File 18

I found the article “The CIA And The ‘Privacy’ Advocates: Update On The Adventures Of Eddie The Friendly Spook” on Spitfire List

“Privacy” was published on 16 March 2016, and written by David Emory

This is a link to the original article

***The views and opinions expressed in the following work do not necessarily reflect my own***

With that in mind, please enjoy ❤


FTR #895 The CIA and the “Privacy” Advocates: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles posted by early win­ter of 2016. The new drive (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more.) (The pre­vi­ous flash drive was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012.)

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This pro­gram was recorded in one, 60-minute seg­ment.
Snow­den: Is this the face that launched a thou­sand ships?
Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing analy­sis and dis­cus­sion from FTR #891, we fur­ther explore the CIA-generated back­ground and fund­ing of the “pri­vacy” advo­cates who com­prise much of “Team Snow­den.” Recall that Snow­den him­self was with CIA when he chose to dou­ble on NSA.

Undoubt­edly, many lis­ten­ers have been puz­zled by Mr. Emory’s take on “Eddie the Friendly Spook” Snow­den. We note that the “Snow­den op” is a highly com­pli­cated affair, with lev­els and ram­i­fi­ca­tions extend­ing around the world. We can­not do jus­tice to the entirety of “L’Affaire Snow­den” in the con­text of this pro­gram and its description.

Snow­den is actu­ally the oppo­site of what he is rep­re­sented as being. Far from being the self-sacrificing altru­ist and minor saint he is rep­re­sented as being, Snow­den is a nasty, cyn­i­cal foul-mouthed fas­cist. He is also a spy.

In this pro­gram, we begin by review­ing our scrutiny of Edward Snow­den from the per­spec­tive of Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, the Air Force “Focal Point Offi­cer” who devel­oped a CIA-controlled net­work inside of the branches of the mil­i­tary and other agen­cies of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. (We note in this con­text that Snow­den was work­ing for CIA when he under­took his leak­ing operation.)

Plac­ing agents in other branches of gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the mil­i­tary and other intel­li­gence agen­cies, the CIA’s “focal point” net­work con­sti­tuted a “secret gov­ern­ment within a gov­ern­ment” that appears to exist to this day.

Fur­ther devel­op­ing the analy­sis pre­sented in FTR #891, we set forth the evo­lu­tion of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors and Radio Free Asia, the par­ent orga­ni­za­tions of the Open Tech­nol­ogy Fund. The OTF has cap­i­tal­ized much of the encrypted “anti-surveillance” tech­nol­ogy that has been devel­oped. “Team Snow­den,” in turn, has evolved from this milieu.

An exten­sion of the CIA’s pro­pa­ganda and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare broad­cast­ing infra­struc­ture devel­oped dur­ing the Cold War, the milieu detailed here func­tions in a sim­i­lar fash­ion. The inter­net is the lat­est form of broad­cast­ing. The Open Tech­nol­ogy Fund and related insti­tu­tions are designed to pro­vide dis­si­dents and covert oper­a­tors a means of shield­ing their inter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mobile phone mes­sages from sur­veil­lance by tar­geted gov­ern­ments. The prob­a­bil­ity is strong that U.S. intel­li­gence can mon­i­tor those communications.

In our past dis­cus­sions of the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy, we have noted that the very same covert action net­works used to over­throw and elim­i­nate gov­ern­ments and indi­vid­u­als deemed hos­tile to U.S. inter­ests were ulti­mately deployed against Amer­i­cans and even the United States itself. “Regime change” and desta­bi­liza­tion came home.

In a sim­i­lar fash­ion, it is our con­sid­ered opin­ion that a CIA-derived tech­nol­ogy milieu devel­oped to assist and effect “ops” abroad was used to desta­bi­lize the Obama admin­is­tra­tion. (There is MUCH more to “L’Affaire Snow­den” than just the desta­bi­liza­tion of the Obama admin­is­tra­tion, how­ever that is a major and ongo­ing out­growth of it. At the con­clu­sion of this pro­gram, we include a pre­view of analy­sis indi­cat­ing that the desta­bi­liza­tion of Obama and the Hillary Clin­ton cam­paign is ongoing.)

” . . . 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. . . .

. . . . 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. . . .

. . . . 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. . . .”

The pro­gram con­cludes with infor­ma­tion which sup­ple­ments the dis­cus­sion of the BBG/RFA/OTF nexus, as well as antic­i­pat­ing the forth­com­ing analy­sis of the Apple “ISIS-phone” controversy.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

Dis­cus­sion of the strug­gle over encryp­tion of the What­sApp fea­ture owned by Facebook.
Devel­op­ment of WhatsApp’s encryp­tion tech­nol­ogy by the BBG/RFA-funded by the Open Tech­nol­ogy Fund.
ACLU tech­nol­ogy adviser Chris Soghoian’s com­men­tary on the What­sApp controversy.
FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s GOP/Bush admin­isi­tra­tion background.
Dis­cus­sion of Comey’s pos­si­ble desta­bi­liza­tion of the Obama admin­is­tra­tion and the Hillary Clin­ton campaign.
1. Against the back­ground of the CIA/BBG/RFA evo­lu­tion of “Team Snow­den,” we high­light the devel­op­ment of “focal point” per­son­nel by the CIA. Infil­trated into other branches of gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the mil­i­tary, they con­sti­tuted a “gov­ern­ment within a gov­ern­ment.” Was Snow­den one such “focal point?” Is the BBG/RFA/OTF nexus an evo­lu­tion of the “focal point networks?”

JFK and the Unspeak­able: Why He Died and Why It Mat­ters by James W. Dou­glass; Touch­stone Books [SC]; Copy­right 2008 by James W. Dou­glas; ISBN 978–1-4391–9388-4; pp. 196–197.

. . . . One man in a posi­tion to watch the arms of the CIA pro­lif­er­ate was Colonel Fletcher Prouty. He ran the office that did the pro­lif­er­at­ing. In 1955, Air Force Head­quar­ters ordered Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, a career Army and Air Force offi­cer since World War II, to set up a Pen­ta­gon office to pro­vide mil­i­tary sup­port for the clan­des­tine oper­a­tions of the CIA. Thus Prouty became direc­tor of the Pentagon’s “Focal Point Office for the CIA.”

CIA Direc­tor Allen Dulles was its actual cre­ator. In the fifties, Dulles needed mil­i­tary sup­port for his cover cam­paigns to under­mine oppos­ing nations in the Cold War. More­over, Dulles wanted sub­ter­ranean secrecy and auton­omy for his projects, even from the mem­bers of his own gov­ern­ment. Prouty’s job was to pro­vide Pen­ta­gon sup­port and deep cover for the CIA beneath the dif­fer­ent branches of Washington’s bureau­cracy. Dulles dic­tated the method Prouty was to follow.

“I want a focal point,” Dulles said. “I want an office that’s cleared to do what we have to have done; an office that knows us very, very well and then an office that has access to a sys­tem in the Pen­ta­gon. But the sys­tem will not be aware of what ini­ti­ated the request–they’ll think it came from the Sec­re­tary of Defense. They won’t real­ize it came from the Direc­tor of Cen­tral Intelligence.

Dulles got Prouty to cre­ate a net­work of sub­or­di­nate focal point offices in the armed ser­vices, then through­out the entire U.S. gov­ern­ment. Each office that Prouty set up was put under a “cleared” CIA employee. That per­son took orders directly from the CIA but func­tioned under the cover of his par­tic­u­lar office and branch of gov­ern­ment. Such “breed­ing,” Prouty said decades later in an inter­view, resulted in a web of covert CIA rep­re­sen­ta­tives “in the State Depart­ment, in the FAA, in the Cus­toms Ser­vice, in the Trea­sury, in the FBI and all around through the government–up in the White House . . . Then we began to assign peo­ple there who, those agen­cies thought, were from the Defense Depart­ment. But they actu­ally were peo­ple that we put there from the CIA.”

The con­se­quence in the early 1960’s, when Kennedy became pres­i­dent, was that the CIA had placed a secret team of its own employ­ees through the entire U.S. gov­ern­ment. It was account­able to no one except the CIA, headed by Allen Dulles. After Dulles was fired by Kennedy, the CIA’s Deputy Direc­tor of Plans, Richard Helms, became this invis­i­ble government’s imme­di­ate com­man­der. No one except a tight inner cir­cle of the CIA even knew of the exis­tence of this top-secret intel­li­gence net­work, much less the iden­tiy of its deep-cover bureau­crats. These CIA “focal points,” as Dulles called them, con­sti­tuted a pow­er­ful, unseen gov­ern­ment within the gov­ern­ment. Its Dulles-appointed mem­bers would act quickly, with total obe­di­ence, when called on by the CIA to assist its covert operations. . . .

2. Much of the broad­cast con­sists of a read­ing of an arti­cle we excerpted at the end of FTR #891. As we exam­ine the per­son­nel and insti­tu­tions com­pris­ing “Team Snow­den,” we come to a milieu that has evolved from the CIA’s radio pro­pa­ganda and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare capabilities.

An exten­sion of the CIA’s pro­pa­ganda and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare broad­cast­ing infra­struc­ture devel­oped dur­ing the Cold War, the milieu detailed here func­tions in a sim­i­lar fash­ion. The inter­net is the lat­est form of broad­cast­ing. The Open Tech­nol­ogy Fund and related insti­tu­tions are designed to pro­vide dis­si­dents and covert oper­a­tors a means of shield­ing their inter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mobile phone mes­sages from sur­veil­lance by tar­geted gov­ern­ments. The prob­a­bil­ity is strong that U.S. intel­li­gence can mon­i­tor those communications.

In our past dis­cus­sions of the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy, we have noted that the very same covert action net­works used to over­throw and elim­i­nate gov­ern­ments and indi­vid­u­als deemed hos­tile to U.S. inter­ests were ulti­mately deployed against Amer­i­cans and even the United States itself. “Regime change” and desta­bi­liza­tion came home.

In a sim­i­lar fash­ion, it is our con­sid­ered opin­ion that a CIA-derived tech­nol­ogy milieu devel­oped to assist and effect “ops” abroad was used to desta­bi­lize the Obama admin­is­tra­tion. (There is MUCH more to “L’Affaire Snow­den” than just the desta­bi­liza­tion of the Obama admin­is­tra­tion, how­ever that is a major and ongo­ing out­growth of it.

” . . . 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. . . .

. . . . 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. . . .

. . . . 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. . . .”

There are numer­ous ref­er­ences to the Tor net­work in this arti­cle. Although we do not have the time to go into it in this pro­gram, the Tor net­work is dis­cussed at length in the link that fol­lows. Suf­fice it to say that the Tor net­work was devel­oped by U.S. intel­li­gence ser­vices and, to no one’s sur­prise, is being mon­i­tored by intel­li­gence ser­vices, includ­ing the NSA.

“Inter­net Pri­vacy, Funded by Spooks: A Brief His­tory of the BBG” by Yasha Levine; Pando Daily; 3/01/2015.

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 2012and 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.

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 direc­tivee 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 2011to 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.

The CIA quickly dis­cov­ered that their plan to foment polit­i­cal unrest in China had one major flaw: the Chi­nese were too poor to own radios.

Bal­loons, hold­ing small radios tuned to Radio Free Asia’s fre­quency, were lofted toward the main­land from the island of Tai­wan, where the Chi­nese Nation­al­ists had fled after the Com­mu­nist takeover of the main­land in 1949. The plan was aban­doned when the bal­loons were blown back to Tai­wan across the For­mosa Strait. The CIA sup­pos­edly shut­tered Radio Free Asia in the mid-1950s, but another Radio Free Asia reap­peared a decade later, this time funded through a CIA-Moonie out­fit called the Korean Cul­ture and Free­dom Foun­da­tion (KCFF) — a group based in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. that was run by a top fig­ure in South Korea’s state intel­li­gence agency, Colonel Bo Hi Pak, who also served as the “prin­ci­ple evan­ge­list” of cult leader Rev. Sun-Myung Moon of the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church.

This new Moonie iter­a­tion of Radio Free Asia was con­trolled by the South Korean gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the country’s own CIA, the “KCIA.” It enjoyed high-level sup­port from within the first Nixon Admin­is­tra­tion and even fea­tured then-Congressman Ger­ald Ford on its board. Accord­ing to an FBI file on Rev. Moon, Radio Free Asia “at the height of the Viet­nam war pro­duced anti-communist pro­grams in Wash­ing­ton and beamed them into China, North Korea and North Vietnam.”

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 infor­ma­tionon 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.

3. Note the role of the BBG/RFA’s Open Tech­nol­ogy Fund in devel­op­ing the What­sApp encryp­tion tech­nol­ogy at the foun­da­tion of the con­tro­versy around a court case involv­ing attempts to pen­e­trate its encryp­tion technology.

“What­sApp Encryp­tion Said to Stymie Wire­tap Order” by Matt Apuzzo; The New York Times; 3/12/2016.

While the Jus­tice Depart­ment wages a pub­lic fight with Apple over access to a locked iPhone, gov­ern­ment offi­cials are pri­vately debat­ing how to resolve a pro­longed stand­off with another tech­nol­ogy com­pany, What­sApp, over access to its pop­u­lar instant mes­sag­ing appli­ca­tion, offi­cials and oth­ers involved in the case said. No deci­sion has been made, but a court fight with What­sApp, the world’s largest mobile mes­sag­ing ser­vice, would open a new front in the Obama administration’s dis­pute with Sil­i­con Val­ley over encryp­tion, secu­rity and privacy.

What­sApp, which is owned by Face­book, allows cus­tomers to send mes­sages and make phone calls over the Inter­net. In the last year, the com­pany has been adding encryp­tion to those con­ver­sa­tions, mak­ing it impos­si­ble for the Jus­tice Depart­ment to read or eaves­drop, even with a judge’s wire­tap order.

As recently as this past week, offi­cials said, the Jus­tice Depart­ment was dis­cussing how to pro­ceed in a con­tin­u­ing crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion in which a fed­eral judge had approved a wire­tap, but inves­ti­ga­tors were stymied by WhatsApp’s encryption.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment and What­sApp declined to com­ment. The gov­ern­ment offi­cials and oth­ers who dis­cussed the dis­pute did so on con­di­tion of anonymity because the wire­tap order and all the infor­ma­tion asso­ci­ated with it were under seal. The nature of the case was not clear, except that offi­cials said it was not a ter­ror­ism inves­ti­ga­tion. The loca­tion of the inves­ti­ga­tion was also unclear. . . .

. . . . In a twist, the gov­ern­ment helped develop the tech­nol­ogy behind WhatsApp’s encryp­tion. To pro­mote civil rights in coun­tries with repres­sive gov­ern­ments, the Open Tech­nol­ogy Fund, which pro­motes open soci­eties by sup­port­ing tech­nol­ogy that allows peo­ple to com­mu­ni­cate with­out the fear of sur­veil­lance, pro­vided $2.2 mil­lion to help develop Open Whis­per Sys­tems, the encryp­tion back­bone behind WhatsApp. . . .

. . . . Those who sup­port dig­i­tal pri­vacy fear that if the Jus­tice Depart­ment suc­ceeds in forc­ing Apple to help break into the iPhone in the San Bernardino case, the government’s next move will be to force com­pa­nies like What­sApp to rewrite their soft­ware to remove encryp­tion from the accounts of cer­tain cus­tomers. “That would be like going to nuclear war with Sil­i­con Val­ley,” said Chris Soghoian, a tech­nol­ogy ana­lyst with the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union. . . .

4. Repub­li­can James Comey–a Mitt Rom­ney sup­porter in 2012–is tak­ing actions that are caus­ing seri­ous prob­lems for the Obama admin­is­tra­tion and for the Hillary Clin­ton can­di­dacy. In par­tic­u­lar, the e-mail scan­dal appears to have been Comey’s baby. He has also ruf­fled feath­ers with the alto­gether com­pli­cated Apple “ISIS­phone” con­tro­versy. That con­sum­mately impor­tant case, Byzan­tine in its com­plex­ity and multi-dimensionality (to coin a term) will be dealt with in a future program.

Comey was pre­vi­ously the gen­eral coun­sel for Bridge­wa­ter Asso­ciates, a hedge fund that helped cap­i­tal­ize Palan­tir, which (their dis­claimers to the con­trary notwith­stand­ing) makes the Prism soft­ware that is at the epi­cen­ter of “L’Affaire Snow­den.” (CORRECTION: In past pro­grams and posts, we incor­rectly iden­ti­fied Comey as gen­eral coun­sel for Palan­tir, not Bridgewater.)

The Bridgewater/Palantir/Comey nexus is inter­est­ing, nonethe­less. Palantir’s top stock­holder is Peter Thiel, a backer of Ted Cruz and the man who pro­vided most of the cap­i­tal for Ron Paul’s 2012 Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Ron Paul’s Super PAC was in–of all places–Provo Utah, Rom­ney coun­try. Paul is from Texas. The alleged mav­er­ick Paul was, in fact, close to Rom­ney.

Recall that “Eddie the Friendly Spook” is a big Ron Paul fan and Bruce Fein, Snowden’s first attor­ney and the coun­sel for the Snow­den fam­ily, was the chief legal coun­sel for Ron Paul’s campaign.

The pos­si­ble impli­ca­tions of these rela­tion­ships are worth con­tem­plat­ing and will be dis­cussed at greater length in future pro­grams.

“Comey’s FBI Makes Waves” by Cory Ben­nett and Julian Hat­tem; The Hill; 3/09/2016.

The aggres­sive pos­ture of the FBI under Direc­tor James Comey is becom­ing a polit­i­cal prob­lem for the White House.

The FBI’s demand that Apple help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers has out­raged Sil­i­con Val­ley, a sig­nif­i­cant source of polit­i­cal sup­port for Pres­i­dent Obama and Democrats.

Comey, mean­while, has stirred ten­sions by link­ing ris­ing vio­lent crime rates to the Black Lives Mat­ter movement’s focus on police vio­lence and by warn­ing about “gaps” in the screen­ing process for Syr­ian refugees.

Then there’s the biggest issue of all: the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the pri­vate email server used by Hillary Clin­ton, Obama’s for­mer sec­re­tary of State and the lead­ing con­tender to win the Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­den­tial nomination.

A deci­sion by the FBI to charge Clin­ton or her top aides for mis­han­dling clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion would be a shock to the polit­i­cal system.

In these cases and more, Comey — a Repub­li­can who donated in 2012 to Mitt Rom­ney — has proved he is “not attached to the strings of the White House,” said Ron Hosko, the for­mer head of the FBI’s crim­i­nal inves­tiga­tive divi­sion and a critic of Obama’s law enforce­ment strategies.

Pub­licly, admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials have not betrayed any worry about the Clin­ton probe. They have also down­played any dif­fer­ences of opin­ion on Apple.

But for­mer offi­cials say the FBI’s moves are clearly ruf­fling feath­ers within the administration.

With regards to the Apple stand­off, “It’s just not clear [Comey] is speak­ing for the admin­is­tra­tion,” said Richard Clarke, a for­mer White House coun­tert­er­ror­ism and cyber­se­cu­rity chief. “We know there have been admin­is­tra­tion meet­ings on this for months. The pro­posal that Comey had made on encryp­tion was rejected by the administration.”

Comey has a rep­u­ta­tion for speak­ing truth to power, dat­ing back to a dra­matic con­fronta­tion in 2004 when he rushed to a hos­pi­tal to stop the Bush White House from renew­ing a war­rant­less wire­tap­ping pro­gram while Attor­ney Gen­eral John Ashcroft was gravely ill. Comey was Ashcroft’s deputy at the time.

That show­down won Comey plau­dits from both sides of the aisle and made him an attrac­tive pick to lead the FBI. But now that he’s in charge of the agency, the pres­i­dent might be get­ting more than he bar­gained for.

“Part of his role is to not nec­es­sar­ily be in lock step with the White House,” said Mitch Sil­ber, a for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cial with the New York City Police Depart­ment and cur­rent senior man­ag­ing direc­tor at FTI Consulting.

“He takes very seri­ously the fact that he works for the exec­u­tive branch,” added Leo Tad­deo, a for­mer agent in the FBI’s cyber divi­sion. “But he also under­stands the impor­tance of main­tain­ing his inde­pen­dence as a law enforce­ment agency that needs to give not just the appear­ance of inde­pen­dence but the real­ity of it.”

The split over Clinton’s email server is the most polit­i­cally charged issue fac­ing the FBI, with noth­ing less than the race for the White House poten­tially at stake.

Obama has pub­licly defended Clin­ton, say­ing that while she “made a mis­take” with her email setup, it was “not a sit­u­a­tion in which America’s national secu­rity was endangered.”

But the FBI direc­tor has bris­tled at that state­ment, say­ing the pres­i­dent would not have any knowl­edge of the inves­ti­ga­tion. Comey, mean­while, told law­mak­ers last week that he is “very close, per­son­ally,” to the probe.

Obama’s com­ments reflected a pat­tern, sev­eral for­mer agents said, of the pres­i­dent mak­ing improper com­ments about FBI inves­ti­ga­tions. In 2012, he made sim­i­larly dis­mis­sive com­ments about a pend­ing inquiry into then-CIA Direc­tor David Petraeus, who later pleaded guilty to a mis­de­meanor charge for giv­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion to his mis­tress and biog­ra­pher, Paula Broadwell.

“It serves no one in the United States for the pres­i­dent to com­ment on ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions,” Tad­deo said. “I just don’t see a purpose.”

Hosko sug­gested that a show­down over poten­tial crim­i­nal charges for Clin­ton could lead to a reprise of the famous 2004 hos­pi­tal scene, when Comey threat­ened to resign.

“He has that man­tle,” Hosko said. “I think now there’s this expec­ta­tion — I hope it’s a fair one — that he’ll do it again if he has to.”

Comey’s inde­pen­dent streak has also been on dis­play in the Apple fight, when his bureau decided to seek a court order demand­ing that the tech giant cre­ate new soft­ware to bypass secu­rity tools on an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two ter­ror­ist attack­ers in San Bernardino, Calif.

Many observers ques­tioned whether the FBI was mak­ing an end-run around the White House, which had pre­vi­ously dis­missed a series of pro­pos­als that would force com­pa­nies to decrypt data upon gov­ern­ment request.

“I think there’s actu­ally some peo­ple that don’t think with one mind­set on this issue within the admin­is­tra­tion,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the Sen­ate Home­land Secu­rity Committee’s top Demo­c­rat, at a Tues­day hear­ing. “It’s a tough issue.”

While the White House has repeat­edly backed the FBI’s deci­sion, it has not fully endorsed the poten­tial pol­icy ram­i­fi­ca­tions, leav­ing some to think a gap might develop as sim­i­lar cases pop up. The White House is poised to soon issue its own pol­icy paper on the sub­ject of data encryption.

“The posi­tion taken by the FBI is at odds with the con­cerns expressed by indi­vid­u­als [in the White House] who were look­ing into the encryp­tion issue,” said Neema Singh Guliani, a leg­isla­tive coun­sel with the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union (ACLU).

This week, White House home­land secu­rity adviser Lisa Monaco tried to down­play the dif­fer­ences between the two sides. The White House and FBI are both grap­pling with the same prob­lems, she said in a dis­cus­sion at the Coun­cil on For­eign Relations.

“There is a recog­ni­tion across the admin­is­tra­tion that the virtues of strong encryp­tion are with­out a doubt,” Monaco said on Mon­day. “There is also uni­for­mity about the recog­ni­tion that strong encryp­tion poses real challenges.”

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