Two Exposés on Omidyar Closing Down the Snowden Archives

This is a labor of love and loathing. Yes, it’s long, but it’s by way of a two-fer, and out of necessity I’ve even had to blow by a hella lot of the second essay.  Shall I offer prizes to those who finish it?  ;  )

First: ‘Silencing the Whistle: The Intercept Shutters Snowden Archive, Citing Cost’;  The closing of The Intercept’s Snowden archive will likely mean the end of any future publications, unless Glenn Greenwald’s rather absurd promise of finding “the right partner … that has the funds to robustly publish” is fulfilled, Whitney Webb, mintpressnews.com

“On March 13, a report in the Daily Beast revealed that the New York-based outlet The Intercept would be shutting down its archive of the trove of government documents entrusted to a handful of journalists, including Intercept co-founders Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, by whistleblower Edward Snowden. However, that account did not include the role of Greenwald, as well as Jeremy Scahill — another Intercept co-founder, in the controversial decision to shutter the archive.

According to a timeline of events written by Poitras that was shared and published by journalist and former Intercept columnist Barrett Brown, both Scahill and Greenwald were intimately involved in the decision to close the Snowden archive.

Her bolded link goes to “Why The ‘Intercept Really Closed the Snowden Archive, a Tale in Five Emails’, Barret Brown, March 27, 2019

I gotta tip my hat once again to Whitney Webb; I’d totally missed that about #ScahillToo.  But moving along…

“While other outlets — such as the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post and the New York Times — also possess much (though not all) of the archive, the Intercept was the only outlet with the (full) archive that had continued to publish documents, albeit at a remarkably slow pace, in recent years. In total, fewer than 10 percent of the Snowden documents have been published since 2013. Thus, the closing of the publication’s Snowden archive will likely mean the end of any future publications, unless Greenwald’s promise of finding “the right partner … that has the funds to robustly publish” is fulfilled.”

This is how the Daily Beast had quoted Greenwald’s other constraints on the publication of the archives by other institutions, publications, etc.:

‘From the time we began reporting on the archive provided to us in Hong Kong by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, we sought to fulfill his two principal requests for how the materials should be handled: that they be released in conjunction with careful reporting that puts the documents in context and makes them digestible to the public, and that the welfare and reputations of innocent people be safeguarded,” Greenwald wrote in a 2016 post.’

“Poitras told Brown that she first caught wind of the coming end of the Snowden archive on March 6, when Scahill and Intercept editor-in-chief Betsy Reed asked to meet with her “to explain how we’ve assessed our priorities in the course of the budget process, and made some restructuring decisions.”

Omidyar’s suddenly shallow pockets

She reminds readers that Greenwald and other Intercept employees had claimed that ‘budget constraints’ were behind the decision to shutter the Snowden archives, Greeenwald having Tweeted that it was very expensive to publish the documents and that the Intercept only had a fraction of the budget enjoyed by other, larger news organizations like the Washington Post, which had stopped published Snowden documents years ago, allegedly “for cost reasons.”

Those claims are undermined the fact that TI employees receive salaries that dwarf those of journalist who work for similar no-profit publications, she writes, and offers these examples: Reed and Scahill both earn well over $300,000, Greenwald having  received $1.6 million from First Look Media (Pierre is the sole shareholder), his salary having peaked in 2015 when he made $518,000.  She then cites this Tweet by Mark Ames, April, 2016:

“Speaking of inequality—Omidyar paid @jeremyscahill $218,932 for 5 articles in 2014. That’s $43,786 per article, accompanied by a chart.

You can imagine her facial expression connoting ‘what bullshit!’ as she writes that give the fact that Poitras had claimed that the research department of the archives represented a measly 1.5% of First Look Media’s budget, it seems strange that Greenwald, Scahill, and Reed were according to Poitras, the brains behind the lay-offs and closing of the archives, but were unwilling to apply those same ‘budget constraints on their own massive salaries.

Noting that Omidyar now  has a net worth of over $12 billion dollars and Greenwald’s annual salary from Omidyar has topped half a million dollars, Greenwald’s clam that he is just waiting for ““right partner… that has the funds to robustly publish” the archive”. It is hard to imagine what type of “partner” with “the funds to robustly publish” Greenwald has envisioned, since First Look’s massive funding and a multi-billionaire owner was insufficient to keep the Snowden archive open.”

The real reason almost certainly not cost

“A more compelling reason for why the Snowden archive failed to retain its value to the Intercept in the eyes of Greenwald, Scahill and Reed lies in the troubling government and corporate connections of their benefactor Pierre Omidyar, who — as the sole shareholder of First Look Media — pays their enormous salaries.”

Whitney Webb writes from Chile

And she finishes by quoting from the following extremely lengthy exposé. You may remember that I’d noted on Barrett Brown’s ‘a tale in five emails’ that he’d reTweeted Tim Shorrock’s saying that he was about to publish an exposé on ‘a certain billionaire’ or close?  Well, I peeked into his account on Saturday morning  (yeah, it’s taken me awhile to put this together, arrrggh) and found both Whitney Webb’s opinion piece as well as this one:

‘Why Did Omidyar Shut Down The Intercept’s Snowden Archive?; His deep ties to USAID and relationship to a private contractor who advises the government on global counterinsurgency tactics may explain why…; Tim Shorrock, March 25, 2019, washingtonbabylon.com

While his opening paragraphs mirror Webb’s and Barret Brown’s material, he does include this straightaway, but with no corroborative link, and I can’t find it:

“Greenwald added that he and Poitras “continue to possess full copies of the archive” and that he is working to “ensure that publication” of the material will continue with “academics and researchers, not reporters” working with institutions that have enough funds “to do so robustly, quickly and responsibly.”  But onward:

“And true to form, his “fearless” Intercept has yet to inform its many readers and supporters about the shutdown on its website. That’s odd, considering that it was financed by Omidyar specifically to control, publicize and promote Snowden’s archive. And perhaps that’s why the slogan “fearless, adversarial journalism” quietly disappeared from The Intercept Twitter feed in recent months and was replaced by the bland “We pursue the stories others don’t.” Who doesn’t?” [snip]

“The story of the shutdown raises fundamental questions about why the decision was made and what, ultimately, will happen to the Snowden collection and the vast number of secrets about US and global intelligence agencies still buried in its archive.”

[His Vast number bolded goes here to AP.]

“I believe the answers to these questions lie in two areas: first, the extensive relationships the Omidyar Group, the billionaire’s holding company, and the Omidyar Network, his investment vehicle, have forged over the past decade with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other elements of the national security state; and second, the massive funds Omidyar and his allies in the world of billionaire philanthropy control through their foundations and investment funds.”

[wrongkindofgreen calls such ‘the non-profit industrial complex’]

“They have the resources of small nation-states,” says a corporate lawyer familiar with their operations.”

Now it gets pretty tricky trying to rewrite/translate much else of this huge piece and its plethora off hyperlinks.  I did email the site yesterday to ask if Tim S. would mind my using more than fair use, but I haven’t heard back (for that matter, I may have failed the captcha and hadn’t noticed).

But he writes that the Snowden collection may have become problematic for Pierre (another Daddy Warbucks, imo), due to the fact that he’s been positioning himself as a key player in UAID’s ‘soft power’ strategy to wean the world of ‘extremism’ by way of boatloads of private and public money.  He notes that the documents wouldn’t have been a problem given how often Pierre (and his wife Pam) had visited Obama’s White House

Last month, Pando’s Mark Ames reported that Omidyar Networks, the philanthropic organization operated by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pamela, had co-invested with the US government in opposition groups that played a key role in organizing Ukraine’s recent revolution.’

…but that as Trump has upped Obama’s war on whistlebowers, including of course Julian Assange (I’d add and now Chelsea Manning…again).  He the spends some time on the fact that not one of the people in this story will even comment on his work, and says they damned well know he’s a long-time detractor of the Intercept and Omidyar, and in fact Pierre just began following him on Twitter.  Ergo, he writes, his propensity is to follow the money, as he leaned in journalism school, and he proceeds to do so, with almost too much information to absorb or keep straight, given the inter-locking and moving parts involved, and offers readers a jaunt to the various entities in which Pierre ‘invests’ his estimated by Forbes $12.2 billion bucks.

USAID’s MURDEROUS HISTORY

He observes that First Look’s shuttering of the Snowden archives was just weeks after the ‘humanitarian aid’ coup attempt by way of USAID containers to the border between Venezuela and Colombia, and the Bolivarian government refused to allow them in.  Further he notes Omidyar’s long friendship with neo-con tycoon  Richard Branson who’d staged a phony Live-Aid concert for Maduro’s opposition, and offers that to it credit, in 2017 TI had revealed that in 2005, he had spoken at NSA headquarters to a conference organized by its director, Michael V. Hayden, promoting “information sharing and collaboration”, and explains that they’d really had no choice, as his appearance had been noted in SIDtoday, NSA’s internal newsletter for its Signals Intelligence Directorate.

“The authors, who included the arrogant and clueless Micah Lee, also gave Omidyar (who rarely comments on anything) a full paragraph to explain himself. “The invitation was made after news broke in December 2005 about the agency’s ‘warrantless wiretapping’ – and those events were deeply concerning to me,” he wrote. “In addition, I didn’t have anything else to add beyond what I had already shared.” That admission alone should have been alarming to The Intercept’s founders.”

For those who don’t know he offers that UAID has long been active in counter-insurgencies in Vietnam, Uruguay, El Salvador, and Afghanistan, and has left a long trail of blood, misery, repression, and bitterness, acting as a direct arm of the US Empire, saddled with what Mark Ames has correctly called a “murderous history.”  Ames was the first to expose Omidyar’s ties to USAID’s and US objectives in Ukraine, which led to Glenn Greenwald’s having penned his snide (if obfuscating) ‘On the Meaning of Journalistic Independence‘, Greenwald even quoting from an Omidyar Network press release claiming the project merely tried to “amplify the voices of Ukrainian citizens.”

Indeed he’d amplified the voices of those who were pissed at President Yanukovitch  for failing to sign the EU Association memo, but instead choosing to sign an agreement with the dreaded: Russia instead, and being overthrown for his failures deeds .  It’s shocking to me to know how folks there actually believe that USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy for Some™  (NED another CIA cutout, see: Philip Agee, for instance) are ‘the good guys’.

Shorrock then invites readers to check out the beneficiaries of the Omidyar Network Daddy Warbucks via it’s most recent IRS form for ‘non’profits’ 2017, pdf.  Or: ♪ Hello muddah, hello fadda, here we are at Camp Omidyah…♫

Just about now Shorrock’s exposé cum theses becomes hard to reproduce, given it’s a bit more than half of his essay.  When Whitney Webb had introduced it, she’d said:

“As journalist Tim Shorrock recently wrote at Washington Babylon, a likely motive behind the decision to shut down the Snowden archive was related to “the extensive relationships the Omidyar Group, the billionaire’s holding company, and the Omidyar Network, his investment vehicle, have forged over the past decade with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other elements of the national security state,” as well as “the massive funds Omidyar and his allies in the world of billionaire philanthropy control through their foundations and investment funds.”

She’d also written that MintPress has recently published several reports on both aspects of Omidyar’s many connections to the national security state and the non-profit industrial complex.  Back to Shorrock:

“That was five years ago. Since then, USAID has become Omidyar’s bread and butter. Over the past two administrations, he has joined Bill Gates, George Soros and other scions of the foundation world in a series of multi-million-dollar joint ventures with USAID in internet services, finance, privatized education, and humanitarian aid, many of them in areas, such as Africa, where USAID and US Special Operations Forces are deployed for so-called “stabilization” operations. Some are straight donations, while others are designed to turn a profit. But all of them dovetail with Omidyar’s investments overseas, such as his projects in privatized education in Africa, profit-making micro-financing in Bangladesh, and surveillance-based credit monitoring apps around the world.”

He offers readers the chance to glimpse the USAID website to see the 18 ventures that Omidyar’s involved with, then names a number of them, and advises readers not to believe the positive spin. Wot?  Teasing here, but then a lotta peeps sincerely believe in the psyop names: USAID and National Endowment for Democracy, yes?

Well, yes, that’s what the non-profit industrial complex does: use humanitarian covers for their obscene profiteering, for instance faux-lanthropist Bill Gates trebled his fortune since he’d begun ‘giving it away’, as his mega-critic @cordeliers had told us on Twitter.

Tim includes ‘and US companies’, as well, then says that is one of the goals of the US Global Development Lab, the part of USAID organization which with Pierre is most closely involved.  He brings in this gaggable Omiydar puff piece at inside philanthropy (srsly, what do they charge for their puff pastry?)  As for USAID and the Lab as a key part in ‘soft power’ for the US government and Trump administration (and lackey puppets) “along with the military and the CIA to dominate, and intervene in, foreign countries considered a threat to US national security.”

From here I need to let you largely fly on your own, although I’ll bring snippets of descriptions of some of Pierre’s many other partners in…democracy for some™

Several years ago, Omidyar hired as a consultant the Frontier Design Group, a national security contractor based in northern Virginia near the Pentagon and the CIA. (Founder Alexa Courtney who’d managed civilian counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan for USAID, formerly employed by Booz Allen.)

After seven more paragraphs of Courtney’s interlocking parts and puzzles he writes that Frontier partners with the government-funded US Institute of Peace which is led by a board of directors chaired by Stephen Hadley who is also on the board of…Raytheon, a seriously badass military contractor.

I’ll make one or two more pitstops on Frontier to give you the flavor:

Apparently Shorrocks has been looking into Frontier for a long time, but a month ago discovered that Frontier was the major contractor to come up with a ‘new counter-insurgency doctrine for the Trump administration, and urges readers to the read this report at devex.com (their motto: Do good.Do it well): ‘USAID mulls proposal to train aid workers as special forces’, Michael Igoe19 February 2019

Here’s a whiff, but given that my belief is they’re already doing this stuff, I dunno:

“RED [rapid expeditionary development] Team development officers would be deployed as two-person teams and placed with ‘non-traditional’ USAID partners executing a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations in extremis conditions,” it says.

Those “non-traditional” partners might include U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Forces, the State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the study.

In order to gauge potential interest in the idea of RED Teams, the study’s authors consulted with representatives from a variety of military and civilian agencies where development officers might be embedded — including the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team Six.”

Shorrocks has clipped different parts, but does engage in some pretend shock: ‘Wot, the seals, special ops, cia?  aren’t those often Interceptors targets?’ or something like that; he does say he’d asked (apparently Scahill), but received no response. Wot???

He goes on and on with examples, but again cites his legal source on Omidyar and Jeffrey Skoll, one of Pierre’s first hires at e-Bay, who himself amassed a fortune of over $3 billion as eBay’s president and owns Participant Media, the Hollywood production company that made Citizen Four, Poitras’s grossly over-hyped and narcissistic cover story (er, documentary) on Edward Snowden, and many others) as having said:

“…the real value of information is what you know that other people don’t know.” That’s how inside trading happens, he’d suggested, “Just look at the holdings of Omidyar and Skoll. If you have access to classified information, its real value is in what you don’t disclose” and that to underscore his point the attorney pointed him to a study onCoups, Corporations and Classified Information” conducted by a group of professors at UC-Berkeley, Harvard, and Stockholm University in 2009 that had correlated coups and overthrows organized by the CIA with stock prices of US companies that stood to benefit, and showed that “not only were U.S-supported coups valuable to partially nationalized multinationals, but that asset traders arbitraged supposedly top-secret” information concerning plans to overthrow foreign governments.

One of the tables from the long study pdf: (click for larger)

He wraps up by wondering if Omidyar and Skoll might be using the top-secret information contained in Snowden’s unreleased documents to help guide their investments around the world with the private equity and hedge funds they use, which are known to trade on such inside information?

“But perhaps the information had become too dated, and therefore was not worth holding onto any longer. Or, with the continued DOJ interest in the Snowden Archive, perhaps the trove just became too dangerous to hold onto.”

(cross-posted at caucus99perent.com)

4 responses to “Two Exposés on Omidyar Closing Down the Snowden Archives

  1. Oh My Goodness! CIA and DIA working together? Holy Fuck! Just brilliant! Finally, they put differences aside so to fuck the world harder!

    No more fun and games now.

  2. Did Pierre finally calculate the value of Eddie’s cache was much higher as insider info?

    OMG, Pierre! Where did you explore that bidness op?

    • i’d have to look it up again, but according to shorrock, his attorney friend was hmmmm…mentioning that pierre even could be arbitraging the documents, and he’d provided an investopedia definition.

      tim had also offered, that if he were in Pierre’s shoes…he might do so. (not that he’d really ever be in his shoes…

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