09 March 2014

The Intercept, Pierre Omidyar, and His Connections to CIA Operations in the Ukraine

There has a bit of a pissing contest between Mark Ames and Glenn Greenwald over the connections between the First Media news organization, and its subsidiary The Intercept magazine which employs Greenwald.

Part of this is that Greenwald and Ames have been involved in a long running pissing contest, which explains why Ames original article mentioned Greenwald prominently, even though his remit is surveillance, and not covert organic operations or the destabilization of disfavored governments by our state security apparatus.

Still, it raises some very valid points, and Greenwald's response addressed none of the underlying facts.

It's basically, Greenwald telling Ames that he's ugly and that his mom dresses him funny, and that the publisher doesn't matter.

This is not true generally, nor which is not true in this case, as Omidyar has a long history of intimate involvement with his media ventures, with The Intercept writer Jeremy Scahill saying that he is intimately involved with their messaging:
Pierre writes more on our internal messaging than anyone else. This guy has a vision.

With those two remarks, Scahill obliterates Greenwald’s claims of independence from his boss, publisher and sole quarter-of-a-billion-dollar backer.

There is no universe, current or imagined, in which Peter Thiel or Marc Andreessen or any other venture capitalist would be allowed within a billion miles of Pando’s internal messaging system. And there is no planet within that universe on which Thiel, Andreessen or any of our dozen or so venture backers would be given any privileged line to our reporters (if they have something to say they can send us a letter to the editor, like everyone else). I would hope all of the other “billionaire-backed” media organizations Greenwald cites in his post would say the same.
(emphasis original)

So this is not one of the Glennster's greatest moments.

Of more significance is the fact that Marcy Wheeler (aka Emptywheel) who is covering the developments in the Ukraine for The Intercept, asked sometime before this article came out about information on intelligence ops masquerading as "civil society.  Quoting from Ames' article:
Marcy Wheeler, who is the new site’s “senior policy analyst,” speculated that the Ukraine revolution was likely a “coup” engineered by “deep” forces on behalf of “Pax Americana”:
“There’s quite a bit of evidence of coup-ness. Q is how many levels deep interference from both sides is.”
These are serious claims. So serious that I decided to investigate them. And what I found was shocking.
And now Wheeler is saying that there is no "there" there. This is the bit I find most interesting:
B) The Kyiv Post reported that in 2012 (the year after New Citizen received this grant, and therefore presumably the year it got spent), Omidyar Network funded 36% of New Citizen’s budget, Pact, a non-profit funded in part by USAID funded 54% of it, and other funding came from the National Endowment for Democracy.
USAID is, of course, a US Government agency, and while it is nominally independent, it is largely directed by the State Department, and the National Endowment for Democracy, thought technically a non governmental not-for-profit is funded entirely by a line item in the budget of ……… wait for it ……… USAID.

Or as the best-named-blog ever, Cats not War, observes:
Now, I say Wheeler knows more than she lets on because she apparently understands enough to link to the excellent Moon of Alabama blog, dedicated to chronicling the less visible manifestations of imperial power, when comparing the Ukrainian and Syrian cases. And be reminded that Ames dug this information up about Omidyar at Wheeler's curiosity--viewing the Ukrainian fray, she clearly knew dirty tricks by their effects and felt compelled to ask about them in public. When Ames revealed that one such meddler was her boss, she employed a new skepticism about the existence of imperial meddling in Ukraine, writing, 'I don't see any evidence that [Omidyar's] donations were explicitly intended to pay for regime change... unless you presume transparency and better governance equates to regime change.' Soon down the text, Wheeler belittles Ames' suggestions about Omidyar's business operations by cueing 'Hollywood villain music' and asking what is wrong about Pact, Omidyar-funded NGO, promoting 'women in leadership,' a goal Pact offers up on its about page (clearly the only place to go when seeking to understand an institution's true workings). The insinuation of conspiracism mimics Greenwald's own, when he reduces Ames charges to the 'laughable hyperbole that Omidyar is now the mastermind who has secretly engineered the Ukrainian uprising.' To Greenwald I'd like to ask, But what if, like, the suggestion is not that Omidyar did anything alone, but that he belongs to a larger oligarchical-state network whose global investments make up that thing called imperialism? And to Wheeler I'd like to ask, But what if, like, an NGO doesn't outright come out with goals of regime change because they are manifestations of soft imperialism, crucial supplements to the harder stuff that use a language of liberal abstractions to work towards goals more nefarious?

Which brings us to my explanation of imperialism. There are two primary parts of which to keep track. The first is its role in capitalism--an odd concept to propose because imperialism is capitalism insofar as capitalism could not persist without it. Here, we are talking about capital and, more specifically, finance. The second is its expansion, which happens through hard imperialism (military operations of varying types--bombings, drones, invasions, covert ops, and so on) and soft imperialism (NGOs and PsyOps), because sometimes the mid-sized and small states fail to cooperate. When describing these activities, I will move from country to country with examples, fully aware that imperial tactics are employed differently in accordance with the needs of given contexts, but hoping still to establish that imperialism has a reliable repertoire, that it is global in scale, and that
there can be no doubt about its purpose where it is to be found.
Read the entire Cats, Not War post.  I cannot do if full justice.


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