The Tor Project has recently released its 2012 Financial Report; the good news is that when it comes to “openness and transparency”, they are second to none. The bad news, however, is really bad: they proudly embrace their “partnership” with the U.S. Government, and falsely assert that in 2012 fully 60% of their funding came from such reactionary and highly secretive organizations as the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. State Department and god knows who else! In fact, over 80% of Tor’s funding comes from the US Government. They are trying to make it look like their reliance on the US Government for the vast majority of their funding is on the decline when it’s not; they are just pretending to be funded by NGOs when in fact some of the NGOs are just cut-outs for the Pentagon.
Why is the fact that the Tor Project claims to get 60% (actually over 80%) of its money from the U.S. Government a bad thing?
Seriously. Do we need to spell it out for you? Really? O.K., here goes: the U.S. Government is the world’s most despotic government, run, in the final analysis, essentially in the sole interest of just 427 U.S. billionaires and maybe a few hundred thousand multi-multi-millionaires, who possess over 50% of the wealth of the United States. This government was founded by the ancestors of many of these same billionaires on the twin “pillars” of genocide of the Native Americans and the African Slave Trade. Since then, the U.S. capitalist class has kept itself in power over the vast majority of the population by a combination of lies, corruption and murder. The list of the victims of U.S. imperialism – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the U.S. capitalist class – runs into the hundreds of millions. From Mexico to the Philippines, from Cuba to Afghanistan, the capitalist class of the United States uses all its power to keep itself in the drivers seat of the world economy. Lying, cheating and stealing, along with a very unhealthy dose of mass murder are the methods used by this tiny U.S. capitalist class to maintain its domination over 300 million U.S. debt and wage-slaves. Really, how else COULD such a tiny minority of filthy rich people with the criminal record they have continue to lord it over the working class using “kinder, gentler” methods?
So, when the Tor Project tells you in the same breath that 1) they are committed to helping you avoid “network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis” and 2) that they get over 60% of their funding from the U.S. Government – one of the most secretive organizations in history and that is fighting to smash groups like WikiLeaks for providing a window into what the US Government is really up to – you should think twice about that. And then laugh out loud at the pure cheeky bare-faced bullshit of it all!
The fact is, according to Tor Project Manager Andrew Lewman, Tor isn’t worth shit when it comes to protecting your privacy. As Mr. Lewman told us in an email last year: “We’ve said repeatedly that if you’re going up against nation-states, and all you have is Tor, you’ve already lost.”
If that’s true, then what about Tor’s bullshit about how Tor can supply journalists with tools they can use to prevent governments – like the US Government! – from spying on them and discovering their “sources”? Do you, intelligent reader, really believe for a second that the U.S. Government – which has been funding and running some of the most vicious data-mining operations in the world, like CARNIVORE and the U.S. National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping operations; which has been condemned internationally for its relentless attacks on U.S. Government whistleblowers; and
whose leading members have threatened WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange with summary execution! – is actually going to FUND a secrecy tool that will make it IMPOSSIBLE for the U.S. Government to eavesdrop on journalists? If your answer to this question is “yes” then we have a vacant building in downtown Chicago we’d like to sell you!
Yet, that is precisely what Tor and its employees want you to believe. In an article published last September on PBS.org, Tor’s “Development Director”, Karen Reilly when on a full-court press to convince U.S. citizens that was the case. ” ‘On condition of anonymity’ is one of the most important phrases in journalism. At Tor, we are working on making that more than a promise” Reilly wrote. “Going into journalism is a quick way to make a lot of enemies. Authoritarian regimes, corporations with less-than-stellar environmental records, criminal cartels, and other enemies of the public interest can all agree on one thing: Transparency is bad. Action to counter their activities starts with information. Reporters have long been aware that threats of violence, physical surveillance, and legal obstacles stand between them and the ability to publish… If a journalist does manage to publish, there is no guarantee that people in the community being written about can read the story. Censorship of material deemed offensive is widespread. This includes opposition websites, information on family planning, most foreign websites, platforms for sharing videos, and the names of officials in anything other than state-owned media. Luckily, there are people who want to help ensure access to information, and they have the technology to do it. […] Tor guards against surveillance and censorship by bouncing your communications through a volunteer network of about 3,000 relays around the world.” [Source: “Tor Project Offers a Secure, Anonymous Journalism Toolkit”, by Karen Reilly, 5 September, 2012 on the pbs.org website]
So, you tell us, dear reader, who is telling the truth: Andrew Lewman or Karen Reilly? Their stories do not wash.
Getting back to the new year-end Financial Report just published by Tor, we don’t see Executive Director Andrew Lewman distancing himself from the U.S. Government at all, in spite of the Obama Administration’s ongoing global attempts to crush whistleblowers. Instead, he is being even more forthright about Tor’s deep and indissoluble connection WITH the U.S. Government. In his introduction to the 2012 Financial Report, Lewman writes: “Over the past 10 years, we have grown and evolved with the demands of the technology landscape, the needs of the world, and a firm commitment to freedom of expression for everyone.
“We fearlessly step up and speak out as the leading experts in privacy, censorship circumvention,
anonymity and related research […] Tor’s success is in large part thanks to our funding partners, including […] The Broadcasting Board of Governors, SRI International, [and] The United States Department of State […] With this incredible support behind us, Tor is staying ahead of the growing challenges to censor the Internet while working to provide safe, free access to information online.” [Source: “Tor Project Annual Report 2012”, retrieved 25 April, 2013 from http://www.torproject.org]
As we revealed in our earlier articles exposing Tor’s ongoing menage a trois with the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon, these seemingly innocuous names – The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and SRI International – are actually also US Government-funded operations. The BBG is the new incarnation of the CIA propaganda operation formerly known as the United States Information Agency; and SRI (which itself has deep ties to the Pentagon) is actually an innocent-sounding “cutout” through which funds for Tor are sent directly from the US Department of Defense! The use of these “cutouts” in the form of non-governmental organizations in order to hide the true sources of funding from the public has long been a hallmark of the US “intelligence community”. It is supposed to provide “plausible deniability” for the recipient of the covert aid; but in Tor’s case they shout their connections to the U.S. Government to the rooftops!
But even though Tor openly embraces the paternity of their organization to have been the Office of [US] Naval Intelligence, they are trying to falsify the true source of their funding in this new financial report. They lie when they say that “only” 60% of their funding comes from “U.S. Government based income”. They are trying to make it look as if their dependence on U.S. Government funding is being reduced when in fact it is just being hidden using the type of third-rate subterfuge we just described in the case of SRI International. The truth is that Tor gets over 80% of their funding from two sources: the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon! The funding from the Pentagon via SRI has just been moved into the “Foundation and other grants” category. So much for “openness and transparency”! And what about this “Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency”? It is probably just another conduit for Defense Department or US State Department funding of Tor, but we’re not sure of that yet. Anyone know where SIDA gets it’s funding?
We just started looking at this new Financial Report. We’ll keep you apprised of any new developments as we become aware of them.
In the meantime, activists should be aware that, since Tor receives over 80% of its funding directly from the U.S. Government, that means that everyone who works for Tor is, essentially an employee of the U.S. Government – including Jacob Appelbaum and every other proselyte for Tor. The fact that Tor openly acknowledges its own dependence on and paternity to be the US Government means that everyone working for Tor knows it too. We have no evidence to prove this next assertion but think about this: Tor would make a superb front for the US Government intelligence agencies to penetrate hacker conferences around the world under the guise of this “benign” branch of the U.S. Government. It is highly likely that at least some of Tor’s people are actually working for US intelligence agencies – possibly without their own knowledge. Allowing Tor’s personnel into your hacker’s conference is essentially opening the door to having your organization penetrated by the Pentagon and the CIA. And that is a risk no one should take.
As far as we here at the Friends of WikiLeaks Chicago are concerned: we will have nothing at all to do with Tor or its employees for just this reason. They are openly working for the US Government, and as such should be avoided like the plague. And if you think that DARPA hasn’t riddled the Tor network with backdoors, then maybe you’d like to take a look at this cool diamond a friend of ours is selling: we can get you a GREAT deal on it!