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

For The Record  

FTR #858 The NED File

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment

Intro­duc­tion: Resum­ing a thread of analy­sis from FTR #857, this pro­gram exam­ines aspects of the most inap­pro­pri­ate­ly-named Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy. A direct exten­sion of the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, NED has assumed many of the func­tions per­formed by CIA in the past, and is a tool for the use of “soft pow­er” to inter­fere in the affairs of oth­er nations.

The over­all goal and rai­son d’e­tre for the NED is regime change.

Since his spon­sor­ship of Cit­i­zen Green­wald’s lat­est jour­nal­is­tic efforts, EBay king­pin Pierre Omid­yar has enjoyed a lus­trous pub­lic per­sona. His polit­i­cal efforts not only belie his sup­posed altru­is­tic ori­en­ta­tion but are inex­tri­ca­bly linked with covert oper­a­tions and the pro­mo­tion of fas­cists of var­i­ous kinds.

A devo­tee of the Aus­tri­an school of eco­nom­ics, Omid­yar not only pro­mot­ed and has ben­e­fit­ed from the elec­tion of Hin­du Nationalist/fascist Naren­dra Modi in India, he oper­at­ed through NED and the Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment to help finance the Maid­an coup in Ukraine. That coup, a covert oper­a­tion that took advan­tage of pop­u­lar dis­sat­is­fac­tion result­ing from the endem­ic cor­rup­tion plagu­ing Ukraine, brought to pow­er the direct polit­i­cal heirs to the OUN/B.

Omid­yar is now part­ner­ing with the NED to estab­lish a fact-check­ing ser­vice, and is also help­ing to finance Ukrain­ian media. Omid­yar has also bought par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.

Activ­i­ties of the sort that NED engages in have moved Russ­ian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to crack down on its oper­a­tions in Rus­sia. NED exec­u­tive Carl Ger­sh­man open­ly called for the West to gain polit­i­cal con­trol over Ukraine, as prepa­ra­tion for effect­ing “regime change” in Rus­sia itself.

Next, the pro­gram excerpts AFA #36, detail­ing the pro­jec­tion of World War II-era fas­cist ele­ments into Lithua­nia by the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy.

The actions of the NED and the resul­tant re-emer­gence of Baltic Waf­fen SS units in places like Lithua­nia is to be seen against the back­ground of the Cru­sade For Free­dom, the same “op” that result­ed in the pro­jec­tion of the OUN/B fas­cists into Ukraine fol­low­ing the over­throw of Yanukovich.

An ille­gal domes­tic covert oper­a­tion, the CFF brought Nazi allies such as the OUN/B, the Croa­t­ian Ustachi, the Roman­ian Iron Guard, the Hun­gar­i­an Arrow Cross, the Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Front and oth­ers into the Unit­ed States in order to dri­ve the polit­i­cal spec­trum to the right.

As of 1952, the  CFF became inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the GOP, with Arthur Bliss Lane play­ing a key role in the GOP’s 1952 cam­paign, as well as being cen­tral­ly involved in the CFF. The CFF spawned the GOP’s eth­nic out­reach orga­ni­za­tion, which was able to deliv­er the swing vote in five key states in Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion years. It even­tu­al­ly became a per­ma­nent part of the GOP.

Con­ceived by Allen Dulles, the CFF was over­seen by Richard Nixon. Its chief spokesper­son was Ronald Rea­gan. The State Depart­ment offi­cial respon­si­ble for bring­ing “fas­cist free­dom fight­ers” like the OUN/B into the Unit­ed States was William Casey (Ronald Rea­gan’s cam­paign man­ag­er in the 1980 Pres­i­den­tial race and lat­er Rea­gan’s CIA direc­tor.) The Nazi wing of the GOP was installed as a per­ma­nent branch of the Repub­li­can Part when George H.W. Bush was the head of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee.

The OUN/B was a key ele­ment of the GOP’s eth­nic out­reach orga­ni­za­tion. It is note­wor­thy that the orga­ni­za­tions that were rep­re­sent­ed in the GOP sub­group were all affil­i­at­ed with the SS dur­ing World War II. They were also inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the Rein­hard Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion.

Per­haps the most impor­tant effect of the Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion was to intro­duce “roll­back” or “lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry” into Amer­i­can strate­gic think­ing. Roll­back was a polit­i­cal wafare and covert oper­a­tion strat­e­gy which had its gen­e­sis in the Third Reich Ost­min­is­teri­um head­ed by Alfred Rosen­berg. This strat­e­gy entailed enlist­ing the aid of dis­si­dent Sovi­et eth­nic minori­ties to over­throw the Sovi­et Union. In return, these minori­ties and their respec­tive republics were to be grant­ed nom­i­nal inde­pen­dence while serv­ing as satel­lite states of “Greater Ger­many.”

In its Amer­i­can incar­na­tion, lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry called for “rolling back” com­mu­nism out of East­ern Europe and the break-up of the Sovi­et Union into its con­stituent eth­nic Republics. Lip-ser­vice was giv­en to ini­ti­at­ing democ­ra­cy in the “lib­er­at­ed” coun­tries. Lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry was pro­ject­ed into main­stream Amer­i­can polit­i­cal con­scious­ness through the Cru­sade for Free­dom.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • Omid­yar Ukrain­ian pro­tege Svit­lana Zalis­chuk’s polit­i­cal task of inte­grat­ing Ukraine into NATO.
  • Putin’s appli­ca­tion of the Amer­i­can law requir­ing polit­i­cal oper­a­tives fund­ed from abroad to reg­is­ter as for­eign agents.
  • The Wash­ing­ton Post’s lurch to the right, under the stew­ard­ship of own­er Jeff Bezos, the chief of Ama­zon.
  • How Omid­yar’s part­ner­ing with NED fits into the polit­i­cal gam­bit of com­bat­ting “Rus­si­a’s infor­ma­tion war.”
  • Review of Omid­yar’s part­ner­ing with a vet­er­an of the noto­ri­ous Phoenix pro­gram in Viet­nam.
  • One of the founders of NED was the late Allen Wein­stein, who served as George W. Bush’s head of the Nation­al Archives. Wein­stein also wrote a hatch­et job on Alger Hiss, who helped expose US indus­tri­al­ists’ rela­tion­ship to Nazi Ger­many. For more on Hiss, see AFA #1.

1. Mark Ames has a new update on the ever evolv­ing nature of Pierre Omidyar’s new media empire: First is now invest­ing in a new inter­na­tional “fact check­ing” ser­vice with the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­racy, which is inex­tri­ca­bly linked with U.S. intel­li­gence and fre­quent­ly func­tions as a front for covert oper­a­tions. He also invest­ed in a Ukrain­ian news ser­vice set up on the eve of the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion. And it looks like there could be many more invest­ments in media orga­ni­za­tions yet to come because it now looks like the whole mod­el for First Look Media has changed: instead of set­ting up a con­stel­la­tion of sep­a­rate inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­is­tic out­lets, First Look is just going to start invest­ing in exist­ing media enter­prises.

Note that one of the founders of NED was the late Allen Wein­stein, who served as George W. Bush’s head of the Nation­al Archives.

“What Pierre Did Next” by Mark Ames; Pan­do Dai­ly; 7/31/2015.

The Guardian report­ed on Tues­day that the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­racy has just been banned from Rus­sia, under strict new laws reg­u­lat­ing NGOs act­ing as for­eign agents.

In that sto­ry, the Guardian cit­ed the fact that Inter­cept pub­lisher Pierre Omid­yar co-fund­ed Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion groups with USAID and the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­racy (NED).

If the Omid­yar con­nec­tion sounds famil­iar, that’s because it was Pan­do that first broke the sto­ry in Feb­ru­ary 2014 (the Guardian linked to our orig­i­nal scoop in its cov­er­age.)

In the 18 months since we broke the sto­ry, Ukraine has col­lapsed into war and despair, with up to 10,000 peo­ple killed and one and a half mil­lion inter­nal­ly-dis­placed refugees — and top US brass talk open­ly of a new Cold War with nuclear-armed Rus­sia, while US mil­i­tary advi­sors train and arm Ukraini­ans to wage war on Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists.

Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk, one of the lead­ers of the Omid­yar-fund­ed NGO that helped orga­nize last year’s rev­o­lu­tion in Kiev, is now in pow­er as an MP in Ukraine’s par­lia­ment, a mem­ber of the new, pro-NATO president’s par­ty bloc. She’s gone from plucky Omid­yar-fund­ed adver­sar­ial activist, to head­ing a par­lia­men­tary sub­com­mit­tee tasked with inte­grat­ing Ukraine into NATO.

I can’t think of anoth­er media tycoon who co-fund­ed a pro-US regime change with Amer­i­can intel­li­gence cutouts like USAID and the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­racy. That Putin tar­geted the NED does not mean it’s either hero­ic or evil—the NED’s sto­ry speaks for itself: The brain­child of Reagan’s CIA direc­tor Bill Casey, the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­racy was set up as an intel­li­gence cutout to sup­port US geopo­lit­i­cal pow­er and under­mine unfriend­ly regimes. One of the NED co-founders, Allen Wein­stein, explained its pur­pose to the Wash­ing­ton Post:

“A lot of what we do today was done covert­ly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Through­out its 30-year his­tory it’s been mired in very typ­i­cal CIA con­tro­ver­sies: In the 80s, the NED was caught fund­ing an out­lawed extreme-right French para­mil­i­tary gang dur­ing Social­ist pres­i­dent Mitterand’s rule; fund­ing a mil­i­tary leader’s vic­to­ri­ous elec­tion in Pana­ma against a more mod­er­ate civil­ian can­di­date; and financ­ing rightwing oppo­nents of Cos­ta Rica’s demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly-elect­ed Nobel Peace Prize-win­ning pres­i­dent, whose sin was oppos­ing Reagan’s dead­ly, dirty war in Nicaragua.

More recent­ly, the NED was caught fund­ing groups that orga­nized the 2002 coup against Venezuela’s demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly-elect­ed pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez; plant­ing a “free-lance jour­nal­ist”    in the AP and New York Times to report on Haiti while the NED was simul­ta­ne­ously fund­ing rightwing groups to under­mine Haiti’s rul­ing par­ty; and co-fund­ing Ukraine regime-change groups with Pierre Omid­yar.

This week, Omid­yar Net­work announced yet anoth­er part­ner­ship with the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­racy and the Poyn­ter Insti­tute to cre­ate an inter­na­tional online fact-check­ing hub. Giv­en the pow­er that a monop­oly on “objec­tive” fact-check­ing offers, the tie-up with the NED takes the Omid­yar alliance with the US empire and media to new­er, creepi­er lev­els. In yet anoth­er Omid­yar-as-pri­vate-arm invest­ment, Omid­yar invest­ed in the slick new Ukrain­ian media, Hromadske.tv, which was set up on the eve of the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion with ini­tial seed fund­ing com­ing from the US Embassy in Kiev. Omidyar’s involve­ment in Ukraine media and “fact-check­ing” is all the more seri­ous giv­en that now Wash­ing­ton and NATO talk about “coun­ter­ing” Russia’s over­hyped “infor­ma­tion war” on the West and on Ukraine—this “infor­ma­tion war” which I cov­ered a bit in my piece on Peter Pomer­ant­sev, is con­sid­ered a top and urgent geostrate­gic pri­or­ity for NATO and the West.

And now in the last week, the lat­est twist to the far­ci­cal “jour­nal­ism par­adise” shit­show: Omid­yar is report­edly in talks with the king of online tabloid-sleaze, Nick Den­ton, to invest in the latter’s per­ma-sued orga­ni­za­tion. As Pando’s Paul Carr wrote ear­lier this week, the ground seems to be being pre­pared for a full-on merg­er of the Inter­cept and Gawk­er, backed by Omidyar’s cash.

As of yes­ter­day, Nick Den­ton appoint­ed John Cook — for­merly edi­tor of the Inter­cept — to be the “tem­po­rary” exec­u­tive edi­tor of Gawk­er. When Cook depart­ed the Inter­cept, he wrote that “Work­ing with my Inter­cept col­leagues has been one of the most ful­fill­ing things I’ve done in my career, and my deci­sion to leave was a painful one to make.”

At the same time, IBT report­ed that Chief Rev­enue Offi­cer, Michael Rosen, had resigned from First Look Media. Rosen’s depar­ture comes just a week after John Tem­ple, First Look’s “Pres­i­dent, Audi­ence and Prod­ucts,” stepped down from his job say­ing “There clear­ly is much excite­ment ahead for First Look, but I feel my con­tri­bu­tion is large­ly com­plete.”

Per­haps it’s a coin­ci­dence that both the guy who is in charge of build­ing an audi­ence for the Inter­cept and the guy tasked with mak­ing it prof­itable have left. Or per­haps not: IBT quotes a source explain­ing that “First Look would soon be mov­ing away from try­ing to cre­ate a con­stel­la­tion of mag­a­zines and begin to focus on empow­er­ing ‘con­tent cre­ators.’ That is, Omid­yar will be invest­ing cash in sites like Gawk­er, along­side his invest­ments in fact-check­ing sites and Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion­ary groups.

How will the Intercept’s audi­ence, which accept­ed Greenwald’s deci­sion to pri­va­tize the Snow­den secrets to Omid­yar, react if Omid­yar then sells jour­nal­ism par­adise to jour­nal­ism sleaze and the Snow­den secrets — our secrets, the public’s secrets — wind up as cap­i­tal assets in First Gawk­er Media?

Snow­den revealed that NSA spooks were spy­ing on their lovers online habits — how will that be mon­e­tized in First Gawk­er Media? Where will Denton’s 20% sleaze dis­count be applied?

2. Next, the pro­gram high­lights Russ­ian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s shut­ting down of NED fronts in Rus­sia. To get an idea of the nature of the so-called “democ­rats” being pro­mot­ed by NED and relat­ed ele­ments, exam­ine the polit­i­cal career of Alex­ei Naval­ny.

“Why Rus­sia Shut Down NED Fronts” by Robert Par­ry; Con­sor­tium News; 7/30/2015.

The Wash­ing­ton Post’s descent into the depths of neo­con­ser­v­a­tive pro­pa­gan­da – will­ful­ly mis­lead­ing its read­ers on mat­ters of grave impor­tance – appar­ent­ly knows no bounds as was demon­strat­ed with two decep­tive arti­cles regard­ing Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and why his gov­ern­ment is crack­ing down on “for­eign agents.”

If you read the Post’s edi­to­r­i­al on Wednes­day and a com­pan­ion op-ed by Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy Pres­i­dent Carl Ger­sh­man, you would have been led to believe that Putin is delu­sion­al, para­noid and “pow­er mad” in his con­cern that out­side mon­ey fun­neled into non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sents a threat to Russ­ian sov­er­eign­ty.

The Post and Ger­sh­man were espe­cial­ly out­raged that the Rus­sians have enact­ed laws requir­ing NGOs financed from abroad and seek­ing to influ­ence Russ­ian poli­cies to reg­is­ter as “for­eign agents” – and that one of the first fund­ing oper­a­tions to fall prey to these tight­ened rules was Gershman’s NED.

The Post’s edi­tors wrote that Putin’s “lat­est move, announced Tues­day, is to declare the NED an ‘unde­sir­able’ orga­ni­za­tion under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foun­da­tions of the con­sti­tu­tion­al sys­tem of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion, its defense capa­bil­i­ties and its nation­al secu­ri­ty.’

“The charge against the NED is patent­ly ridicu­lous. The NED’s grantees in Rus­sia last year ran the gamut of civ­il soci­ety. They advo­cat­ed trans­paren­cy in pub­lic affairs, fought cor­rup­tion and pro­mot­ed human rights, free­dom of infor­ma­tion and free­dom of asso­ci­a­tion, among oth­er things. All these activ­i­ties make for a healthy democ­ra­cy but are seen as threat­en­ing from the Kremlin’s ram­parts. …

“The new law on ‘unde­sir­ables’ comes in addi­tion to one signed in 2012 that gave author­i­ties the pow­er to declare orga­ni­za­tions ‘for­eign agents’ if they engaged in any kind of pol­i­tics and receive mon­ey from abroad. The des­ig­na­tion, from the Stal­in era, implies espi­onage.”

But there are sev­er­al salient facts that the Post’s edi­tors sure­ly know but don’t want you to know. The first is that NED is a U.S. gov­ern­ment-fund­ed orga­ni­za­tion cre­at­ed in 1983 to do what the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency pre­vi­ous­ly had done in financ­ing orga­ni­za­tions inside tar­get coun­tries to advance U.S. pol­i­cy inter­ests and, if need­ed, help in “regime change.”

The secret hand behind NED’s cre­ation was CIA Direc­tor William J. Casey who worked with senior CIA covert oper­a­tion spe­cial­ist Wal­ter Ray­mond Jr. to estab­lish NED in 1983. Casey – from the CIA – and Ray­mond – from his assign­ment inside Pres­i­dent Ronald Reagan’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil – focused on cre­at­ing a fund­ing mech­a­nism to sup­port groups inside for­eign coun­tries that would engage in pro­pa­gan­da and polit­i­cal action that the CIA had his­tor­i­cal­ly orga­nized and paid for covert­ly. To par­tial­ly replace that CIA role, the idea emerged for a con­gres­sion­al­ly fund­ed enti­ty that would serve as a con­duit for this mon­ey.

But Casey rec­og­nized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obvi­ous­ly we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the devel­op­ment of such an orga­ni­za­tion, nor should we appear to be a spon­sor or advo­cate,” Casey said in one undat­ed let­ter to then-White House coun­selor Edwin Meese III – as Casey urged cre­ation of a “Nation­al Endow­ment.”

NED Is Born

The Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy took shape in late 1983 as Con­gress decid­ed to also set aside pots of mon­ey — with­in NED — for the Repub­li­can and Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ties and for orga­nized labor, cre­at­ing enough bipar­ti­san largesse that pas­sage was assured. But some in Con­gress thought it was impor­tant to wall the NED off from any asso­ci­a­tion with the CIA, so a pro­vi­sion was includ­ed to bar the par­tic­i­pa­tion of any cur­rent or for­mer CIA offi­cial, accord­ing to one con­gres­sion­al aide who helped write the leg­is­la­tion.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 ses­sion, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s con­gres­sion­al liai­son came pound­ing at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fas­cell, a senior Demo­c­rat on the House For­eign Affairs Com­mit­tee and a chief spon­sor of the bill. The fran­tic CIA offi­cial con­veyed a sin­gle mes­sage from CIA Direc­tor Casey: the lan­guage bar­ring the par­tic­i­pa­tion of CIA per­son­nel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, not­ing that Fas­cell con­sent­ed, not ful­ly rec­og­niz­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the demand.

The aide said Fas­cell also con­sent­ed to the Rea­gan administration’s choice of Carl Ger­sh­man to head the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy, again not rec­og­niz­ing how this deci­sion would affect the future of the new enti­ty and Amer­i­can for­eign pol­i­cy. Ger­sh­man, who had fol­lowed the clas­sic neo­con­ser­v­a­tive path from youth­ful social­ism to fierce anti­com­mu­nism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) pres­i­dent.

Though NED is tech­ni­cal­ly inde­pen­dent of U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy, Ger­sh­man in the ear­ly years coor­di­nat­ed deci­sions on grants with Ray­mond at the NSC. For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Ray­mond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Ger­sh­man has called con­cern­ing a pos­si­ble grant to the Chi­nese Alliance for Democ­ra­cy (CAD). I am con­cerned about the polit­i­cal dimen­sion to this request. We should not find our­selves in a posi­tion where we have to respond to pres­sure, but this request pos­es a real prob­lem to Carl.”

Cur­rent­ly, Gershman’s NED dis­pens­es more than $100 mil­lion a year in U.S. gov­ern­ment funds to var­i­ous NGOs, media out­lets and activists around the world. The NED also has found itself in the mid­dle of polit­i­cal desta­bi­liza­tion cam­paigns against gov­ern­ments that have got­ten on the wrong side of U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy. For instance, pri­or to the Feb­ru­ary 2014 coup in Ukraine, over­throw­ing elect­ed Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych and installing an anti-Russ­ian regime in Kiev, NED was fund­ing scores of projects.

A sec­ond point left out of the Post’s edi­to­r­i­al was the fact that Ger­sh­man took a per­son­al hand in the Ukraine cri­sis and rec­og­nized it as an inter­im step toward regime change in Moscow. On Sept. 26, 2013, Ger­sh­man pub­lished an op-ed in the Wash­ing­ton Post that called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the West­ern camp could con­tribute to the ulti­mate defeat of Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accel­er­ate the demise of the ide­ol­o­gy of Russ­ian impe­ri­al­ism that Putin rep­re­sents,” Ger­sh­man wrote. “Rus­sians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find him­self on the los­ing end not just in the near abroad but with­in Rus­sia itself.” In oth­er words, NED is a U.S. gov­ern­ment-financed enti­ty that has set its sights on oust­ing Russia’s cur­rent gov­ern­ment.

A third point that the Post ignored is that the Russ­ian law requir­ing out­side-fund­ed polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions to reg­is­ter as “for­eign agents” was mod­eled on a U.S. law, the For­eign Agent Reg­is­tra­tion Act. In oth­er words, the U.S. gov­ern­ment also requires indi­vid­u­als and enti­ties work­ing for for­eign inter­ests and seek­ing to influ­ence U.S. poli­cies to dis­close those rela­tion­ships with the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment or face prison.

If the Post’s edi­tors had includ­ed any or all of these three rel­e­vant fac­tors, you would have come away with a more bal­anced under­stand­ing of why Rus­sia is act­ing as it is. You might still object but at least you would be aware of the full sto­ry. By con­ceal­ing all three points, the Post’s edi­tors were trick­ing you and oth­er read­ers into accept­ing a pro­pa­gan­dis­tic view­point – that the Russ­ian actions were crazy and that Putin was, accord­ing to the Post’s head­line, “pow­er mad.”

Gershman’s Op-Ed

But you might think that Ger­sh­man would at least acknowl­edge some of these points in his Post op-ed, sure­ly admit­ting that NED is financed by the U.S. gov­ern­ment. But Ger­sh­man didn’t. He sim­ply por­trayed Russia’s actions as despi­ca­ble and des­per­ate.

“Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy on Tues­day was declared an “unde­sir­able orga­ni­za­tion” pro­hib­it­ed from oper­at­ing in Rus­sia, is the lat­est evi­dence that the regime of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin faces a wors­en­ing cri­sis of polit­i­cal legit­i­ma­cy,” Ger­sh­man wrote, adding:

“This is the con­text in which Rus­sia has passed the law pro­hibit­ing Russ­ian democ­rats from get­ting any inter­na­tion­al assis­tance to pro­mote free­dom of expres­sion, the rule of law and a demo­c­ra­t­ic polit­i­cal sys­tem. Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, democ­rats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the crim­i­nal penal­ties con­tained in the ‘for­eign agents’ law and oth­er repres­sive laws. They know that these laws con­tra­dict inter­na­tion­al law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a bet­ter future for Rus­sia.”

The ref­er­ence to how a “for­eign agents” reg­is­tra­tion law con­flicts with inter­na­tion­al law might have been a good place for Ger­sh­man to explain why what is good for the goose in the Unit­ed States isn’t good for the gan­der in Rus­sia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to ratio­nal­ize and would have under­mined the pro­pa­gan­dis­tic impact of the op-ed.

So would an acknowl­edge­ment of where NED’s mon­ey comes from. How many gov­ern­ments would allow a hos­tile for­eign pow­er to spon­sor politi­cians and civic orga­ni­za­tions whose mis­sion is to under­mine and over­throw the exist­ing gov­ern­ment and put in some­one who would be com­pli­ant to that for­eign pow­er?

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Ger­sh­man couldn’t find the space to include any bal­ance in his op-ed – and the Post’s edi­tors didn’t insist on any.

3. Exem­pli­fy­ing the type of activ­i­ty in which the NED spe­cial­izes, we review infor­ma­tion about that orga­ni­za­tion’s suc­cess­ful pro­jec­tion of Lithuan­ian Nazi and fas­cist ele­ments into that for­mer Sovi­et Repub­lic. In FTR #848, we exam­ined how the seeds sown by NED took root and flow­ered.

“NED Med­dles in Lithua­nia: Nur­tur­ing Baltic Reac­tion” by Philip Bonosky; Covert Action Quar­ter­ly; Num­ber 25 (Fall 1990).

In April of 1990, the Sovi­et Repub­lic of Lithua­nia star­tled the world by declar­ing itself inde­pen­dent of the U.S.S.R. The U.S. has not yet rec­og­nized Lithua­nia as inde­pen­dent, and Bush’s pub­lic remarks have been mod­er­ate. But beneath this facade of calm state­craft there runs a famil­iar cur­rent of silent U.S. involve­ment in the polit­i­cal affairs of anoth­er coun­try.

The most vis­i­ble inter­ven­tion has been via the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy (NED), which has sup­plied funds, equip­ment, and advice to the prin­ci­pal nation­al­ist oppo­si­tion par­ty Sajud­is. NED has cho­sen to fun­nel its Lithuan­ian aid through one orga­ni­za­tion: the New York-based Lithuan­ian Catholic Reli­gious Aid (LCRA) and its pro­pa­gan­da arm, Lithuan­ian Infor­ma­tion Cen­ter (LIC).

These two orga­ni­za­tions are run by arch-con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic cler­gy. The founder, cur­rent board chair, and the man who has “presided over the steady growth and increas­ing effec­tive­ness of LCRA, Bish­op Vin­cen­tas Briz­gys, was alleged­ly a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor dur­ing World War II. [Raul Hilberg’s The Destruc­tion of the Euro­pean Jews (New York: 1961), and Charles R. Allen’s Nazi War Crim­i­nals Among Us (New York: Jew­ish Cur­rents Reprint, 1963), doc­u­ment Briz­gys’s back­ground. Allen repro­duced Nurem­berg Tri­bunal doc­u­ments relat­ing to the Bish­op.] Briz­gys vehe­ment­ly denies the charge. Sajud­is itself is linked in a vari­ety of ways to the sym­bols and sen­ti­ments of the fas­cist and Nazi peri­ods of Baltic his­to­ry.

The Coun­try in Ques­tion

Lithua­nia lies on the east­ern shore of the Baltic Sea, bor­dered on the south by Poland, on the north by the Lat­vian S.S.R., and on the east by the Byeloruss­ian S.S.R. [Sovi­et Social­ist Republic–a mem­ber of the for­mer U.S.S.R.] It is the west­ern­most extent of the Sovi­et Union, with a pop­u­la­tion (1980) of just over three mil­lion. In the 14th cen­tu­ry invad­ing Ger­mans con­quered the area and imposed the Catholic faith. In the mod­ern era, Lithua­nia has been repeat­ed­ly buf­fet­ed by the shift­ing polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary map of Europe.

Lithua­nia declared inde­pen­dence from Czarist Rus­sia in 1918, but in 1926, the nation­al­ist par­ty took pow­er through a mil­i­tary coup. Declar­ing him­self pres­i­dent Augus­tus Volde­mares and his pre­mier, Antanas Sme­t­ona shaped Lithua­nia into Europe’s sec­ond fas­cist state, based explic­it­ly on the exam­ple of Mus­solin­i’s Italy. Lithua­nia remained a dic­ta­tor­ship until 1939, when Sme­toma fled to the U.S. and a new par­lia­ment vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to become a con­stituent repub­lic of the U.S.S.R. With the Ger­man inva­sion of the Sovi­et Union 1n 1941, Lithua­ni­a’s nation­al­ists returned briefly to pow­er and assist­ed the Nazis in the swift, sys­tem­at­ic slaugh­ter of more than 130,000 Lithuan­ian Jews, com­mu­nists and oth­er “unde­sir­ables.”

Enter NED

In April 1990, a 34-year-old Amer­i­can, William J.H. Hough III, was very  busy in Lithua­nia. Hough was sent to Lithuania–although he does­n’t speak Lithuanian–as legal advis­er to Vytau­tas Lands­ber­gis, the leader of the nation­al­ist par­ty. He was rec­om­mend­ed by LCRA/LIC, which the U.S. press has cit­ed as very enthu­si­as­tic about his work.

Coop­er­at­ing close­ly with Hough, LCRA/LIC has sup­plied Sajud­is with paper, pho­to­copy machines, com­put­ers, laser print­ers, FAX machines, and video cam­eras. With addi­tion­al polit­i­cal and tech­ni­cal exper­tise, Vil­nius quick­ly became a com­mu­ni­ca­tions hub for seces­sion­ist forces in Lithua­nia and oth­er Sovi­et republics.

Professionally,Hough is a lawyer. He was also an edi­tor of The New York Law School Jour­nal of Inter­na­tion­al and Com­par­a­tive Law, which pub­lished in its Win­ter 1985 issue his book-length arti­cle titled, “The Annex­a­tion of the Baltic States and its Effect on the Devel­op­ment of Law Pro­hibit­ing Forcible Seizure of Ter­ri­to­ry.” Hough describes the inter­war peri­od of Lithuan­ian his­to­ry [its fas­cist period–D.E.] as one of “polit­i­cal and con­sti­tu­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty” and “progress toward the restora­tion of full democ­ra­cy.” He fails to men­tion the col­lab­o­ra­tion of nation­al­ists and Nazis. In his pub­lic jus­ti­fi­ca­tions of seces­sion, Lands­ber­gis has fre­quent­ly referred to Hough’s inter­pre­ta­tion of Lithuan­ian his­to­ry.

Hough’s his­to­ry of Lithua­nia must be reas­sur­ing to NED’s ide­o­logues and their Lithuan­ian clients, some of whom share a past they might rea­son­ably pre­fer to for­get.

Chan­nel­ing Endow­ment Dol­lars

Dur­ing the past two years, NED has grant­ed $70,000 to LCRA/LIC. They are not obvi­ous­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic orga­ni­za­tions. Found­ed in 1961 to “pro­vide the Church under the Sovi­et oppres­sion with spir­i­tu­al and mate­r­i­al assis­tance . . . .,” LCA’s par­ent orga­ni­za­tion was the Lithuan­ian Roman Catholic Priests’ League. The qui­et obscu­ri­ty of this group belies the wel­come they receive in the halls of pow­er. LCRA exec­u­tive direc­tor Father Casimir Pugevi­cius served on an advi­so­ry com­mit­tee to Sen­a­tor Charles Per­cy (Rep.–Ill.), then a mem­ber of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee. He was also wel­comed in the Rea­gan White House in 1986.

Accord­ing to LCRA/LIC, its 1990 grant appli­ca­tion to NED request­ed $618,300 and out­lined its ambi­tious pro­pos­al as fol­lows:

. . . . five sep­a­rate pro-demo­c­ra­t­ic orga­ni­za­tions would receive tech­ni­cal and mate­r­i­al aid. The first, a coali­tion of demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ties enjoy­ing broad sup­port in Lithua­nia and capa­ble of assum­ing lead­ing roles in the new leg­is­la­ture would receive com­put­er and audio-visu­al equip­ment . . . . Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and video equip­ment will also be trans­port­ed to the Sajud­is Infor­ma­tion Agency . . . . [Accord­ing to NED, funds went only to  Sajud­is.]

The sec­ond part of the project would ensure a con­tin­u­ous sup­ply of much need­ed paper for inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ers and orga­ni­za­tions. The dra­mat­ic increase in the num­ber of demo­c­ra­t­ic groups in Lithua­nia in the past year has caused severe short­ages in the very lim­it­ed pool of resources. . . . Because of the greater degree of lib­er­al­iza­tion in Lithua­nia, this repub­lic has emerged as the pub­lish­ing cen­ter for the inde­pen­dent groups through­out the Sovi­et Union. . . .

With­in weeks of the arrival of these goods, tra­di­tion­al sources of infor­ma­tion in Lithua­nia were sup­pressed or tak­en over by Sajud­is. Nation­al­ist sym­pa­thiz­ers cut off broad­cast pro­gram­ming  from Moscow, and Lithua­nia was soon flood­ed with seces­sion­ist pro­pa­gan­da. In the ensu­ing elec­tion, Sajud­is man­aged to dom­i­nate the scene by rid­ing the crest of a wave of nation­al­ist sen­ti­ment. It won a major­i­ty in the Seim (par­lia­ment). In March, a hasti­ly con­vened ses­sion of par­lia­ment vot­ed for seces­sion (91–38) in a mat­ter of hours. Laws were passed curb­ing oppo­si­tion news­pa­pers and chang­ing the flag and nation­al anthem, revert­ing to ver­sions in use dur­ing the nation­al­ist peri­od. As to whether, or what, of real sub­stance should change, Sajud­is remained silent.

Echoes From the Past

To Lithua­ni­ans old enough to remem­ber the Sec­ond World War, the ener­getic activ­i­ties of Sajud­is, LCRA, and LIC must seem vague­ly famil­iar. Lands­ber­gis’s father was a mem­ber of the Savan­do­ri­ai (nation­al­ist mili­tia), who fought the Rus­sians (1918–1919), helped enforce the suc­ces­sive dic­ta­tor­ships of Volde­mares and Sme­t­ona, and col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Ger­man occu­pa­tion.

A reporter for Der Spiegel wrote in April 1990 that: “Every­body fears Sajud­is. Any­one who attacks Sajud­is is declared an an ene­my of the peo­ple by Lands­ber­gis, and that hap­pens very quick­ly.”  In addi­tion the Savan­do­ri­ai (ille­gal under Sovi­et law) have been revived under the lead­er­ship of retired army offi­cers.

Pri­or to the Ger­man inva­sion in June 1941, a Berlin-based “Lithuan­ian Infor­ma­tion Bureau,” the pro­pa­gan­da arm of the Lithuan­ian Activist Front, a nation­al­ist exile orga­ni­za­tion, sent the fol­low­ing mes­sage into Lithua­nia:

. . . . lib­er­a­tion is close at hand. . . . upris­ings must be start­ed in the cities, towns and vil­lages of Lithua­nia. . . . com­mu­nists and oth­er trai­tors. . . . must be arrest­ed at once. . . . (The trai­tor will be par­doned only pro­vid­ed beyond doubt that he has killed one Jew at least.)

In the book Blow­back, Christo­pher Simp­son crisply sum­ma­rizes part of the “lib­er­a­tion” that fol­lowed:

. . . . munic­i­pal killing squads employ­ing Lithuan­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors elim­i­nat­ed 46,692 Jews in few­er than three months, accord­ing to their own reports, main­ly by com­bin­ing clock-like liq­ui­da­tions of 500 Jews per day in the cap­i­tal city of Vil­nius with mobile “clean-up” sweeps through the sur­round­ing coun­try­side.

Such squads were con­sis­tent­ly used by the Nazis for the dirty work that even the SS believed  to be beneath the dig­ni­ty of the Ger­man sol­dier. . . . .

On August 4, 1941, the Lithuan­ian Activist Front, installed a pro­vi­sion­al gov­ern­ment, tak­ing care to coop­er­ate ful­ly with the Nazis. The invaders let pres­i­dent Juozas Ambraze­vi­cius’s gov­ern­ment stand for three months, dur­ing which time the worst of the killings occurred. After the war, Ambraze­vi­cius fled to the U.S., where he changed his name to Brazaitis.

The crimes which prompt­ed the post-war flight of many Lithuan­ian nation­al­ists were stark­ly doc­u­ment­ed in the “Jaeger Report,” an offi­cial count by the SS offi­cer who super­vised the mas­sacres:

Ein­satzkom­man­do 3 Kovno, Decem­ber 1, 1941

Secret State Doc­u­ment

Sum­ma­ry of all exe­cu­tions car­ried out in the sphere of action of Ein­satzkom­man­do 3 up to Decem­ber 1, 1941.

Ein­satzko­man­do 3 took over its duties as secu­ri­ty police in Lithua­nia on the 2nd of July 1941. . . . In com­pli­ance with my direc­tives and on my order the Lithuan­ian par­ti­sans have car­ried out the fol­low­ing exe­cu­tions. . . .

What fol­lowed was a chrono­log­i­cal account­ing of the activ­i­ties of the killing squads. Vic­tims were neat­ly cat­e­go­rized: Jew­ish men, Jew­ish women, Jew­ish chil­dren, Poles, Lithuan­ian com­mu­nists, Russ­ian com­mu­nists, Intel­lec­tu­al Jews, Lunatics, Gyp­sies, Polit­i­cal Instruc­tors, Arme­ni­ans. . . .

After the first 3,000 deaths, Jaeger appar­ent­ly decid­ed that the Lithuan­ian nation­al­ists alone were equal to the task;

. . . . After orga­niz­ing a mobile unit under SS-Ober­s­tum­fuhrer Hamann and 8 to 10 tried men of EK 3 the fol­low­ing actions were car­ried out in coop­er­a­tion with the Lithuan­ian par­ti­sans. . . .

. . . . Before the EK 3 assumed secu­ri­ty duties, the par­ti­sans them­selves killed [4,000 ] Jews through pogroms and exe­cu­tions. . . .

. . . . I can state today that the goal of solv­ing the Jew­ish prob­lem in Lithua­nia has been reached by EK 3. There are no Jews in Lithua­nia any­more except the work Jews and their fam­i­lies. . . .The goal to clear Lithua­nia of Jews could be achieved only thanks to . . . men . . . . who adopt­ed my goal with­out any reser­va­tions and man­aged to secure the coop­er­a­tion of the Lithuan­ian par­ti­sans and and the respec­tive civ­il offices. . . .

The final tal­ly of those killed was 137, 346. As the report clear­ly indi­cates, the Nazis were assist­ed by both the para­mil­i­tary bands asso­ci­at­ed with the nation­al­ists, and by those in posi­tions of authority–including mem­bers of the Catholic cler­gy.

A Nazi Col­lab­o­ra­tor Pros­pers in Chica­go

As aux­il­iary Bish­op of Kau­nas, (Kovno) dur­ing the Ger­man occu­pa­tion, Bish­op Vin­cen­tas Briz­gys, founder of LCRA/LIC, lent his spir­i­tu­al author­i­ty to fas­cism. When the Nazis retreat­ed, so did he, first to Ger­many, then to Chica­go where he has lived, worked, and car­ried the nation­al­ist ban­ner for 25 years.

The cler­gy hat­ed social­ism or very clear rea­sons. The social­ist gov­ern­ment which came to pow­er in 1939 had sep­a­rat­ed church and state. Church prop­er­ty was con­fis­cat­ed, includ­ing large farms where peas­ants labored under semi-feu­dal con­di­tions elim­i­nat­ed else­where in Europe cen­turies before. Cler­gy were removed from gov­ern­ment and the edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem, two insti­tu­tions where they had long wield­ed pow­er­ful influ­ence.

Arch­bish­op Skvireckas, Briz­gys’s supe­ri­or, doc­u­ment­ed the bish­op’s col­lab­o­ra­tionist activ­i­ties with evi­dent sat­is­fac­tion. The arch­bish­op’s diary for July 1, 1941, reveals that Briz­gys made con­tact:

. . . . with the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Ger­man gov­ern­ment for the Baltic sta­t­ics. [Dr. Groffe, for­mer­ly head of Gestapo in East Prus­sia who] . . . pro­posed . . . . that he [Briz­gys] should make an appeal to the peo­ple to behave qui­et­ly and pur­sue their dai­ly busi­ness with con­fi­dence, with­out any fear that they might be harmed. . . .

On June 30, 1941, the arch­bish­op had writ­ten: “The ideas in Mein Kampf on the ques­tion of the Bol­she­vik-Jew­ish con­ta­gion are splen­did . . . . they prove that Hitler is not only an ene­my of the Jews, but gen­er­al­ly speak­ing has the right ideas.”

An appeal to wel­come the Nazis was broad­cast by radio, ten pub­lished in a major Kau­nas news­pa­per, signed by Skviteckas, Briz­gys and Vic­ar Gen­er­al Saulys. Their sig­na­tures were also on a for­mal telegram of thanks to Hitler for “Lithua­ni­a’s Lib­er­a­tion,” sent in the mid­dle of July 1941.

As the Nazis and their col­lab­o­ra­tors imple­ment­ed the dia­bol­i­cal log­ic of Mein Kampf, Briz­gys “set an exam­ple for the entire pop­u­la­tion by for­bid­ding the cler­gy to aid the Jews in any way.” He also urged from his pul­pit, and via radio and news­pa­per, that Lithua­ni­ans coop­er­ate with the Nazis.

When the Sovi­et army, led by its 16th Lithuan­ian divi­sion, drove the Nazis out in 1944, Briz­gys fled to safe­ty in Ger­many, then to the U.S. Send to the arch­dio­cese of Chica­go, he helped launch Lithuan­ian Catholic Reli­gious Aid in 1961, and served as LCRA pres­i­dent until 1986. He is now chair of the board of direc­tors.

Oth­er Friends of Lithuan­ian Democ­ra­cy

  • Direc­tor of Spe­cial Projects for LCRA/LIC is Rasa Raz­gaitis, step­daugh­ter of accused war crim­i­nal Jur­gis Juodis. Because of his involve­ment as a nation­al­ist mil­i­tary offi­cer in the mas­sacres of 1941, Juodis became the sub­ject of a Jus­tice Depart­ment Office of Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions (OSIS) inquiry in 1981. In addi­tion to her work with LCA, Raz­gaitis is head of “Amer­i­cans for Due Process,” an orga­ni­za­tion “formed sole­ly to chal­lenge the activ­i­ties of the Jus­tice Depart­men­t’s war crimes unit.” She is also a friend of Patrick Buchanan, through whom she gained access to the Rea­gan White House when Buchanan was Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor.
  • AFL-CIO pres­i­dent Lane Kirk­land is a long time mem­ber of the cold war­rior clique Com­mit­tee on the Present Dan­ger, and sup­ports CIA manip­u­la­tion of labor move­ments around the globe. Kirk­land has wel­comed Lands­ber­gis as a friend dur­ing his U.S. vis­its. Kirk­land’s name was on an open let­ter to Pres­i­dent Bush pub­lished in the April 22, 1990 New York Times call­ing for imme­di­ate recog­ni­tion of Lithuan­ian inde­pen­dence. Kirk­land is on the NED board.
  • Richard Ebel­ing, vice pres­i­dent of the Future Free­dom Foun­da­tion (FFF) of Den­ver, has been invit­ed by Sajud­is to lec­ture “in Lithua­nia, on the prin­ci­ples of free­dom.” In addi­tion, six Sajud­is econ­o­mists have met with lead­ers of FFF to dis­cuss “free mar­ket pro­pos­als . . . .  made as rad­i­cal as pos­si­ble.” Among oth­ers dis­cussed were the now-famil­iar calls for rapid dena­tion­al­iza­tion of all indus­tries and state pros­per­i­ty; decon­trol of all prices and wages, both in the con­sumer and pro­duc­tion mar­kets; and pri­va­ti­za­tion of social ser­vices includ­ing med­ical retire­ment pen­sions. . . . . .


One comment for “FTR #858 The NED File”

  1. Yasha Levine had a fas­ci­nat­ing piece back in March on the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors (BBG), a US gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion with quite a num­ber of par­al­lels with the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy. It also hap­pens to be a gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion that’s invest­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in devel­op­ing anti-sur­veil­lance tools devel­oped by anti-sur­veil­lance activist like Jacob Appel­baum so they could build tools like TOR:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    Inter­net pri­va­cy, fund­ed by spooks: A brief his­to­ry of the BBG

    By Yasha Levine
    March 1, 2015

    For the past few months I’ve been cov­er­ing U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of pop­u­lar Inter­net pri­va­cy tools like Tor, Cryp­to­Cat and Open Whis­per Sys­tems. Dur­ing my report­ing, one agency in par­tic­u­lar keeps pop­ping up: An agency with one of those real­ly bland names that masks its wild, bizarre his­to­ry: the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, or BBG.

    The BBG was formed in 1999 and runs on a $721 mil­lion annu­al bud­get. It reports direct­ly to Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry and oper­ates like a hold­ing com­pa­ny for a host of Cold War-era CIA spin­offs and old school “psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare” projects: Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Martí, Voice of Amer­i­ca, Radio Lib­er­a­tion from Bol­she­vism (since renamed “Radio Lib­er­ty”) and a dozen oth­er gov­ern­ment-fund­ed radio sta­tions and media out­lets pump­ing out pro-Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­da across the globe.

    Today, the Con­gres­sion­al­ly-fund­ed fed­er­al agency is also one of the biggest back­ers of grass­roots and open-source Inter­net pri­va­cy tech­nol­o­gy. These invest­ments start­ed in 2012, when the BBG launched the “Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund” (OTF) — an ini­tia­tive housed with­in and run by Radio Free Asia (RFA), a pre­mier BBG prop­er­ty that broad­casts into com­mu­nist coun­tries like North Korea, Viet­nam, Laos, Chi­na and Myan­mar. The BBG endowed Radio Free Asi­a’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund with a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar bud­get and a sin­gle task: “to ful­fill the U.S. Con­gres­sion­al glob­al man­date for Inter­net free­dom.”

    It’s already a mouth­ful of prover­bial Wash­ing­ton alpha­bet soup — Con­gress funds BBG to fund RFA to fund OTF — but, regard­less of which sub-group ulti­mate­ly writes the check, the impor­tant thing to under­stand is that all this fed­er­al gov­ern­ment mon­ey flows, direct­ly or indi­rect­ly, from the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors.

    Between 2012 and 2014, Radio Free Asi­a’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund poured more than $10 mil­lion into Inter­net pri­va­cy projects big and small: open-source encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tion apps, next-gen­er­a­tion secure email ini­tia­tives, anti-cen­sor­ship mesh net­work­ing plat­forms, encryp­tion secu­ri­ty audits, secure cloud host­ing, a net­work of “high-capac­i­ty” Tor exit nodes and even an anony­mous Tor-based tool for leak­ers and whistle­blow­ers that com­pet­ed with Wik­ileaks.

    Though many of the apps and tech backed by Radio Free Asi­a’s OTF are unknown to the gen­er­al pub­lic, they are high­ly respect­ed and extreme­ly pop­u­lar among the anti-sur­veil­lance Inter­net activist crowd. OTF-fund­ed apps have been rec­om­mend­ed by Edward Snow­den, cov­ered favor­ably by ProP­ub­li­ca and The New York Times’ tech­nol­o­gy reporters, and repeat­ed­ly pro­mot­ed by the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion. Every­one seems to agree that OTF-fund­ed pri­va­cy apps offer some of the best pro­tec­tion from gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance you can get. In fact, just about all the fea­tured open-source apps on EFF’s recent “Secure Mes­sag­ing Score­card” were fund­ed by OTF.

    Here’s a small sam­ple of what the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors fund­ed (through Radio Free Asia and then through the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund) between 2012 and 2014:

    * Open Whis­per Sys­tems, mak­er of free encrypt­ed text and voice mobile apps like TextSe­cure and Signal/RedPhone, got a gen­er­ous $1.35-million infu­sion. (Face­book recent­ly start­ed using Open Whis­per Sys­tems to secure its What­sApp mes­sages.)
    * Cryp­to­Cat, an encrypt­ed chat app made by Nadim Kobeis­si and pro­mot­ed by EFF, received $184,000.
    * LEAP, an email encryp­tion start­up, got just over $1 mil­lion. LEAP is cur­rent­ly being used to run secure VPN ser­vices at RiseUp.net, the rad­i­cal anar­chist com­mu­ni­ca­tion col­lec­tive.
    * A Wik­ileaks alter­na­tive called Glob­aLeaks (which was endorsed by the folks at Tor, includ­ing Jacob Appel­baum) received just under $350,000.
    * The Guardian Project — which makes an encrypt­ed chat app called Chat­Se­cure, as well a mobile ver­sion of Tor called Orbot — got $388,500.
    * The Tor Project received over $1 mil­lion from OTF to pay for secu­ri­ty audits, traf­fic analy­sis tools and set up fast Tor exit nodes in the Mid­dle East and South East Asia.

    In 2014, Con­gress mas­sive­ly upped the BBG’s “Inter­net free­dom” bud­get to $25 mil­lion, with half of that mon­ey flow­ing through RFA and into the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund. This $12.75 mil­lion rep­re­sent­ed a three-fold increase in OTF’s bud­get from 2013 — a con­sid­er­able expan­sion for an out­fit that was just a few years old. Clear­ly, it’s doing some­thing that the gov­ern­ment likes. A lot.

    With those resources, the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund’s moth­er-agency, Radio Free Asia, plans to cre­ate a ver­ti­cal­ly inte­grat­ed incu­ba­tor for bud­ding pri­va­cy tech­nol­o­gists around the globe — pro­vid­ing every­thing from train­ing and men­tor­ship, to offer­ing them a secure glob­al cloud host­ing envi­ron­ment to run their apps, to legal assis­tance.

    Radio Free Asi­a’s OTF oper­ates its own “secure cloud” infra­struc­ture, which grantees can use to safe­ly deploy their anti-sur­veil­lance apps — with serv­er nodes in Turkey, Cam­bo­dia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Ams­ter­dam and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. It also runs a “legal lab” which pro­vides free legal ser­vices to projects with OTF fund­ing. The Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund even runs a “Rapid Response Fund” pro­vid­ing “emer­gency sup­port” (includ­ing fund­ing and tech­ni­cal help) to pri­va­cy projects, pro­tect­ing pri­va­cy ser­vices against DDoS attacks and oth­er mali­cious assaults by hack­ers and hos­tile gov­ern­ments.

    And then there are the many aca­d­e­m­ic pro­grams under­writ­ten by the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, includ­ing six month fel­low­ships that pay a $4,000 stipend at the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, Harvard’s Berk­man Cen­ter for Inter­net & Soci­ety, and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Cit­i­zen Lab.

    Sil­i­con Val­ley has opened its doors to the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund. In 2014, OTF launched a coor­di­nat­ed project with Drop­box and Google to make free, easy-to-use pri­va­cy tools, and Face­book announced it was incor­po­rat­ing the under­ly­ing encryp­tion tech­nol­o­gy of one of OTF’s flag­ship projects — Open­Whis­per Sys­tems — into its What­sApp text mes­sag­ing ser­vice.

    Equal­ly impor­tant is the cul­tur­al affin­i­ty: Radio Free Asia and OTF seemed to real­ly get the hack­tivists and the open-source cryp­to com­mu­ni­ty. Its day-to-day oper­a­tions are run by Dan Mered­ith, a young guy who used to work at Al-Jazeera in Qatar as a “tech­nol­o­gist” and who is an alum­nus of aca­d­e­m­ic and think-tank pri­va­cy-activist cir­cles. Mered­ith isn’t your typ­i­cal stuffy State Depart­ment suit, he’s a depar­ture from the pic­ture in most peo­ple’s heads of the sort of per­son who’d lead a US gov­ern­ment project with major for­eign pol­i­cy impli­ca­tions. He’s flu­ent in the cryp­to/open-source techie lin­go that those in the grass­roots com­mu­ni­ty can iden­ti­fy with. Under Mered­ith’s watch, the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund pass­es itself off as a grass­roots out­fit with a lo-fi look and feel. Its home­page even fea­tures a cute 8‑bit YouTube video out­lin­ing its do-good­er mis­sion of using “pub­lic funds to sup­port Inter­net free­dom projects” which pro­mote “human rights and open soci­eties.”

    Read­ers might find it odd that a US gov­ern­ment agency estab­lished as a way to laun­der the image of var­i­ous shady pro­pa­gan­da out­fits (more on that soon) is now keen to fund tech­nolo­gies designed to pro­tect us from the US gov­ern­ment. More­over, it might seem curi­ous that its mon­ey would be so warm­ly wel­comed by some of the Inter­net’s fiercest antigov­ern­ment activists.

    But, as folks in the open-source pri­va­cy com­mu­ni­ty will tell you, fund­ing for open-source encryp­tion/an­ti-sur­veil­lance tech has been hard to come by. So they’ve wel­comed mon­ey from Radio Free Asi­a’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund with open pock­ets. Devel­op­ers and groups sub­mit­ted their projects for fund­ing, while lib­er­tar­i­ans and anti-gov­ern­men­t/an­ti-sur­veil­lance activists enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly joined OTF’s advi­so­ry coun­cil, sit­ting along­side rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Google and the US State Depart­ment, tech lob­by­ists, and mil­i­tary con­sul­tants.

    But why is a fed­er­al­ly-fund­ed CIA spin­off with decades of expe­ri­ence in “psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare” sud­den­ly blow­ing tens of mil­lions in gov­ern­ment funds on pri­va­cy tools meant to pro­tect peo­ple from being sur­veilled by anoth­er arm of the very same gov­ern­ment? To answer that ques­tion, we have to pull the cam­era back and exam­ine how all of those Cold War pro­pa­gan­da out­lets begat the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors begat Radio Free Asia begat the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund. The sto­ry begins in the late 1940’s.

    The ori­gins of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors

    The Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors traces its begin­nings to the ear­ly Cold War years, as a covert pro­pa­gan­da project of the new­ly-cre­at­ed Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency to wage “psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare” against Com­mu­nist regimes and oth­ers deemed a threat to US inter­ests.

    George Ken­nan — the key archi­tect of post-WWII for­eign pol­i­cy — pushed for expand­ing the role of covert peace­time pro­grams. And so, in 1948,Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil Direc­tive 10/2 offi­cial­ly autho­rized the CIA to engage in “covert oper­a­tions” against the Com­mu­nist Men­ace. Clause 5 of the direc­tive defined “covert oper­a­tions” as “pro­pa­gan­da, eco­nom­ic war­fare; pre­ven­tive direct action, includ­ing sab­o­tage, anti-sab­o­tage, demo­li­tion and evac­u­a­tion mea­sures; sub­ver­sion against hos­tile states, includ­ing assis­tance to under­ground resis­tance move­ments, guer­ril­las and refugee lib­er­a­tion groups, and sup­port of indige­nous anti-com­mu­nist ele­ments in threat­ened coun­tries of the free world.”

    Pro­pa­gan­da quick­ly became one of the key weapons in the CIA’s covert oper­a­tions arse­nal. The agency estab­lished and fund­ed radio sta­tions, news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines, his­tor­i­cal soci­eties, emi­gre “research insti­tutes,” and cul­tur­al pro­grams all over Europe. In many cas­es, it fun­neled mon­ey to out­fits run and staffed by known World War II war crim­i­nals and Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, both in Europe and here in the Unit­ed States.

    Christo­pher Simp­son, author of “Blow­back: Amer­i­ca’s Recruit­ment of Nazis and Its Destruc­tive Impact on Our Domes­tic and For­eign Pol­i­cy”, details the extent of these “psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare projects”:

    CIA-fund­ed psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare projects employ­ing East­ern Euro­pean émi­grés became major oper­a­tions dur­ing the 1950s, con­sum­ing tens and even hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars. . . .This includ­ed under­writ­ing most of the French Paix et Lib­erté move­ment, pay­ing the bills of the Ger­man League for Strug­gle Against Inhu­man­i­ty , and financ­ing a half dozen free jurists asso­ci­a­tions, a vari­ety of Euro­pean fed­er­al­ist groups, the Con­gress for Cul­tur­al Free­dom, mag­a­zines, news ser­vices, book pub­lish­ers, and much more. These were very broad pro­grams designed to influ­ence world pub­lic opin­ion at vir­tu­al­ly every lev­el, from illit­er­ate peas­ants in the fields to the most sophis­ti­cat­ed schol­ars in pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties. They drew on a wide range of resources: labor unions, adver­tis­ing agen­cies, col­lege pro­fes­sors, jour­nal­ists, and stu­dent lead­ers, to name a few. [empha­sis added]

    In Europe, the CIA set up “Radio Free Europe” and “Radio Lib­er­a­tion From Bol­she­vism” (lat­er renamed “Radio Lib­er­ty”), which beamed pro­pa­gan­da in sev­er­al lan­guages into the Sovi­et Union and Sovi­et satel­lite states of East­ern Europe. The CIA lat­er expand­ed its radio pro­pa­gan­da oper­a­tions into Asia, tar­get­ing com­mu­nist Chi­na, North Korea and Viet­nam. The spy agency also fund­ed sev­er­al radio projects aimed at sub­vert­ing left­ist gov­ern­ments in Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca, includ­ing Radio Free Cuba and Radio Swan — which was run by the CIA and employed some of the same Cuban exiles that took part in the failed Bay of Pigs inva­sion. Even today, the CIA boasts that these ear­ly “psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare” projects “would become one of the longest run­ning and suc­cess­ful covert action cam­paigns ever mount­ed by the Unit­ed States.”

    Offi­cial­ly, the CIA’s direct role in this glob­al “psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare” project dimin­ished in the 1970s, after the spy agen­cy’s ties to Cold War pro­pa­gan­da arms like Radio Free Europe were exposed. Con­gress agreed to take over fund­ing of these projects from the CIA, and even­tu­al­ly Wash­ing­ton expand­ed them into a mas­sive fed­er­al­ly-fund­ed pro­pa­gan­da appa­ra­tus.

    The names of the var­i­ous CIA spin­offs and non­prof­its changed over the years, cul­mi­nat­ing in a 1999 reor­ga­ni­za­tion under Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton which cre­at­ed the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, a par­ent hold­ing com­pa­ny to group new broad­cast­ing oper­a­tions around the world togeth­er with Cold War-era pro­pa­gan­da out­fits with spooky pasts—including Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty, Voice of Amer­i­ca and Radio Free Asia.

    Today, the BBG has a $721 mil­lion bud­get pro­vid­ed by Con­gress, reports to the Sec­re­tary of State and is man­aged by a revolv­ing crew of neo­cons and mil­i­tary think-tank experts. Among them: Ken­neth Wein­stein, head of the Hud­son Insti­tute, the arch-con­ser­v­a­tive Cold War-era mil­i­tary think tank; and Ryan C. Crock­er, for­mer ambas­sador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syr­ia.

    Although today’s BBG is no longer covert­ly fund­ed via the CIA’s black bud­get, its role as a soft pow­er “psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare” oper­a­tion hasn’t real­ly changed since its incep­tion. The BBG and its sub­sidiaries still engage in pro­pa­gan­da war­fare, sub­ver­sion and soft-pow­er pro­jec­tion against coun­tries and for­eign polit­i­cal move­ments deemed hos­tile to US inter­ests. And it is still deeply inter­twined with the same mil­i­tary and CIA-con­nect­ed intel­li­gence orga­ni­za­tions — from USAID to DARPA to the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy.

    Today, the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors runs a pro­pa­gan­da net­work that blan­kets the globe: Radio Martí (aimed at Cuba), Radio Far­da (aimed at Iran), Radio Sawa (which broad­casts in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Moroc­co, and Sudan), Radio Aza­di (tar­get­ing Afghanistan), Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty (which has tai­lored broad­casts in over a dozen lan­guages into Rus­sia, Ukraine, Ser­bia, Azer­bai­jan, Ukraine, Belarus, Geor­gia, and Arme­nia), and Radio Free Asia (which tar­gets Chi­na, North Korea, Laos, and Viet­nam).

    The BBG is also involved in the tech­nol­o­gy of post-Cold War, Inter­net-era pro­pa­gan­da. It has bankrolled satel­lite Inter­net access in Iran and con­tin­ues to fund an SMS-based social net­work in Cuba called Piramideo — which is dif­fer­ent from the failed covert Twit­ter clone fund­ed by USAID that tried to spark a Cuban Spring rev­o­lu­tion. It has con­tract­ed with an anonymi­ty Inter­net proxy called SafeWeb, which had been fund­ed by the CIA’s ven­ture cap­i­tal firm In-Q-Tel. It worked with tech out­fits run by prac­ti­tion­ers of the con­tro­ver­sial Chi­nese right-wing cult, Falun Gong — whose leader believes that humans are being cor­rupt­ed by invad­ing aliens from oth­er planets/dimensions. These com­pa­nies — Dynaweb and Ultra­reach — pro­vide anti-cen­sor­ship tools to Chi­nese Inter­net users. As of 2012, the BBG con­tin­ued to fund them to the tune of $1.5 mil­lion a year.

    As the BBG proud­ly out­lined in a 2013 fact sheet for its “Inter­net Anti-Cen­sor­ship” unit:

    The BBG col­lab­o­rates with oth­er Inter­net free­dom projects and orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing RFA’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, the State Depart­ment, USAID, and DARPAs SAFER Warfight­er Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Pro­gram. IAC is also reach­ing out to oth­er groups inter­est­ed in Inter­net free­dom such as Google, Free­dom House and the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy’s Cen­ter for Inter­na­tion­al Media Assis­tance.

    BBG is also one of the Tor Pro­jec­t’s biggest fun­ders, pay­ing out about $3.5 mil­lion from 2008 through 2013. BBG’s lat­est pub­licly-known Tor con­tract was final­ized in mid-2012. The BBG gave Tor at least $1.2 mil­lion to improve secu­ri­ty and dras­ti­cal­ly boost the band­width of the Tor net­work by fund­ing over a hun­dred Tor nodes across the world — all part of the US gov­ern­men­t’s effort to find an effec­tive soft-pow­er weapon that can under­mine Inter­net cen­sor­ship and con­trol in coun­tries hos­tile to US inter­ests. (We only know about the BBG’s lucra­tive fund­ing of Tor thanks to the dogged efforts of the Elec­tron­ic Pri­va­cy Infor­ma­tion Cen­ter, which had to sue to get its FOIA requests ful­filled.)

    As men­tioned, last year Con­gress decid­ed the BBG was doing such a good job advanc­ing Amer­i­ca’s inter­ests abroad that it boost­ed the agen­cy’s “Inter­net free­dom” annu­al bud­get from just $1.6 mil­lion in 2011 to a whop­ping $25 mil­lion this year. The BBG fun­neled half of this tax­pay­er mon­ey through its Radio Free Asia sub­sidiary, into the “Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund” — the “non­prof­it” respon­si­ble for bankrolling many of today’s pop­u­lar open-source pri­va­cy and encryp­tion apps.

    Which brings me to the next star­ring agency in this recov­ered his­to­ry of Wash­ing­ton DC’s pri­va­cy tech­nol­o­gy invest­ments: Radio Free Asia.

    Radio Free Asia

    The CIA launched Radio Free Asia (RFA) in 1951 as an exten­sion of its glob­al anti-Com­mu­nist pro­pa­gan­da radio net­work. RFA beamed its sig­nal into main­land Chi­na from a trans­mit­ter in Mani­la, and its oper­a­tions were based on the ear­li­er Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­a­tion From Bol­she­vism mod­el.


    Radio Free Asia got bust­ed in a wide­spread cor­rup­tion scan­dal in the late 1970s, when the South Kore­an gov­ern­ment was inves­ti­gat­ed for using the Moonie cult to influ­ence US pub­lic opin­ion in order to keep the US mil­i­tary engaged against North Korea. Back in the 1970s, the Moonies were the most noto­ri­ous cult in the Unit­ed States, accused of abduct­ing and “brain­wash­ing” count­less Amer­i­can youths. How it was that the CIA’s Radio Free Asia was hand­ed off to the Moonies was nev­er quite explained, but giv­en laws ban­ning the CIA (or the KCIA) from engag­ing in psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare in the US, the obvi­ous thing to do was to bury Radio Free Asia long enough for every­one to for­get about it.

    No soon­er had Radio Free Asia van­ished amid scan­dal than it reap­peared again, Ter­mi­na­tor-like, in the 1990s — this time as a legit “inde­pen­dent” non­prof­it whol­ly con­trolled by the BBG and fund­ed by Con­gress.

    Although this lat­est ver­sion of Radio Free Asia was sup­posed to be a com­plete­ly new orga­ni­za­tion and was no longer as covert and B‑movie spooky, its objec­tives and tac­tics remained exact­ly the same: To this day it beams pro­pa­gan­da into the same Com­mu­nist coun­tries, includ­ing North Korea, Viet­nam, Laos, Cam­bo­dia, Chi­na, and Bur­ma, and fid­dles around in the same sorts of spooky adven­tures.


    Radio Free Asia and Anti-gov­ern­ment Hack­tivists

    Which brings us up to the present, when the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, Radio Free Asia and its off­shoot, the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, find them­selves in bed with many of the very same pri­va­cy activist fig­ures whom the pub­lic regards as the pri­ma­ry adver­saries of out­fits like Radio Free Asia and the BBG. And it’s tech­nol­o­gy that brings togeth­er these sup­posed adver­saries — the US Nation­al Secu­ri­ty State on the one hand, and “hack­tivist”, “anti-gov­ern­ment” lib­er­tar­i­an pri­va­cy activists on the oth­er:

    “I’m proud to be a vol­un­teer OTF advi­sor,” declared Cory Doc­torow, edi­tor of Boing­Bo­ing and a well-known lib­er­tar­i­an anti-sur­veil­lance activist/author.

    “Hap­py to have joined the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund’s new advi­so­ry coun­cil,” tweet­ed Jil­lian York, the Direc­tor for Inter­na­tion­al Free­dom of Expres­sion at the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion. (York recent­ly admit­ted that the OTF’s “Inter­net free­dom” agen­da is, at its core, about regime change, but bizarrely argued that it did­n’t mat­ter.)

    In 2012, just a few months after Radio Free Asi­a’s 24/7 pro­pa­gan­da blitz into North Korea failed to trig­ger regime change, RFA sent folks from the Tor Project — includ­ing core devel­op­er Jacob Appel­baum (pic­tured above) — into Bur­ma, just as the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship was final­ly agree­ing to hand polit­i­cal pow­er over to US-backed pro-democ­ra­cy politi­cians. The stat­ed pur­pose of Appel­baum’s RFA-fund­ed expe­di­tion was to probe Burma’s Inter­net sys­tem from with­in and col­lect infor­ma­tion on its telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions infra­struc­ture — which was then used to com­pile a report for West­ern politi­cians and “inter­na­tion­al investors” inter­est­ed in pen­e­trat­ing Burma’s recent­ly opened mar­kets. Here you can see Appelbaum’s visa — pub­lished in the report as evi­dence of what you need­ed to do to buy a SIM card in Bur­ma.

    Bur­ma is a curi­ous place for Amer­i­can anti-sur­veil­lance activists fund­ed by Radio Free Asia to trav­el to, con­sid­er­ing that it has long been a tar­get of US regime-change cam­paigns. In fact, the guru of pro-West­ern “col­or rev­o­lu­tions,” Gene Sharp, wrote his famous guide to non-vio­lent rev­o­lu­tions, “From Dic­ta­tor­ship to Democ­ra­cy”, ini­tial­ly as a guide for Burma’s oppo­si­tion move­ment, in order to help it over­throw the mil­i­tary jun­ta in the late 1980s. Sharp had crossed into Bur­ma ille­gal­ly to train oppo­si­tion activists there — all under the pro­tec­tion and spon­sor­ship of the US gov­ern­ment and one Col. Robert Helvey, a mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer.

    Jacob Appel­baum’s will­ing­ness to work direct­ly for an old CIA cutout like Radio Free Asia in a nation long tar­get­ed for regime-change is cer­tain­ly odd, to say the least. Par­tic­u­lar­ly since Appel­baum made a big pub­lic show recent­ly claim­ing that, though it pains him that Tor takes so much mon­ey from the US mil­i­tary, he would nev­er take mon­ey from some­thing as evil as the CIA.

    Igno­rance is bliss.

    Appel­baum’s finan­cial rela­tion­ships with var­i­ous CIA spin­offs like Radio Free Asia and the BBG go fur­ther. From 2012 through 2013, Radio Free Asia trans­ferred about $1.1 mil­lion to Tor in the form of grants and con­tracts. This mil­lion dol­lars comes on top of anoth­er $3.4 mil­lion Tor received from Radio Free Asi­a’s par­ent agency, the BBG, start­ing from 2007.

    But Tor and Appel­baum are not the only ones hap­py to take mon­ey from the BBG/RFA.

    Take com­put­er researcher/privacy activist Har­ry Halpin, for exam­ple. Back in Novem­ber of 2014, Halpin smeared me as a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist, and then false­ly accused me and Pan­do of being fund­ed by the CIA — sim­ply because I report­ed on Tor’s gov­ern­ment fund­ing. Turns out that Halpin’s next-gen­er­a­tion secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions out­fit, called LEAP, took more than $1 mil­lion from Radio Free Asia’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund. Some­what iron­i­cal­ly, LEAP’s tech­nol­o­gy pow­ers the VPN ser­vices of RiseUp.Net, the rad­i­cal anar­chist tech col­lec­tive that pro­vides activists with email and secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions tools (and forces you to sign a thin­ly veiled anti-Com­mu­nist pledge before giv­ing you an account).

    Then there’s the ACLU’s Christo­pher Soghoian. A few months ago, he had vicious­ly attacked me and Pan­do for report­ing on Tor’s US gov­ern­ment fund­ing. But just the oth­er day, Soghoian went on Democ­ra­cy Now, and in the mid­dle of a seg­ment crit­i­ciz­ing the U.S. gov­ern­men­t’s run­away hack­ing and sur­veil­lance pro­grams, rec­om­mend­ed that peo­ple use a suite of encrypt­ed text and voice apps fund­ed by the very same intel­li­gence-con­nect­ed U.S. gov­ern­ment appa­ra­tus he was denounc­ing. Specif­i­cal­ly, Soghoian rec­om­mend­ed apps made by Open Whis­per Sys­tems, which got $1.35 mil­lion from Radio Free Asi­a’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund from 2013 through 2014.

    He told Amy Good­man:

    “These are best-of-breed free appli­ca­tions made by top secu­ri­ty researchers, and actu­al­ly sub­si­dized by the State Depart­ment and by the U.S. tax­pay­er. You can down­load these tools today. You can make encrypt­ed tele­phone calls. You can send encrypt­ed text mes­sages. You can real­ly up your game and pro­tect your com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

    When Good­man won­dered why the U.S. gov­ern­ment would fund pri­va­cy apps, he acknowl­edged that this tech­nol­o­gy is a soft-pow­er weapon of U.S. empire but then gave a very mud­dled and naive answer:

    CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Because they’re tools of for­eign pol­i­cy. You know, the U.S. gov­ern­ment isn’t this one machine with one per­son, you know, dic­tat­ing all of its poli­cies. You have these dif­fer­ent agen­cies squab­bling, some­times doing con­tra­dic­to­ry things. The U.S. gov­ern­ment, the State Depart­ment has spent mil­lions of dol­lars over the last 10 years to fund the cre­ation and the deploy­ment and improve­ment to secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions and secure com­put­ing tools that were intend­ed to allow activists in Chi­na and Iran to com­mu­ni­cate, that are intend­ed to allow jour­nal­ists to do their thing and spread news about democ­ra­cy with­out fear of inter­cep­tion and sur­veil­lance by the Chi­nese and oth­er gov­ern­ments.

    AMY GOODMAN: But maybe the U.S. gov­ern­ment has a way to break in.

    CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Well, you know, it’s pos­si­ble that they’ve dis­cov­ered flaws, but, you know, they have—the U.S. gov­ern­ment hasn’t been writ­ing the soft­ware. They’ve been giv­ing grants to high­ly respect­ed research teams, secu­ri­ty researchers and aca­d­e­mics, and these tools are about the best that we have. You know, I agree. I think it’s a lit­tle bit odd that, you know, the State Department’s fund­ing this, but these tools aren’t get­ting a lot of fund­ing from oth­er places. And so, as long as the State Depart­ment is will­ing to write them checks, I’m hap­py that the Tor Project and Whis­per Sys­tems and these oth­er orga­ni­za­tions are cash­ing them. They are cre­at­ing great tools and great tech­nol­o­gy that can real­ly improve our secu­ri­ty. And I hope that they’ll get more mon­ey in the future. It’s con­ve­nient and nice to believe that one hand of the U.S. Nation­al Secu­ri­ty State does­n’t know what the oth­er hand is doing — espe­cial­ly when the liveli­hoods of you and your col­leagues depends on it. But as the long and dark covert intel­li­gence his­to­ry of the Broad­cast­ers Board of Gov­er­nors and Radio Free Asia so clear­ly shows, this think­ing is naive and wrong. It also shows just how effec­tive­ly the U.S. Nation­al Secu­ri­ty State brought its oppo­si­tion into the fold.

    You’d think that anti-sur­veil­lance activists like Chris Soghoian, Jacob Appel­baum, Cory Doc­torow and Jil­lian York would be staunch­ly against out­fits like BBG and Radio Free Asia, and the role they have played — and con­tin­ue to play — in work­ing with defense and cor­po­rate inter­ests to project and impose U.S. pow­er abroad. Instead, these rad­i­cal activists have know­ing­ly joined the club, and in doing so, have become will­ing pitch­men for a wing of the very same U.S. Nation­al Secu­ri­ty State they so adamant­ly oppose.

    Wow. Take a moment to digest all that (and there’s a lot more in the full arti­cle). And take extra time, if need­ed, to digest this:

    Here’s a small sam­ple of what the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors fund­ed (through Radio Free Asia and then through the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund) between 2012 and 2014:

    * Open Whis­per Sys­tems, mak­er of free encrypt­ed text and voice mobile apps like TextSe­cure and Signal/RedPhone, got a gen­er­ous $1.35-million infu­sion. (Face­book recent­ly start­ed using Open Whis­per Sys­tems to secure its What­sApp mes­sages.)
    * Cryp­to­Cat, an encrypt­ed chat app made by Nadim Kobeis­si and pro­mot­ed by EFF, received $184,000.
    * LEAP, an email encryp­tion start­up, got just over $1 mil­lion. LEAP is cur­rent­ly being used to run secure VPN ser­vices at RiseUp.net, the rad­i­cal anar­chist com­mu­ni­ca­tion col­lec­tive.
    * A Wik­ileaks alter­na­tive called Glob­aLeaks (which was endorsed by the folks at Tor, includ­ing Jacob Appel­baum) received just under $350,000.
    * The Guardian Project — which makes an encrypt­ed chat app called Chat­Se­cure, as well a mobile ver­sion of Tor called Orbot — got $388,500.
    * The Tor Project received over $1 mil­lion from OTF to pay for secu­ri­ty audits, traf­fic analy­sis tools and set up fast Tor exit nodes in the Mid­dle East and South East Asia.

    In 2014, Con­gress mas­sive­ly upped the BBG’s “Inter­net free­dom” bud­get to $25 mil­lion, with half of that mon­ey flow­ing through RFA and into the Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund. This $12.75 mil­lion rep­re­sent­ed a three-fold increase in OTF’s bud­get from 2013 — a con­sid­er­able expan­sion for an out­fit that was just a few years old. Clear­ly, it’s doing some­thing that the gov­ern­ment likes. A lot.

    Yes, the US gov­ern­ment helped devel­op things like TOR and an Wik­ileaks alter­na­tive by giv­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to anti-sur­veil­lance activist like Jacob Appel­baum.

    Giv­en all that, and giv­en the fact that TOR is an acronym for “the onion router”, it’s almost lit­tle sur­pris­ing that The Onion has appar­ent­ly nev­er writ­ten a TOR-relat­ed arti­cle. It seems like that arti­cle would write itself!

    Oh well, we’ll just have to set­tle for non-satir­i­cal arti­cles that mere­ly seem like they’re writ­ten for The Onion:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    For­mer TOR head now work­ing for intel­li­gence con­trac­tor that pro­tects com­pa­nies against TOR

    By Mark Ames

    August 18, 2015

    About a year ago, Pando’s Yasha Levine pub­lished an exposé on the Tor project’s deeply con­flict­ed rela­tion­ship with a num­ber of US nation­al secu­ri­ty state agen­cies, includ­ing branch­es of the Pen­ta­gon, the State Depart­ment, and some old CIA cutouts.

    As we sub­se­quent­ly report­ed, one of Tor’s own senior devel­op­ers respond­ed to that arti­cle with a vicious, bizarre and relent­less online harass­ment cam­paign in which she and oth­ers repeat­ed­ly libeled and threat­ened Levine and oth­er staffers at Pan­do. By Decem­ber of last year, the online harass­ment cam­paign had reached new lev­els of crazi­ness, includ­ing plant­i­ng defam­a­to­ry arti­cles about Levine in the Guardian and the Los Ange­les Review of Books, both of which had to be retract­ed.

    For­tu­nate­ly there was one per­son at Tor who claimed to want no part of the harass­ment cam­paign: exec­u­tive direc­tor, Andrew Lew­man. After we report­ed on the behav­ior of Tor devel­op­ers, Lew­man con­tact­ed Pan­do edi­tor Paul Carr to try to bring some san­i­ty to the debate over Tor’s con­flict­ed finan­cial rela­tion­ship with the US gov­ern­ment mil­i­tary-intel­li­gence com­plex. Lew­man told Carr that, while he dis­agreed with Pando’s arti­cles crit­i­cal of Tor’s gov­ern­ment financ­ing, Tor respect­ed the val­ue of crit­i­cal inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism. Most impor­tant­ly, Lew­man told Carr that Tor’s senior lead­er­ship in no way sup­port­ed smear cam­paigns against jour­nal­ists.

    Sure enough, Lew­man lat­er con­firmed he was per­son­al­ly over­see­ing an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the Tor devel­op­er who had led the cam­paign against Levine. A cam­paign that was most like­ly ille­gal under US laws that ban orga­ni­za­tions fund­ed by the US State Depart­ment and CIA from being used to influ­ence domes­tic Amer­i­can opin­ion and domes­tic jour­nal­ism. Specif­i­cal­ly, the law still states that “no funds” from the US State Depart­ment and the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors “shall be used to influ­ence pub­lic opin­ion in the Unit­ed States.” Tor receives mil­lions of dol­lars in fund­ing from both the State Depart­ment and the BBG, which start­ed out as a Cold War CIA pro­pa­gan­da cutout.

    Lew­man con­clud­ed his inves­ti­ga­tion but before he could make the results pub­lic, the Tor Project sud­den­ly announced that Andrew Lew­man had resigned to join an unnamed “inter­net ser­vices com­pa­ny.” Around the same time, Tor announced it had hired a lead­ing pub­lic rela­tions firm, Thom­son Communications—whose clients include NSA part­ner Verizon—to han­dle Tor’s PR prob­lems. The inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion was quick­ly buried.

    Ear­li­er this month, we final­ly learned the name of this mys­te­ri­ous “inter­net ser­vices com­pa­ny” that Lew­man has joined: San Mateo-based Norse, which describes itself as “the glob­al leader in live attack intel­li­gence.”

    Actu­al­ly, it goes fur­ther than that. Accord­ing to Norse’s about page:


    A bunch of our folks cut their teeth at one or anoth­er of those three-let­ter gov­ern­ment agen­cies, or proud­ly served in the armed forces. We know this busi­ness, from the front-lines appli­ca­tion of human coun­ter­in­tel, to sig­nals intel­li­gence to the van­guard of cyber intel­li­gence col­lec­tion from the dark­est cor­ners of the Inter­net.

    That’s right, after object­ing to Pando’s report­ing on Tor’s ties to US gov­ern­ment spooks, exec­u­tive direc­tor Andrew Lew­man quit to join a pri­vate intel­li­gence con­trac­tor that boasts of its ties to “three-let­ter gov­ern­ment agen­cies.”

    Among the spook­i­est of Norse’s top team mem­bers is board direc­tor Robert Lentz, for­mer Chief Infor­ma­tion Secu­ri­ty Office for the US Depart­ment of Defense where he head­ed the Pentagon’s cyber­se­cu­ri­ty pro­gram. Accord­ing to his Norse bio, Lentz’s 34-year career includ­ed stints in top DoD agen­cies as well as the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency. Norse co-founder Tom­my Stiansen boasts that he served as a Home­land Secu­ri­ty cyber­se­cu­ri­ty con­sul­tant dur­ing the Bush years, while the company’s Chief Secu­ri­ty Strate­gist, Bri­an Con­tos, boasts of his work for the Defense Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems Agency (DISA)—which han­dles com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the exec­u­tive branch and mil­i­tary. Con­tos also co-authored a book with the for­mer deputy direc­tor of the NSA, William Crow­ell.

    Lewman’s move from Tor — anoth­er gov­ern­ment fund­ed three let­ter agency — to Norse is even more pecu­liar when you con­sid­er the com­pa­ny boasts of being the lead­ing mon­i­tor of and defense against attacks from the Dark Net. The very same Dark Net that runs in large part on Tor.

    In oth­er words, the US gov­ern­ment funds Tor which, while head­ed by Andrew Lew­man, helps cre­ate and exac­er­bate the Dark Net crime prob­lem; which Norse then offers to solve, count­ing sev­er­al US gov­ern­ment agen­cies among its clients. What a great busi­ness that is: where you cre­ate the prob­lem via a gov­ern­ment-fund­ed non-prof­it, and then also cre­ate the for-prof­it solu­tion, pock­et­ing prof­its off gov­ern­ment con­tracts on the oth­er end.


    Well, it looks like onions have a whole new way to make us cry (not that they need­ed more options).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 18, 2015, 6:13 pm

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