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For The Record  

FTR #1079 Surveillance Valley, Part 5: Double Agents (Foxes Guarding the Online Privacy Henhouse, Part 2)

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing with our exam­i­na­tion of Yasha Levine’s sem­i­nal vol­ume Sur­veil­lance Val­ley, we con­tin­ue our analy­sis of the indi­vid­u­als, insti­tu­tions and tech­nolo­gies cen­tral to the so-called “online pri­va­cy” effort. The Tor Project, the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and its Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund and Jacob Appel­baum are all the oppo­site of what they have been rep­re­sent­ed as being.

We begin with infor­ma­tion over­lapped from our last pro­gram, high­light­ing how Jacob Appel­baum and the Tor net­work hooked up with Wik­iLeaks.

In FTR #‘s 724, 725, 732, 745, 755 and 917,  we have detailed the fas­cist and far right-wing ide­ol­o­gy, asso­ci­a­tions and pol­i­tics of Julian Assange and Wik­iLeaks.

Tor, Appel­baum, Assange and Wik­iLeaks:

  1. Became increas­ing­ly inter­twined, enjoy­ing acco­lades from many, appar­ent­ly unsus­pect­ing, groups: ” . . . .  His [Appel­baum’s] asso­ci­a­tion with Wik­iLeaks and Assange boost­ed the Tor Pro­jec­t’s pub­lic pro­file and rad­i­cal cre­den­tials. Sup­port and acco­lades poured in from jour­nal­ists, pri­va­cy orga­ni­za­tions, and gov­ern­ment watch­dogs. The Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union part­nered with Appel­baum on an Inter­net pri­va­cy project, and New York’s Whit­ney Museum—one of the lead­ing mod­ern art muse­ums in the world—invited him for a ‘Sur­veil­lance Teach-In.’ The Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion gave Tor its Pio­neer Award, and Roger Din­gle­dine made in on For­eign Pol­i­cy mag­a­zine’s Top 100 Glob­al Thinkers for pro­tect­ing ‘any­one and every­one from the dan­gers of Big Broth­er.’ . . . .”
  2.  Dif­fered fun­da­men­tal­ly from the accept­ed text: ” . . . . With Julian Assange endors­ing Tor, reporters assumed that the US gov­ern­ment saw the anonymi­ty non­prof­it as a threat. But inter­nal doc­u­ments obtained through FOIA from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, as well as analy­sis of Tor’s gov­ern­ment con­tracts paint a dif­fer­ent pic­ture. They reveal that Appel­baum and Din­gle­dine worked with Assange on secur­ing Wik­iLeaks with Tor since late 2008 and that they kept their han­dlers at the BBG informed about their rela­tion­ship and even pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion about the inner work­ings of Wik­iLeak­s’s secure sub­mis­sion sys­tem. . . .”
  3. Did not adverse­ly affect the gov­ern­ment fund­ing of Tor at all, as might be expect­ed by the super­fi­cial appar­ent real­i­ty of the sit­u­a­tion: ” . . . . Per­haps most telling was that sup­port from the BBG [read “CIA”–D.E.] con­tin­ued even after Wik­iLeaks began pub­lish­ing clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion and Appel­baum became the tar­get of a larg­er Depart­ment of Jus­tice inves­ti­ga­tion into Wik­iLeaks. For exam­ple, on July 31, 2010, CNET report­ed that Appel­baum had been detained at the Las Vegas air­port and ques­tioned about his rela­tion­ship with Wik­iLeaks. News of the deten­tion made head­lines around the world, once again high­light­ing Appel­baum’s close ties to Julian Assange. And a week lat­er, Tor’s exec­u­tive direc­tor Andrew Lew­man, clear­ly wor­ried that this might affect Tor’s fund­ing, emailed Ken Berman at the BBG in the hopes of smooth­ing things over and answer­ing ‘any ques­tions you may have about the recent press regard­ing Jake and Wik­iLeaks.’ But Lew­man was in for a pleas­ant sur­prise: Roger Din­gle­dine had been keep­ing folks at the BBG in the loop, and every­thing seemed to be okay. ‘Great stuff, thx. Roger answered a num­ber of ques­tions when he met us this week in DC,’ Berman replied. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . In 2011 con­tracts came in with­out a hitch–$150,000 from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and $227,118 from the State Depart­ment. Tor was even able to snag a big chunk of mon­ey from the Pen­ta­gon: a new $503,706 annu­al con­tract from the Space and Naval War­fare Sys­tems Com­mand, an elite infor­ma­tion and intel­li­gence unit that hous­es a top-secret cyber-war­fare divi­sion.The Navy was passed through SRI, the old Stan­ford mil­i­tary con­trac­tor that had done coun­terin­sur­gency, net­work­ing, and chem­i­cal weapons work for ARPA back in the 1960s and 1970s. The funds were part of a larg­er Navy ‘Com­mand, Con­trol, Com­munca­tions, Com­put­ers, Intel­li­gence, Sur­veil­lance, and Recon­nais­sance’ pro­gram to improve mil­i­tary oper­a­tions. A year lat­er, Tor would see its gov­ern­ment con­tracts more than dou­ble to $2.2 mil­lion: $353,000 from the State Depart­ment, $876,099 from the US Navy, and $937,800 from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. . . .”

In this con­text, we recall some ear­li­er obser­va­tions about Wik­iLeaks. John Young, one of Wik­iLeaks’ founders turned crit­ic of the orga­ni­za­tion har­bors deep sus­pi­cions con­cern­ing the group. ” . . . 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. And they’re usu­al­ly pret­ty elab­o­rate and pret­ty care­ful­ly run. They’ll even pros­e­cute peo­ple as part of the cov­er sto­ry. That actu­al­ly was talked about at (Sunday’s) pan­el. They’ll try to con­ceal who was inform­ing and betray­ing oth­ers by pre­tend­ing to pros­e­cute them. . . .” The Tor/Appelbaum/BBG (read “CIA”)/WikiLeaks nexus may very well be proof of Young’s sus­pi­cions.

Appel­baum, Wik­iLeaks and Tor became fun­da­men­tal to the oper­a­tions of Eddie “The Friend­ly Spook” Snow­den. In past dis­cus­sion, we have not­ed that in the sum­mer of 2009, when Snow­den made his deci­sion to dis­close the NSA doc­u­ments, he was work­ing for the very same CIA from which the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and its Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund were derived. Jacob Appel­baum was fund­ed by BBG, as was Tor. ” . . . . From the start, the Tor Project stood at the cen­ter of Snow­den’s sto­ry. The leak­er’s endorse­ment and pro­mo­tion intro­duced the project to a glob­al audi­ence, boost­ing Tor’s world­wide user base from one mil­lion to six mil­lion almost overnight and inject­ing it into the heart of a bur­geon­ing pri­va­cy move­ment. In Rus­sia, where the BBG and Din­gle­dine had tried but failed to recruit activists for their Tor deploy­ment plan, use of the soft­ware increased from twen­ty thou­sand dai­ly con­nec­tions to some­where around two hun­dred thou­sand.

“Dur­ing a pro­mo­tion­al cam­paign for the Tor Project, Snow­den said: ‘With­out Tor, the streets of the Inter­net become like the streets of a very heav­i­ly sur­veilled city. There are sur­veil­lance cam­eras every­where, and if the adver­sary sim­ply takes enough time, they can fol­low the tapes back and see every­thing you’ve done. With Tor, we have pri­vate spaces and pri­vate lives, where we can choose who we want to asso­ciate with and how, with­out the fear of what that is going to look like if it is abused. The design of the Tor sys­tem is struc­tured in such a way that even if the US Gov­ern­ment want­ed to sub­vert it, it could­n’t.’ Snow­den did­n’t talk about Tor’s con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment fund­ing, nor did he address an appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion: why the US gov­ern­ment would fund a pro­gram that sup­pos­ed­ly lim­it­ed its own pow­er. What­ev­er Snow­den’s pri­vate thought on the mat­ter, his endorse­ment gave Tor the high­est pos­si­ble seal of approval. It was like a Hack­er’s Medal of Val­or. With Snow­den’s back­ing, no one even thought to ques­tion Tor’s rad­i­cal antigov­ern­ment bona fides. . . .”

Next, we review infor­ma­tion about the so-called “Arab Spring.” In FTR #‘s 733 through 739, we pre­sent­ed our view that the so-called Arab Spring was a U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tion, aimed at plac­ing the Broth­er­hood in pow­er in Mus­lim coun­tries dom­i­nat­ed either by a sec­u­lar dic­ta­tor or absolute monar­chy.

Yasha Levine has high­light­ed the role of U.S. tech per­son­nel in train­ing and prep­ping the Arab Spring online activists. As we have not­ed in the past, the so-called Arab Spring might have been bet­ter thought of as “The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Spring,” as the neo-lib­er­al, pri­va­ti­za­tion ide­ol­o­gy of Broth­er­hood eco­nom­ic icon Ibn Khal­dun was fun­da­men­tal to the oper­a­tion.

The eco­nom­ic goals of the Arab Spring “op” were reviewed in, among oth­er pro­grams, FTR #‘s 1025 and 1026.

Recall while read­ing the fol­low­ing excerpts of this remark­able and impor­tant book, that:

  1. The Tor net­work was devel­oped by, and used and com­pro­mised by, ele­ments of U.S. intel­li­gence.
  2. One of the pri­ma­ry advo­cates and spon­sors of the Tor net­work is the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. As we saw in FTR #‘s 891, 895, is an exten­sion of the CIA.
  3. Jacob Appel­baum has been financed by the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, advo­cates use of the Tor net­work, has helped Wik­iLeaks with its exten­sive use of the Tor net­work, and is an ide­o­log­i­cal acolyte of Ayn Rand.

The Arab Spring pro­vid­ed moti­va­tion for enhanced U.S. fund­ing for Inter­net Free­dom. The Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, like the BBG a CIA “deriv­a­tive,” was at the cen­ter of this: ” . . . . The moti­va­tion for this expan­sion came out of the Arab Spring. The idea was to make sure the US gov­ern­ment would main­tain its tech­no­log­i­cal advan­tage in the cen­sor­ship arms race that began in the ear­ly 2000s, but the funds were also going into devel­op­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of tools aimed at lever­ag­ing the pow­er of the Inter­net to help for­eign oppo­si­tion activists orga­nize into cohe­sive polit­i­cal move­ments. The BBG’s $25.5 mil­lion cut of the cash more than dou­bled the agen­cy’s anti­cen­sor­ship tech­nol­o­gy bud­get from the pre­vi­ous year, and the BBG fun­neled the mon­ey into the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, a new orga­ni­za­tion it had cre­at­ed with­in Radio Free Asia to fund Inter­net Free­dom tech­nolo­gies in the wake of the Arab Spring. . . .”

The fun­da­men­tal posi­tion of BBG and OTF (read “CIA”) to the so-called online pri­va­cy com­mu­ni­ty was con­cise­ly expressed by Yasha Levine: ” . . . . From behind this hip and con­nect­ed exte­ri­or, BBG and Radio Free Asia built a ver­ti­cal­ly inte­grat­ed incu­ba­tor for Inter­net Free­dom tech­nolo­gies, pour­ing mil­lions into projects big and small, includ­ing every­thing from evad­ing cen­sor­ship to help­ing polit­i­cal orga­niz­ing, protests, and move­ment build­ing. With its deep pock­ets and its recruit­ment of big-name pri­va­cy activists, the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund did­n’t just thrust itself into the pri­va­cy move­ment. In many ways, it WAS the pri­va­cy move­ment. . . .”

1a. Tor, Appel­baum, Assange and Wik­iLeaks:

  1. Became increas­ing­ly inter­twined, enjoy­ing acco­lades from many, appar­ent­ly unsus­pect­ing, groups: ” . . . .  His [Appel­baum’s] asso­ci­a­tion with Wik­iLeaks and Assange boost­ed the Tor Pro­jec­t’s pub­lic pro­file and rad­i­cal cre­den­tials. Sup­port and acco­lades poured in from jour­nal­ists, pri­va­cy orga­ni­za­tions, and gov­ern­ment watch­dogs. The Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union part­nered with Appel­baum on an Inter­net pri­va­cy project, and New York’s Whit­ney Museum—one of the lead­ing mod­ern art muse­ums in the world—invited him for a ‘Sur­veil­lance Teach-In.’ The Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion gave Tor its Pio­neer Award, and Roger Din­gle­dine made in on For­eign Pol­i­cy mag­a­zine’s Top 100 Glob­al Thinkers for pro­tect­ing ‘any­one and every­one from the dan­gers of Big Broth­er.’ . . . .”
  2.  Dif­fered fun­da­men­tal­ly from the accept­ed text: ” . . . . With Julian Assange endors­ing Tor, reporters assumed that the US gov­ern­ment saw the anonymi­ty non­prof­it as a threat. But inter­nal doc­u­ments obtained through FOIA from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, as well as analy­sis of Tor’s gov­ern­ment con­tracts paint a dif­fer­ent pic­ture. They reveal that Appel­baum and Din­gle­dine worked with Assange on secur­ing Wik­iLeaks with Tor since late 2008 and that they kept their han­dlers at the BBG informed about their rela­tion­ship and even pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion about the inner work­ings of Wik­iLeak­s’s secure sub­mis­sion sys­tem. . . .”
  3. Did not adverse­ly affect the gov­ern­ment fund­ing of Tor at all, as might be expect­ed by the super­fi­cial appar­ent real­i­ty of the sit­u­a­tion: ” . . . . Per­haps most telling was that sup­port from the BBG [read “CIA”–D.E.] con­tin­ued even after Wik­iLeaks began pub­lish­ing clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion and Appel­baum became the tar­get of a larg­er Depart­ment of Jus­tice inves­ti­ga­tion into Wik­iLeaks. For exam­ple, on July 31, 2010, CNET report­ed that Appel­baum had been detained at the Las Vegas air­port and ques­tioned about his rela­tion­ship with Wik­iLeaks. News of the deten­tion made head­lines around the world, once again high­light­ing Appel­baum’s close ties to Julian Assange. And a week lat­er, Tor’s exec­u­tive direc­tor Andrew Lew­man, clear­ly wor­ried that this might affect Tor’s fund­ing, emailed Ken Berman at the BBG in the hopes of smooth­ing things over and answer­ing ‘any ques­tions you may have about the recent press regard­ing Jake and Wik­iLeaks.’ But Lew­man was in for a pleas­ant sur­prise: Roger Din­gle­dine had been keep­ing folks at the BBG in the loop, and every­thing seemed to be okay. ‘Great stuff, thx. Roger answered a num­ber of ques­tions when he met us this week in DC,’ Berman replied. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . In 2011 con­tracts came in with­out a hitch–$150,000 from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and $227,118 from the State Depart­ment. Tor was even able to snag a big chunk of mon­ey from the Pen­ta­gon: a new $503,706 annu­al con­tract from the Space and Naval War­fare Sys­tems Com­mand, an elite infor­ma­tion and intel­li­gence unit that hous­es a top-secret cyber-war­fare divi­sion.The Navy was passed through SRI, the old Stan­ford mil­i­tary con­trac­tor that had done coun­terin­sur­gency, net­work­ing, and chem­i­cal weapons work for ARPA back in the 1960s and 1970s. The funds were part of a larg­er Navy ‘Com­mand, Con­trol, Com­munca­tions, Com­put­ers, Intel­li­gence, Sur­veil­lance, and Recon­nais­sance’ pro­gram to improve mil­i­tary oper­a­tions. A year lat­er, Tor would see its gov­ern­ment con­tracts more than dou­ble to $2.2 mil­lion: $353,000 from the State Depart­ment, $876,099 from the US Navy, and $937,800 from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. . . .”

 Sur­veil­lance Val­ley by Yasha Levine; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2018 by Yasha Levine; ISBN 978–1‑61039–802‑2; pp. 245—247.

 . . . . His [Appel­baum’s] asso­ci­a­tion with Wik­iLeaks and Assange boost­ed the Tor Pro­jec­t’s pub­lic pro­file and rad­i­cal cre­den­tials. Sup­port and acco­lades poured in from jour­nal­ists, pri­va­cy orga­ni­za­tions, and gov­ern­ment watch­dogs. The Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union part­nered with Appel­baum on an Inter­net pri­va­cy project, and New York’s Whit­ney Museum—one of the lead­ing mod­ern art muse­ums in the world—invited him for a “Sur­veil­lance Teach-In.” The Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion gave Tor its Pio­neer Award, and Roger Din­gle­dine made in on For­eign Pol­i­cy mag­a­zine’s Top 100 Glob­al Thinkers for pro­tect­ing “any­one and every­one from the dan­gers of Big Broth­er.”

As for Tor’s deep and ongo­ing ties to the U.S. gov­ern­ment? Well, what of them? To any doubters, Jacob Appel­baum was held up as liv­ing, breath­ing proof of the rad­i­cal inde­pen­dence of  the Tor Project. “If the users or devel­op­ers he meets wor­ry that Tor’s gov­ern­ment fund­ing com­pro­mis­es its ideals, there’s no one bet­ter than Apple­baum to show the group does­n’t take orders from the feds.” wrote jour­nal­ist Andy Green­berg in This Machine Kills Secrets, a book about Wik­iLeaks. “Appel­baum’s best evi­dence of Tor’s puri­ty from Big Broth­er’s inter­fer­ence, per­haps, is his very pub­lic asso­ci­a­tion with Wik­iLeaks, the Amer­i­can gov­ern­men­t’s least favorite web­site.

With Julian Assange endors­ing Tor, reporters assumed that the US gov­ern­ment saw the anonymi­ty non­prof­it as a threat. But inter­nal doc­u­ments obtained through FOIA from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, as well as analy­sis of Tor’s gov­ern­ment con­tracts paint a dif­fer­ent pic­ture. They reveal that Appel­baum and Din­gle­dine worked with Assange on secur­ing Wik­iLeaks with Tor since late 2008 and that they kept their han­dlers at the BBG informed about their rela­tion­ship and even pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion about the inner work­ings of Wik­iLeak­s’s secure sub­mis­sion sys­tem.

“Talked to the Wik­iLeaks peo­ple (Daniel and Julian) about their use of Tor hid­den ser­vices, and how we can make things bet­ter for them,” Din­gle­dine wrote in a progress report he sent to the BBG in Jan­u­ary, 2008. “It turns out they use the hid­den ser­vice entire­ly as a way to keep users from screw­ing up—either it works and they know they’re safe or it fails, but either way they don’t reveal what they’re try­ing to leak local­ly. So I’d like to add a new ‘secure ser­vice’ fea­ture that’s just like a hid­den ser­vice but it only makes one hop from the serv­er side rather than three. A more rad­i­cal design would be for the ‘intro point’ to be the serv­er itself, so it real­ly would be like an exit enclave.” In anoth­er progress report sent to the BBG two years lat­er, in Feb­ru­ary 2010, Din­gle­dine wrote, “Jacob and Wik­iLeaks peo­ple met with pol­i­cy­mak­ers in Ice­land to dis­cuss free­dom of speech, free­dom of press, and that online pri­va­cy should be a fun­da­men­tal right.”

No one at the BBG raised any objec­tions. To the con­trary, they appeared to be sup­port­ive. We do not know if any­one at the BBG for­ward­ed this infor­ma­tion to some oth­er gov­ern­ment body, but it would not be hard to imag­ine that infor­ma­tion about Wik­iLeaks’ secu­ri­ty infra­struc­ture and sub­mis­sion sys­tem was of great inter­est to intel­li­gence agen­cies.

Per­haps most telling was that sup­port from the BBG con­tin­ued even after Wik­iLeaks began pub­lish­ing clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion and Appel­baum became the tar­get of a larg­er Depart­ment of Jus­tice inves­ti­ga­tion into Wik­iLeaks. For exam­ple, on July 31, 2010, CNET report­ed that Appel­baum had been detained at the Las Vegas air­port and ques­tioned about his rela­tion­ship with Wik­iLeaks. News of the deten­tion made head­lines around the world, once again high­light­ing Appel­baum’s close ties to Julian Assange. And a week lat­er, Tor’s exec­u­tive direc­tor Andrew Lew­man, clear­ly wor­ried that this might affect Tor’s fund­ing, emailed Ken Berman at the BBG in the hopes of smooth­ing things over and answer­ing “any ques­tions you may have about the recent press regard­ing Jake and Wik­iLeaks.” But Lew­man was in for a pleas­ant sur­prise: Roger Din­gle­dine had been keep­ing folks at the BBG in the loop, and every­thing seemed to be okay. “Great stuff, thx. Roger answered a num­ber of ques­tions when he met us this week in DC,” Berman replied.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Berman did­n’t explain in the email what he and Din­gle­dine dis­cussed about Appel­baum and­Wik­iLeaks dur­ing their meet­ing. What we do know is that Tor’s asso­ci­a­tion with Wik­iLeaks pro­duced no real neg­a­tive impact on tor’s gov­ern­ment con­tracts.

In 2011 con­tracts came in with­out a hitch–$150,000 from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and $227,118 from the State Depart­ment. Tor was even able to snag a big chunk of mon­ey from the Pen­ta­gon: a new $503,706 annu­al con­tract from the Space and Naval War­fare Sys­tems Com­mand, an elite infor­ma­tion and intel­li­gence unit that hous­es a top-secret cyber-war­fare divi­sion.The Navy was passed through SRI, the old Stan­ford mil­i­tary con­trac­tor that had done coun­terin­sur­gency, net­work­ing, and chem­i­cal weapons work for ARPA back in the 1960s and 1970s. The funds were part of a larg­er Navy ‘Com­mand, Con­trol, Com­munca­tions, Com­put­ers, Intel­li­gence, Sur­veil­lance, and Recon­nais­sance’ pro­gram to improve mil­i­tary oper­a­tions. A year lat­er, Tor would see its gov­ern­ment con­tracts more than dou­ble to $2.2 mil­lion: $353,000 from the State Depart­ment, $876,099 from the US Navy, and $937,800 from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors.

When I crunched the num­bers, I could­n’t help but do a dou­ble take. It was incred­i­ble. Wik­iLeaks had scored a direct hit on Tor’s gov­ern­ment back­ers, includ­ing the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment. Yet Appel­baum’s close part­ner­ship with Assange pro­duced no dis­cern­able down­side. [!–D.E.]

I guess it makes sense, in a way. Wik­iLeaks might have embar­rassed some parts of the US gov­ern­ment, but it also gave Amer­i­ca’s pre­mier Inter­net Free­dom weapon a major injec­tion of cred­i­bil­i­ty, enhanc­ing its effec­tive­ness and use­ful­ness. It was an oppor­tu­ni­ty. . . .

1b. John Young, one of Wik­iLeaks’ founders turned crit­ic of the orga­ni­za­tion har­bors deep sus­pi­cions con­cern­ing the group. ” . . . 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. And they’re usu­al­ly pret­ty elab­o­rate and pret­ty care­ful­ly run. They’ll even pros­e­cute peo­ple as part of the cov­er sto­ry. That actu­al­ly was talked about at (Sunday’s) pan­el. They’ll try to con­ceal who was inform­ing and betray­ing oth­ers by pre­tend­ing to pros­e­cute them. . . .” The Tor/Appelbaum/BBG (read “CIA”)/WikiLeaks nexus may very well be proof of Young’s sus­pi­cions.

2. Appel­baum, Wik­iLeaks and Tor became fun­da­men­tal to the oper­a­tions of Eddie “The Friend­ly Spook” Snow­den. In past dis­cus­sion, we have not­ed that in the sum­mer of 2009, when Snow­den made his deci­sion to dis­close the NSA doc­u­ments, he was work­ing for the very same CIA from which the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and its Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund were derived. Jacob Appel­baum was fund­ed by BBG, as was Tor. ” . . . . From the start, the Tor Project stood at the cen­ter of Snow­den’s sto­ry. The leak­er’s endorse­ment and pro­mo­tion intro­duced the project to a glob­al audi­ence, boost­ing Tor’s world­wide user base from one mil­lion to six mil­lion almost overnight and inject­ing it into the heart of a bur­geon­ing pri­va­cy move­ment. In Rus­sia, where the BBG and Din­gle­dine had tried but failed to recruit activists for their Tor deploy­ment plan, use of the soft­ware increased from twen­ty thou­sand dai­ly con­nec­tions to some­where around two hun­dred thou­sand.

“Dur­ing a pro­mo­tion­al cam­paign for the Tor Project, Snow­den said: ‘With­out Tor, the streets of the Inter­net become like the streets of a very heav­i­ly sur­veilled city. There are sur­veil­lance cam­eras every­where, and if the adver­sary sim­ply takes enough time, they can fol­low the tapes back and see every­thing you’ve done. With Tor, we have pri­vate spaces and pri­vate lives, where we can choose who we want to asso­ciate with and how, with­out the fear of what that is going to look like if it is abused. The design of the Tor sys­tem is struc­tured in such a way that even if the US Gov­ern­ment want­ed to sub­vert it, it could­n’t.’ Snow­den did­n’t talk about Tor’s con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment fund­ing, nor did he address an appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion: why the US gov­ern­ment would fund a pro­gram that sup­pos­ed­ly lim­it­ed its own pow­er. What­ev­er Snow­den’s pri­vate thought on the mat­ter, his endorse­ment gave Tor the high­est pos­si­ble seal of approval. It was like a Hack­er’s Medal of Val­or. With Snow­den’s back­ing, no one even thought to ques­tion Tor’s rad­i­cal antigov­ern­ment bona fides. . . .”

Sur­veil­lance Val­ley by Yasha Levine; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2018 by Yasha Levine; ISBN 978–1‑61039–802‑2; pp. 252—253.

. . . . Appel­baum con­tin­ued to draw a high five-fig­ure salary from Tor, a gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor fund­ed almost exclu­sive­ly by mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence grants. But, to the pub­lic, he was a real-life super­hero on the run from the US sur­veil­lance state—now hid­ing out in Berlin, the nerve cen­ter of the glob­al hack­er scene known for its nerdy mix of machis­mo, all-night hackathons, drug use, and part­ner swap­ping. He was a mem­ber of the Inter­net Free­dom elite, cham­pi­oned by the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union and the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, giv­en a board seat on eBay founder Pierre Omid­yar’s Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion, and occu­pied an advi­so­ry role for Lon­don’s Cen­tre for Inves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ism. His fame and rebel sta­tus only made his job as Tor’s pitch­man more effec­tive.

In Berlin, Appel­baum caught anoth­er lucky break for the Tor Project. In 2013, his good friend and some­times-lover Lau­ra Poitras, an Amer­i­can doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er who also lived in the Ger­man cap­i­tal in self-imposed exile, was con­tact­ed by a mys­te­ri­ous source who told her he had access to the crown jew­els of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency: doc­u­ments that would blow Amer­i­ca’s sur­veil­lance appa­ra­tus wide open. Poitras tapped Appel­baum’s knowl­edge of Inter­net sys­tems to come up with a list of ques­tions to vet the pos­si­ble leak­er and to make sure he real­ly was the NSA tech­ni­cian he claimed to be. This source turned out to be Edward Snow­den.

From the start, the Tor Project stood at the cen­ter of Snow­den’s sto­ry. The leak­er’s endorse­ment and pro­mo­tion intro­duced the project to a glob­al audi­ence, boost­ing Tor’s world­wide user base from one mil­lion to six mil­lion almost overnight and inject­ing it into the heart of a bur­geon­ing pri­va­cy move­ment. In Rus­sia, where the BBG and Din­gle­dine had tried but failed to recruit activists for their Tor deploy­ment plan, use of the soft­ware increased from twen­ty thou­sand dai­ly con­nec­tions to some­where around two hun­dred thou­sand.

Dur­ing a pro­mo­tion­al cam­paign for the Tor Project, Snow­den said: “With­out Tor, the streets of the Inter­net become like the streets of a very heav­i­ly sur­veilled city. There are sur­veil­lance cam­eras every­where, and if the adver­sary sim­ply takes enough time, they can fol­low the tapes back and see every­thing you’ve done. With Tor, we have pri­vate spaces and pri­vate lives, where we can choose who we want to asso­ciate with and how, with­out the fear of what that is going to look like if it is abused. The design of the Tor sys­tem is struc­tured in such a way that even if the US Gov­ern­ment want­ed to sub­vert it, it could­n’t.”

Snow­den did­n’t talk about Tor’s con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment fund­ing, nor did he address an appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion: why the US gov­ern­ment would fund a pro­gram that sup­pos­ed­ly lim­it­ed its own pow­er.

What­ev­er Snow­den’s pri­vate thought on the mat­ter, his endorse­ment gave Tor the high­est pos­si­ble seal of approval. It was like a Hack­er’s Medal of Val­or. With Snow­den’s back­ing, no one even thought to ques­tion Tor’s rad­i­cal antigov­ern­ment bona fides. . . .

3. Among the advo­cates for the Tor Project is Pen­ta­gon Papers lumi­nary Daniel Ells­berg, who, him­self, has a long-stand­ing rela­tion­ship to CIA.

Sur­veil­lance Val­ley by Yasha Levine; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2018 by Yasha Levine; ISBN 978–1‑61039–802‑2; p. 209.

. . . . Daniel Ells­berg, the leg­endary whis­tle-blow­er who in 1971 leaked the Pen­ta­gon Papers, backed Tor as a pow­er­ful weapon of the peo­ple. . . .

4a.  Next, we review infor­ma­tion about the so-called “Arab Spring.” In FTR #‘s 733 through 739, we pre­sent­ed our view that the so-called Arab Spring was a U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tion, aimed at plac­ing the Broth­er­hood in pow­er in Mus­lim coun­tries dom­i­nat­ed either by a sec­u­lar dic­ta­tor or absolute monar­chy.

Yasha Levine has high­light­ed the role of U.S. tech per­son­nel in train­ing and prep­ping the Arab Spring online activists. As we have not­ed in the past, the so-called Arab Spring might have been bet­ter thought of as “The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Spring,” as the neo-lib­er­al, pri­va­ti­za­tion ide­ol­o­gy of Broth­er­hood eco­nom­ic icon Ibn Khal­dun was fun­da­men­tal to the oper­a­tion.

The eco­nom­ic goals of the Arab Spring “op” were reviewed in, among oth­er pro­grams, FTR #‘s 1025 and 1026.

Recall while read­ing the fol­low­ing excerpts of this remark­able and impor­tant book, that:

  1. The Tor net­work was devel­oped by, and used and com­pro­mised by, ele­ments of U.S. intel­li­gence.
  2. One of the pri­ma­ry advo­cates and spon­sors of the Tor net­work is the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. As we saw in FTR #‘s 891, 895, is an exten­sion of the CIA.
  3. Jacob Appel­baum has been financed by the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, advo­cates use of the Tor net­work, has helped Wik­iLeaks with its exten­sive use of the Tor net­work, and is an ide­o­log­i­cal acolyte of Ayn Rand.

Sur­veil­lance Val­ley by Yasha Levine; Copy­right 2018 by Yasha Levine; Pub­lic Affairs Hatch­ette Book Group [HC]; ISBN 978–1‑61039–802‑2; pp. 248–250.

. . . . With­in weeks, mas­sive antigov­ern­ment protests spread to Egypt, Alge­ria, Oman, Jor­dan, Libya, and Syr­ia. The Arab Spring had arrived.

In Tunisia and Egypt, these protest move­ments top­pled long-stand­ing dic­ta­tor­ships from with­in. In Libya, oppo­si­tion forces deposed and sav­age­ly killed Muam­mar Gaddafi, knif­ing him in the anus, after an exten­sive bomb­ing cam­paign from NATO forces. In Syr­ia, protests were met with a bru­tal crack­down from Bashar Assad’s gov­ern­ment, and led to a pro­tract­ed war that would claim hun­dreds of thou­sands of lives and trig­ger the worst refugee cri­sis in recent his­to­ry, pulling in Sau­di Ara­bia, Turkey, Israel, the CIA, the Russ­ian Air Force and spe­cial oper­a­tions teams, Al-Qae­da, and ISIL. Arab Spring turned into a long, bloody win­ter. . . .

. . . . The idea that social media could be weaponized against coun­tries and gov­ern­ments deemed hos­tile to US inter­ests was­n’t a sur­prise. For years, the State Depart­ment, in part­ner­ship with the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and com­pa­nies like Face­book and Google, had worked to train activists from around the world on how to use Inter­net tools and social media to orga­nize oppo­si­tion polit­i­cal move­ments. Coun­tries in Asia, the Mid­dle East, and Latin Amer­i­ca as well as for­mer Sovi­et sites like the Ukraine and Belarus were all on the list. Indeed, the New York Times report­ed that many of the activists who played lead­ing roles in the Arab Spring–from Egypt to Syr­ia to Yemen–had tak­en part in these train­ing ses­sions.

“The mon­ey spent on these pro­grams was minute com­pared with efforts led by the Pen­ta­gon,” report­ed the New York Times in April of 2011. “But as Amer­i­can offi­cials and oth­ers look back at the upris­ings of the Arab Spring, they are see­ing that the Unit­ed States’ democ­ra­cy-build­ing cam­paigns played a big­ger role in foment­ing protests than was pre­vi­ous­ly known, with key lead­ers of the move­ments hav­ing been trained by the Amer­i­cans in Cam­paign­ing, orga­niz­ing through new media tools and mon­i­tor­ing elec­tions.” The train­ings were polit­i­cal­ly charged and were seen as a threat by Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain–all of which lodged com­plaints with the State Depart­ment to stop med­dling in their domes­tic affairs, and even barred US offi­cials from enter­ing their coun­tries.

An Egypt­ian youth polit­i­cal leader who attend­ed State Depart­ment train­ing ses­sions and then went on to led protests in Cairo told the New York Times, “We learned how to orga­nize and build coali­tions. This cer­tain­ly helped dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion.” A dif­fer­ent youth activist, who had par­tic­i­pat­ed in Yemen’s upris­ing, was equal­ly enthu­si­as­tic about the State Depart­ment social media train­ing: “It helped me very much because I used to think that change only takes place by force and by weapons.”

Staff from the Tor Project played a role in some of these train­ings, tak­ing part in a series of Arab Blog­ger ses­sions in Yemen, Tunisia, Jor­dan, Lebanon, and Bahrain, where Jacob Appel­baum taught oppo­si­tion activists how to use Tor to get around gov­ern­ment cen­sor­ship. “Today was fan­tas­tic . . . . real­ly a fan­tas­tic meet­ing of minds in the Arab world! It’s enlight­en­ing and hum­bling to have ben invit­ed. I real­ly have to rec­om­mend vis­it­ing Beirut. Lebanon is an amaz­ing place. . . . Appel­baum tweet­ed after an Arab Blog­gers train­ing event in 2009, adding“IF you’d like to help Tor please sign up and help trans­late Tor soft­ware in Ara­bic.”

Activists lat­er put the skills taught at these train­ing ses­sions to use dur­ing the Arab Spring, rout­ing around Inter­net blocks that their gov­ern­ments threw up to pre­vent them from using social media to orga­nize protests. “There would be no access to Twit­ter or Face­book in some of these places if you did­n’t have Tor. All of the sud­den, you had all these dis­si­dents explod­ing under their noses, and then down the road you had a rev­o­lu­tion,” Nass­er Wed­dady, a promi­nent Arab Spring activist from Mau­ri­ta­nia, lat­er told Rolling Stone. Wed­dady, who had tak­en part in the Tor Pro­jec­t’s train­ing ses­sions and who had trans­lat­ed a wide­ly cir­cu­lat­ed guide on how to use the tool into Ara­bic, cred­it­ed it with help­ing keep the Arab Spring upris­ings alive. “Tor ren­dered the gov­ern­men­t’s efforts com­plete­ly futile. They sim­ply did­n’t have the know-how to counter that move.” . . . .

4b. The Arab Spring pro­vid­ed moti­va­tion for enhanced U.S. fund­ing for Inter­net Free­dom. The Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, like the BBG a CIA “deriv­a­tive,” was at the cen­ter of this: ” . . . . The moti­va­tion for this expan­sion came out of the Arab Spring. The idea was to make sure the US gov­ern­ment would main­tain its tech­no­log­i­cal advan­tage in the cen­sor­ship arms race that began in the ear­ly 2000s, but the funds were also going into devel­op­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of tools aimed at lever­ag­ing the pow­er of the Inter­net to help for­eign oppo­si­tion activists orga­nize into cohe­sive polit­i­cal move­ments. The BBG’s $25.5 mil­lion cut of the cash more than dou­bled the agen­cy’s anti­cen­sor­ship tech­nol­o­gy bud­get from the pre­vi­ous year, and the BBG fun­neled the mon­ey into the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, a new orga­ni­za­tion it had cre­at­ed with­in Radio Free Asia to fund Inter­net Free­dom tech­nolo­gies in the wake of the Arab Spring. . . .”

The fun­da­men­tal posi­tion of BBG and OTF (read “CIA”) to the so-called online pri­va­cy com­mu­ni­ty was con­cise­ly expressed by Yasha Levine: ” . . . . From behind this hip and con­nect­ed exte­ri­or, BBG and Radio Free Asia built a ver­ti­cal­ly inte­grat­ed incu­ba­tor for Inter­net Free­dom tech­nolo­gies, pour­ing mil­lions into projects big and small, includ­ing every­thing from evad­ing cen­sor­ship to help­ing polit­i­cal orga­niz­ing, protests, and move­ment build­ing. With its deep pock­ets and its recruit­ment of big-name pri­va­cy activists, the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund did­n’t just thrust itself into the pri­va­cy move­ment. In many ways, it WAS the pri­va­cy move­ment. . . .”

Sur­veil­lance Val­ley by Yasha Levine; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2018 by Yasha Levine; ISBN 978–1‑61039–802‑2; pp. 254—256.

. . . . In ear­ly Jan­u­ary 2014, six months after Snow­den’s leaks, Con­gress passed the Con­sol­i­dat­ed Appro­pri­a­tions Act, an omnibus fed­er­al spend­ing bill. Tucked into the bil­l’s rough­ly fif­teen hun­dred pages was a short pro­vi­sion that ded­i­cat­ed $50.5 mil­lion to the expan­sion of the US gov­ern­men­t’s Inter­net Free­dom arse­nal. The funds were to be split even­ly between the State Depart­ment and the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors.

Although Con­gress had been pro­vid­ing funds for var­i­ous anti-cen­sor­ship pro­grams for years, this was the first time that it bud­get­ed mon­ey specif­i­cal­ly for Inter­net Free­dom. The moti­va­tion for this expan­sion came out of the Arab Spring. The idea was to make sure the US gov­ern­ment would main­tain its tech­no­log­i­cal advan­tage in the cen­sor­ship arms race that began in the ear­ly 2000s, but the funds were also going into devel­op­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of tools aimed at lever­ag­ing the pow­er of the Inter­net to help for­eign oppo­si­tion activists orga­nize into cohe­sive polit­i­cal move­ments.

The BBG’s $25.5 mil­lion cut of the cash more than dou­bled the agen­cy’s anti­cen­sor­ship tech­nol­o­gy bud­get from the pre­vi­ous year, and the BBG fun­neled the mon­ey into the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, a new orga­ni­za­tion it had cre­at­ed with­in Radio Free Asia to fund Inter­net Free­dom tech­nolo­gies in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Ini­tial­ly launched by the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency in 1951 to tar­get Chi­na with anti­com­mu­nist radio broad­casts, Radio Free Asia had been shut­tered and relaunched sev­er­al times over the course of its his­to­ry. In 1994, after the fall of the Sovi­et Union, it reap­peared Ter­mi­na­tor-like as a pri­vate non­prof­it cor­po­ra­tion whol­ly con­trolled and fund­ed by the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. . . .

. . . . Now, with the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund (OTF), Radio Free Asia over­saw the fund­ing of Amer­i­ca’s Inter­net Free­dom pro­grams. To run OTF’s day-to-day oper­a­tions, Radio Free Asia hired Dan Mered­ith, a young techie who worked at Al-Jazeera in Qatar and who had been involved in the State Depart­men­t’s anti­cen­sor­ship ini­tia­tives going back to 2011. With a scruffy beard and messy blond surfer hair, Mered­ith was­n’t a typ­i­cal stuffy State Depart­ment suit. He was flu­ent in cypher­punk-hack­tivist lin­go and was very much a part of the grass­roots pri­va­cy com­mu­ni­ty he sought to woo. In short, he was­n’t the kind of per­son you’d expect to run a gov­ern­ment project with major for­eign pol­i­cy impli­ca­tions.

With him at the helm, OTF put a lot of effort on brand­ing. Out­ward­ly, it looked like a grass­roots pri­va­cy activist orga­ni­za­tion, not a gov­ern­ment agency. It pro­duced hip 8‑bit YouTube videos about its mis­sion to use “pub­lic funds to sup­port Inter­net free­dom projects” and pro­mote “human rights and open soci­eties.” Its web lay­out con­stant­ly changed to reflect the trendi­est design stan­dards.

But if OTF appeared scrap­py, it was also extreme­ly well con­nect­ed. The orga­ni­za­tion w as sup­port­ed by a star-stud­ded team—from best-sell­ing sci­ence fic­tion authors to Sil­i­con Val­ley exec­u­tives and cel­e­brat­ed cryp­tog­ra­phy experts. Its advi­so­ry board includ­ed big names from the Colum­bia Jour­nal­ism School, the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, the Ford Foun­da­tion, Open Soci­ety Foun­da­tions, Google, Slack, and Mozil­la. Andrew McLaugh­lin, the for­mer head of Google’s pub­lic rela­tions team who had bought in Al Gore to talk to a Cal­i­for­nia state sen­a­tor into can­cel­ing leg­is­la­tion that would reg­u­late Gmail’s email scan­ning pro­gram, was part of the OTF team. So was Cory Doc­torow, a best-sell­ing young adult sci­ence fic­tion author, whose books about a total­i­tar­i­an gov­ern­men­t’s sur­veil­lance were read and admired by Lau­ra Poitras, Jacob Apple­baum, Roger Din­gle­dine, and Edward Snow­den. Doc­torow was a huge per­son­al­i­ty in the cryp­to move­ment who could fill giant con­fer­ence halls at pri­va­cy con­fer­ences. He pub­licly endorsed OTF’s Inter­net Free­dom mis­sion. “I’m proud to be a vol­un­teer OTF advi­sor,” he tweet­ed.

From behind this hip and con­nect­ed exte­ri­or, BBG and Radio Free Asia built a ver­ti­cal­ly inte­grat­ed incu­ba­tor for Inter­net Free­dom tech­nolo­gies, pour­ing mil­lions into projects big and small, includ­ing every­thing from evad­ing cen­sor­ship to help­ing polit­i­cal orga­niz­ing, protests, and move­ment build­ing. With its deep pock­ets and its recruit­ment of big-name pri­va­cy activists, the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund did­n’t just thrust itself into the pri­va­cy move­ment. In many ways, it was the pri­va­cy move­ment. . . .

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