dialogue,” he says. “Everyone should honor the United Nations human rights charter that says access to freedom of speech is a universal right. Anonymous communication is a good way for this to happen. Tor is just an implementation that helps spread that idea.”

    In the past year alone, Tor has been downloaded more than 36 million times. A suspected high-level member of the Iranian military used Tor to leak information about Tehran’s censorship apparatus. An exiled Tunisian blogger living in the Netherlands relies on Tor to get past state censors. During the Beijing Olympics, Chinese protesters used Tor to hide their identities from the government.

    The Tor Project has received funding not only from major corporations like Google and activist groups like Human Rights Watch but also from the U.S. military, which sees Tor as an important tool in intelligence work. The Pentagon was not particularly pleased, however, when Tor was used to reveal its secrets. Wikileaks runs on Tor, which helps to preserve the anonymity of its informants. Though Appelbaum is a Tor employee, he volunteers for Wikileaks and works closely with Julian Assange, the group’s founder. “Tor’s importance to Wikileaks cannot be understated,” Assange says. “Jake has been a tireless promoter behind the scenes of our cause.”

    In July, shortly before Wikileaks released the classified Afghanistan war documents, Assange had been scheduled to give the keynote speech at Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE), a major conference held at a hotel in New York. Federal agents were spotted in the audience, presumably waiting for Assange to appear. Yet as the lights darkened in the auditorium, it was not Assange who took the stage but Appelbaum.

    “Hello to all my friends and fans in domestic and international surveillance,” Appelbaum began. “I am here today because I believe we can make a better world. Julian, unfortunately, can’t make it, because we don’t live in that better world right now, because we haven’t yet made it. I wanted to make a little declaration for the federal agents that are standing in the back of the room and the ones that are standing in the front of the room, and to be very clear about this: I have, on me, in my pocket, some money, the Bill of Rights and a driver’s license, and that’s it. I have no computer system, I have no telephone, I have no keys, no access to anything. There’s absolutely no reason that you should arrest me or bother me. And just in case you were wondering, I’m an American, born and raised, who’s unhappy. I’m unhappy with how things are going.” He paused, interrupted by raucous applause. “To quote from Tron,” he added, “‘I fight for the user.'”

    For the next 75 minutes, Appelbaum spoke about Wikileaks, urging the hackers in the audience to volunteer for the cause. Then the lights went out, and Appelbaum, his black hoodie pulled down over his face, appeared to be escorted out of the auditorium by a group of volunteers. In the lobby, however, the hood was lifted, revealing a young man who was not, in fact, Appelbaum. The real Appelbaum had slipped away backstage and left the hotel through a security door. Two hours later, he was on a flight to Berlin

    By the time Appelbaum returned to America 12 days later and was detained at Newark, newspapers were reporting that the war documents identified dozens of Afghan informants and potential defectors who were cooperating with American troops. (When asked why Wikileaks didn’t redact these documents before releasing them, a spokesman for the organization blamed the sheer volume of information: “I just can’t imagine that someone could go through 76,000 documents.”) Marc Thiessen, a former Bush speechwriter, called the group “a criminal enterprise” and urged the U.S. military to hunt them down like Al Qaeda. Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, said that the soldier who allegedly provided the documents to Wikileaks should be executed.

    Two days later, after speaking at a hackers conference in Las Vegas, Appelbaum was approached by a pair of undercover FBI agents. “We’d like to chat for a few minutes,” one of them said. “We thought you might not want to. But sometimes it’s nice to have a conversation to flesh things out.”

    Appelbaum has been off the grid ever since — avoiding airports, friends, strangers and unsecure locations, traveling through the country by car. He’s spent the past five years of his life working to protect activists around the world from repressive governments. Now he is on the run from his own.

    He explains that we have to take a cab to pick up his mail. Like being a strict vegan or a Mormon, a life of total anonymity requires great sacrifice. You cannot, for instance, have mail delivered to your home. Nor can you list your name in your building’s directory. Appelbaum has all of his mail sent to a private mail drop, where a clerk signs for it. That allows Appelbaum — and the dissidents and hackers he deals with — to use the postal system anonymously. Person One can send a package to Appelbaum, who can repackage it and send it on to Person Two. That way Person One and Person Two never have direct contact — or even learn each other’s identities.

    Tor works in a similar way. When you use the Internet, your computer makes a connection to the Web server you wish to contact. The server recognizes your computer, notes its IP address and sends back the page you’ve requested. It’s not difficult, however, for a government agency or a malicious hacker to observe this whole transaction: They can monitor the server and see who is contacting it, or they can monitor your computer and see whom you’re trying to contact. Tor prevents such online spying by introducing intermediaries between your computer and the system you’re trying to reach. Say, for example, that you live in San Francisco and you want to send an e-mail to your friend, a high-level mole in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. If you e-mail your friend directly, the Guard’s network could easily see your computer’s IP address, and discover your name and personal information. But if you’ve installed Tor, your e-mail gets routed to one of 2,000 relays — computers running Tor — scattered across the world. So your message bounces to a relay in Paris, which forwards it to a second relay in Tokyo, which sends it on to a third relay in Amsterdam, where it is finally transmitted to your friend in Tehran. The Iranian Guard can only see that an e-mail has been sent from Amsterdam. Anyone spying on your computer would only see that you sent an e-mail to someone in Paris. There is no direct connection between San Francisco and Tehran. The content of your e-mail is not hidden — for that, you need encryption technology — but your location is secure.

    Appelbaum spends much of each year leading Tor training sessions around the world, often conducted in secrecy to protect activists whose lives are in danger. Some, like the sex-worker advocates from Southeast Asia he tutored, had limited knowledge of computers. Others, like a group of students Appelbaum trained at a seminar in Qatar, are highly sophisticated: One worked on the government’s censorship network, another works for a national oil company, and a third created an Al-Jazeera message board that allows citizens to post comments anonymously. In Mauritania, the country’s military regime was forced to abandon its efforts to censor the Internet after a dissident named Nasser Weddady wrote a guide to Tor in Arabic and distributed it to opposition groups. “Tor rendered the government’s efforts completely futile,” Weddady says. “They simply didn’t have the know-how to counter that move.”

    In distributing Tor, Appelbaum doesn’t distinguish between good guys and bad guys. “I don’t know the difference between one theocracy or another in Iran,” he says. “What’s important to me is that people have communication free from surveillance. Tor shouldn’t be thought of as subversive. It should be thought of as a necessity. Everyone everywhere should be able to speak and read and form their own beliefs without being monitored. It should get to a point where Tor is not a threat but is relied upon by all levels of society. When that happens, we win.”

    As the public face of an organization devoted to anonymity, Appelbaum finds himself in a precarious position. It is in Tor’s interest to gain as much publicity as possible — the more people who allow their computers to serve as relays, the better. But he also lives in a state of constant vigilance, worried that his enemies — envious hackers, repressive foreign regimes, his own government — are trying to attack him. His compromise is to employ a two-tiered system. He maintains a Twitter account and has posted thousands of photos on Flickr. Yet he takes extensive measures to prevent any private information — phone numbers, e-mail addresses, names of friends — from appearing.

    “There are degrees of privacy,” he says. “The normal thing nowadays is to conspicuously report on one another in a way that the Stasi couldn’t even dream of. I don’t do that. I do not enter my home address into any computer. I pay rent in cash. For every online account, I generate random passwords and create new e-mail addresses. I never write checks, because they’re insecure — your routing number and account number are all that are required to empty your bank account. I don’t understand why anyone still uses checks. Checks are crazy.”

    When he travels, if his laptop is out of his sight for any period of time, he destroys it and then throws it away; the concern is that someone might have bugged it. He is often driven to extreme measures to get copies of Tor through customs in foreign countries. “I studied what drug smugglers do,” he says. “I wanted to beat them at their own game.” He shows me a nickel. Then he slams it on the floor of his apartment. It pops open. Inside there is a tiny eight- gigabyte microSD memory card. It holds a copy of Tor.

    As fast as Tor has grown, government surveillance of the Internet has expanded even more rapidly. “It’s unbelievable how much power someone has if they have unfettered access to Google’s databases,” Appelbaum says.

    As he is quick to point out, oppressive foreign regimes are only part of the problem. In the past few years, the U.S. government has been quietly accumulating libraries of data on its own citizens. Law enforcement can subpoena your Internet provider for your name, address and phone records. With a court order, they can request the e-mail addresses of anyone with whom you communicate and the websites you visit. Your cellphone provider can track your location at all times.

    “It’s not just the state,” says Appelbaum. “If it wanted to, Google could overthrow any country in the world. Google has enough dirt to destroy every marriage in America.”

    But doesn’t Google provide funding for Tor?

    “I love Google,” he says. “And I love the people there. Sergey Brin and Larry Page are cool. But I’m terrified of the next generation that takes over. A benevolent dictatorship is still a dictatorship. At some point people are going to realize that Google has everything on everyone. Most of all, they can see what questions you’re asking, in real time. Quite literally, they can read your mind.”

    Now, in the wake of the Wikileaks controversy, Appelbaum has gone underground, concealing his whereabouts from even his closest friends. He suspects his phones are tapped and that he’s being followed. A week after being questioned in Newark, he calls me from an undisclosed location, my request to contact him having been passed along through a series of intermediaries. The irony of his situation isn’t lost on him.

    “I’ll be using Tor a lot more than I ever did — and I used it a lot,” he says, his voice uncharacteristically sober. “I have become one of the people I have spent the last several years of my life protecting. I better take my own advice.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2013, 8:38 pm
  19. Julian Assange was recently asked a rather bizarre question at the Chaos Computer Club conference: “What was the most difficult part on getting Snowden out of the U.S.?” It was a question from the internet and it appears that Sarah Harrison chose to ask it (she was at least the person reading the question to Assange). Given the Snowden timeline and the role Harrison and WikiLeaks have played since Snowden’s time in Hong Kong, it was an odd choice for Harrison because there’s never been any indication that Snowden required any help to leave Hawaii. But when you listen to the answer Assange starts giving before the video feed suddenly cuts off (it was the final question of the forum) it becomes pretty clear that someone should probably ask Assange that question again:

    Business Insider
    Julian Assange Gave A Very Peculiar Response When He Was Asked About ‘Getting Snowden Out Of The US’

    Michael Kelley

    Jan. 4, 2014, 2:32 PM

    A strange exchange occurred when members of the renegade publishing organization WikiLeaks were asked about the flight of Edward Snowden at a Chaos Computer Club conference last week.

    WikiLeaks has been credited with helping Snowden escape extradition to the U.S. after the 30-year-old left Hawaii with at least hundreds of thousands of classified NSA files and flew to Hong Kong on May 20.

    At the CCC conference on Dec. 29, Assange said that “WikiLeaks was able to rescue Edward Snowden because we are an organized institution with collective experience.”

    Top WikiLeaks adviser Sarah Harrison, who met Snowden in Hong Kong and accompanied him to Moscow, then answered the last question coming from the Internet:

    “What was the most difficult part on getting Snowden out of the U.S.?”

    Assange, Harrison and “American WikiLeaks Hacker” Jacob Appelbaum all laughed, and then Appelbaum said: “That’s quite a loaded question.”

    Assange then said: “Yeah, that’s interesting to think whether we can actually answer that question at all. I’ll give a variant of the answer because of the legal situation it is a little bit difficult.”

    That is a very peculiar (and seemingly natural) collective response. Most people have not considered that WikiLeaks may have become involved with Snowden before June 12, when the former CIA technician contacted the organization after outing himself.

    So the “loaded” question could have easily been pointed out as unsound, and Assange could have denied that WikiLeaks contacted Snowden before he reached out from China.

    Instead, the 42-year-old Australian questioned whether it could be answered at all.

    That’s not to say that the exchange proves that WikiLeaks abetted Snowden’s theft and getaway. But it is concerning given WikiLeaks’ closeness to the Kremlin and the fact that the two journalists who received documents from Snowden in Hong Kong (Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald) both sit on the board of a foundation launched to crowd-source funding for WikiLeaks.

    And Appelbaum, a close friend of Poitras and the lead author of at least one Der Spiegel story citing the Snowden leaks, gave a presentation at the conference using never-before-seen NSA slides.

    Who knows how to interpret Appelbaum’s and Assange’s response to the question but it’s the kind of incident that isn’t going to help make the suspicions about Appelbaum’s April 2013 trip to Hawaii or the possibility of an earlier Snowden/WikiLeaks collaboration go away.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 13, 2014, 6:56 pm
  20. Well, this should add to the debate over whether Wikileaks intentionally tried to get Snowden to Russia: Assange himself admitted in an interview last December that he specifically advised to Snowden that Russia would be the safest place to stay:

    Business Insider
    Julian Assange’s ‘Ghostwriter’ Eviscerates The WikiLeaks Founder In Crushing Tell-All
    Michael Kelley

    Feb. 23, 2014, 5:59 PM

    In January 2011, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange chose Scottish novelist and non-fiction author Andrew O’Hagan to ‘ghostwrite’ his autobiography/manifesto.

    The project failed spectacularly over the next five months.

    O’Hagan, an Editor at Large of Esquire, has now written a 25,000-word lambasting in the London Review of Books, in which he describes the 42-year-old Australian as “thin-skinned, conspiratorial, untruthful, [and] narcissistic.”

    O’Hagan, who is actually quite sympathetic to Assange, spent months around the publisher and his entourage.

    The account, which seems genuine, is devastating to popular notions of Assange as a hero of transparency who has been persecuted by the governments that he holds into account.

    During O’Hagan’s last visits with Assange, they spoke about Edward Snowden. Assange had sent his personal assistant and girlfriend, Sarah Harrison, to advise the 30-year-old leaker sometime after he outed himself in Hong Kong on June 10.

    Assange, who O’Hagan notes has chatted with Snowden, considers the NSA fugitive the ninth best hacker in the world (while he considers himself to be No.3).

    Harrison accompanied Snowden on June 23 when he flew from Hong Kong to Moscow, where Snowden was promptly stranded. Harrison, who O’Hagan describes as “strung between loving [Assange] and being baffled,” stayed with Snowden for more than four months before going to Berlin.

    Assange told Janet Reitman of Rolling Stone that he advised Snowden that the former CIA technician “would be physically safest in Russia.” And that’s where Snowden remains for the foreseeable future.

    “Snowden was now the central hub and Julian was keen to help him and keen to be seen to be helping him,” O’Hagan writes. “It’s how the ego works and the ego always comes first.”

    Here’s more of what Assange said during the Rolling Stone interview:

    Greenwald has a complicated relationship with WikiLeaks and Assange, whom he considers an ally, though given Assange’s controversial reputation in the United States, he admits that “Julian stepping forward and being the face of the story wasn’t great for Snowden.” But he credits Assange with having helped save Snowden from almost certain extradition to the U.S. Snowden, however, never wanted to go to Russia, which Assange acknowledges. “Snowden believed that in order to most effectively push for reform in the U.S., Latin America would be the better option,” Assange tells me. “He did not want to invite a political attack that he’d ‘defected.'”

    Assange, however, disagrees. “While Venezuela and Ecuador could protect him in the short term, over the long term there could be a change in government. In Russia, he’s safe, he’s well-regarded, and that is not likely to change. That was my advice to Snowden, that he would be physically safest in Russia.” Assange also claims that Snowden has proved “you can blow the whistle about national security and not only survive, but thrive.”

    It’s possible that this advice was given to Snowden after he was stranded in Russia, but this bit of info certainly suggests that Russia was, at least from Wikileaks’s perspective, the preferred final destination.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 27, 2014, 3:03 pm

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