Fact-checking the Tor Project’s government ties

YASHA LEVINE—For years, the Tor Project — along with other government-funded crypto tools like Signal — has been seen in almost religious terms by the privacy community as the only way to protect people from government spying online. The Electronic Frontier Foundation held up Tor as the digital equivalent of the First Amendment. The ACLU backed it. Fight for the Future, the hip Silicon Valley activist group, declared Tor to be “NSA-proof.” Edward Snowden held it up as an example of the kind of grassroots privacy technology that could defeat government surveillance online, and told his followers to use it. Prominent award-winning journalists from Wired, Vice, The Intercept, The Guardian and Rolling Stone — including Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Andy Greenberg — all helped pump up Tor’s mythical anti-state rebel status. Even Daniel Ellsberg, the legendary whistleblower, was convinced that Tor was vital to the future of democracy.


Ecuador to partially restore Julian Assange’s access to communications and visitors

JAMES COGAN—Assange, an Australian citizen, was compelled to turn to Ecuador because the Labor Party-led government of Australia had fully lined up with Washington and denied him his right to assistance and protection against persecution. The British government, acting in concert with the Obama administration and most likely Australia, responded to Ecuador’s granting of asylum with the most vindictive measures. British authorities threatened that Assange would be immediately arrested on bail-related charges if he ever set foot outside the embassy. As a result, Assange has been unable to get adequate medical treatment for a range of serious conditions.


Did Saudis, CIA Fear Khashoggi 9/11 Bombshell?

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM—Khashoggi’s articles appeared to be taking on increasingly critical tone against the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 33-year-old Crown Prince, or MbS as he’s known, is de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom, in place of his aging father, King Salman. While Western media and several leaders, such as Presidents Trump and Macron, have been indulging MbS as “a reformer”, Khashoggi was spoiling this Saudi public relations effort by criticizing the war in Yemen, the blockade on Qatar and the crackdown on Saudi critics back home.