Concerning Yasha Levine’s ‘Fact-checking the Tor Project’s Government Ties’


Please understand that this subject is far, far outside my wheelhouse, as I wouldn’t be able to parse a TorOnion (althoough I've been trying to take a crash course) from a Linux anonymizing tool, but it seems to me in these days of the current almost total lack of online privacy, this Tor information war is crucial, as in: potentially a Very Big Deal.   Given how many days it’s taken me to dig into it, I was ready several time to give it all up in surrender.  So Consider this another PSA, if you will; and feel free to weigh in with your opinions and expertise.  I’ll bring links to Levine’s detractors, all written before he’d received his FOIAed documents; so yes, he must have called out ‘Tor’s deeply conflicted ties to the regime change wing of the U.S. government’ many times earlier.  Both are long, long reads, and as this is so long already, I won’t feature what seem to be the pithiest parts, but invite you to read them instead.  Levine’s invited journalists and historians to dig into the documents to see what they find documented in them.

Given that Yasha’s twitter account contains most of what he’s cited in this exposé beginning on Feb. 28 and earlier: @yashalevine Feb 28: ‘Today, I am releasing my full cache of FOIA files on Tor and the BBG to the public. They show collaboration between the federal government, the Tor Project and key members of the privacy and Internet Freedom movement on a level that is hard to believe”, all of which are considered to be ‘in the commons’, I’m going to include most all of what he’s written on these two pages.

On the same day, without any fanfare, Julian Assange had tweeted the link:

@JulianAssange ‘Tor – US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) FOIA https://www.documentcloud.org/public/search/projectid:37206-The-Tor-Files-Transparency-for-the-Dark-Web

Below it, this: @_whitneywebb Mar 1  ‘this is interesting since Tor is a major part of SecureDrop which is being touted as a “new” WikiLeaks by your friends at the Freedom of the Press Foundation’

…reminding me that when J. Asaange had responded to the FPF threw WikiLeaks off their safe island of funneling contributions to the group anonymously one of the group’s claims was that they were busy creating SecureDrop:

“Much had changed since the foundation was formed. Today it has a $1.5 million annual budget and a staff of 15. Taking donations for WikiLeaks and other groups has become only a tiny part of the foundation’s work. In 2013, for example, the foundation took over development of SecureDrop, an open-source tool designed to make it safer for whistleblowers to submit information to reporters. Under the foundation’s stewardship, SecureDrop today is running in dozens of newsrooms, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg.

[wd here: ah, yes, scribes to the Imperial Project’s #ProporNot.]

“Through a Daily Beast article by “Kevin Poulsen”, who interviewed former FPF board member Xeni Jardin, I learned that the board’s weakening resolve is due to a Micah Lee initiative asking his fellow board members to “cut ties” with WikiLeaks.”, etc.

Yeppers, without further ado (there's been plenty of 'preamble ado' already) this is the War and Peace-length tome now launching forth:

From the blog tab on Levine’s website on his new book, surveillancevalley.com on Feb. 27, 2018: Fact-checking the Tor Project’s government ties’ Feb 27, 2018


“The Tor Project, a private non-profit that underpins the dark web and enjoys cult status among privacy activists, is almost 100% funded by the US government.

In the process of writing my book Surveillance Valley, I was able to obtain via FOIA roughly 2,500 pages of correspondence — including strategy sessions and contracts and budgets and status updates — between the Tor Project and its main funder, a CIA spinoff now known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an agency that oversees America’s foreign broadcasting operations like Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe.

(See the full set of documents here.)

I obtained the documents in 2015. By then I had already spent a couple of years doing extensive reporting on Tor’s deeply conflicted ties to the regime change wing of the U.S. government. By following the money, I discovered that Tor was not grassroots. I was able to show that despite its radical anti-government cred, Tor was almost 100% funded by three U.S. national security agencies: the Navy, the State Department and the BBG. Tor was military contractor with its own government contractor number — a privatized extension of the very same government that it claimed to be fighting.

This was a shocking revelation.

For years, the Tor Project — along with other government-funded crypto tools like Signal — has been seen in almost religious terms by the privacy community as the only way to protect people from government spying online.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation held up Tor as the digital equivalent of the First Amendment. The ACLU backed it. Fight for the Future, the hip Silicon Valley activist group, declared Tor to be “NSA-proof.” Edward Snowden held it up as an example of the kind of grassroots privacy technology that could defeat government surveillance online, and told his followers to use it. Prominent award-winning journalists from Wired, Vice, The Intercept, The Guardian and Rolling Stone — including Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Andy Greenberg — all helped pump up Tor’s mythical anti-state rebel status. Even Daniel Ellsberg, the legendary whistleblower, was convinced that Tor was vital to the future of democracy. Anyone who questioned this narrative and pointed to Tor’s lavish government support was attacked, ridiculed, smeared and hounded into silence. I know because that’s what Tor supporters tried to do to me.

But the facts wouldn’t go away.

The initial evidence that I had gathered in my reporting left little room for doubt about Tor’s true nature as foreign policy weapon of the U.S. government. But the box of FOIA documents I received from the BBG took that evidence to a whole new level.

Why would the U.S. government fund a tool that limited its own power? The answer, as I discovered, was that Tor didn’t threaten American power. It enhanced it.

The FOIA documents showed collaboration between the federal government, the Tor Project and key members of the privacy and Internet Freedom movement on a level that was hard to believe:

The documents showed Tor employees taking orders from their handlers in the federal government, including hatching plans to deploy their anonymity tool in countries that the U.S. was working to destabilize: China, Iran, Vietnam, Russia. They showed discussions about the need to influence news coverage and to control bad press. They featured monthly updates that described meetings and trainings with the CIA, NSA, FBI, DOJ and State Department. They also revealed plans to funnel government funds to run “independent” Tor nodes. Most shockingly, the FOIA documents put under question Tor’s pledge that it would never put in any backdoors into their software. (See below.)

The documents conclusively showed that Tor is not independent at all. The organization did not have free reign to do whatever it wanted, but was kept on a short leash and bound by contracts with strict contractual obligations. It was also required to file detailed monthly status reports, giving the government a clear picture of what Tor employees were developing, where they went and who they saw.

I used many of these documents in my book, Surveillance Valley, to tell the story of how privacy technology evolved into a tool of military and corporate power. But now I’m going further: I’m releasing the full cache of FOIA files on Tor and the BBG to the public. I hope that journalists and historians will make use of this information to explore the close relationship between privacy technology, government power and Silicon Valley economic dominance.

In honor of this release, I’m putting together a little fact-checking primer on Tor’s government ties that’s based on these documents. I’ll be releasing a “fact-check” every few days, starting with the first:

CLAIM #1: Tor does not provide backdoors to the U.S. government
RATING: Moderately true.

While the documents do not show Tor employees providing backdoors into their software, they do reveal that they have no qualms with privately tipping off the federal government to security vulnerabilities before alerting the public, a move that would give the feds an opportunity to exploit the security weakness long before informing Tor users.

Take the incident involving “TLS normalization.”

In 2007, Tor developer Steven Murdoch wrote up a report on the problems and vulnerabilities connected to the way Tor encrypted its internet connection. Turned out that it did so in a very unique way, which made Tor traffic stand out from all the rest and made it easy to fingerprint and single out people who were using Tor from the background data noise of the internet. Not only did this encryption quirk make it easy for foreign countries to block Tor (at the time Tor’s efforts were targeted primarily at China and Iran), but in theory it made it much easier for anyone interested in spying on and cracking Tor traffic — whether the NSA, FBI or GCHQ — to identify and isolate their target.

In his email to Tor cofounder Roger Dingledine, Murdoch suggested they keep this vulnerability hidden from the public because disclosing it without first finding a solution would make it easy for an attacker to exploit the weakness: “it might be a good to delay the release of anything like ‘this attack is bad; I hope nobody realizes it before we fix it’,” he wrote.

(see document below; not a new window)

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4379303-Bbg-Tor-Emails-Stack-21.html#document/p1/a406621

Dingledine agreed. He didn’t tell the public. But he also didn’t keep the information private. He did something very much the opposite: he debriefed his backers at the BBG, an agency that had been spun off from the CIA and continues to be involved in covert change efforts around the world. (For my reporting on this history see: Surveillance Valley.) Roger forwarded his exchange with Steven to the BBG, making it clear that they would not be fixing this vulnerability anytime soon and that the public would be kept in the dark about this fact. He ended his email with “:)” — a smiley face.

How cute.

(see document below; not a new window)
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4379303-Bbg-Tor-Emails-Stack-21.html#document/p1/a406621

Privately tipping off a spooky federal agency deeply embedded in the U.S. National Security State to a vulnerability? No matter how slight the weakness being reported, you’d have to be naive to think that the U.S. government would not move to exploit it.

Don’t know about you, but I’d wager most Tor users wouldn’t be too happy knowing that this goes on at Tor. I’d wager they’d see it as nothing less than a total betrayal of trust. A double-cross. To them, Tor is not supposed to be giving advance warning to the U.S. government about it’s vulnerabilities. It’s supposed to be fighting on the other side: a rebel grassroots privacy tech outfit building tools that thwart the most powerful governments and intel agencies in the world. That’s the mystique and that’s the promise. That’s supposedly why Tor’s endorsed by the EFF and Edward Snowden, the most celebrated government whistleblower in recent memory. Some, like Ross Ulbricht, proprietor of the original Silk Road, staked their lives on their belief in Tor’s independence and anti-state nature. Maybe it’s not a surprise that Ulbricht is now spending life behind bars.

This brief interaction (and there are many many others on all sorts of topics) gives you a glimpse into the kind of friendly backroom relationship Tor has with the U.S. government. Fact is, Tor does not see the BBG as a threat. How can it see it that way? The BBG is a major benefactor, handing out over $6 million in contracts to the Tor Project from 2007 through 2015. The BBG is a friend and source of funds — and Tor management is eager to please. And of course the BBG isn’t Tor’s only friend in the U.S. government: the U.S. Navy and the State Department have also funneled millions into the project, and continue to do so today.

So…How long did it take for Tor to reveal this security weakness to the general public?

Well, it’s hard to say. But looking through Tor’s “tor-dev” mailing list it appears the document Roger initially shared with the BBG in 2007 was brought to the public’s attention only in 2011. That’s four years after the federal government was tipped off about it!

Note: The thing to remember is that Tor’s BBG correspondence only reveals a sliver of Tor’s full interaction with the feds. Much of the funding for Internet Freedom tech takes place under Radio Free Asia’s umbrella, a private government corporation that claims it does not fall under FOIA mandate and so refuses to comply with journalists’ FOIA requests. We also do not know what Tor reveals to its other two backers, the State Department and the U.S. Navy. Nor do we know what Roger Dingledine or other Tor managers reveal in their regular meetings with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. And there are many such meetings.

—Yasha Levine

Some Rebuttal:

Micah Lee responds to Levine’s smears against Tor in his ‘Fact-checking Pando’s smears against Tor’, micahlee.com

Pando.com allowed Quinn Norton, who now blogs at emptywheel.net to offer rebuttal in 2014. Clearing the air around Tor’.

“[Editor’s note: Following Pando’s recent reporting on the financial links between some senior Tor developers and the US Government, a fierce — and at times deeply unpleasant — debate has erupted between Tor supporters and critics. This guest post by journalist Quinn Norton was commissioned following an email discussion between Norton and Pando writer Yasha Levine. In the interests of open and fair debate, Pando has not edited the text of the post, beyond adding hyperlinks. – PBC]

Okay, a bit from Q. Norton, at some medium website someone had called ‘make peace, not war’ or close:

“The problem with Roger and the team he built, who are remarkable in many ways, is that they’re terrible at communicating with the public, and this confusion about funding isn’t the worst consequence of that. The worst consequence (to my mind) is the rogue exit node problem. A rogue node can spy on and collect all the Tor traffic going in of out of it, and probably a very high number of them do. This was allegedly how Wikileaks got its first drove of documents. It’s not a flaw in Tor though, Tor is working fine through that whole process. It’s a flaw in how people think about Tor, a flaw that has almost certainly cost people terribly by now.” [snip]

“It’s important too explain why people have been so incoherently angry as Tor has been criticized. There’s a genuine fear that this debate, or rather the miscommunication around it, puts people at risk. Most of the places people are using Tor their adversaries are not the US Government. They’re using it not only to communicate but to sidestep censorship. Tor is literally a lifeline to the world for people, some of whom are my colleagues, and some my friends. I can’t explain the mathematical architecture of Tor to them, but I can explain how to use it and the broad strokes of why to trust it. I will continue to do this, but for those I can’t talk to, those who only hear “honey pot”, they can be cut off and put at risk, likely to vanish one day. Some of this is journalists in shitty countries, but sometimes it’s gay kids in shitty homes trying to get information and not feel so alone. Sometimes it’s trolls, and sometimes it’s people trying to communicate about a controversial topic without risking home and livelihood.

The computer security and net freedom community have come up in the abusive environment of contemporary social media, and this has created a culture of constant combat and defensiveness. They take criticism with flame throwers on full throttle. But I believe all sides of this debate can be settled through clearer, gentler, and more candid communication.”

Readers will decide, most especially those steeped in tech privacy encrypted anonymizing software issues,  but you might want to take a look at the documents Levine’s made public for the sake of additional scrutiny.

(cross-posted from café babylon)

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wendy davis's picture

some say that the Omidyar group helped fund Tor, so i went a diggin', and yes, minimally as far as i could find, but the project's donation Q&A page has one kinda fun thing:

31. Does Tor Project accept matching donations?
Yes! Many companies --such as Google, Microsoft, eBay, PayPal, Apple, Verizon, Red Hat, many universities, and others-- will match donations made by their employees. The fastest way to find out if your company matches donations is usually by checking with your HR department, or you can search for your company name at https://www.matchinggifts.com/rit/. If your company isn't currently set up to match donations to the Tor Project, we would be happy to help with the paperwork. If you want help figuring out the process, write us at giving(at)torproject.org.on

on later edit: i should have added in my preamble that there are so many other movements to cover: the widening teacher strikes in west virginia and #aipac is on. dunno what to choose a more important next.

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arendt's picture

This is a highly fraught subject.

I'm a techie, and I can't make up my mind about TOR. My current opinion is that the software was developed for the MIC (I think that is a matter of record), but the story goes that it "escaped" from government control.

Mr. Levin argues that the "escape" was bogus.

Resolving that argument takes more time and technical skill than I have.

I wish you well in yur endeavor. Regardless of whether its real or fake security, I think its correct to assume that anyone known to use it goes on a government watchlist. As noted, to be "known", TOR might be secure and you might only become "known" by not knowing how to use TOR properly.

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@arendt and agree that this subject is too vast and is also outside the scope of my particular skillset (accounting software vs. networking/encryption).

That said, I've also become a huge cynic, and now operate under the assumption that if any hint of .gov intrusion/involvement/hijack, especially for this sort of tech, well, it's probably true and as such, suspect.

The mention of "rogue nodes" is something I've read before, as vulnerable instances where the .gov agencies have been able to insert themselves, intrude and "spy" within TOR node networks, and that seems very plausible and is at very least, an already existing problem for those wishing to remain securely anonymous within the system; I just don't trust it at this point.

But, then again, that cynicism kicks in and perhaps that was the propaganda disseminated to discourage use of something that really is secure and 'they' had no way to 'beat' it? Ugh, the mind-games we're forced into, due to the egregious spying/intrusion into what should be our private interaction.

I just don't know anything for sure...I suppose not much to offer, so just rambling...

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wendy davis's picture

@ChezJfrey

i reckon we're all kinda rambling here...

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wendy davis's picture

@arendt

to say the truth, i hadn't even known it was such a controversial subject, i'd just happened upon it accidentally, and it seemed worth pursuing, especially as this site seems to have so many tech-wise participants. as in: if ya'll kinda collectively decided: Eeek! maybe you'd spread the questions out abroad.

now i did go back and read michah (pfffft) lee's 2014 smear of levine's 'conspiracy theory', and he freely indicts pando as unreliable. but the crux of his argument (aside from envy) is that ames, levine, and carr 'hate greenwald and pierre omidyar', and yes,, they did some of the earliest exposés on pierre and his dark anti-democratic participation in many ties to the amerikan hegemonic ventures, usaid, crimea, tra la la.

a tech wizard i once shared a website with always cited ars technica as the pinnacles of knowledge, and this is the most current news they have up: "Critical Tor flaw leaks users’ real IP address—update now'; TorMoil threatens Mac and Linux versions of Tor browser; Windows and Tails not affected."

but i swear i'd read that as so many people hadn't updated in the past, leaving them vulnerable, tor did it automatically now. beats me.

on later edit: i just found it on micah lee's 2014 answer to yasha page:

"“For example, when FBI hacked Freedom Hosting servers and started attacking visitors’ Tor Browsers with javascript exploits, they only attacked old versions of Tor Browser (based on an old Firefox exploit) because new versions weren’t vulnerable. The major problem there was that people weren’t upgrading their software. Now Tor Browser doesn’t just warn you when your browser is out-of-date, it will automatically upgrade it for you too. Next time a Freedom Hosting-style attack happens, no one will be running an outdated Tor Browser.
This doesn’t mean that it’s dangerous to use Tor, especially if you pay attention to the list of things to pay attention to that all Tor users see when they download Tor Browser, and again when they open Tor Browser. It certainly doesn’t mean that Tor is a honeytrap.”

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mimi's picture

Isn't it a little astonishing that people would really be amazed that the Tor Project was funded by the same entities? Government, DARPA, DoD and Navy etc

It would be too good to be true, if just because the source code was open, and the old guard Unix/Linux developers, who didn't earn a dime with their code contrary to the corporations of Silicon Valley, became exited and became firm believers, it would be a guarantor that defends your free speech and privacy rights on the basis on its open source code alone. They thought that the openess of the code was a tool to fight political oppression and defend the population against government surveillance and abuses.

My first thought trying to pull myself to your essay was that the whole internet was developed and funded through DARPA. Why would the Tor Project not be part of it years later on?

I like some paragraphs from the panda.com article:

Clearing the air around Tor

Levine ... he was following a tradition of vital and good journalism. ..."Follow the money" is a maxim of investigation that will rarely lead you wrong, especially in matters of political policy.

There are only a few places where funding can't influence the contents of the outcome – maybe fundamental physics, and math, and not much else. Math is as far from policy as human endeavor gets. Math either works or it doesn't work...

What makes Tor different from the usual thesaurus-full of government projects is that Tor is essentially a very elaborate math trick, using layers of math puzzles to create a network-within-the-network. That math is being implemented in front of a global audience of millions of sophisticated watchers. It is likely the most examined codebase in the world. It has been subjected to multiple public audits. The math, well known and widely standardized, will work for everyone, or it will not, whoever pays the bills.

Doing it on the government dime didn't matter as Roger saw it, because how it worked could not be politically controlled any more than π could be legislated to equal 3. Tor acts like a piece of infrastructure, and governments naturally fall into paying for infrastructure they want to use.
...
Without an understanding of the technology behind Tor, I can see why the connection to the US Government feels important. In fact, this shouldn't be a question we ask only about Tor, but about the whole internet. Not only was it an ARPA/DARPA project to begin with -- to a degree it remains a US Government project to this day, with tons of federal money sustaining and supporting the infrastructure and the lion's share of internet governance dominated by Americans and American interests.

And I do ask this question – having an internet that connects everywhere is to some degree about having an American internet that obeys American laws and runs American protocols. This is part of what makes the net neutrality debate so vital: America sets the precedent for the world, almost assuredly more than it should. A non-neutral net is likely to represent a terrible prior restraint on speech, not just in America, but globally.

Aside it was on the Tor Projects website written it was funded by the government. So it actually couldn't have been that great of a shock.

There is a lot to read here and when I discovered Unix and Linux and the www in 1995 I was as exited about the political implication the open source code would have - at least in my mind back then - transparency and anonymity, both, were hailed as being the best way to protect the US citizen from surveillance and oppression and exploitation by the MIC, IT corporations and government. Many people believed and still believe it, I think.

Because you had to be a coder to get at least a little bit of a feeling for the power of the code you could write. Nothing a professional, who wasn't coding, would be able to evaluate. The first time what a professional coder and webhost or bloghost can do to you, is when you discover he can kill your whole work and online project in a millisecond. Nobody wants that to happen to him, and certainly not the DoD to their 'projects' too. So, I would say it's normal that the DoD and US government is using that code to their advantage as much as possible as well and fund it.

Of course, it's above my pay grade, beyond my bedtime and below my trusting bottom line of my bullshit detector and I just run my mouth. It's just a bit too difficult for me to say anything about it. I think the government and the web developers have lost control of their own creation and the chaos it created has made them panicky and they use any trick to get it back under control. That means they use the open source code projects and sell the idea of transparency and encryption and anonymity to the gullible open source code aficionados and the general public by using it for their own goals to exactly do what the aficionados fight against.

Just my last pennies from my piggy bank. Good Night from Germany.

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wendy davis's picture

@mimi

misdirection, esp. w/ his "we need to tell folks a better story", kinda luke harding UK 'journalism' of him, lol. and yes, indeed, the wiki has the funding sources in plain sight, only iirc, sweden figures in as well according to some of tor's own lists.

but yes: tor's donate Q&A page says of the onion deployment, i reckon:

"Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around the Tor network, which is a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world. If someone is watching your internet connection, Tor prevents them from finding out what sites you are visiting. It also prevents sites you visit from finding out where you're located. You can read more about how Tor works on our overview page.

We believe Tor is the best solution available today, and we know that it does a better job of keeping you safely anonymous than other options such as VPNs, proxychains, or browser "private browsing" modes. We know that both the Russian government and the NSA have tried in the past to crack Tor, and failed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says that Tor offers some of the strongest anonymity software that exists, and in his book Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier wrote "The current best tool to protect your anonymity when browsing the web is Tor."

but goodness, you seem to know a hella lot more about this stuff than i do, mimi.

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wendy davis's picture

i wasn't sure anyone would click in to read, much less comment. for now, forgive me, but real life has intruded, and i'll have to respond to your comments tomorrow, and even read again at some of the Tor defenders and developers websites.

wish i had a goodnight lullaby, but given all of the 'wars with __' online, i'll just wish you good dreams if you're able. well, okay, again: even 'time dreams', the late and awesome john trudell's recording just before he crossed over at in dec. of 2015.

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@wendy davis While the tech is waaay above my skillset, he kept it reasonably clear. In the talk I saw, Yasha didn't go into the BBG/State/Navy funding; reading that now must makes all this shit scarier.

My bottom line: Yikes. It makes depressing sense that the Deep State has some/alot of access and intel on Tor's workings and can sort folks out - eventually - by narrowing down on the comparatively small # of folks that use Tor.

Thanks wendy

@wendy davis

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JVolvo2

wendy davis's picture

@JVolvo2

i'd seen him mention that he's done a lot of interviews, although i don't know what book teevee is. was he mainly selling his book, or did he say what more of the FOIAed communications said? i've been disappointed that he hasn't added more to his 'fact-checking' series as he said he'd do 'every few days' yet.

but yes, it just might be a 'yikes' exposé.

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"Each weekend, Book TV features 48 hours of nonfiction books from Saturday 8am ET to Monday 8am ET"

So this was a Feb 2018 event at a book store where Yasha talked about his new book Surveillance Valley. CSPAN ran the tape of this talk + Q&A over the weekend.

https://www.c-span.org/search/?searchtype=All&query=Yasha+Levine

Here's a Feb 2016 Baffler Yasha article about Oakland surveillance, which is his lead in to same new book - https://thebaffler.com/latest/oakland-surveillance-levine

Bottom line: We're Fucked : (

@wendy davis

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JVolvo2

wendy davis's picture

@JVolvo2

for both. and esp. the baffler which can be read (albeit it's very long), not watched, lol. but i remember during occupy asking a friend who followed the movement closely if he remembered a man in a photo in front of a blue glass PD saying he'd been tortured inside. yep, he said it was yasha levine, and even showed me the photo.

at the time, he was still writing at 'exiled online', but i keep forgetting when they became nsfw corps and other iterations. fucked? lol.

but it seems no one here wanted to dig into the documents; i sure don't. but that reminds me that micah (ptui) lee had crapped on him with 'if you have some documents showing...', then produce them!' well, he may have, although the radio free asia, etc. ones may even be more telling. thanks agiain, amigo.

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GreyWolf's picture

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Alligator Ed's picture

I've been told that Tor is the place you want to post anything you want to keep away from prying eyes. Never used it, but lots of people due, apparently because of the lack visibility. Hence your essay dispels the notion of secrecy from the inception of the project.

I obtained the documents in 2015. By then I had already spent a couple of years doing extensive reporting on Tor’s deeply conflicted ties to the regime change wing of the U.S. government. By following the money, I discovered that Tor was not grassroots. I was able to show that despite its radical anti-government cred, Tor was almost 100% funded by three U.S. national security agencies: the Navy, the State Department and the BBG. Tor was military contractor with its own government contractor number — a privatized extension of the very same government that it claimed to be fighting.

Your essay brought two thoughts immediately to mind, both emanating from George Webb. George, although often going tangential, possess a wealth of inside knowledge which is astounding.

Thought number 1: SecureDrop is a ruse penetrated by agents/governments to hijack information that users wished to keep secret. The Freedom of the Press Foundation is a government-run agency designed to assist luring whistleblowers into using SecureDrop, as Seth Rich likely did.

Thought number 2. Operation Fiddler is a deep state project designed to scoop up 190 alleged whistleblowers who use the honeypot known as SecureDrop. A honeypot is a lure to attract prey with intent to expose and/or destroy them.

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

that tor runs in the background of browsers, and as to george wolf's credo about secure drop: i was about to say that it was developed by the FPF as one of the reasons they cut wikileaks loose from anonymous donation-funneling. but i looked back at my earlier diary on the issue, and see that trevor timm (who'd hit assange hard at the daily beast along w/ ackerman, that he actually says:

"“Much had changed since the foundation was formed. Today it has a $1.5 million annual budget and a staff of 15. Taking donations for WikiLeaks and other groups has become only a tiny part of the foundation’s work. In 2013, for example, the foundation took over development of SecureDrop, an open-source tool designed to make it safer for whistleblowers to submit information to reporters. Under the foundation’s stewardship, SecureDrop today is running in dozens of newsrooms, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg.”

and as i remember it, it was based on aaron swartz's work. ah, here it is on the wiki:

"SecureDrop is an open-source software platform for secure communication between journalists and sources (whistleblowers).[3] It was originally designed and developed by Aaron Swartz and Kevin Poulsen under the name DeadDrop.[4][5] James Dolan also co-created the software.

After Aaron Swartz's death, the first instance of the platform was launched under the name Strongbox by staff at The New Yorker on 15 May 2013.[7] The Freedom of the Press Foundation took over development of DeadDrop under the name SecureDrop, and has since assisted with its installation at several news organizations, including ProPublica, The Guardian, The Intercept, and The Washington Post."

whooosh. gateholders all, imo. but look what assange had said about poulsen at my link; pretty damning stuff. and the intercept of course, outted reality wimmer as the source of their one-page source; now she's facing life in prison. and as far as i know, wikileaks still uses pastebin, but they have instructions for submissions at their main site. i do know it's where he'd answered trevor timm.

but i'll go look up george webb. now seth rich is a whole 'nother story, but if he submitted leaks on the dlc, e.al., it was to wikileaks.

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

https://twitter.com/GeorgWebb

https://ibloga.blogspot.com/2017/06/is-podesta-threatening-george-webb.html

i'll read later...wild stuff on twitter, looks like (smile).

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Alligator Ed's picture

@wendy davis Check out George Webb's series 500 videos in which he summarizes the monthly discoveries of his investigations since he started tracking Eric Braverman. These summarize more than 1200 separate videos he's made.

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

i just don't have time for videos. i rarely watch even short ones, and long uns only if there's a transcript. i'd meant to dig up some pando hits on "pierre", too, but i realized it''s the last day of aipac, so i broke my butt on a twitterfy on that, but jtc had trouble cross-posting it, so...i had to facsimilate some of the sweetie tweeties.

okay, i'll go look, i shouldda looked for 'levine;, not pando, but lol: a quick hit, but from Kos:

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2014/2/28/1281233/-Pando-Pierre-Omidyar...

yeah, gg and some of the rest don't come off too well, either, and i did watch some of it on twitter live. some of them used to be 'exiled online' when they came back from russia along w/ matt taibbi, remember?

https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/extraordinary-pierre-omidyar/

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Alligator Ed's picture

@wendy davis

The generous support of the Omidyar Network goes toward "fighting poverty" through micro-lending, reducing third-world illiteracy rates by privatizing education and protecting human rights by expanding property titles ("private property rights") into slums and villages across the developing world.

In short, Omidyar Network's philanthropy reveals Omidyar as a free-market zealot with an almost mystical faith in the power of "markets" to transform the world, end poverty, and improve lives—one micro-individual at a time.

All the neoliberal guru cant about solving the world’s poverty problems by unlocking the hidden "micro-entrepreneurial" spirit of every starving Third Worlder is put into practice by Omidyar Network's investments. Charity without profit motive is considered suspect at best, subject to the laws of unintended consequences; good can only come from markets unleashed, and that translates into an ideology inherently hostile to government, democracy, public politics, redistribution of land and wealth, and anything smacking of social welfare or social justice.

If, say, such a now-entitled desperately poor peasant gets a "micro loan", which would certainly be macro to him/her considering the poverty and makes a go of it, then the "successful" peasant still has to repay the loan with interest. But the newly enriched peasant will buy up his neighbor's title and soon become a landlord--charging unaffordable rents and kicking the renter off his miserable squat for failing to pay rent. And the dominos (neighbors begin to fall). So, in the best case scenario, according to free-marketeers, the market will have worked its magic by creating another capitalist who eventually gobbles up the micro titles to the microsquats.

And the same example applies to privatized education, privatized toilets, privatized you-name-it. Ah, such benevolence!

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

like him, bill gates, and they never have to live with the 'unintended' consequences. and as you say, one of the wins...could be, creating another caste of capitalist compradors, so...it's all good.

srsly, once in a while i've done stories of tweets from "pierre" and billy bob gates' foundations wishes to control the world thru capitalism and 'charity'. enough to make ya grab fer a barf bag. now iirc, he has a new scheme of micro-loans, but dagnabbit, darned if i can remember it. #Assholes

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