Omidyar-Greenwald-Snowden: A Triangle of Deception

This is part 3 of a series. Part 1 here, Part 2 here.

In my previous posts regarding the deep politics of the 2010s, I highlighted several key threads to keep in mind: the mass-flipping of hackers immediately after 2008, the description of the Arab Spring as Unconventional Warfare by the US military (and the strange inverse: the promotion of “decentralization” by the mandarins of Obama’s National Security and foreign policy intelligentsia), the history of Tor as a tool created by government agencies to make their covert operations more efficient, and the strange fact that Micah White, one of the key players in getting the ball rolling on Occupy, has a spooky father-in-law who was acting as ambassador to several Middle Eastern countries at the same time that White was suggesting American “dissidents” copy the “Unconventional Warfare” deployed by Arab Spring participants (with help from the United States of course.) I also pointed out how a technological version of Ayn Rand libertarianism was the predominant ideological current among Big Money backers of “dissent” on both the mainstream Left and Right. These threads intersect heavily in the real history of the Edward Snowden “revelations” and their relationship with the faces of “alt media” in the 2010s, such as Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange.

Who IS Pierre Omidyar?

I have touched on Omidyar a bit throughout this series but a proper understanding of his life and rise to billionaire status are essential for this section. Pierre Omidyar is the founder of eBay (which is how he came to work with Peter Thiel and other members of the “PayPal Mafia”) and the founder of First Look Media, which is the parent company of Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept. He is of Iranian descent and prior to the 1979 revolution Omidyar’s mother, a linguist, studied “the hidden aspects of cultural meanings” that make it difficult for speakers from different backgrounds to understand each other. This work was published under contract with a “federally contracted think tank run by a psychologist who developed a word-association technique to help the military understand foreign mentalities.”

According to the linked New York Magazine piece, while Omidyar was still in middle school, his mother moved to Honolulu to “seek a position at a government-policy institute affiliated with the University of Hawaii. Pierre enrolled in the elite Punahou School, from which Barack Obama had graduated the year before.” It should be noted that while Obama was President, Omidyar met with him more than Google’s Eric Schmidt or Warren Buffet, and was only beaten in this regard by right wing boogeyman and actual anticommunist George Soros. Obama’s own mother, Ann Dunham, worked on behalf of the CIA-backed Ford Foundation, the US Agency for International Development, and the Asian Development Bank. Like Omidyar’s mother she was interested in “applied anthropology on behalf of the State-that is, she studied the behavior of citizens in a nation the United States had imperial interest in on the payroll of the very institutions managing the empire.

This “applied anthropology” through line between Omidyar’s mother and Dunham extends between Dunham and Omidyar himself. According to the linked Independent article, Dunham pioneered “micro-credit projects that extended small loans to the rural poor…The country today is a world leader in micro-credit.” Pierre Omidyar, through his network, (which can be seen as a liberal reflection of the Koch brothers infamous octopus) has funneled “around $200 million into various micro-lending companies and projects over the past decade, with the goal of establishing an investment-grade microfinance sector that would be plugged into Wall Street and global finance“, as Mark Ames and Yasha Levine report:

“One of his first major investments into micro-lending came in 2005, when Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam gave Tufts University, their alma mater, $100 million to create the “Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund,” a managed for-profit fund dedicated to jump-starting the growth of the micro-finance industry. At the time, Tufts announced that Omidyar’s gift was the “largest private allocation of capital to microfinance by an individual or family.”

The idea behind micro-loans is very simple and seductive. It goes something like this: the only thing that prevents the hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty from achieving financial success is their lack of access to credit. Give them access to micro-loans—referred to in Silicon Valley as “seed capital”—and these would-be successful business-peasants and illiterate shantytown entrepreneurs would pluck themselves out of the muck by their own homemade sandal straps. Just think of it: hundreds of millions of peasants working as micro-individuals, taking out micro-loans, making micro-rational investments into their micro-businesses, dutifully paying their micro-loan payments on time and working in concert to harness the deregulated power of the markets to collectively lift society out of poverty. It’s a grand neoliberal vision.

To that end, Omidyar has directed about a third of the Omidyar Network investment fund—or about $100 million—to support the micro-lending industry. The foundation calls this initiative “financial inclusion.”

Several studies have pointed to how unhelpful micro-lending actually is in helping those in developing nations escape poverty. In fact, they more often then not amount to the hedge funds, banks, and usual suspects of Wall Street speculators enriching themselves through an expropriation of millions of those impoverished by the West’s persistent neo-colonialism in the 3rd world. This expropriation usually takes the form of a crippling debt incurred by those victimized by micro loan schemes. As Ames and Levine write:

Take SKS Microfinance, an Omidyar-backed Indian micro-lender whose predatory lending practices and aggressive collection tactics have caused a rash of suicides across India.

Omidyar funded SKS through Unitus, a microfinance private equity fund bankrolled by the Omidyar Network to the tune of at least $11.7 million. ON boosted SKS in its promotional materials as a micro-lender that’s “serving the rural poor in India” and that exemplifies a company that’s providing “people with the means to address their needs and improve their lives”

….

In 2012, it emerged that while the SKS IPO was making millions for its wealthy investors, hundreds of heavily indebted residents of India’s Andhra Pradesh state were driven to despair and suicide by the company’s cruel and aggressive debt-collection practices. The rash of suicides soared right at the peak of a large micro-lending bubble in Andhra Pradesh, in which many of the poor were taking out multiple micro-loans to cover previous loans that they could no longer pay. It was subprime lending fraud taken to the poorest regions of the world, stripping them of what little they had to live on. It got to the point where the Chief Minister of Andrah Pradesh publicly appealed to the state’s youth and young women not to commit suicide, telling them, “Your lives are valuable.”

Over 200 of these debt-slaves ended up killing themselves before the wave of suicide broke and rolled back. As the AP reported:

One woman drank pesticide and died a day after an SKS loan agent told her to prostitute her daughters to pay off her debt. She had been given 150,000 rupees ($3,000) in loans but only made 600 rupees ($12) a week.

“Another SKS debt collector told a delinquent borrower to drown herself in a pond if she wanted her loan waived. The next day, she did. She left behind four children.

One agent blocked a woman from bringing her young son, weak with diarrhea, to the hospital, demanding payment first. Other borrowers, who could not get any new loans until she paid, told her that if she wanted to die, they would bring her pesticide. An SKS staff member was there when she drank the poison. She survived.

“An 18-year-old girl, pressured until she handed over 150 rupees ($3)—meant for a school examination fee—also drank pesticide. She left a suicide note: ‘Work hard and earn money. Do not take loans.'”

After this scandal, Omidyar immediately got himself into more hot water in India. Omidyar’s network, along with the Ford Foundation, was placing its own paid researchers onto the staff of Indian MPs in a program called “LAMPS”-Legislative Assistants to MPs. This program received a $1 million investment from the Omidyar network and a little over $850,000 from the Ford Foundation. It was only shut down when the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs threatened to investigate how Omidyar-financed lobbying may have influenced members of India’s parliament.

In Bangladesh, the Omidyar funded BRAC organization aggressively pressured borrowers of micro-loans to repay their debts in the aftermath of one of the worst cyclones in the nation’s history. Some of these victims, most of them women, were forced to sell materials given to them by the government or aid organizations or take out new loans to pay off the previous ones (sound familiar?).

According to a study about micro-lenders in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr:

“Sidr victims who lost almost everything in the cyclone, experienced pressure and harassment from non­governmental organisations (NGOs) for repayment of microcredit instalments. Such intense pressure led some of the Sidr­ affected borrowers to sell out the relief materials they received from different sources…

“Even the most severely affected people are expected to pay back in a weekly basis, with the prevailing interest rate. No system of ‘break’ or ‘holiday’ period is available in the banks’ current charter. No exceptions are made during a time of natural calamity. The harsh rules practised by the microcredit lender organisations led the disaster affected people even selling their relief assistance. Some even had to sell their leftover belongings to pay back their weekly instalments.”

On top of the various micro-lending catastrophes, Omidyar contributes to various campaigns to privatize school systems overseas. In 2009, the Omidyar Network donated $1.8 million dollars to an African based for-profit school schemed called Bridge International. Bridge International seeks to provide each student with a “school in a box.” What this means in practice is that students in some of the poorest areas of Africa pay $5 a month for a standardized, bare-bones curriculum delivered by teachers with minimal training. Because groups like Bridge International come to replace public schools in these areas, families are forced to choose between food and giving their children an education. As most naturally choose the former, the problem of illiteracy and its contribution to reproducing conditions of poverty persists.

Omidyar has also granted nearly $5 million dollars to Peru-based libertarian think tank Institute for Liberty & Democracy (ILD). The founder of ILD, Hernando de Soto, helped popularize a version of “land reform” in the 3rd world rooted in free market fundamentalism. In this model, masses of poor people are given a legal stake in their small amount of property, which will in turn encourage them to take out micro-finance loans and become mini-entrepreneurs. Would you believe that the results of De Soto’s libertarian vision of “land reform” didn’t pan out quite like that? As Slate reports, the De Soto model caused devastation after being implemented in Cambodia:

“In the nine months or so leading up to the project kickoff, a devastating series of slum fires and forced evictions purged 23,000 squatters from tracts of untitled land in the heart of Phnom Penh. These squatters were then plopped onto dusty relocation sites several miles outside of the city, where there were no jobs and where the price of commuting to and from central Phnom Penh (about $2 per day) surpassed whatever daily wage they had been earning in town before the fires. Meanwhile, the burned-out inner city land passed immediately to some of the wealthiest property developers in the country.”

A less drastic result of De Soto’s model for land reform is that it thrusts a much greater burden on the poor, who now pay more in property tax and exorbitant filing fees.

If you had any remaining doubts about Omidyar’s credentials as a “Woke Koch” they can also be demolished by observing his relationship with De Soto, who has received the Koch-backed CATO Institute’s “Milton Friedman Prize (which also comes with a reward of $500,000). As Ames and Levine point out: “De Soto was chosen by a prize jury consisting of such notable humanitarians as former Pinochet labor minister Jose Piñera, Vladimir Putin’s economic advisor Andrei Illarionov, Washington Post neoconservative columnist Anne Applebaum, FedEx CEO Fred Smith, and Milton Friedman’s wife Rosie.” I highly recommend you read the full text of Ames and Levine’s breakdown of Omidyar for more information on De Soto, whose long history as a member of various elite networks is beyond the scope of this post.

After graduating from college and a few false-starts in the world of 90s tech startups, Omidyar developed eBay. However, eBay originally “had nothing to do with auctions-it was a workshop where Omidyar would tinker. Its earliest incarnation hosted a web page about Ebola, inspired by the national scare that coincided with the movie Outbreak. (Later, eBay would offer a variety of origin stories for its odd name, none having to do with Ebola in the Bay Area.)” When the parent company of eBay, General Magic, faced financial distress, Omidyar developed an auction service and used eBay to promote it. He likely got the idea from the founder of a preexisting auction site called OnSale, who had almost hired Omidyar. It’s “frictionless” nature attracted a huge customer base and soon Omidyar was a billionaire. After a period of travel, Omidyar “built himself a 48,000-square-foot mansion overlooking the desert, which he told Esquire he liked because it gave him ‘the sense of what the planet was like before humans showed up.'”

Who IS Edward Snowden?

Edward Snowden was born on June 21, 1983. His maternal grandfather is Edward J. Barrett, who served as a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard before becoming a senior official with the FBI. Barrett was at the Pentagon on 9/11.

Snowden’s father, Lonnie, was also an officer in the Coast Guard. His mother is the chief deputy clerk for administration and information technology for US District Court in Baltimore.

As a young man, Snowden spent a lot of time on Internet forums. Among his favorites was that of the tech news website Ars Technica. Similar to Jacob Applebaum, who I briefly covered in the last installment and will return to later, Snowden was an idealistic libertarian, although a look at his comments on the amount of Muslims he witnessed while in London shows he was more in line with a modern Alt-Right nerd then the anarcho-liberalism of Applebaum. “I thought I had gotten off of the plane in the wrong country,” Snowden wrote. “It was terrifying.” Such Islamophobia by a guy Michael Moore once described as “Hero of the year” might seem surprising until you realize Snowden made the decision to join the military out of a desire to fight in the “clash of civilizations” he believe 9/11 was just the beginning of. Snowden himself writes:

I wanted, I think, to be part of something. Prior to 9/11, I had been ambivalent about serving because it had seemed pointless, or just boring. Everyone I knew who had served had done so in the post–cold war world order, between the fall of the Berlin wall and the attacks of 2001. In that span, which coincided with my youth, the US lacked for enemies. The country I grew up in was the sole global superpower, and everything seemed – at least to me, or to people like me – prosperous and settled. There were no new frontiers to conquer or great civic problems to solve, except online. The attacks of 9/11 changed all that. Now, finally, there was a fight.

Other opinions expressed by the young, conservative Snowden on the Web included calling anyone who believed in Social Security “fucking retards.”

Snowden decided to enlist in the Army right as the US was gearing up for it’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. “I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression,” Snowden has said. Unfortunately, Snowden’s desire to help Paul Bremmer’s Coalition Provisional Authority turn Iraq into “the American ideal of a free-market state” was blown when he broke his legs during basic training. Instead, Snowden returned to Maryland, where got a job as a “security specialist” at the University for Maryland’s Centre for Advanced Study of Language. However, this was really a front for Snowden’s position in a “covert NSA facility” hidden on campus. A popular Guardian write-up of Snowden suggests he broke into the world of intelligence “thanks perhaps to his brief military history.” It makes no mention of the fact that Snowden had a grandfather in the FBI and came from a family of bureaucrats.

By 2008, Snowden was working for the CIA in Switzerland. According to the Guardian, Snowden supported the 2008 campaign of Ron Paul and was also “impressed” John McCain. Paul’s later campaign, which took place just before Snowden’s “revelations”, would receive most of its funding from fellow tech-obsessed libertarian and developer of many of the tools which the CIA would use in its dragnet, Peter Thiel. Likewise, Julian Assange would claim that the “only hope” for freedom to prevail in the United States would come from the emerging libertarianism within the Republican Party. In 2009, while still working for the CIA, Snowden would proclaim that leakers and whistleblowers should be “shot in the balls” for “reporting classified shit” that “won’t work” if the target in question (at the time Iran) knew what was being planned.

In February of 2009, Snowden resigned from the CIA and began working as a Dell contractor at an NSA facility on a US military base in Japan. Snowden’s ability to get this job was partially the result of a mass outsourcing to private firms by the federal government of the very surveillance state Snowden would claim was mostly the result of the tyrannical federal government. And as Yasha Levine writes in Surveillance Valley: “Despite his work as an intelligence operative at the exact moment the CIA was expanding its global surveillance and drone assassination programs, it seemed Snowden somehow remained unaware that spying was taking place all over the Internet. As he recounted his story, it was only in 2009, after taking his first private contractor job, working for Dell at an NSA facility in Japan, that it really hit him.”

In 2012, nearly 3 years after his supposed epiphany, Snowden relocated to another Dell contracting job in Hawaii (home of both Omidyar and Obama). As he worked there in an underground bunker now used as an NSA info-sharing office, Snowden would, according to the official story, secretly begin to collect the documents he’d leak in 2013. Ostensibly to gain access to files on cyberwar which Snowden felt were essential for public consumption, he applied for a transfer to a different contracting division, this one led by Booz Allen Hamilton. This is where the first links between Snowden and Omidyar begin to emerge; Sal Gambianco, a top investment partner with the Omidyar network, sits on the board of advisors of Globant. Both Omidyar’s network and Booz Allen Hamilton are major shareholders in Globant and Booz Allen Hamilton board member Philip Odeen also sits on the board of directors of Globant. Furthermore, as Akamai Tree reports:

Omidyar’s Hawaiian venture capital fund, the Ulupono Initiative, which regularly hosts defense contractor expos in Hawaii, lists a former Booz Allen vice president as a general partner. As if it couldn’t get any more incestuous, in 2015, one of Edward Snowden’s former bosses (a director at Booz Allen’s Hawaii branch where Snowden was previously employed) was named an Omidyar Fellow.[9]

Perhaps this is why, as Levine puts it, when Snowden finally leaked the documents he had obtained, he pushed the message that, “The problem wasn’t Silicon Valley; it was government power. To him, cynical intelligence agencies like the NSA had warped the utopian promise of the Internet, turning it into a dystopia where spies tracked our every move and recorded everything we said. He believed the government was the central problem and distrusted legislative or political solutions to curb surveillance, which would only involve the government even more” a message that tracked perfectly with “the antigovernment privacy initiatives that Internet companies like Google and Facebook had started pushing to deflect attention from their private surveillance practices.”

Apart from Snowden’s messaging is the question of how he actually managed to obtain the documents without being caught in the first place. Snowden supposedly got access to documents in systems which he was locked out of by talking other NSA contractors into letting him use their passwords. Even if this is true, and Snowden somehow convinced multiple fellow travelers to join him without ratting him out, Akamai Tree points out that:

“…further problems arise when you consider the fact that this highly illegal activity was going on for over a year at two different employers and that Snowden was regularly downloading documents onto flash storage and taking them out of his building. The NSA doesn’t rely only on passwords and network security protocols to keep data secure. It also employs highly sophisticated threat detection systems and software (in addition to human supervisors) that monitor and analyze file storage and network traffic, detecting anomalous patterns indicating suspicious behavior (which surely includes downloading large amounts of data onto flash storage, irregular SSH certs, failed login attempts, etc.).[5]

To throw yet another wrench into the official story, the NSA “delayed” the installation of “anti-leak software” at the Hawaiian base where Snowden worked. As Reuters reported in October of 2013:

Well before Snowden joined Booz Allen Hamilton last spring and was assigned to the NSA site as a systems administrator, other U.S. government facilities had begun to install software designed to spot attempts by unauthorized people to access or download data.

The purpose of the software, which in the NSA’s case is made by a division of Raytheon Co, is to block so-called “insider threats” – a response to an order by President Barack Obama to tighten up access controls for classified information in the wake of the leak of hundreds of thousands of Pentagon and State Department documents by an Army private to WikiLeaks website in 2010.

The main reason the software had not been installed at the NSA’s Hawaii facility by the time Snowden took up his assignment there was that it had insufficient bandwidth to comfortably install it and ensure its effective operation, according to one of the officials.

If it was so important to prevent a repeat of Chelsea Manning’s leaking of government documents in 2010 that Obama personally ordered it, why didn’t the NSA’s Hawaii facility find the room to implement it? Why dodder on such an important task that was specifically designed to prevent the type of leak Snowden executed? It also brings us back to the earlier question of how, if he was doing so in such a heightened state of anxiety from the government over Manning, did Snowden do what he did for so long without once being caught?

Who IS Glenn Greenwald?

Glenn Greenwald has a less spooky background then his comrades in this story as far as his upbringing is concerned. However, as a young lawyer in 1994, he did work for the elite Wall Street law firm Watchell, Lipton, Rosen, and Katz. WLRK is the most lucrative law firm in the world. It could be argued that WLRK, particularly in the work of Leonard Rosen, had a major hand in building New York City as we know it today. When New York City bordered on the cusp of bankruptcy in the mid 70s, it “turned to Rosen, who the law firm said rallied his colleagues to work around the clock to prepare agreements, securities, legislation and tax rulings the city would need to secure financing.” The restructuring practices pioneered by Rosen would be deployed a 2nd time in 2008, when Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac needed to be bailed out by the federal government. Gregory Milmoe, a partner in the restructuring practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, stated, “The highest compliment that can be paid in the restructuring world is, ‘That’s the way Len would have done it.’”

Such an influential legal arm of Big Business is a strange place for someone as concerned with “the little guy” as Greenwald to get their start. Perhaps this is why Greenwald left WLRK at age 28 to start his own law firm. However, despite an early case where Greenwald helped a Caribbean immigrant working as a nurse when a nearly $2 million dollar settlement, the cases Greenwald took on soon became less about the common person and more about defending the right of fascists to spread their propaganda.

In 1999, a white supremacist and member of the World Church of the Creator, a bizarre white nationalist organization started by businessman and politician Ben Klassen in 1973, named Benjamin Smith, went on a shooting spree that killed two people and wounded nine others. Matthew Hale, the leader of the World Church of the Creator, was sued by a pastor wounded in the shooting. The prosecution sought to bankrupt Hale and the World Church using a historic piece of legislation known as the Anti-Klan Act. Greenwald defended Hale pro bono, saying of the prosecution, “I find that the people behind these lawsuits are truly so odious and repugnant, that creates its own motivation for me.”

Despite having come out as gay and being raised in a Jewish family, Greenwald claims his commitment to the 1st Amendment trumped any other considerations. This “principled” stance would cause Greenwald to once again go to bat for neo-fascists in a case where members of the National Alliance (founded by the author of The Turner Diaries) lured two Mexican day laborers into an abandoned warehouse and attempted to murder them. The laborers escaped and proceeded to sue the National Alliance and other similar groups, arguing they contributed to the actions of their attackers. In his defense of the National Alliance, Greenwald insisted this was an attack on free speech.

In 2005, Greenwald would express his own right wing views on illegal immigration in a blog post titled “The GOP fights itself on Illegal Immigration.” The “parade of evils caused by illegal immigration is widely known,” Greenwald wrote. “In short, illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone. Few people dispute this, and yet nothing is done.” Greenwald claims that the GOP “inaction” on illegal immigration (apparently Greenwald didn’t see George W. Bush’s creation of the now-infamous Immigration Custom Enforcement as doing enough to fight the “hordes” (his words) of illegal immigrants) makes sense because, “There is a wing of the party – the Wall St. Journal/multinational corporation wing – which loves illegal immigration because of its use as a source of cheap labor.”

Greenwald has claimed that he has since ceased to believe these things, but as recently as 2011 (two years before he aided Snowden in his “revelations) he defended the Tea Party and called for liberals and leftists to unite with them in congress to defend civil liberties. That same year he defended Ron Paul against progressives, touting him as “anti-war, pro-due-process, pro-transparency, anti-Fed, anti-Wall-Street-bailout, anti-Drug-War advocate.” Greenwald curiously ignored the fact that Paul’s campaign got the majority of its financing from Peter Thiel, whose Palantir technology was funded by the CIA and helped consolidate the power of the surveillance state Greenwald claims to be so worried by. To this day he argues that liberals are “petrified of GOP adopting working-class, anti-imperialism, anti-corporatist politics.” He even openly supported a Republican candidate who he knew was on the payroll of Thiel Capital in 2021, despite years of having his theory of “anti-war, anti-imperial” Republicans being the saving grace of the nation thrashed by how these politicians actually governed.

Is it much surprise that Greenwald eventually wound up writing policy whitepapers and being featured as a keynote speaker at events organized by the CATO Institute, which was originally known as The Charles Koch Foundation of Wichita? Around this same time period, Greenwald defended the logic of Citizens United in order to explain why it was wrong to condemn Chic-Fil-A’s owners from donating to homophobic political groups, yet again as an extension of his “free speech absolutism.” The Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Citizens United in 2010 led to the defining of political spending as free speech and thus meant the federal government was limited in its restricting of donations to political campaigns from corporations, individuals, and political action committees. One of the predominant beneficiaries of this decision was the Koch network.

Interestingly enough, one of the few times Greenwald wasn’t interested in defending neo-Nazis was when pointing to their definitive role in the “Euromaidan” movement in Ukraine during 2014-2015. A Greenwald piece from February, 2015, is subtitled: “Demonized as pro-Putin propaganda, claims about the fascist and even neo-Nazi thugs leading the fight for the Kiev government are actually true.” Greenwald goes on:

…while some involved in the Ukrainian coup were ordinary Ukrainians fighting against a corrupt and oppressive regime, these claims about the fascist thugs leading the fight for the Kiev government are actually true. Writing in Foreign Policy from eastern Ukraine last August, Alec Luhn observed:

Pro-Russian forces have said they are fighting against Ukrainian nationalists and “fascists” in the conflict, and in the case of Azov and other battalions, these claims are essentially true. . . .  The Azov Battalion, whose emblem also includes the “Black Sun” occult symbol used by the Nazi SS, was founded by Andriy Biletsky, head of the neo-Nazi groups Social-National Assembly and Patriots of Ukraine.

In September, Shaun Walker wrote in the Guardian about his experience embedding with the pro-Kiev forces of the Azov, which he called “Ukraine’s most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists.” While dismissing as “overblown” Russian warnings that these groups seek to ethnically cleanse all of Ukraine, Walked described “the far right, even neo-Nazi, leanings of many of its members,” and noted that “Amnesty International called on the Ukrainian government to investigate rights abuses and possible executions by the Aidar, another battalion.” Walker’s principal concern was that these fascist militias intend, once the separatists are vanquished, to seek control of Kiev and impose their ultra-nationalist vision on the entire country.

All very on point reporting. The collaboration of the U.S. government with neofascists in Ukraine is now so widely known and accepted that even mainstream American press reports on it. What is far less well known, and what Greenwald seems to have never addressed, is the fact the his billionaire boss, Pierre Omidyar, also provided resources to these very same Nazis. As Pando reports:

When the revolution came to Ukraine, neo-fascists played a front-center role in overthrowing the country’s president. But the real political power rests with Ukraine’s pro-western neoliberals. Political figures like Oleh Rybachuk, long a favorite of the State DepartmentDC neoconsEU, and NATO—and the right-hand man to Orange Revolution leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Last December, the Financial Times wrote that Rybachuk’s “New Citizen” NGO campaign “played a big role in getting the protest up and running.”

New Citizen, along with the rest of Rybachuk’s interlocking network of western-backed NGOs and campaigns— “Center UA” (also spelled “Centre UA”), “Chesno,” and “Stop Censorship” to name a few — grew their power by targeting pro-Yanukovych politicians with a well-coordinated anti-corruption campaign that built its strength in Ukraine’s regions, before massing in Kiev last autumn…

According to the Kyiv Post, Pierrie Omidyar’s Omidyar Network (part of the Omidyar Group which owns First Look Media and the Intercept) provided 36% of “Center UA”’s $500,000 budget in 2012— nearly $200,000. USAID provided 54% of “Center UA”’s budget for 2012. Other funders included the US government-backed National Endowment for Democracy.

In 2011, Omidyar Network gave $335,000 to “New Citizen,” one of the anti-Yanukovych “projects” managed through the Rybachuk-chaired NGO “Center UA.”

….

Detailed financial records reviewed by Pando (and embedded below) also show Omidyar Network covered costs for the expansion of Rybachuk’s anti-Yanukovych campaign, “Chesno” (“Honestly”), into regional cities including Poltava, Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Ternopil, Sumy, and elsewhere, mostly in the Ukrainian-speaking west and center.

Oleh Rybachuk had a long career in Russian intelligence before moving into banking with the formation of the Ukraine Central Bank after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. He headed the foreign relations department under Yushchenko, who was the bank’s chief at the time. Before establishing a relationship with Omidyar, Yushchenko worked closely with George Soros, who had a primary role in funding the 2004-2005 “Orange Revolution” that brought Yushchenko to power as Ukraine’s president until 2010. Rybachuk worked in Yushchenko’s administration as the man in charge of integrating Ukraine into Western institutions such as the EU and NATO. He also played a key role in privatizing what little remained of Ukraine’s public sector. After Yushchenko lost his presidency to Viktor Yanukovych, who he had helped overthrow , in 2010, he and Rybachuk started plotting against him once again. As Rybachuk told the Financial Times in 2012: “We want to do the Orange Revolution again and we think we will.” This time around it was Omidyar who filled the role of a Western billionaire who wanted to use his wealth to “spread democracy.”

What Does It All Mean?

This triangle of interests obviously come together in the spectacle of the “Snowden Revelations.”

In 2009, four years before Snowden’s leaks and while he was still working for the CIA, his supervisor noted a distinct change in Snowden’s behavior and became suspicious. The CIA began to worry that Snowden was doing precisely what he was later revealed to have done; break into files he had no authorization for in order to expose them publicly. However, as federal investigators later noted, the CIA did not pass on this information to the NSA after Snowden became a contractor for them, nor did they act on it themselves. This becomes even more bizarre when you realize, as we said earlier, Snowden now claims it was when he was already in Geneva that he started turning on the National Security state. Years later, sometime in June of 2013, Snowden met with Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewan MacAskill.

Poitras is the daughter of millionaires who later became a documentary filmmaker. One source of her parents’ wealth is her grandfather, Edward J. Poitras. Edward Poitras graduated from MIT in 1928. He told his son and Laura Poitras’s father, Jim, that MIT not only gave him a full scholarship but paid his train fare. Edward went on to serve in the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War 2. Around the same time, Edward was also the director of research at the Ford Instrument Company, a military contractor which was the main supplier of analog computers to the US Navy before and during World War 2. Jim Poitras got his start in the medical field before joining the manufacturing company Edward Poitras started in 1953, Highland Laboratories.

The Poitras’s founded the Poitras Center for Psychiatric Disorders Research by donating $20 million dollars to the McGovern Institute For Brain Research, a research institute within MIT started by Patrick and Lore Harp McGovern. Patrick McGovern was a multimillion dollar businessman who established the International Data Group, a multifaceted company which has contributed to the tech industry for over 50 years.

Lore Harp McGovern was formally married to Bob Hart, a computer scientist who worked at Hughes Research Laboratories, a research center named after its parent company, Hughes Aircraft, founded, of course, by legendary American businessman Howard Hughes. Bob Hart designed a memory board that Lore and a friend tinkered with, eventually starting the company Vector Graphic in 1976 (the same year that Jobs and Wozniak started Apple). In 1980 Vector went public with a $25 million valuation as Lore became the first female founder of a New York Stock exchange-listed company. Lore went on to become a venture capitalist active in Silicon Valley.

In 2012, a year before she met with Snowden, Poitras hosted a “surveillance teach-in” with Jacob Appelbaum.

As discussed in the previous installment of this series, Appelbaum, an Ayn Rand libertarian in his own right who was working for the Tor Project at this time soon became close friends with WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange. It was Appelbaum who convinced Assange to make Tor a part of the project, with Assange telling Rolling Stone, “Tor’s importance to Wikileaks cannot be understated. Jake has been a tireless promoter behind the scenes of our cause.” But, as that same Rolling Stone, piece points out it was the U.S military, along with Google. As I wrote in the last installment:

In strictly technical terms Tor is a tool which is used to access an “onion network”, which means that a communication is encrypted in layers which are transmitted through “onion routers” which gradually peel away the layers until, finally, the message arrives at its destination. Because the receiver only sees the location of the preceding router, the sender’s identity remains a secret. Due to this effect, onion routing, and tools to perform it such as Tor, are often celebrated as weapons (or at least cudgels) against the State.

However,

Michael Reed, the inventor of onion routing, has a quite different view:

“The original *QUESTION* posed that led to the invention of Onion Routing was, “Can we build a system that allows for bi-directional communications over the Internet where the source and destination cannot be determined by a mid-point?” The *PURPOSE* was for DoD / Intelligence usage (open source intelligence gathering, covering of forward deployed assets, whatever). Not helping dissidents in repressive countries. Not assisting criminals in covering their electronic tracks. Not helping bit-torrent users avoid MPAA/RIAA prosecution. Not giving a 10 year old a way to bypass an anti-porn filter. Of course, we knew those would be other unavoidable uses for the technology, but that was immaterial to the problem at hand we were trying to solve (and if those uses were going to give us more cover traffic to better hide what we wanted to use the network for, all the better…I once told a flag officer that much to his chagrin).”

An October, 2014 Wired article is subtitled: “As a journalist, Laura Poitras was the quiet mastermind behind the publication of Edward Snowden’s unprecedented NSA leak. As a filmmaker, her new movie Citizenfour makes clear she’s one of the most important directors working in documentary today. And when it comes to security technology, she’s a serious geek.” The article continues:

In the closing credits of Citizenfour, Poitras took the unusual step of adding an acknowledgment of the free software projects that made the film possible: The roll call includes the anonymity software Tor, the Tor-based operating system Tails, the anonymous upload system SecureDrop, GPG encryption, Off-The-Record (OTR) encrypted instant messaging, hard disk encryption software Truecrypt, and GNU Linux. All of that describes a technical setup that goes well beyond the precautions taken by most national security reporters, not to mention documentary filmmakers.

Poitras argues that without those technologies, neither her reporting on the Snowden leaks nor her film itself would have been possible. In an interview ahead of the October 24th opening of Citizenfour in theaters, she talked about the importance of those crypto tools, how to make a film in the shadow of the NSA, and a new era of high-level whistleblowing.

According to Poitras, it was Jacob Appelbaum who taught her what crypto tools were and how to use it. She later told the Tor blog that Snowden “taught her even more.” In 2014, after releasing a documentary film about the Snowden case called Citizenfour, Poitras gave an interview where she implied that because of the “revelations” Apple and Google had made great improvements toward protecting the privacy of users. “I think certainly a change in consciousness has come after Snowden,” Poitras stated. “Google’s servers are secure: that’s a big change. This protects the privacy of people. Apple brings a secure phone on the market, that frustrates the FBI.” As the linked Cryptome article points out:

Looking at how Poitras is framing her narrative, she’s conveying the impression of an adversarial relationship between government spies and corporate spies. Despite the fact that researchers like Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page have empirically demonstrated the reality of corporate state capture. Over 70 percent of all intelligence work in the United States is performed by private contractors. The data broker industry literally dwarfs the NSA. In other words Poitras fails to acknowledge that the government’s surveillance apparatus is an appendage of a much larger corporate panopticon. The policymakers in the executive branch, the very same people who give orders to U.S. security services, respond primarily to plutocrats and organized groups representing business interests.

I also can’t help but notice the recurring techno-libertarian theme that our civil liberties can be protected by the latest app. Paging Mr. Omidyar! It’s a refrain that’s been echoed by both Glenn Greenwald and Ed Snowden. Imagine that? The mass subversion programs that enables the NSA’s all-seeing eye is rooted in flawed technology (accidental and intentional).

Disarming spies and implementing meaningful regulation within the hi-tech sector will oblige seismic political shifts. In both cases such efforts will run afoul of sources of power outside the government, corporate factions that transmit their commands through the American Deep State

The “Tor as savior of Internet privacy” story becomes even more bullshit when you factor in a Washington Post article which, using information gleaned from Snowden’s leaks, revealed the NSA itself had figured out multiple strategies for piercing the veil of Tor:

Since 2006, according to a 49-page research paper titled simply “Tor,” the agency has worked on several methods that, if successful, would allow the NSA to uncloak anonymous traffic on a “wide scale” — effectively by watching communications as they enter and exit the Tor system, rather than trying to follow them inside. One type of attack, for example, would identify users by minute differences in the clock times on their computers.

The evidence came out of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. It appeared that the surveillance agency had developed several techniques to get at Tor. One of the documents explained that the NSA “pretty much guaranteed to succeed.”

In a separate WaPo article, the NSA’s notes from a 2007 meeting they had with Roger Dingledine, one of the developers of Tor. Dingledine would tell the Washington Post that, as the article puts it, “suspected the agency was attempting to break into Tor.” Dingledine, however, seemed rather ambivalent about the NSA actually doing so. “If those documents actually represent what they can do,” Dingledine said, referencing Snowden’s leaks, “they are not as big an adversary as I thought.”

We can begin to connect the dots:

Omidyar, who believes in libertarian/neoliberal utopia of the free market acting as a purifying force when uncorrupted by government intervention, had links to Snowden even before the “revelations.” Tor, developed by the same Alphabet Soup and military forces which funded and applied Peter Thiel, another libertarian idealist’s, Palantir surveillance device, is deployed and needs a mass userbase both to cover its own spying activities and to deepen them. Snowden, who comes from a family of feds, is yet another ideological libertarian, supports the Thiel funded Ron Paul campaigns, and dissuades analysis of global surveillance from focusing too much on the private sector of Big Tech, which once employed Snowden and also has collaborated with various government agencies on both surveillance and military applications. All of this takes place after the intelligence community begins to penetrate deeper into the spheres of hackers and a general unrest develops among the re-proletarianizing American middle classes (who, as I pointed out here, have a necessarily proto-fascist consciousness) after the 2008 global economic crisis. To channel this unrest, Omidyar erects First Look Media with Glenn Greenwald, who insists he is not a libertarian despite a long history associated with the most stereotypical figures of American libertarianism, and Laura Poitras, who comes from a family which has a foot in both the US military and world of Silicon Valley, just like Tor and the Internet itself does.

Snowden’s promotion of the Tor honeypot is part of a larger need for the rising technocratic bourgeoisie to develop infrastructure which pierces into the daily life of the consumer. This is not simply a matter of “surveillance” or “data collection” but of conditioning both on a psychological and physiological level. Data is collected to adjust the behavior of the populace so that it more or less conforms with the predictive models spat out by algorithms and from here a certain amount of “externalities” (to use standard economic jargon) are eliminated. As I wrote in “Transhumanism, Stagnation and Technocracy”:

“…social media is developed in such a way that it hypnotizes one into spending as much time on it as possible, to “open up” to the platform as they would a psychologist, while at the same time it surveils the data this process extracts and uses it to further refine the platform so that we spend even more time on (and give even more data to) it. This process mirrors the one which Klaus Schwab sees developing in the labor market as algorithms pick up an exponentially larger amount of slack there:

“Algorithms are better able to replace humans as discrete, well-defined tasks lead to better monitoring and more, higher-quality data around the task, therefore creating a better base from which algorithms can do the work.”

The trend here is to develop entire populations of individuals who are progressively more divorced from the nuances which living in “reality” produces and who submerge themselves more and more into a streamlined, simplified, autistic virtual environment wherein the more they “express themselves” (within the boundary of the Silicon Valley algorithms of course) as an individual, the more of an appendage of the Big Tech blob they become.”

It is no wonder that the Peter Thiels and Jeffrey Epsteins of the world are simultaneously fascinated by eugenics and transhumanism; the Big Tech mindset is the ultimate form of both libertarian market ideology and fascist “might makes right” platitudes. It literally encourages those who can afford it to move into a realm “above” the “regulations” of being human, while those who have not “earned” entrance into this realm are simply crushed. Rather than “neofeudalism” (which would imply some sort of “safety net”) the emerging state of affairs is one wherein the vast majority of the West has internalized free-market/imperialist ideology to the point that they actually take pride in being electronically hypnotized appendages of a permanent war economy. 

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