Tor Project: Surreptitiously Funded by US Defense, State Departments in 2011 via “Cutout” Company, “NGO”?
We love the Internets! We love how you can start out looking at one thing, and then get slowly, imperceptibly drawn away towards something else, and then, all of a sudden… TECHNICOLOR!
That’s what happened to us today.
We started out by opening up our “Friends of WikiLeaks – Chicago” Twitter account to see if anything new and interesting had happened in the past 24 hours. There were some cool posts we had to check the links on. Then we were drawn to Jacob Appelbaum’s #ioerror Tweets, as it appeared that he was having some kind of dispute with Asher Wolf over money or something.
It turns out that Asher Wolf had been on the receiving end of some nasty misogynist crap coming from some of the folks around the hacker community; specifically around a project she launched called [Cyberparty?] She had started this project, some of the young males then seemed to have wrested it from her grasp and then took to doing a little bit of standard woman-bashing, which, added to a lot of crap that has gone down in Asher’s life, caused her to defend herself against her tormentors, who then made fun of her, and made some very insulting comments, etc. All in all, her blog post did a nice job of exposing a sore spot in the hacker community: its offhand and often callous and abusive treatment of women.
Asher’s blog post detailing this cascade of harassment and abuse garnered quite a few responses from people who undoubtedly follow her on Twitter as well as on the many hacker community websites she posts to. A series of supportive – and some not at all supportive – responses rained down on her blog. Jacob Appelbaum made an appearance and defended himself… Asher said that she was coming from a very tired and angry place, having received a lot of nasty responses to her post which included, according to her, being “hacked, threatened and doxed”… and that’s where things got weird. That’s how we found out about the whole ruckus in the first place: we saw the dispute on Applebaum’s Twitter account… that brought us to Asher Wolf’s Twitter; then to Asher’s blog, then to her article http://asherwolf.net/dear-hacker-community-we-need-to-talk/101/ and then this caught our attention:
“And then I got emails telling me to stick to motherhood and tweeting.
“When I criticised @RT_Com for airing a segment on Cryptoparty that promoted CryptoCat (an insecure host-based security tool, not a core tool taught at Cryptoparties) – Cryptocat’s founder, Nadim Kobeissi responded:
“I think I may have told him to go bite me.
“Eventually we both apologized for niceties sake, but damage done.
“I also copped flack for the technically inaccurate aspects of the Cryptoparty manual, despite not having worked on the technical aspects of the book and having suggested to the book’s organizers that the project’s time-frame was too short.
“When the issue of technical flaws in the Cryptoparty Manual took off on the LiberationTech email-list I responded: ‘I didn’t work on the technical aspects of the book. I can’t. I don’t have the right skill set.’
“Jacob Appelbaum responded:
” ‘I believe that you are totally able to learn and I think that it is very demoralizing when people say they are *unable* or *unwilling* to learn.’
“Jacob continued: ‘That isn’t to say that you will become a developer of cryptographic protocols.’
“Appelbaum’s charming treatise finished with a flourish: It is to say that many people will need to make choices about security and trusting a vanguard is dangerous. We’re always trusting someone and I realize that reality. I didn’t write my own compiler to compile my email client before sending this email with hand crafted electrons… However the high level view of most of this stuff is well within the grasp of each person – it just requires an interest and *educational resources* that empowers *all people* to learn.’
” ‘Wait, I’m just trying to remember when I last slept more than 4 hours in a night while trying to educate myself.
“I’ve gone from being a Facebook user to running OTR, PGP and Tor all in under a month. Note: I’m a sole parent, without access to child support, no childcare and trying to support myself, my son, put myself through postgraduate studies and contribute to social movements.’
“I should point out, Jacob was invited to speak at the first Cryptoparty. He asked me to use PrivateGSM, which I found impossible to install on my phone. 48 hours without sleep, and finally I managed to get it working on a friend’s phone. Hours before the Cryptoparty, Jacob let me know he had yet to install it himself. And then a couple hours later, he messaged to pullout entirely.
“Yes, I’m sure he was very busy.
“The idea behind Cryptoparty had always been about building a bridge between the crypto-community and new-comers, but increasingly I felt locked-out.”
So here we have all the actors onstage that will soon bring us out of this black-and-white text world and into the world of TECHNICOLOR. It happened like this: we continued to read the blog post and the replies. There were several interesting exchanges, and then this one smacked us upside the head:
“Nadim Kobeissi #
December 31, 2012
“Thank you for bringing into light the issue of sexism and discrimination — something that indeed exists in the hacker community. I support your fight against those issues and think you’re on the right track. I also think it’s unfortunate that some people attempted to hack your website.
“That being said, I wish you would kindly retract your statements about me on your blog. As many have pointed out, your attacks on me have (perhaps unintentionally!) labeled me as sexist, and this has reacted against me to the point whence I’ve started receiving anonymous death threats with references to your blog post. I’ve politely attempted to ask you to clarify what you meant by your comments on me on Twitter, but you responded by telling me to “go f*ck myself” and then accused me of being a State Department stooge. [Emphasis added – FoWLChi] You reacted thusly, and continued to insult me copiously without any provocation, even though I was being nothing but supportive of your efforts.
“As you note in your article, I did in fact already apologize for any past offenses made towards you months ago when they were first made, and then proceeded to write about how you founded Cryptoparty in an article published by the New Internationalist. I also worked with you on holding USAID accountable for hosting a “real name policy” Cryptoparty. [Emphasis added – FoWLChi]
“I mentioned a number of people in my post – you were not solely mentioned. I also never stated you were a stooge.
“However – did you not have a line of contact with the State Department, as you stated on the LiberationTech List when I sought information and advice over the unwarranted and disturbing USAID involvement in a real-name policy for a Cryptoparty?
[Then Nadim responded with this:]
Nadim Kobeissi #
December 31, 2012
“Regarding State: [Again our emphasis. He is referring to the US State Department by its pet name used by people who work in the US Government – FoWLChi] It’s actually quite easy to contact people at State. In case you find this somehow hard to believe, you should probably be aware that the Tor Project receives a large portion of its funds from the State Department, and that the State Department in fact even hosts a large number of Tor nodes. You implied that I in fact ‘had State Department contracts’ — why would you say this?”
FoWL: See? Can you see the black and white starting to get a little bit of color around the edges?
“I also never claimed you had a ‘state contract.’
“To accurately quote my tweet: ‘@kaepora and get your State Dept. contacts to hand you a tissue after you finish promoting Cryptocat thru Cryptoparty yet again.’ “
Nadim at first thought Asher was misrepresenting what she had said. Then he wrote:
“Nadim Kobeissi #
“December 31, 2012
“Ah! I read ‘contacts’ as ‘contracts.’ Sorry, my mistake!”
FoWL: TECHNICOLOR!!! He admits that he has “contacts” at “State”! Well if that’s true, is it true that the Tor Project is being funded by the U.S. State Department?
We have known for years that the Tor Project, like the Internet itself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet, originated inside the US Government and, specifically, the U.S. Department of Defense. The original “Internet” was “ARPANET” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET and it was developed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Defense Department – the organization now known as the “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency”, or DARPA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA#Active_projects
And we knew already that the Tor Project was originally developed by the U.S. Navy; specifically, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Naval_Research_Laboratory. But we were led to believe somehow that the project had been taken over by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and that, essentially, “white hat” hackers were running it now. This seemed to be the case back when we first became interested in using Tor for anonymity online, back around 2004-2005. And that was what the leaders of the Tor Project wanted people to believe was happening, back then.
We were wrong. We didn’t know it this afternoon as we found out about all this crap, but later in the day we read that, according to the Wikipedia article “Tor (anonymity network)” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_%28anonymity_network%29 the reality is that:
“[…] Tor was financially supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation from 2004 to 2005. Tor software is now developed by the Tor Project, which has been a 501(c)(3) research-education nonprofit organization  based in the United States of America  since December 2006. It has a diverse base of financial support; the U.S. State Department, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the National Science Foundation are major contributors.”
How having “the U.S. State Department, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the National Science Foundation” as “major contributors” makes the “base of support” somehow “diverse” we can’t figure out, since ALL those groups are tied to some of the US Government’s most sinister branches, including the Central Intelligence Agency!
So, with the black-and-white text road turning to gold right under our feet, we forged forward. We immediately went to the Tor website to refresh our memory about who was behind the organization these days. This is what we found:
The Tor Project’s diversity of users means we have a diversity of funding sources too — and we’re eager to diversify even further! Our sponsorships are divided into levels based on total funding received:
Magnoliophyta (over $1 million)
An anonymous North American NGO (2008-2012) [Who the fuck is this? And why do they “have to” remain anonymous? – FoWLChi]
Broadcasting Board of Governors (2006-2011) [That sounded weird, but we kept on reading for the time being…]
Liliopsida (up to $750k)
Sida – Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (2010-2012) [This looks absolutely sinister in the wake of the WikiLeaks frame-up orchestrated by Sweden…]
Asparagales (up to $500k)
Internews Europe (2006-2008) [WTF is this one?]
National Science Foundation via Drexel University (2009-2011) [NSF has been linked to the CIA and other US Government spy agencies as well as the Defense Department.]
Alliaceae (up to $200k)
You or your organization?
Allium (up to $100k)
NLnet Foundation (2008-2009) [What is this?]
Naval Research Laboratory (2006-2010) [Make note of the misleading date!]
An anonymous North American ISP (2009-2012) [WTF??]
Allium cepa (up to $50k)
More than 2700 personal donations from individuals like you (2006-2012)
Google (2008-2009) [Biggest unclassified data mining operation in the world]
Google Summer of Code (2007-2011)
Human Rights Watch (2007) [A fig leaf]
Shinjiru Technology (2009-2011) [???]
National Christian Foundation (2010-2012) [WTF??]
Past sponsors [Note again the misleading characterization of the history of these organizations’ years of sponsorship:]
We greatly appreciate the support provided by our past sponsors in keeping the pre-501(c)(3) Tor Project progressing through our ambitious goals:
Electronic Frontier Foundation (2004-2005)
DARPA and ONR via Naval Research Laboratory (2001-2006) [BIG lie!]
Cyber-TA project (2006-2008) [??]
Bell Security Solutions Inc (2006) [???]
Omidyar Network Enzyme Grant (2006) [???]
NSF via Rice University (2006-2007) [The CIA again]
Thank you to all the people and groups who have made Tor possible so far, and thank you especially to the individual volunteers who have made non-financial contributions: coding, testing, documenting, educating, researching, and running the relays that make up the Tor network.
We sent a couple of tweets to Jacob Applebaum asking him if it was true that the U.S. State Department was a major financial supporter of the Tor Project.
@ioerror Re: AsherWolf disc’n: Nadim Kobeissi claims Tor Project currently receives funding from US State Dept. True? If so Y not listed?
When we followed the link Jacob gave us, all we saw was what appears on the face of it to be a fine example of “openness and transparency”: a page with a series of links to “all” the financial documents for the Tor Project from 2007 to 2011. But there’s nothing there unless you download the .pdf files and read the boring financial reports… which is what we did. The most recent one is labeled “2011 Financial Statements and Audit Report” but it’s real name is:
We downloaded this .PDF file and searched through it. This is what we found [you can get your own copy of it by clicking on the link above]:
The .pdf file labeled on this page as “2011 Financial Statements and Audit Report” is not the original financial report that the Tor Project sent to the IRS outlining its’ financial condition as a 401c3 Non-profit organization for 2011, apparently; it is an AMENDED filing. In other words, it is mislabeled on the page Jacob sent us to. And the AMENDMENT made was to include the two biggest donations given to the Tor Project in 2011. Our comments are in brackets throughout:
Consolidated Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards The Tor Project, Inc. and Affiliate
For the Year Ended December 31 2011
CFDA Award Federal
Number Number Expenditures
U.S. Department of Defense
Pass-Through from SRI International [The name of the “anonymous” NGO? – FoWLChi]
Basic and Applied Research and Development in
Areas Relating to the Navy Command, Control,
Communications, Computers, Intelligence,
Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
Federal CFDA Number: 12.335 Award Number: N66001-11-C-4022
Federal expenditures: $ 503,706[.00]
Total Major Program $ 503,706[.00]
Non-Major Program[s]: [There are two of them:]
U.S. Department of State
Pass-Through from Internews Network [The State Department’s cut-out!]
International Programs to Support
Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Federal CFDA Number: 19.345 Award Number: S-LMAQM-08-GR-618
Federal expenditures: $ 227,118
National Science Foundation
Pass-Through from Drexel University
Computer and Information Science
Federal CFDA Number: 47.070 Award Number: CNS-0959138 143,062
Total Non-Major Program 370,180
Total Expenditures of Federal Awards $ 873,886
Federal Grantor/Pass-Through Grantor/Program Title
Note to the Consolidated Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards
Note 1 – Basis of Presentation
The accompanying consolidated schedule of expenditures of federal awards includes the federal grant activity of The Tor Project, Inc. and Affiliate, and is presented on the accrual basis of accounting. The information in this schedule is presented in accordance with the requirements of OMB Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations. Therefore, some amounts presented in this schedule may differ from amounts presented in, or used in the preparation of, the basic consolidated financial statements.
[To be continued]
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Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.DailyDDoSe © 2007-2014