Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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FTR #757 The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook, Part 4: Dramatis Personae, Part 4 (The Gruppenhobbit and the Underground Reich)

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

NB: This descrip­tion con­tains infor­ma­tion not con­tained in the orig­i­nal pro­gram.

Lis­ten: MP3

Side 1   Side 2

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing our analy­sis of the “dis­clo­sures” of Eddie the Friend­ly Spook [Snow­den], we high­light the Palan­tir firm which (its offi­cial dis­claimers to the con­trary notwith­stand­ing, appears to be the com­pa­ny that man­u­fac­tures the PRISM soft­ward at the cen­ter of Snow­den’s leak­ing.

Osten­si­bly “left/progressive,” with a taste for smok­ing joints and J.R. Tolkien, Palan­tir CEO Alex Karp heads a firm that would per­mit one of its intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty and/or cor­po­rate spon­sors to sit down at a key­board and check some­one for hem­or­rhoids. Karp also heads anoth­er firm–RobotX–that makes secu­ri­ty robots. The largest investor in both com­pa­nies is Peter Thiel, whom we exam­ined at length and in detail in FTR #718.

Thiel was also the main financier of Ron Paul’s 2012 Super PAC (Ron Paul was Eddie Snow­den’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of choice. Snow­den con­tributed mon­ey to his cam­paign. The milieu of Ron and Rand Paul is inex­tri­ca­bly linked with that of Snow­den and Wik­ileaks.)

Thiel is so far to the right that he explic­it­ly rejects democ­ra­cy, in no small mea­sure because we made what he sees as the mis­take of allow­ing women to vote.

An exam­i­na­tion of Karp and his intel­lec­tu­al men­tor Juer­gen Haber­mas, sug­gests that both are “not as adver­tised.” We won­der if the entire Palan­tir oper­a­tion might be an Under­ground Reich data min­ing enti­ty, ensconced at the very epi­cen­ter of Amer­i­can intel­li­gence and cor­po­rate exis­tence. IF that is the case, we may be look­ing at the actions of a “Deep Fifth Col­umn.”

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • The cir­cum­stances of Alex Karp’s pro­fes­sion­al involve­ment with Palan­tir and Peter Thiel seem improb­a­ble on their sur­face. (See text excerpts below.)
  • In this con­text, we note that Karp is an osten­si­ble “neo-hippy”/lefty/progressive, or his back­ground is so rep­re­sent­ed. The notion that he would sus­tain a life­long, lucra­tive pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ship with uber reac­tionary Peter Thiel seems high­ly unlike­ly. Thiel’s polit­i­cal views are so fascis­tic that he has explic­it­ly denounced democ­ra­cy as incom­pat­i­ble with free­dom, in con­sid­er­able mea­sure, because we made what he sees as the mis­take of allow­ing women to vote! 
  • NB: The name of the firm is derived from the Palantiri–the see­ing stones of The Lord of the Rings. In keep­ing with the Tolkien theme, Palan­tir’s head­quar­ters are nick­named “The Shire”–the home­land of the hob­bits. Hence our nick­name for Karp as The Grup­pen­hob­bit. A more appro­pri­ate nick­name for Palan­tir’s head­quar­ters would appear to be “Mor­dor,” under the cir­cum­stances.
  • In addi­tion to Palan­tir, which oper­ates in con­junc­tion with mul­ti­ple intel­li­gence ser­vices, the mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment (includ­ing the intru­sive PRISM oper­a­tions), Karp has teamed with Thiel in RobotX, which man­u­fac­tures secu­ri­ty robots.
  • Again, we find the cir­cum­stances of Karp’s ascent to be unlike­ly. A lefty/hippie/freedom loving/“Tolkienesque” indi­vid­ual hook­ing up with an ante­dilu­vian reac­tionary like Thiel seems improb­a­ble. After study­ing law, Karp decamps for Ger­many. We won­der if Thiel’s inter­ac­tion with Karp at Stan­ford was more than rep­re­sent­ed here? Did Thiel hook The Grup­pe­hob­bit up with the Bor­mann network/Underground Reich? 
  • In Ger­many, Karp spends years study­ing under Juer­gen Haber­mas, one of Ger­many’s most famous post­war intel­lec­tu­al fig­ures, also an osten­si­ble left­ist. More about Haber­mas is to be found below. Haber­mas appears to be the sin­gle great­est intel­lec­tu­al influ­ence on Karp. We sus­pect the influ­ence may be more than intel­lec­tu­al. Haber­mas tutored Karp at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Frank­furt. The old head­quar­ters of I.G. Far­ben, Frank­furt is where Thiel was born. His father was a chem­i­cal engineer–undoubtedly an employ­ee of one of the post­war I.G. suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions.
  • After get­ting an inher­i­tance from his grand­fa­ther, Karp begins to dab­ble in invest­ments (with no appar­ent back­ground in secu­ri­ties analy­sis.) His efforts are so suc­cess­ful, that oth­er invest­ment pro­fes­sion­als and peo­ple with sig­nif­i­cant sums to invest start flock­ing to this “crazy guy,” as he is termed, to invest their mon­ey. The­o­ret­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble, this seems unlike­ly, under the cir­cum­stances.
  • The Grup­pen­hob­bit’s mon­ey man­ag­ing suc­cess leads to his estab­lish­ment of a Euro­pean-based cap­i­tal man­age­ment firm. We won­der if, per­haps, Karp was “hooked up” with ele­ments of the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work and/or cor­po­rate Ger­many. Is that where his Caed­mon Group has its gen­e­sis?
  • After return­ing to the U.S., the Grup­pen­hob­bit hooks up with Thiel, whose back­ground appears to be Under­ground Reich, with roots in the I.G. Far­ben suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions.
  • As we have seen, Palan­tir is inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, hav­ing its begin­nings enabled by In-Q-Tel, a CIA-linked ven­ture cap­i­tal firm. As can be seen in the Forbes article–which should be read in its entirety–Palantir also works with law enforce­ment and the finan­cial com­mu­ni­ty. It would appear to be the ulti­mate data min­ing enti­ty.
  • Our ques­tions about the Grup­pen­hob­bit’s activ­i­ties in Ger­many derive large­ly from analy­sis of the osten­si­ble left­ist Juer­gen Haber­mas’ cur­ricu­lum vitae. Again, Haber­mas appears to be the dom­i­nant intel­lec­tu­al (and pos­si­bly pro­fes­sion­al) influ­ence on Karp.
  • Haber­mas was one of the “flakhelfer”–young Ger­mans who served in the Hitler Youth and then served with anti-air­craft units near the end of the war. (See text excerpts below.) Joseph Ratzinger was one such flakhelfer. (See text excerpts below.) Ratzinger/Benedict XVI’s cir­cum­stances argue strong­ly for his belong­ing to the Under­ground Reich.
  • The flakhelfer yield­ed much of the creme de la creme of Ger­man intel­lec­tu­als for the post­war peri­od. (See text excerpts below.)
  • As set forth in pages 78–79 of The Nazis Go Under­ground, youths such as the flakhelfer were seen as essen­tial for form­ing the post­war lead­er­ship of the post­war Under­ground Reich. (See text excerpt below.)
  • Among the most promi­nent of the flakhelfer is Nobel-Prize win­ning write Gun­ther Grass. He turned out to have served in the Waf­fen SS. Rather more than a flakhelfer, under the cir­cum­stances. (See text excepts below.)
  • Anoth­er of the flakhelfer, write Hans Mag­nus Enzens­berg­er has been an ardent defend­er of Eddie the Friend­ly Spook. (See text excerpts below.)
  • Although the Grup­pen­hob­bit’s intel­lec­tu­al men­tor Haber­mas has writ­ten crit­i­cal­ly of the Nazi peri­od, as well as one of his intel­lec­tu­al antecedents–Martin Hei­deg­ger, the pri­ma­ry influ­ences on Haber­mas were Nazis. Hei­deg­ger was an ardent Nazi. (See text excerpts below.)
  • His doc­tor­al super­vi­sors are cas­es in point. Both were in the Nazi camp. One was Oskar Beck­er. (See text excerpts below.) 
  • The oth­er of his doc­tor­al super­vi­sors was Erich Rothack­er, close to Third Reich lumi­nar­ies Goebbels and Alfred Rosen­berg. (See text excerpts below.)
  • In addi­tion to Nazi par­ty mem­ber Mar­tin Hei­deg­ger, anoth­er of the intel­lec­tu­al influ­ences on Haber­mas was Got­tfried Benn, anoth­er who turned to the Nazi phi­los­o­phy, despite lat­er alleged dif­fer­ences. (See text excerpts below.)
  • Chief among the rea­sons we seri­ous­ly doubt the integri­ty of Haber­mas’ per­sona as a “leftist/progressive” con­cerns the fact that he was appoint­ed direc­tor of the Max Planck Insti­tute for 12 years. (See text excerpts below.) We won­der if Palan­tir might be the deriv­a­tive of Under­ground Reich/Max Planck Insti­tute research?
  • The Max Planck Insti­tute was the name giv­en in the post­war peri­od to the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute. A pri­ma­ry influ­ence on the sci­ence of the Third Reich, the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute was heav­i­ly cap­i­tal­ized by the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion and was an epi­cen­ter of eugen­ics think­ing and leg­is­la­tion pri­or to, and dur­ing the ascent of, the Third Reich. (Text excerpts from FTR #664 are pre­sent­ed below, to under­score the exact nature of the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute, rechris­tened The Max Planck Insti­tute.)
  •  As we have seen, the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tutes were the recip­i­ents of Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion gen­eros­i­ty. The Rock­e­feller milieu saw to it that the best sci­en­tists, includ­ing Jew­ish ones, were kept on staff in order to max­i­mize the qual­i­ty of the work that they were fund­ing. (The War Against the Weak, pp. 302–303.)
  • Gen­er­al­ly viewed as an iso­lat­ed event and an aber­ra­tion, Josef Men­gele’s Auschwitz work with twins was the direct out­growth of main­stream eugen­ics research. (See text excerpts below.)
  • Long pre­oc­cu­pied with the study of twins, eugeni­cists cel­e­brat­ed the Nazi dic­ta­tor­ship for its abil­i­ty to use coer­cion to achieve their objec­tive of detailed, inten­sive research of the sub­ject. (See text excerpt from The War Against the Weak, pp. 352.)
  • The Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion’s fund­ing went well into the tenure of the Third Reich. The Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tutes were the pri­ma­ry focal point of Nazi eugen­ics research on twins. Eugen Fis­ch­er was the direc­tor of The Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute for Anthro­pol­o­gy, Genet­ics and Eugen­ics through most of the Nazi peri­od and was deeply involved in the devel­op­ment of the pro­grams that paved the way for Men­gele’s work at Auschwitz. (See text excerpt from The War Against the Weak, pp. 354–355.)
  •  Josef Men­gele con­duct­ed his bru­tal, lethal research at Auschwitz in con­junc­tion with the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute and his intel­lec­tu­al men­tor at that insti­tu­tion, Dr. Frei­herr Otmar von Ver­schuer, who replaced Max Planck­’s asso­ciate Eugen Fis­ch­er. (See text excerpt from The War Against the Weak, pp. 354–355.)
  • Although Men­gele’s ghast­ly work with twins at Auschwitz became fair­ly well-known after the war, few real­ize that this endeav­or was a direct exten­sion of the eugen­ics work at the Kaiser Wil­helm Institute–again, recip­i­ents of lav­ish Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion fund­ing. (See text excerpt from The War Against the Weak, pp. 359–360.) It is this insti­tu­tion that was head­ed by Haber­mas for twelve years after the war.
  • Sim­ply put, Ger­many was nev­er effec­tive­ly de-Naz­i­fied. The Third Reich con­tin­ued under­ground. The notion that an insti­tu­tion such as the Max Planck Insti­tute, nee the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute would have been head­ed for twelve years by a left­ist is not cred­i­ble. An OSTENSIBLE left­ist work­ing as an Under­ground Reich func­tionary would make excel­lent pub­lic rela­tions fod­der, while main­tain­ing the Reich secu­ri­ty nec­es­sary for an insti­tu­tion cen­tral to Ger­man sci­en­tif­ic research. 
  • Max Planck him­self, although opposed to the Reich’s treat­ment of Jew­ish sci­en­tists, whom he shield­ed pro­fes­sion­al­ly, head­ed the Insti­tutes for much of the ear­ly peri­od of the Third Reich. (See text excerpts below.) It was dur­ing this time that the hor­rors man­i­fest­ed by Men­gele were gath­er­ing momen­tum. His protests against the treat­ment of Jew­ish col­leagues were con­sis­tent with the wish­es of the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion fun­ders of the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tutes. 
  • Planck was re-installed as head of the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tutes just over a week after the con­clu­sion of hos­til­i­ties. Undoubt­ed­ly, Kaiser Wil­helm research and research sci­en­tists would have been part of the Project Paper­clip recruit­ment effort, under which the Allies req­ui­si­tioned much of the Nazi sci­en­tif­ic estab­lish­ment to con­tin­ue their work in the West.  (See text excerpts below.)
  • The Madrid cir­cu­lar let­ter of 1950 dis­cussed the Max Planck Insti­tute as a vehi­cle for con­tin­u­ing the sci­en­tif­ic work of the Third Reich dur­ing its under­ground phase. (See text excerpt from Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin.)
  • His glow­ing rep­u­ta­tion notwith­stand­ing, Planck­’s cir­cum­stances sug­gest he may well have been one of the indi­vid­u­als with an anti-Nazi rep­u­ta­tion select­ed to estab­lish con­ti­nu­ity dur­ing the post­war peri­od. (See The Nazis Go Under­ground, pp. 181–185.)

“Is This Who Runs Prism?” by Josh Mar­shall; Talk­ing Points Memo; 6/7/2013.

EXCERPT: I want to stress this is a read­er email, not TPM report­ing. But I’m shar­ing it because after read­ing it through and doing some googling of my own there’s lit­tle doubt that Palan­tir is doing stuff like what the gov­ern­ment is doing with those tech com­pa­nies, even if they’re not part of ‘prism’ itself. Give this a read.

From an anony­mous read­er …

I don’t see any­one out there with this the­ory, and TPM is my favorite news source, so here goes:

“PRISM” is the government’s name for a pro­gram that uses tech­nol­ogy from Palan­tir. Palan­tir is a Sil­i­con Val­ley start-up that’s now val­ued at well over $1B, that focus­es on data analy­sis for the gov­ern­ment. Here’s how Palan­tir describes them­selves:

“We build soft­ware that allows orga­ni­za­tions to make sense of mas­sive amounts of dis­parate data. We solve the tech­ni­cal prob­lems, so they can solve the human ones. Com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism. Pros­e­cut­ing crimes. Fight­ing fraud. Elim­i­nat­ing waste. From Sil­i­con Val­ley to your doorstep, we deploy our data fusion plat­forms against the hard­est prob­lems we can find, wher­ever we are need­ed most.” http://www.palantir.com/what-we-do/

They’re gen­er­ally not pub­lic about who their clients are, but their first client was famous­ly the CIA, who is also an ear­ly investor.

With my the­ory in mind, re-read the denials from the tech com­pa­nies in the WSJ (empha­sis mine):
Apple: “We do not pro­vide any gov­ern­ment agency with direct access to our servers…”
Google: “… does not have a ‘back door’ for the gov­ern­ment to access pri­vate user data…”
Face­book: “… not pro­vide any gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion with direct access to Face­book servers…”
Yahoo: “We do not pro­vide the gov­ern­ment with direct access to our servers, sys­tems, or net­work…”

These denials could all still be tech­ni­cally true if the gov­ern­ment is access­ing the data through a gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor, such as Palan­tir, rather than hav­ing direct access.

I just did a quick Google search of “Palan­tir PRISM” to see if any­one else had this the­ory, and the top results were these pages:



Appar­ently, Palan­tir has a soft­ware pack­age called “Prism”: “Prism is a soft­ware com­po­nent that lets you quick­ly inte­grate exter­nal data­bases into Palan­tir.” That sounds like exact­ly the tool you’d want if you were try­ing to find pat­terns in data from mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies.

So the obvi­ous fol­low-up ques­tions are of the “am I right?” vari­ety, but if I am, here’s what I real­ly want to know: which Palan­tir clients have access to this data? Just CIA & NSA? FBI? What about munic­i­pal­i­ties, such as the NYC police depart­ment? What about the gov­ern­ments of oth­er coun­tries?

What do you think?

FWIW, I know a guy who works at Palan­tir. I asked him what he/they did once, and he was more secre­tive than my friends at Apple.

PS, please don’t use my name if you decide to pub­lish any of this — it’s a small town/industry. Let them Prism me instead.

Late Update: Anoth­er read­er notes that Bridge­wa­ter Asso­ciates LLP, one of the largest hedge funds in the world, is also a major client of Palan­tir, which appears to be con­firmed by many press reports. . .

“This Peter Thiel Com­pa­ny Is Rip­ping The Army Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty Apart” by Wal­ter Hick­ey; Busi­ness Insid­er; 8/3/2012.

EXCERPT: Palan­tir is a com­pa­ny found­ed by Peter Thiel — of Pay­pal and Face­book renown — that has soft­ware which absolute­ly changes the game with intel­li­gence.

It’s one of the best pro­grams at coor­di­nat­ing the vast data­bas­es accu­mu­lat­ed by the U.S. intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus. It’s already in use in fed­er­al domes­tic secu­ri­ty.

But it’s also caused a mas­sive fight inside the Army intel­li­gence com­mand.

Palan­tir is one of the first Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­nies to view the gov­ern­ment as a cus­tomer rather than an annoy­ance and — after step­ping into a game dom­i­nat­ed by top con­trac­tors like Lock­heed Mar­tin, IBM, and Raytheon — it’s proven con­tro­ver­sial in both what it does and if it should be used.
What it does is assem­ble com­pre­hen­sive dossiers on objects of inter­est, col­lat­ed from the sprawl­ing data­bas­es of intel­li­gence agen­cies.

If that sounds over-broad, it’s inten­tion­al.

The data­bas­es and dossiers in ques­tion are on every­thing from Afghan vil­lages to crooked bankers. The can pull crime infor­ma­tion and col­late it with recent deb­it card pur­chas­es.

The soft­ware was devel­oped with the idea that had it exist­ed in 2001, 9/11 would have been obvi­ous. Palan­tir would have been able to iden­ti­fy the pilots as peo­ple of inter­est from coun­tries that har­bor ter­ror­ists, con­nect­ing that with mon­ey wired around, and con­nect­ing that with one-way air­line tick­ets to cre­ate action­able intel­li­gence.

One con­tro­ver­sy comes with the civ­il lib­er­ties issues that come with that par­tic­u­lar busi­ness mod­el.

The oth­er con­tro­ver­sy is much less philo­soph­i­cal: The Army intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty is full of infight­ing over this Val­ley com­peti­tor to defense con­trac­tor tech.

The Army Intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty is split over soft­ware. The $2.3 Bil­lion DCGS‑A sys­tem, devel­oped by the stan­dard crowd of defense con­trac­tors, is either panned by some as com­pli­cat­ed and slow or defensed by oth­ers as the future of mil­i­tary dis­trib­uted intel­li­gence.

Like­wise, the cul­ty fol­low­ing of Palan­tir’s alter­na­tive have been dis­missed as on the take from the Sil­i­con Val­ley firm. That tech has been deployed by data min­ing Wall Street banks inter­est­ed in track­ing down fraud, and an ear­ly investor in the com­pa­ny was the CIA. The Army, how­ev­er, isn’t sold. . . .

“How the U.S. Uses Tech­nol­o­gy to Mine More Data More Quick­ly” by James Risen and Eric Licht­blau; The New York Times; 6/8/2013.

EXCERPT: When Amer­i­can ana­lysts hunt­ing ter­ror­ists sought new ways to comb through the troves of phone records, e‑mails and oth­er data pil­ing up as dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions explod­ed over the past decade, they turned to Sil­i­con Val­ley com­put­er experts who had devel­oped com­plex equa­tions to thwart Russ­ian mob­sters intent on cred­it card fraud.

The part­ner­ship between the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty and Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies, a Palo Alto, Calif., com­pa­ny found­ed by a group of inven­tors from Pay­Pal, is just one of many that the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency and oth­er agen­cies have forged as they have rushed to unlock the secrets of “Big Data.” . . . .

“Pay­Pal Founder Peter Thiel Con­tin­ues to Tout Anti-Gov­ern­ment Man­i­festo” by Leah Nel­son [South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter]; Intel­li­gence Report [#146]; Summer/2012.

EXCERPT: . . . “I no longer believe that free­dom and democ­ra­cy are com­pat­i­ble,” Thiel wrote in a 2009 man­i­festo pub­lished by the lib­er­tar­i­an Cato Insti­tute. “Since 1920, the vast increase in wel­fare ben­e­fi­cia­ries and the exten­sion of the fran­chise to women — two con­stituen­cies that are noto­ri­ous­ly tough for lib­er­tar­i­ans — have ren­dered the notion of ‘cap­i­tal­ist democ­ra­cy’ into an oxy­moron.” . . .

“Utah-Based Super PAC Sup­ports Paul–not Rom­ney” by Matt Can­ham; Salt Lake Tri­bune; 2/20/2012.

EXCERPT: . . . . This isn’t a class project or some kind of prank. It’s the work of Endorse Lib­er­ty, the biggest super PAC sup­port­ing Ron Paul. Found­ed in late Decem­ber and head­quar­tered in Utah, this group of polit­i­cal novices backed by a Sil­i­con Val­ley bil­lion­aire has already spent $3.5 mil­lion push­ing its online ads into ear­ly pri­ma­ry states where they have been viewed 12 mil­lion times.

“It is safe to say Endorse Lib­er­ty is a new force on the scene,” said Michael Beck­el, who tracks super PAC spend­ing for the Cen­ter for Pub­lic Integri­ty.

Super polit­i­cal action com­mit­tees have been around for only two years, cre­at­ed in the after­math of a Supreme Court rul­ing that allowed cor­po­ra­tions, unions and indi­vid­u­als to give as much mon­ey as they want to groups act­ing inde­pen­dent­ly of the can­di­dates. . . .

“Pay­Pal co-Founder Peter Thiel Donates Mil­lions to Ron Paul Super PAC” by Charles Riley; money.cnn.com ; 2/20/2012.

EXCERPT: Sil­i­con Val­ley renais­sance man Peter Thiel donat­ed anoth­er $1.7 mil­lion in Jan­u­ary to a super PAC that backs Ron Paul, accord­ing to dis­clo­sure doc­u­ments filed Mon­day.

The Pay­Pal co-founder donat­ed $1 mil­lion on Jan­u­ary 3, and fol­lowed that up 10 days lat­er with an addi­tion­al $700,000 gift.

. . . Thiel’s $2.6 mil­lion in total dona­tions account for 76% of the super PAC’s fundrais­ing since it came online late last year, under­scor­ing the abil­i­ty of deep-pock­et­ed donors to have a major impact on cam­paign spend­ing. . . .

“How A ‘Deviant’ Philoso­pher Built Palan­tir, A CIA-Fund­ed Data-Min­ing Jug­ger­naut” by Andy Green­berg and Ryan Mac; Forbes; 9/2/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . . Palan­tir lives the real­i­ties of its cus­tomers: the NSA, the FBI and the CIA–an ear­ly investor through its In-Q-Tel ven­ture fund–along with an alpha­bet soup of oth­er U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism and mil­i­tary agen­cies. . . .

. . . . The answer dates back to Karp’s decades-long friend­ship with Peter Thiel, start­ing at Stan­ford Law School. The two both lived in the no-frills Crothers dorm and shared most of their class­es dur­ing their first year, but held stark­ly oppo­site polit­i­cal views. Karp had grown up in Philadel­phia, the son of an artist and a pedi­a­tri­cian who spent many of their week­ends tak­ing him to protests for labor rights and against “any­thing Rea­gan did,” he recalls. Thiel had already found­ed the staunch­ly lib­er­tar­i­an Stan­ford Review dur­ing his time at the uni­ver­si­ty as an under­grad.

“We would run into each oth­er and go at it … like wild ani­mals on the same path,” Karp says. “Basi­cal­ly I loved spar­ring with him.” . . . .

. . . .With no desire to prac­tice law, Karp went on to study under Jur­gen Haber­mas, one of the 20th century’s most promi­nent philoso­phers, at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Frank­furt. . . .

. . . . Not long after obtain­ing his doc­tor­ate, he received an inher­i­tance from his grand­fa­ther, and began invest­ing it in star­tups and stocks with sur­pris­ing suc­cess. Some high-net-worth indi­vid­u­als heard that “this crazy dude was good at invest­ing” and began to seek his ser­vices, he says.To man­age their mon­ey he set up the Lon­don-based Caed­mon Group, a ref­er­ence to Karp’s mid­dle name, the same as the first known Eng­lish-lan­guage poet. . . .

. . . . Enter Karp, whose Krameresque brown curls, Euro­pean wealth con­nec­tions and Ph.D. masked his busi­ness inex­pe­ri­ence. Despite his nonex­is­tent tech back­ground, the founders were struck by his abil­i­ty to imme­di­ate­ly grasp com­plex prob­lems and trans­late them to nonengi­neers. . . .

The Nazis Go Under­ground by Curt Riess; Dou­ble­day, Doran and Com­pa­ny, LCCN 44007162; pp. 78–79.

EXCERPT: . . . In spite of all this train­ing they are giv­ing the youth for future under­ground pur­pos­es, the lead­ers do not depend pri­mar­i­ly upon these young peo­ple in the first place, many of them will be dead at the zero hour, because many of them will have been thrown into the final bat­tles of the war. But far more impor­tant than this is anoth­er very potent argu­ment: these young men, many of them now still chil­dren, have nev­er known the hard times of the Nazi par­ty. They have lived the greater and the most deci­sive part of their lives in a peri­od when it was very easy to be a Nazi and very dan­ger­ous not to be one.

It is still an open ques­tion how these boys will behave at a time when it will be extreme­ly dan­ger­ous to be a Nazi. It is and always will be doubt­ful how they will con­form to par­ty dis­ci­pline at a time when much will depend on their per­son­al ini­tia­tive, and when it will be impos­si­ble for the par­ty to super­vise the actions of each mem­ber as close­ly as it has done in the past. . . .

“Juer­gen Habermas–Biography”; The Euro­pean Grad­u­ate School

EXCERPT: . . . .He was 15 when Ger­many lost the war to the Allies in 1945. He had served in the Hitler Youth and had been sent to defend the west­ern front dur­ing the final months of the war. His father was a pas­sive sym­pa­thiz­er with Nazism. . . .

Legal­i­ty and Legit­i­ma­cy: Juer­gen Haber­mas’s Recon­struc­tion of Ger­man Polit­i­cal Thought by Matthew G. Specter; pp. 16–17.

EXCERPT: . . . . The ‘58ers, have been defined by one gen­er­a­tion of his­to­ri­ans as the “Flakhelfer” gen­er­a­tion, in terms of its rela­tion­ship to the Nazi regime and World War II. . . . From 1944, boys as young as twelve were enlist­ed to help with the anti-air artillery bat­ter­ies; Haber­mas was recruit­ed to the Hitler Youth in 1944 and was sent with his group to man the west­ern wall defens­es in the Ruhr area. From this gen­er­a­tion emerged some of the lead­ing aca­d­e­m­ic pro­tag­o­nists of the lib­er­al­iza­tion of West Ger­man polit­i­cal cul­ture: Haber­mas, the polit­i­cal sci­en­tists Kurt Son­theimer (1929) and Jur­gen Seifert (1929), the soci­ol­o­gists Ralf Dahren­dorf (1929), Niklas Luhrmann (1927), Renate Mayntz (1927), M. Rain­er Lep­sius (1928); the writ­ers Hans-Mag­nus Enzens­berg­er and Gun­ther Grass (1929). . . .

“Storm Grows over Grass’s Belat­ed SS Con­fes­sions” by Samuel Loewen­berg; The Guardian; 8/15/2006.

EXCERPT: The 78-year-old author, who has long been seen as the moral con­science of Ger­many, revealed his SS ser­vice in an inter­view with the Frank­furter All­ge­meine news­pa­per pub­lished on Sat­ur­day, in advance of the release next month of his auto­bi­og­ra­phy, “Peel­ing the Onion.”

“My silence through all these years is one of the rea­sons why I wrote this book,” Grass announced. “It had to come out final­ly.”

Grass said he vol­un­teered at age 15 for the sub­ma­rine ser­vice and was refused, only to be called up for mil­i­tary ser­vice two years lat­er.

When he report­ed for duty in Dres­den, he found it was with the 10th SS Panz­er Divi­sion Frunds­berg. He said that under the sway of Nazi indoc­tri­na­tion he did not view the Waf­fen SS as some­thing repul­sive but as an elite force.

Pre­vi­ous­ly Grass had claimed he was a flakhelfer, a youth con­script forced to work on anti-air­craft bat­ter­ies in 1944. The word gave rise to a gen­er­a­tion who claimed they were the unwill­ing par­tic­i­pants in the Nazi war effort. . . .

“Sur­veil­lance Rev­e­la­tions Shake U.S.-German Ties” by Ali­son Smale; The New York Times; 8/25/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . The week­ly news­pa­per Die Zeit not­ed in its lat­est edi­tion that the polit­i­cal storm in Ger­many appeared to be calm­ing down, though Mr. Snow­den con­tin­ued to draw praise from respect­ed fig­ures like the writer Hans Mag­nus Enzens­berg­er, who called him a “hero of the 21st cen­tu­ry” in a tele­vi­sion inter­view last week. . . .

Europe Since 1945: An Ency­clo­pe­dia, Vol­ume 1 by Bernard A. Cook.; p. 553.

EXCERPT: . . . . His [Haber­mas’] most impor­tant teach­ers were Eric Rothack­er and Oskar Becker. . . .

Per­spec­tives on Haber­mas by Lewis Edwin Hahn; p. 361.

EXCERPT: . . . One must appre­ci­ate the sig­nif­i­cance of this event giv­en that not just [Mar­tin] Hei­deg­ger, but Haber­mas’ dis­ser­ta­tion direc­tors [in Ger­man, doc­tor-fathers] in Bonn, Erich Rothack­er and Oskar Beck­er, were more or less enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers of nation­al social­ism (see Lea­man 1993). . . .

Hitler’s Philoso­phers by Yvonne Sher­ratt; Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Press; p. 239.

EXCERPT . . . . Dur­ing the post-war years, Jew­ish schol­ars strug­gled for jus­tice, but a pat­tern of over­look­ing jus­tice had spread across Ger­many. Aca­d­e­m­ic author­i­ties did lit­tle to exor­cise the demons of the uni­ver­si­ty halls. For exam­ple, Oskar Beck­er had been Edmund Husser­l’s assis­tant. After Husser­l’s sus­pen­sion, Beck­er had col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis. . . .

Lin­guis­tics and the Third Reich: Moth­er-Tongue Fas­cism, Race and the Sci­ence of Lan­guage by Christo­pher M. Hut­ton; p. 36.

EXCERPT: Erich Rothack­er was an engaged Nazi schol­ar, a mem­ber of the NSDAP, with links to both [Nazi pro­pa­gan­da min­is­ter Josef] Goebbels and [Nazi min­is­ter Alfred] Rosen­berg. . . .

Ger­man Intel­lec­tu­als and the Nazi Past by A. Dirk Moses; Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press; p. 116.

EXCERPT: . . . . A month lat­er, in June of 1952, Haber­mas found stim­u­la­tion in Got­tfried Ben­n’s lat­est pub­li­ca­tion. As with Hei­deg­ger, he was still large­ly igno­rant of Ben­n’s com­mit­ments in the 1930’s and 1940’s. . . .

Who’s Who in Nazi Ger­many by Robert J. Wistrich; Got­tfried Benn; p. 11.

EXCERPT: . . . . Tak­ing his inspi­ra­tion from Niet­szche, Goethe and Spen­gler, Benn rebelled pas­sion­ate­ly against the demons of a mech­a­nized world, against the ratio­nal­ism which was par­a­lyz­ing mod­ern civ­i­liza­tion and the polit­i­cal doc­trines which derived from it, preach­ing an aes­thet­ic nihilism and the cult of prim­i­tive atavism which ini­tial­ly attract­ed him to Nazism. Ben­n’s irra­tional­ism . . . . led him to see in Nation­al Social­ism a gen­uine renais­sance of the Ger­man nation, but he soon became dis­il­lu­sioned with the results. . . .

. . . . He took refuge in the army, ‘the aris­to­crat­ic form of emi­gra­tion,’ as he called it, serv­ing as a med­ical offi­cer from 1939 to 1945. . . .

“Heil Hei­deg­ger” by Car­lin Romano; The Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion; 10/18/2009.

EXCERPT: . . . . Next month Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Press will issue an Eng­lish-lan­guage trans­la­tion of Hei­deg­ger: The Intro­duc­tion of Nazism Into Phi­los­o­phy, by Emmanuel Faye, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Paris at Nan­terre. It’s the lat­est, most com­pre­hen­sive archival assault on the osten­si­bly mag­is­te­r­i­al thinker who informed Freiburg stu­dents in his infa­mous 1933 rec­toral address of Nazis­m’s “inner truth and great­ness,” declar­ing that “the Führer, and he alone, is the present and future of Ger­man real­i­ty, and its law.”

Faye, whose book stirred France’s red and blue Hei­deg­ger départe­ments into direct bat­tle a few years back, fol­lows in the inves­tiga­tive foot­steps of Chilean-Jew­ish philoso­pher Vic­tor Farias (Hei­deg­ger et le Nazisme, 1987), his­to­ri­an Hugo Ott (Mar­tin Hei­deg­ger: Unter­wegs zu Zein­er Biogra­phie, 1988) and oth­ers. Aim? To expose the oafish meta­physi­cian’s vul­gar, often vicious 1930s attempt to become Hitler’s chief aca­d­e­m­ic tri­bune, and his post-World War II con­tor­tions to escape prop­er judg­ment for his sins. “We now know,” reports Faye, “that [Hei­deg­ger’s] attempt at self-jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of 1945 is noth­ing but a string of false­hoods.” . . . .

“Jur­gen Haber­mas”; about.com

EXCERPT: . . In 1964, Haber­mas became the chair of phi­los­o­phy and soci­ol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Frank­furt am Main. He remained there until 1971 in which he accept­ed a direc­tor­ship at the Max Planck Insti­tute in Starn­berg. In 1983, Haber­mas returned to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Frank­furt and remained there until he retired in 1994 . . .

Kaiser Wil­helm Soci­ety; Wikipedia

EXCERPT . . . The Kaiser Wil­helm Soci­ety for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence (Ger­man Kaiser-Wil­helm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wis­senschaften) was a Ger­man sci­en­tif­ic insti­tu­tion estab­lished in the Ger­man Kaiser­re­ich in 1911. Dur­ing the Third Reich it was impli­cat­ed in Nazi sci­en­tif­ic oper­a­tions, and after the Sec­ond World War was wound up, its func­tions being tak­en over by the Max Planck Soci­ety. The Kaiser Wil­helm Soci­ety was an umbrel­la orga­ni­za­tion for many insti­tutes, test­ing sta­tions, and research units spawned under its author­i­ty. . . .

. . . . By the end of World War II, the KWG and its insti­tutes had lost their cen­tral loca­tion in Berlin and were oper­at­ing in oth­er loca­tions. The KWG was oper­at­ing out of its Aero­dy­nam­ics Test­ing Sta­tion in Göt­tin­gen. Albert Vögler, the pres­i­dent of the KWG, com­mit­ted sui­cide on 14 April 1945. There­upon, Ernst Telschow assumed the duties until Max Planck could be brought from Magde­burg to Göt­tin­gen, which was in the British zone of the Allied Occu­pa­tion Zones in Ger­many. Planck assumed the duties on 16 May until a pres­i­dent could be elect­ed. Otto Hahn was select­ed by direc­tors to be pres­i­dent, but there were a num­ber of dif­fi­cul­ties to be over­come. Hahn, being relat­ed to nuclear research had been cap­tured by the allied forces of Oper­a­tion Alsos, and he was still interned at Farm Hall in Eng­land, under Oper­a­tion Epsilon. At first, Hahn was reluc­tant to accept the post, but oth­ers pre­vailed upon him to accept it. Hahn took over the pres­i­den­cy three months after being released and returned to Ger­many. How­ev­er, the Office of Mil­i­tary Gov­ern­ment, Unit­ed States (OMGUS) passed a res­o­lu­tion to dis­solve the KWG on 11 July 1946. . . .

The War Against the Weak; Edwin Black; Four Walls Eight Win­dows Press; Copy­right 2003 by Edwin Black; ISBN 1–56858-258–7; pp. 302–303.

EXCERPT: . . . . Rock­e­feller mon­ey con­tin­ued to stream across the Atlantic. The 1933 finan­cial books of the Insti­tute for Anthro­pol­o­gy, Human Hered­i­ty and Eugen­ics reflect­ed the foun­da­tion’s con­tin­u­ing impact. Page four of the bal­ance sheet: Rock­e­feller paid cler­i­cal costs asso­ci­at­ed with research on twins. . . . The Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion’s agen­da was strict­ly bio­log­i­cal to the exclu­sion of pol­i­tics. The foun­da­tion want­ed to dis­cov­er the car­ri­ets of defec­tive blood–even if it meant fund­ing Nazi-con­trolled insti­tu­tions. More­over, Rock­e­feller exec­u­tives knew their mon­ey car­ried pow­er, and they used it to ensure that the most tal­ent­ed sci­en­tists con­tin­ued at the var­i­ous Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tutes, fre­quent­ly shield­ing them from peri­od­ic Nazi purges. . . .

. . . . With each pass­ing day, the world was flood­ed with more Jew­ish refugees, more noisy anti-Nazi boy­cotts and protest march­es against any sci­en­tif­ic or com­mer­cial exchanges with Ger­many, more pub­lic demands to iso­late the Reich, and more shock­ing head­lines doc­u­ment­ing Nazi atroc­i­ties and anti-Jew­ish leg­is­la­tion. Still, none of this gave pause4 to Amer­i­ca’s eugeni­cists. Cor­re­spon­dence on joint research flowed freely across the Atlantic. Amer­i­can eugeni­cists, and their many orga­ni­za­tions and com­mit­tees, from New York to Cal­i­for­nia and all points in between, main­tained and multi­u­plied their con­tacts with every ech­e­lon of offi­cial and semi­of­fi­cial Ger­man eugen­ics. As the Reich descend­ed into greater depths of depraved mis­treat­ment and impov­er­ish­ment of Jews, as well as ter­ri­to­r­i­al threats against its neigh­bors, these con­tacts seemed all the more insu­lat­ed from the human tragedy unfold­ing with­in Europe. Eager and coop­er­a­tive let­ters, reports, telegrams and mem­o­ran­da did not num­ber in the nun­dreds, but in the thou­sands of pages per month.

While con­cen­tra­tion camps, pau­per­iza­tion and repres­sion flour­ished in Nazi Ger­many, and while refugees filled ships and trains telling hor­ri­fy­ing sto­ries of tor­ture and inhu­man­i­ty, it was busi­ness as usu­al for eugen­ics. . . .

The War Against the Weak; Edwin Black; Four Walls Eight Win­dows Press; Copy­right 2003 by Edwin Black; ISBN 1–56858-258–7; pp. 350–351.

EXCERPT: . . . . Hered­i­tar­i­ans sought twins of all ages–not just children–for prop­er study. The fam­i­ly tree of a New Eng­land fam­i­ly of twins, includ­ing one pair nine­ty-one years of age, fas­ci­nat­ed eugeni­cists. Geneti­cists exca­vat­ed old jour­nals to dis­cov­er even ear­li­er exam­ples, such as s sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry Russ­ian woman who gave birth twen­ty-sev­en times,m each time pro­duc­ing twins, triplets or quadru­plets, yield­ing a total of six­ty-nine chil­dren.

Race and twins quick­ly became an issue for Amer­i­can eugeni­cists. . . .

Diag­nos­tic and phys­i­o­log­i­cal devel­op­ments in twin stud­ies from any sec­tor of the med­ical sci­ences were of con­stant inter­est to eugenic read­ers. So Eugeni­cal News reg­u­lar­ly sum­ma­rized arti­cles from the gen­er­al med­ical lit­er­a­ture to feed eugeni­cists’ unend­ing fas­ci­na­tion with the top­ic. In 1922, when a state med­ical jour­nal report­ed using stetho­scopes to mon­i­tor a twin preg­nan­cy, it was report­ed in Eugeni­cal News. When a Ger­man clin­i­cal jour­nal pub­lished a study of tumors in twins, this too was report­ed in Eugeni­cal News.

With each pass­ing issue, Eugeni­cal News ded­i­cat­ed more and more space to the top­ic. The list of such reports became long. By the ear­ly 1920’s, arti­cles on twins became increas­ing­ly instruc­tive. One typ­i­cal arti­cle explained how to more pre­cise­ly ver­i­fy the pres­ence of iden­ti­cal twins using a cap­il­lary micro­scope. Jour­nal of Hered­i­ty also made twins a fre­quent sub­ject in its pages. . . .

. . . . Every lead­ing eugenic text­book includ­ed a sec­tion on twins. [Paul] Pope­noe’s Applied Eugen­ics explained that iden­ti­cal twins ‘start lives as halves of the same whole’ but ‘become more unlike if they were brought up apart.’ . . .

In a sim­i­lar vein, most inter­na­tion­al eugenic and genet­ic con­fer­ences includ­ed pre­sen­ta­tions or exhibits on twins–their dis­par­i­ty or sim­i­lar­i­ty, their sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to tuber­cu­lo­sis, their likes and dis­likes. R.A. Fish­er opened one of his lec­tures to the Sec­ond Inter­na­tion­al Con­gress of Eugen­ics with the phrase: ‘The sub­ject of the gen­e­sis of human twins. . .has a spe­cial impor­tance for eugeni­cists.’ . . .

The quest for a supe­ri­or race con­tin­ued to inter­sect with the avail­abil­i­ty of twins. In the July-August 1935 edi­tion of Eugeni­cal News, Dr. Alfred Gor­don pub­lished a lengthy arti­cle enti­tled ‘The Prob­lems of Hered­i­ty and Eugen­ics.’ . . .

There were so few twins to study that sur­geons in the eugen­ics com­mu­ni­ty passed along their lat­est dis­cov­er­ies, one by one, to advance the field­’s com­mon knowl­edge. . . .

The War Against the Weak; Edwin Black; Four Walls Eight Win­dows Press; Copy­right 2003 by Edwin Black; ISBN 1–56858-258–7; p.352.

EXCERPT: . . . . All that changed when Hitler came to pow­er in 1933. Ger­many surged ahead in its study of twins. . . Twins were now increas­ing­ly sought to helpo com­bat hered­i­tary dis­eases and con­di­tions, real and imag­ined. [Otmar Frei­herr von] Ver­schuer’s book, Twins and Tuber­cu­lo­sis, was pub­lished in 1933 and received a favor­able review in 1933 and received a favor­able review in Jour­nal of Hered­i­ty. . . .

But many more twins would be need­ed to accom­plish the sweep­ing research envi­sioned by the archi­tects of Hitler’s mas­ter race. In ear­ly Decem­ber of 1935, Ver­schuer told a cor­re­spon­dent for the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion that eugen­ics had moved into a new phase. . . . The arti­cle went on to cite Ver­schuer’s view that mean­ing­ful research would require entire families–from chil­dren to grand­par­ents. In plain words this meant gath­er­ing larg­er num­bers of twins in one place for simul­ta­ne­ous inves­ti­ga­tion. . . .

The War Against the Weak; Edwin Black; Four Walls Eight Win­dows Press; Copy­right 2003 by Edwin Black; ISBN 1–56858-258–7; pp. 354–355.

EXCERPT: . . . . Amer­i­can eugeni­cist T.U.H. Ellinger was in Ger­many short­ly after the decree to vis­it with [Eugen] Fis­ch­er at the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute for Anthro­pol­o­gy, Hered­i­ty and Eugen­ics. In a Jour­nal of Hered­i­ty essay on his vis­it, Ellinger flip­pant­ly report­ed to his col­leagues, ‘Twins have, of course, for a long time been a favorite mate­r­i­al for the study of the rel­a­tive impor­tance of hered­i­ty and envi­ron­ment, of nature and nur­ture. It does, how­ev­er, take a dic­ta­tor­ship to oblige some ten thou­sand pairs of twins, as well as triplets and even quadru­plets, to report to a sci­en­tif­ic insti­tute at reg­u­lar inter­vals for all kinds of record­ings and tests.’

When twins did report to the Insti­tute for Anthro­pol­o­gy, Human Hered­i­ty and Eugen­ics, they were often placed in small, spe­cial­ly-con­struct­ed exam­i­na­tion rooms, each lined with two-way mir­rors and motion pic­ture cam­era lens­es cam­ou­flaged into the wall­pa­per. The staff proud­ly showed Ellinger all of these facil­i­ties. How­ev­er, eugeni­cists at the insti­tute could only go so far with mere obser­va­tions.

Reich sci­en­tists need­ed more if they were to take the next step in cre­at­ing a super race resis­tant to dis­ease and capa­ble of trans­mit­ting the best traits. Autop­sies were required to dis­cov­er how spe­cif­ic organs and bod­i­ly process­es react­ed to var­i­ous exper­i­ments. Ver­schuer need­ed more twins and the free­dom to kill them. The high­est ranks of the Hitler regime agreed, includ­ing Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Frick, who ran the con­cen­tra­tion camps, and SS Chief Hein­rich Himm­ler. Mil­lions of dis­pens­able human beings from across Europe–Jews, Gyp­sies and oth­er undesirables–were pass­ing through Hitler’s camps to be effi­cient­ly mur­dered. Among these mil­lions, there were bound to be thou­sands of twins.

Short­ly after Ver­schuer took over for Fis­ch­er at the Insti­tute for Anthro­pol­o­gy, Human Hered­i­ty and Eugen­ics, he pro­posed a Zwill­ingslager or ‘twins camp,’ with­in Auschwitz. . . . The camp was approved and was bureau­crat­i­cal­ly filed under the key­word ‘Twins Camp.’

At the end of May 1943, Men­gele arrived in Auschwitz, where he took con­trol of the ramps where Jews were brought in. Ver­schuer noti­fied the Ger­man Research Soci­ety, ‘My assis­tant, Dr. Josef Men­gele (M.D., Ph.D.) joined me in this branch of research. He is present­ly employed as Haupt­sturm­fuhrer [cap­tain] and camp physi­cian in the Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp. Anthro­po­log­i­cal teswt­ing of the most diverse racial groups in this con­cen­tra­tion camp are being car­ried out with per­mis­sion of the SS Reichs­fuhrer [Himm­ler].’

Nazi Ger­many had now car­ried eugen­ics fur­ther than any dared expect. The future of the mas­ter race that would thrive in Hitler’s Thou­sand-Year Reich lay in twins. For this rea­son, there would now be a spe­cial class of vic­tims of Auschwitz. There would be a spe­cial camp, spe­cial med­ical facil­i­ties and spe­cial laboratories–all for the twins. . . .

The War Against the Weak; Edwin Black; Four Walls Eight Win­dows Press; Copy­right 2003 by Edwin Black; ISBN 1–56858-258–7; pp. 359–360.

EXCERPT: While evi­dence of mass mur­der in the trench­es of Rus­sia and the gas cham­bers of Poland was sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly destroyed, Men­gele’s mur­ders were enshrined in the pro­to­cols of sci­ence. Men­gele’s ghast­ly files did not remain his pri­vate mania, con­fined to Auschwitz. Every case was metic­u­lous­ly anno­tat­ed, employ­ing the best sci­en­tif­ic method pris­on­er doc­tors could muster. Then the files were sent to Ver­schuer’s offices at the [Kaiser Wil­helm] Insti­tute for Anthro­pol­o­gy, Human Hered­i­ty and Eugen­ics in Berlin-Dahlem for study.

An adult pris­on­er, cho­sen to help care for the youngest twins, recount­ed, ‘The moment a pair of twins arrived in the bar­rack, they were asked to com­plete a detailed ques­tion­naire from the Kaiser-Wil­helm Insti­tute in Berlin. One of my duties as [the] ‘Twins’ Father’ was to help them fill it out, espe­cial­ly the lit­tle ones, who could­n’t read or write. These forms con­tained dozens of detailed ques­tions relat­ed to a child’s back­ground, health, and phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics. They asked for the age, weight, and height of the chil­dren, their eye col­or and the col­or of their hair. They were prompt­ly mailed to Berlin.’

Nyis­zli, who had to fill out volu­mi­nous post­mortem reports, recalled Men­gele’s warn­ing: ”I want clean copy, because these reports will be for­ward­ed to the Insti­tute of Bio­log­i­cal, Racial and Evo­lu­tion­ary Research at Berlin-Dahlem.’ Thus I learned that the exper­i­ments per­formed here were checked by the high­est med­ical author­i­ties at one of the most famous sci­en­tif­ic insti­tutes in the world.” [Ital­ics are mine–D.E.]

The reports, coun­ter­signed by Men­gele and sent to Berlin were not just received and ware­housed, they were care­ful­ly reviewed and dis­cussed. A dia­logue devel­oped between Ver­schuer’s insti­tute and Men­gele. Anoth­er pris­on­er assis­tant of Men­gele’s ‘would receive ques­tions about the twins from the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute in Berlin, and he would send them the answers.’ . . .

“Max Planck”; Wikipedia

EXCERPT: . . . . When the Nazis seized pow­er in 1933, Planck was 74. He wit­nessed many Jew­ish friends and col­leagues expelled from their posi­tions and humil­i­at­ed, and hun­dreds of sci­en­tists emi­grat­ed from Ger­many. Again he tried the “per­se­vere and con­tin­ue work­ing” slo­gan and asked sci­en­tists who were con­sid­er­ing emi­gra­tion to remain in Ger­many. He hoped the cri­sis would abate soon and the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion would improve.

Otto Hahn asked Planck to gath­er well-known Ger­man pro­fes­sors in order to issue a pub­lic procla­ma­tion against the treat­ment of Jew­ish pro­fes­sors, but Planck replied, “If you are able to gath­er today 30 such gen­tle­men, then tomor­row 150 oth­ers will come and speak against it, because they are eager to take over the posi­tions of the oth­ers.” . . . .

. . . Under Planck­’s lead­er­ship, the Kaiser-Wil­helm-Gesellschaft (KWG) avoid­ed open con­flict with the Nazi regime, except con­cern­ing Fritz Haber. Planck tried to dis­cuss the issue with Adolf Hitler but was unsuc­cess­ful. In the fol­low­ing year, 1934, Haber died in exile.

One year lat­er, Planck, hav­ing been the pres­i­dent of the KWG since 1930, orga­nized in a some­what provoca­tive style an offi­cial com­mem­o­ra­tive meet­ing for Haber. He also suc­ceed­ed in secret­ly enabling a num­ber of Jew­ish sci­en­tists to con­tin­ue work­ing in insti­tutes of the KWG for sev­er­al years. In 1936, his term as pres­i­dent of the KWG end­ed, and the Nazi gov­ern­ment pres­sured him to refrain from seek­ing anoth­er term. . . .

The Nazis Go Under­ground by Curt Riess; Dou­ble­day, Doran and Com­pa­ny, LCCN 44007162; pp. 181–185.

EXCERPT: A weak man, a man of compromises—that is exact­ly what the Nazis will want, a man who to all out­ward appear­ances will be opposed to all Nazi ideas, a reac­tionary, unable ever to break away from the influence of the peo­ple he has lived with all his life—the reac­tionar­ies. A man who can­not pos­si­bly have any under­stand­ing of any­thing new. . . .

. . . . The pic­ture in Ger­many imme­di­ate­ly after the war would be some­what as fol­lows: at the top a few “decent, neu­tral” states­men [or sci­en­tif­ic experts/luminaries, such as Max Planck–D.E.] who, at first sight, seem to have no con­nec­tion with the Nazis. Behind and around them a great num­ber of men who seem will­ing, even eager, to col­lab­o­rate with the AMG and the occu­py­ing author­i­ties in order to retain their posi­tions. Behind them innu­mer­able front orga­ni­za­tions and Nazi cells bid­ing their time, wait­ing, lying low. . . .

Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin by T.H. Tetens; Hen­ry Schu­man [HC]; 1953; p. 231.

EXCERPT: . . . . Though we are pow­er­less at present, we have nonethe­less nev­er per­mit­ted our­selves to be dis­armed spir­i­tu­al­ly and sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly. Ger­man schol­ars are work­ing unremit­ting­ly in Ger­many as well as abroad on great sci­en­tif­ic plans for the future. Favor­able cir­cum­stances enabled us to keep alive the great research orga­ni­za­tion of the Kaiser Wil­helm Insti­tute through a change of name. First-class sci­en­tists are work­ing in the fields of inter­plan­e­tary nav­i­ga­tion (“Raum­schiff fahrt”), chem­istry and on cos­mic rays. Our sci­en­tists, unham­pered in their work, have suf­fi­cient time and are plan­ning day and night for Ger­many’s future. It is the Ger­man spir­it (“Geist”) that cre­ates mod­ern weapons and that will bring sur­pris­ing changes in the present rela­tion­ship of forces. . . .


5 comments for “FTR #757 The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook, Part 4: Dramatis Personae, Part 4 (The Gruppenhobbit and the Underground Reich)”

  1. And the pri­va­ti­za­tion of mil­i­tary-grade intel­li­gence capa­bil­i­ties con­tin­ues...

    Ryan Mac, Forbes Staff
    12/05/2013 @ 9:00AM
    Palan­tir Seeks $9 Bil­lion Val­u­a­tion In New Round As CEO Alex Karp Nears Bil­lion­aire Mark

    With Twit­ter going pub­lic last month, investors may be look­ing for the next Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­ny to assume the man­tle of the region’s next hot tech firm.

    On fund­ing alone, Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies is mak­ing a strong case for that title.

    In a new round of fund­ing, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based data ana­lyt­ics com­pa­ny is look­ing to raise $100 mil­lion at a $9 bil­lion val­u­a­tion accord­ing to sources close to the com­pa­ny. Sources con­firmed to FORBES that Palan­tir has already attained $58 mil­lion of the expect­ed total and that it plans to file doc­u­ments dis­clos­ing the round with the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion lat­er on Thurs­day.

    At $9 bil­lion, Palan­tir has sig­nif­i­cant­ly boost­ed its val­u­a­tion in less than three months. A soft­ware firm that pro­vides data orga­ni­za­tion and analy­sis tools to clients rang­ing from the FBI to JPMor­gan Chase, the com­pa­ny closed a $196.5 mil­lion round of fund­ing in late Sep­tem­ber at about a $6 bil­lion val­u­a­tion. If it were to attain its expect­ed $100 mil­lion this round, Palan­tir will have raised about $800 mil­lion in total backing–a stag­ger­ing amount for a com­pa­ny that has not yet turned a prof­it. Rev­enues are expect­ed to hit $450 mil­lion this year, up from $300 mil­lion last year based on FORBES esti­mates.

    It is cur­rent­ly unclear which indi­vid­u­als or enti­ties have invest­ed in Palantir’s lat­est round. Pre­vi­ous back­ers include bil­lion­aires Ken­neth Lan­gone and Stan­ley Druck­en­miller as well as CIA ven­ture arm In-Q-Tel; hedge fund Tiger Glob­al; and Peter Thiel’s ven­ture firm, Founders Fund.

    In seek­ing invest­ment at a val­u­a­tion that’s 50% high­er than what it was in Sep­tem­ber, Palan­tir is look­ing to become one Sil­i­con Valley’s most valu­able pri­vate com­pa­nies, a dis­tinc­tion once held by Twit­ter. The San Fran­cis­co-based social media com­pa­ny main­tained a val­u­a­tion of about $10 bil­lion after rais­ing more than $1 bil­lion in fund­ing pri­or to its ini­tial pub­lic offer­ing in Novem­ber.

    Palan­tir CEO Alex Karp remained tepid on the thought of an IPO in inter­views with FORBES in August, stat­ing that it would make “run­ning a com­pa­ny like ours very dif­fi­cult.”

    “Any busi­ness com­pa­ny would IPO [at our size],” said Karp.

    Iron­i­cal­ly if a pub­lic offer­ing were to hap­pen, Karp is among those who would ben­e­fit most. With an esti­mat­ed 10% stake in the com­pa­ny, the CEO’s net worth clocks in at around $900 mil­lion at a $9 bil­lion val­u­a­tion, putting him pre­car­i­ous­ly close to bil­lion­aire range. Karp, how­ev­er, has main­tained that his net worth is of lit­tle impor­tance to him, call­ing wealth “cul­tur­al­ly cor­ro­sive.”


    Just imag­ine how much Palan­tir would be worth if it was secret­ly help­ing the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty with mass sur­veil­lance tools, which it’s total­ly not doing at all.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 5, 2013, 10:09 am
  2. Peter Thiel just had anoth­er inter­view where he pro­motes his the­o­ry that tech­no­log­i­cal progress has stag­nat­ed due to gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion (the hip­pies won, as Thiel sort of puts it). He also puts forth an approach on how to deal with the chal­lenges of mass-sur­veil­lance: “If you can fig­ure out effec­tive ways to iden­ti­fy ter­ror­ists, then you don’t need to be as intru­sive. It’s a lack of tech­nol­o­gy that dri­ves intru­sive behav­iour... This is the sort of prob­lem Palan­tir is try­ing to solve.” Have fun chew­ing on that one:

    Finan­cial Times
    Lunch with the FT: Peter Thiel
    Decem­ber 20, 2013 4:06 pm
    By Richard Waters
    The bil­lion­aire investor and lib­er­tar­i­an thinker believes that in a world of gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance, more tech­nol­o­gy is the answer

    Peter Thiel has only just sat down at a cor­ner table in Palo Alto’s Evvia restau­rant and he is already into a dis­qui­si­tion on the his­to­ry of finan­cial bub­bles.

    “This,” he declares, after list­ing the fre­quent mar­ket erup­tions of the past three decades, “is his­tor­i­cal­ly very anom­alous. There was one bub­ble in the 1920s and one in the 1720s.”

    It is the sort of sweep­ing state­ment, deliv­ered with flat final­i­ty, that Thiel thrives on. Since he has made bil­lion-dol­lar for­tunes twice over, in very dif­fer­ent cor­ners of the invest­ment world (though one of the bil­lions was prompt­ly lost again), you’re inclined to give him the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

    But you also can’t help think­ing: real­ly? What of the rail­road bub­ble of the 1870s or the peri­od­ic booms and busts of capitalism’s gild­ed age? As with many of the eclec­tic asser­tions Thiel (pro­nounced “teal”) uses to pep­per his con­ver­sa­tion – allu­sions to Dick­ens and Shake­speare as well as the broad swaths of eco­nom­ic, tech­no­log­i­cal and polit­i­cal his­to­ry – you wish you could secret­ly Google under the table to fact-check.

    Now the 46-year-old Face­book bil­lion­aire, for­mer hedge fund star and self-styled lib­er­tar­i­an Big Thinker is ready to declare one final bub­ble. This time it is the result of exces­sive gov­ern­ment bor­row­ing to refloat a world strug­gling to get beyond the finan­cial cri­sis. With this, he argues, we have arrived at the Last Bub­ble. There will be no more. Peri­od.


    His man­ner is both pur­pose­ful and wary. He seems unabashed about mak­ing declar­a­tive state­ments that take a big swing at con­tro­ver­sial ideas but cloaks them in hes­i­tant “ums” and takes sev­er­al runs at for­mu­lat­ing his thoughts. He begins almost every state­ment with the words “I think”, as though polite­ly leav­ing it up to the lis­ten­er to choose whether to swal­low each new asser­tion as unde­ni­able fact. Such as: “And of course, um, and of course as a lib­er­tar­i­an, I think it’s imper­a­tive that we stop anoth­er mas­sive ter­ror­ist attack on the US because the worst thing that could hap­pen to this coun­try is that we could get anoth­er Patri­ot Act.”

    Div­ing head first into big ideas is a mark of the high seri­ous­ness that Sil­i­con Val­ley types like to affect, and Thiel is no excep­tion. Though it isn’t entire­ly down to him that we plunged into the his­to­ry of finan­cial bub­bles with bare­ly a moment for niceties.


    Ven­ture cap­i­tal, where suc­cess depends on pick­ing win­ners in the next hot tech mar­kets and stick­ing with them, seems a long way from rid­ing booms and busts as a hedge fund man­ag­er. In Thiel’s world, how­ev­er, all things are con­nect­ed, as he stitch­es ideas togeth­er into a grand uni­fy­ing the­o­ry of our times.

    The pieces fit togeth­er some­thing like this. The his­tor­i­cal­ly anom­alous bub­bles of recent years – Japan’s stock mar­ket boom of the 1980s, the dot­com mania of the 1990s, the hous­ing finance fren­zy of the past decade and, now, the gov­ern­ment bub­ble – all result­ed from the fact that peo­ple retained out­sized expec­ta­tions for the future, even as real­i­ty came up short.

    The rea­son for this expec­ta­tion gap, Thiel argues, is that tech­no­log­i­cal progress came to a halt at the end of the 1960s. As the web­site of Founders Fund declares: “We want­ed fly­ing cars, instead we got 140 char­ac­ters.” Thiel is still mak­ing it up to Twit­ter for this jab: it’s a per­fect­ly fine com­pa­ny, he says, and may even be worth the high val­u­a­tion placed on it by Wall Street, though he adds with dead­pan irony that “it may not be enough to take civil­i­sa­tion to the next lev­el”.

    No mat­ter that Thiel has made a for­tune on Face­book (accord­ing to Forbes, his total wealth is $1.8bn): the inter­net, in his ver­sion of events, has not been enough to make up for an inno­va­tion short­fall.

    He is wary of talk­ing pub­licly about Face­book, since he still sits on its board. But he does say this about the com­pa­ny: “The nuanced truth is, Face­book is a great com­pa­ny, it is a spe­cif­ic suc­cess – it is not, how­ev­er, enough to save our civil­i­sa­tion. Those are not incon­sis­tent state­ments, you know.”

    As to why progress stalled, he says he is less cer­tain. But if pressed it becomes appar­ent that he has plen­ty of the­o­ries. In one suc­cinct for­mu­la­tion, he puts it this way: “We land­ed on the moon in July 1969 and Wood­stock start­ed three weeks lat­er. With the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, that’s when the hip­pies won and some­how progress sort of died, the idea of progress came to an end.”


    I push him for oth­er short­com­ings, with the argu­ment that no one will believe an excess of chess-play­ing is his main char­ac­ter flaw. He cau­tious­ly offers bad time man­age­ment and says he is “not that detail-ori­ent­ed.” What about see­ing oth­er people’s points of view, I sug­gest?

    “I think I’ve got­ten bet­ter at that over the years,” he says. “I think in my twen­ties I tend­ed to think of all peo­ple as sort of more or less alike.”

    He goes on: “I now think that peo­ple are real­ly dif­fer­ent in all these sub­tle ways that are very impor­tant. So if you give crit­i­cal feed­back to peo­ple, there are some peo­ple who will be in tears and oth­ers with whom it won’t even reg­is­ter.”

    He sounds equal­ly uncom­fort­able dis­cussing him­self. The “ums” mul­ti­ply as he tries to explain why he threw in law and bank­ing and came to Sil­i­con Val­ley to pur­sue some­thing far more world-chang­ing. “There was this deci­sion to move back to Cal­i­for­nia and try some­thing new and dif­fer­ent,” he says as though it were some­thing that hap­pened to some­one else.

    He is sim­i­lar­ly vague when talk­ing about the ori­gins of his per­son­al phi­los­o­phy. “I’ve always been very inter­est­ed in ideas and try­ing to fig­ure things out.” His under­grad­u­ate degree, from Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, was in phi­los­o­phy but his stance against the dom­i­nant polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy on many issues seems more vis­cer­al than intel­lec­tu­al. “I think that one of the most con­trar­i­an things one can do in our soci­ety is try to think for one­self,” he says.

    He only real­ly regains his stride when talk­ing about how tech­no­log­i­cal ambi­tion has gone from the world, leav­ing what he calls an “age of dimin­ished expec­ta­tions that has slow­ly seeped into the cul­ture”. Pre­dictably, giv­en his lib­er­tar­i­an bent, much of this is traced back to reg­u­la­tion.

    This is his expla­na­tion for why the com­put­er indus­try (which inhab­its “the world of bits”) has thrived while so many oth­ers (“the world of atoms”) have not. “The world of bits has not been reg­u­lat­ed and that’s where we’ve seen a lot of progress in the past 40 years, and the world of atoms has been reg­u­lat­ed, and that’s why it’s been hard to get progress in areas like biotech­nol­o­gy and avi­a­tion and all sorts of mate­r­i­al sci­ence areas.”

    . . .

    The main cours­es have long since arrived and Thiel has been pick­ing at his salmon with­out much inter­est while ignor­ing the dol­lop of mashed pota­to on the side. The dark wedge of col­lard greens on my plate packs a rich and tangy punch, like swal­low­ing a week’s sup­ply of vit­a­mins in one go, though it rather over­shad­ows the sole along­side.

    Despite occa­sion­al bouts of deter­min­ism – “On my bad days I find the sort of Spen­g­ler­ian decline of the west very com­pelling” – Thiel says he believes in the uncon­strained abil­i­ty of indi­vid­u­als to make a dif­fer­ence. But, he com­plains, “Peo­ple have become too incre­men­tal­ist and too risk-averse and not try­ing hard enough.”

    He holds up Elon Musk, a friend from the Pay­Pal days and now head of both elec­tric car­mak­er Tes­la Motors and pri­vate rock­et com­pa­ny SpaceX, as an exam­ple of how big ideas can still flour­ish. By com­par­i­son, says Thiel, most peo­ple are trapped by social con­for­mi­ty into spout­ing received ideas, from “the aver­age lib­er­al in San Fran­cis­co ... [to] the aver­age church lady in Alaba­ma”. The result, he says, is that “I nev­er know how much peo­ple believe any of the stuff they say”.

    Despite this, he still claims to be an opti­mist. Though his is not the kind that seems endem­ic in Sil­i­con Val­ley, where a Pollyan­na-ish belief in the best out­come reigns supreme.

    “I believe things could be a lot bet­ter,” he says, in self-jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. “There are all these things that aren’t being done.” The fact that “we’re not find­ing cures to can­cer” or that a third of peo­ple past the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s, for instance, is a “crazy cat­a­stro­phe”.

    “I think that all these things could be emi­nent­ly cur­able,” he says. “I think that we could find much cheap­er sources of ener­gy if we worked at this. I think there could be, you know, rad­i­cal life exten­sion.” Although Founders Fund has stayed away from ener­gy, which has proved a grave­yard for start-up investors, it has backed a num­ber of new biotech and health­care busi­ness­es with ambi­tious goals.

    For Thiel, only an accel­er­a­tion of tech­nol­o­gy can pro­vide the solu­tion. Take the prob­lem of uncon­trolled gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. While many would see that as the result of too much tech­nol­o­gy in the hands of an unchecked intel­li­gence estab­lish­ment, Thiel thinks there isn’t enough.

    “If you can fig­ure out effec­tive ways to iden­ti­fy ter­ror­ists, then you don’t need to be as intru­sive. It’s a lack of tech­nol­o­gy that dri­ves intru­sive behav­iour,” he says. This is the sort of prob­lem Palan­tir is try­ing to solve.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 23, 2013, 2:09 pm
  3. Well here’s an Earth Day warm fuzzy. It’s not much of a warm fuzzy for the Earth. But Palan­tir comes across as not look­ing total­ly scary so it’s a some­what scary warm fuzzy:

    Land grabs by elites may endan­ger ele­phants across Africa
    BY Asso­ci­at­ed Press April 20, 2014 at 6:08 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON — Polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary elites are seiz­ing pro­tect­ed areas in one of Africa’s last bas­tions for ele­phants, putting broad swaths of Zim­bab­we at risk of becom­ing fronts for ivory poach­ing, accord­ing to a non­prof­it research group’s report that exam­ines gov­ern­ment col­lu­sion in wildlife traf­fick­ing.

    Zim­bab­we has main­tained robust ele­phant pop­u­la­tions com­pared with oth­er coun­tries on the con­ti­nent. But eco­nom­ic penal­ties imposed by the Unit­ed States and Europe have led Zim­bab­weans with ties to Pres­i­dent Robert Mugabe’s rul­ing par­ty to find new meth­ods of mak­ing mon­ey. The report, set for release Mon­day, says they may be turn­ing to ele­phants’ high­ly val­ued ivory tusks.

    Zimbabwe’s embassy in Wash­ing­ton did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    Born Free USA, an ani­mal advo­ca­cy group, com­mis­sioned the report from Wash­ing­ton-based C4ADS to bet­ter under­stand the role orga­nized crime and cor­rupt gov­ern­ment offi­cials play in ivory traf­fick­ing across Africa, said Adam Roberts, Born Free USA’s chief exec­u­tive offi­cer.


    North of Zim­bab­we, in cen­tral Africa, an esti­mat­ed 23,000 ele­phants, or rough­ly 60 each day, were killed last year. A pound of ele­phant tusk sells for about $1,500 on the black mar­ket. That’s more than dou­ble the price just five years ago. Ivory is used to make carved orna­ments and trin­kets.

    Rhi­noc­er­os­es also are heav­i­ly poached for their horns, which some Asian cul­tures believe con­tain med­i­c­i­nal prop­er­ties.

    TRAFFIC, a glob­al wildlife trade mon­i­tor­ing net­work, says there are between 47,000 and 93,000 ele­phants in Zim­bab­we. The gap is due to the fact that full-fledged sur­veys of the ani­mals have not been car­ried out since 2007, said Richard Thomas, the organization’s spokesman.

    Across Africa, there are close to 500,000 ele­phants, a frac­tion of the near­ly 10 mil­lion that roamed there just 100 years ago.


    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion in Feb­ru­ary pub­lished a nation­al strat­e­gy for com­bat­ing the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar poach­ing indus­try, rely­ing on many of the same tac­tics used against ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and drug car­tels. The plan out­lines a “whole of gov­ern­ment approach” that includes work­ing with oth­er coun­tries to increase the num­ber of inves­ti­ga­tions and arrests, using high-tech gear to iden­ti­fy poach­ing hot spots, and tar­get­ing the bank accounts of wildlife traf­fick­ers and the cor­rupt bureau­crats who assist them.

    “Our find­ings shine a bright light on Zim­bab­we, Mozam­bique, Tan­za­nia, Sudan, and Kenya, where poach­ers move across bor­ders with near impuni­ty, slaugh­ter ele­phants with com­plete dis­re­gard, and use the ivory to fund vio­lent oper­a­tions across the con­ti­nent,” said Born Free USA’s Roberts. “Glob­al lead­ers can­not stand by while the human tragedy and poach­ing cri­sis con­tin­ue.

    Zim­bab­we, the report said, could become a poach­ing hot spot with lit­tle warn­ing.


    Among the areas in jeop­ardy is Zimbabwe’s Save Val­ley Con­ser­van­cy, a 1,000-square-mile col­lec­tion of unfenced wildlife reserves that is home to most of the country’s ele­phants and rhi­noc­er­os­es. Land reform poli­cies have allowed polit­i­cal­ly con­nect­ed peo­ple to receive hunt­ing per­mits and land leas­es in the con­ser­van­cy, accord­ing to C4ADS.

    “Many have his­to­ries of exploita­tive busi­ness prac­tices, muscling into firms, strip­ping them of all val­ue, and mov­ing on, which cre­ates a high risk of sys­tem­at­ic poach­ing on seized lands,” the report said.

    The lack of trans­paren­cy into the inner work­ings of Mugabe’s gov­ern­ment makes it dif­fi­cult to estab­lish direct links between gov­ern­ment loy­al­ists and their inter­ests in wildlife areas. The report said own­er­ship is often masked through asso­ciates, fam­i­ly mem­bers, and shell com­pa­nies.

    Using data-min­ing soft­ware devel­oped by Palan­tir, a tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny in Cal­i­for­nia, C4ADS named 18 peo­ple involved in what the report describes as the “political/military takeover of Save Val­ley Con­ser­van­cy.”

    They include Maj. Gen. Engel­bert Ruge­je, the inspec­tor gen­er­al of Zimbabwe’s defense forces. Ruge­je is not on the sanc­tions list main­tained by the U.S. Trea­sury Depart­ment. He did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    The U.S. Embassy in Zim­bab­we has long been aware of con­cerns over Ruge­je.


    Well there we go. Palan­tir’s vast data­base tech­nol­o­gy and its abil­i­ty to find mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions in vast swathes of data can be used to track down elite poach­ing oper­a­tions and also pre­vent all of the oth­er dam­age asso­ci­at­ed with their loss. If Peter Thiel was­n’t on record describ­ing envi­ron­men­tal­ism as a neg­a­tive force that has ‘out­lawed inno­va­tion’ this would be much bet­ter news. Still, it could be worse! Hap­py Earth Day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 22, 2014, 1:01 pm
  4. Here’s anoth­er area where IT, gov­ern­ment, and the pri­vate sec­tor col­lide in poten­tial­ly alarm­ing ways: the state of Utah just became the first state to imple­ment “Palan­tir Law Enforce­ment”, which links up the records man­age­ment sys­tem of all the par­tic­i­pat­ing depart­ments and cre­ates “a real­ly cool crim­i­nal Face­book. It shows links, rela­tion­ships, crim­i­nal trends... it will also show you in real time where oth­er crimes are occur­ring on a dash­board.” It’s “real­ly cool”, it’s filled with crim­i­nal records, and it’s run by Palan­tir:

    Cot­ton­wood Hol­la­day Jour­nal
    CHPD Launch­es Inno­v­a­tive Tech­nol­o­gy to Solve Crimes
    July 3, 2014
    By Sher­ry Sorensen

    Rapid­ly advanc­ing tech­nol­o­gy is chang­ing the way we live, and it’s even chang­ing the way police fight crime.

    In Feb­ru­ary, the Cot­ton­wood Heights Police Depart­ment joined with the Salt Lake City Police Depart­ment and more than a dozen oth­er agen­cies in using the Palan­tir Law Enforce­ment soft­ware.

    When­ev­er an offi­cer responds to a crime, issues a cita­tion, or arrests some­one, the infor­ma­tion is entered into the depart­men­t’s records man­age­ment sys­tem. Palan­tir allows inves­ti­ga­tors to search the RMS of any par­tic­i­pat­ing agency in the state of Utah.

    “We can input details about a crime or sus­pect, and with­in sec­onds it looks at all those sys­tems. It used to take 2–3 weeks to gath­er that infor­ma­tion using per­son­al con­tacts from dif­fer­ent agen­cies, and now we can do it in sec­onds,” Salt Lake City Deputy Chief Mike Brown said.

    Based on a 2010 impact study of the inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy’s effec­tive­ness in Salt Lake City, agen­cies now have access to “more than 988,000 doc­u­ments, 40,000 mugshots, 117,000 arrest records and 520,000 case reports,” and the time to per­form com­plex inves­ti­ga­tions has been reduced by 95 per­cent using the soft­ware.

    Police Chief Rob­by Rus­so said the ben­e­fits for Cot­ton­wood Heights and oth­er par­tic­i­pat­ing agen­cies to have access to the map­ping and data shar­ing capa­bil­i­ties of Palan­tir are immea­sur­able.

    “I wish we had had this sort of data 30 years ago,” he said. “It’s like a real­ly cool crim­i­nal Face­book. It shows links, rela­tion­ships, crim­i­nal trends... it will also show you in real time where oth­er crimes are occur­ring on a dash­board.”

    Although the tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny’s web­site claims that “Palan­tir Law Enforce­ment pro­vides robust, built-in pri­va­cy and civ­il lib­er­ties pro­tec­tions,” Rus­so remained cau­tious when con­sid­er­ing con­tribut­ing data to the sys­tem.

    “We were a lit­tle appre­hen­sive at first because they’re a pri­vate ven­dor. I’m very con­cerned when it comes to risk­ing oth­er peo­ple’s per­son­al infor­ma­tion,” he said.

    In the end, he was sat­is­fied with the safe­ty mea­sures in place to pro­tect that infor­ma­tion.

    SLPD and sev­er­al oth­er agen­cies deployed the soft­ware in 2010 through an Urban Secu­ri­ty Ini­tia­tive Grant. Since then, the state of Utah has also con­tributed fund­ing, allow­ing the pro­gram to go through sev­er­al expan­sions with no cost to the law enforce­ment agen­cies.


    Cur­rent­ly, there are 60 agen­cies in Utah that use Palan­tir, with an esti­mat­ed 25 who par­tic­i­pate in data inte­gra­tion.

    Utah is the first state nation­wide to expand the soft­ware to a statewide lev­el.

    “Utah’s real­ly well poised to be a bea­con to the rest of the law enforce­ment com­mu­ni­ty nation­wide on how to do data shar­ing,” Palan­tir ana­lyst Ben Thomas said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 14, 2014, 11:18 am
  5. Palan­tir is, not sur­pris­ing­ly, col­lect­ing and ana­lyz­ing data from sites like Face­book for the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. Sur­pris­ing­ly, Palan­tir claims it was­n’t real­ly com­fort­able with this job because of the con­cerns that doing social net­work data col­lec­tion for the US gov­ern­ment would hurt its rep­u­ta­tion in the tech com­mu­ni­ty *snick­er*. But, of course, they took the job any­way:

    The US mil­i­tary is already using Face­book to track your mood
    By Patrick Tuck­er, Defense One July 3, 2014

    Crit­ics have tar­get­ed a recent study on how emo­tions spread on the pop­u­lar social net­work site Face­book, com­plain­ing that some 600,000 Face­book users did not know that they were tak­ing part in an exper­i­ment. Some­what more dis­turb­ing, the researchers delib­er­ate­ly manip­u­lat­ed users’ feel­ings to mea­sure an effect called emo­tion­al con­ta­gion.

    Though Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, home to at least one of the researchers, said the study received no exter­nal fund­ing, but it turns out that the uni­ver­si­ty is cur­rent­ly receiv­ing Defense Depart­ment mon­ey for some extreme­ly sim­i­lar-sound­ing research—the analy­sis of social net­work posts for “sen­ti­ment,” i.e. how peo­ple are feel­ing, in the hopes of iden­ti­fy­ing social “tip­ping points.”

    The tip­ping points in ques­tion include “the 2011 Egypt­ian rev­o­lu­tion, the 2011 Russ­ian Duma elec­tions, the 2012 Niger­ian fuel sub­sidy cri­sis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey,” accord­ing to the web­site of the Min­er­va Ini­tia­tive, a Defense Depart­ment social sci­ence project.

    It’s the sort of work that the US mil­i­tary has been fund­ing for years, most famous­ly via the open-source indi­ca­tors pro­gram, an Intel­li­gence Advanced Research Projects Activ­i­ty (IARPA) pro­gram that looked at Twit­ter to pre­dict social unrest.

    If the idea of the gov­ern­ment mon­i­tor­ing and even manip­u­lat­ing you on Face­book gives you a cold, creep­ing feel­ing, the bad news is that you can expect the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to spend a great deal more time and mon­ey research­ing sen­ti­ment and rela­tion­ships via social net­works like Face­book. In fact, defense con­trac­tors and high-lev­el USin­tel­li­gence offi­cials say that social net­work data has become one of the most impor­tant tools they use in the col­lect­ing intel­li­gence.

    Defense One recent­ly caught up with Lt. Gen. Michael Fly­nn, the direc­tor of the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency who said the US mil­i­tary has “com­plete­ly revamped” the way it col­lects intel­li­gence around the exis­tence of large, open­ly avail­able data sources and espe­cial­ly social media like Face­book. “The infor­ma­tion that we’re able to extract form social media—it’s giv­ing us insights that frankly we nev­er had before,” he said.

    In oth­er words, the head of one of the biggest US mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agen­cies needs you on Face­book.

    “Just over a decade ago, when I was a senior intel­li­gence offi­cer, I spent most of my time in the world of ‘ints’—signals intel­li­gence imagery, human intelligence—and used just a lit­tle bit of open-source infor­ma­tion to enrich the assess­ments that we made. Fast for­ward to 2014 and the explo­sion of the infor­ma­tion envi­ron­ment in just the last few years alone. Open-source now is a place I spend most of my time. The open world of infor­ma­tion pro­vides us most of what we need and the ‘ints’ of old, they enrich the assess­ments that we’re able to make from open-source infor­ma­tion.”

    Open-source intel­li­gence can take a vari­ety of forms, but among the most volu­mi­nous, per­son­al and use­ful is Face­book and Twit­ter data. The avail­abil­i­ty of that sort of infor­ma­tion is chang­ing the way that DIA trains intel­li­gence oper­a­tives. Long gone are the spooks of old who would fish through trash for clues on tar­gets. Here to stay are the eyes look­ing through your vaca­tion pic­tures.

    “We train them dif­fer­ent­ly even than we did a year ago because of the types of tools we have. There are adjust­ments to the trade craft, and that’s due to the amount of infor­ma­tion we can now get our hands on,” Fly­nn said.

    The growth of social media has not just changed day-to-day life at agen­cies like DIA, it’s also giv­en rise to a mini gold rush in defense con­tract­ing. The mil­i­tary will be spend­ing an increas­ing amount of the $50 bil­lion intel­li­gence bud­get on pri­vate con­trac­tors to per­form open-source intel­li­gence gath­er­ing and analy­sis, accord­ing to Fly­nn. That’s evi­denced by the rise in com­pa­nies eager to pro­vide those ser­vices.

    Some of them are well known like Palan­tir, the Sil­i­con Val­ley data visu­al­iza­tion giant that’s been fea­tured promi­nent­ly in Bloomberg Busi­ness­week and has graced the cov­er of Forbes. Col­lect­ing or ana­lyz­ing social net­work data wasn’t some­thing they orig­i­nal­ly want­ed to get into accord­ing to Bryant Chung, a Palan­tir employ­ee. Palan­tir doesn’t mar­ket itself as a data col­lec­tion com­pa­ny. They pro­vide a tool set to help agen­cies visu­al­ize and share data.

    The com­pa­ny wor­ried that part­ner­ing with the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to do social net­work data col­lec­tion could hurt their rep­u­ta­tion among the tech com­mu­ni­ty, increas­ing­ly wary of the gov­ern­ment, accord­ing to Chung. When the com­pa­ny was approached by NATO and some US intel­li­gence groups, they decid­ed to explore the mar­ket­place for sen­ti­ment analy­sis of social net­work data.

    “There are a lot of oth­er com­mer­cial com­pa­nies already in that space. Unless we know we’re going to crush it, we don’t want to get in,” Chung said. “I think we have a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed capa­bil­i­ty, espe­cial­ly at a macro lev­el. For exam­ple, you are inter­est­ed in mon­i­tor­ing an elec­tion some­where in Africa and you want to know who are the peo­ple tweet­ing on one side of an elec­tion ver­sus the oth­er, or who are the most influ­en­tial tweet­ers or you what if you have intel­li­gence that an explo­sion is about to hap­pen at a par­tic­u­lar square, can you con­firm that using Tweets?” That’s the sort of thing Palan­tir wants to help you with.

    Many of the groups doing this sort of work on behalf of the gov­ern­ment are small out­fits you prob­a­bly have nev­er heard of. And ide­al­ly, you nev­er would.

    One of them is a com­pa­ny out of Austin, Texas, called Snap­Trends, found­ed in 2012. They pro­vide a “social lis­ten­ing” ser­vice that ana­lyzes posts to pro­vide insights about the cir­cum­stances of the poster, one of the most impor­tant of which is the poster’s loca­tion. The com­pa­ny uses cell tow­er den­si­ty, social net­work knowhow, and var­i­ous oth­er ele­ments to fig­ure out who is post­ing what and where. Are you some­one who refus­es to geo-tag your tweets out of con­cerns for pri­va­cy? Do you turn off your phone’s GPS receiv­ing capa­bil­i­ty to stay under the prover­bial radar? It doesn’t mat­ter to Snap­Trends.

    One tweet and they can find you.

    “If it’s a dense envi­ron­ment. I can put you with­in a block. If it’s a [bad] envi­ron­ment I can put you with­in two or three blocks,” said Todd Robin­son, direc­tor of oper­a­tions for Defense Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence for the com­pa­ny Gen­er­al Dynam­ics Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy, GDIT, and Snap­Trends pres­i­dent for Mid­dle East­ern oper­a­tions. GDIT part­nered with Snap­Trends to sell their ser­vices to the gov­ern­ment. “Once I do have you, I click this but­ton right here, I can go back five years [of social media posts.]”

    Snap­Trends says that the tool was extreme­ly help­ful in the inves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb attacks. Using social net­work analy­sis, “we found the col­lege kids that had access to the com­put­ers [owned by the sus­pects]. We were able to get to them first,” said Robins.

    The use of social net­work data for intel­li­gence isn’t just fair, Rob­bins says, it’s a no-brain­er. Scrawl­ing Face­book for clues about human behav­ior doesn’t require break­ing in via back­doors or oth­er elab­o­rate pieces of tech­no­log­i­cal trick­ery. “When you join Twit­ter and Face­book, you sign an agree­ment say­ing you will post that to a pub­lic web page. We just pull data from that web page.”

    ”I’m a retired intel­li­gence guy,” he said. “This is not that dif­fi­cult, peo­ple.

    But while social data may be an impor­tant tool in intel­li­gence col­lec­tion, it’s hard­ly a per­ma­nent one.

    In the same way that observ­ing the behav­ior of some sub­atom­ic par­ti­cles changes the behav­ior of those par­ti­cles (called the observ­er effect), watch­ing the tweets and posts of tar­gets can cre­ate an envi­ron­ment where peo­ple tweet less. You poi­son your own well by draw­ing from it. That hap­pens on an indi­vid­ual lev­el in terms of spe­cif­ic human tar­gets but also on a larg­er, soci­etal lev­el.

    “We’ve seen that already,” Robin­son said. “There is always a risk that as peo­ple under­stand this, they’ll quit putting [posts] on there.”

    The view was sec­ond­ed by Snap­Trends co-founder and­CEO, Eric Klas­son. “The more the ‘bad guys’ know about what is pos­si­ble, the less they will use social media. This under­mines state, local, fed­er­al and inter­na­tion­al law enforce­ment efforts,” he told Defense One.

    When asked if he was con­cerned that peo­ple might stop using Face­book, Twit­ter and oth­er social net­works as a result of US intel­li­gence activ­i­ties, Fly­nn answered mat­ter-of-fact­ly: “Yes.”


    You also have to won­der what oth­er gov­ern­ments might be hir­ing these kinds of ser­vices.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 15, 2014, 2:28 pm

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