The PayPal-offshoot Becomes a Weapon in the War Against Whistleblowers and WikiLeaks. The Palantir document notes that most well-known journalistic professionals “with a liberal bent . . .if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals.”
WikiLeaks, the transparency organization known for publishing leaked documents that threaten the powerful, finds itself under pressure like never before, as does its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange. Now the fight to silence WikiLeaks is not only being waged by powerful government figures but also by the media, including outlets and organizations that have styled themselves as working to protect whistleblowers.
Pierre Omidyar – eBay billionaire and PayPal’s long-time owner – holds considerable sway over several journalists and organizations that once championed WikiLeaks but now work for the Omidyar-owned publication, The Intercept. Thanks to his deep ties to the U.S. government and his own long-standing efforts to undermine the organization, Omidyar is using his influence to bring renewed pressure to WikiLeaks as it continues to publish sensitive government information. However, Pierre Omidyar is not the only PayPal-linked billionaire with strong government connections and a dislike for WikiLeaks.
Part 4 - Executing the Plan
Though Palantir’s CEO at the time of the document’s release, Alex Karp, apologized for the company’s role in devising a plan to neuter WikiLeaks and spoke haughtily of the organization’s right to free speech, events that have taken place in the years since it’s release suggest this plan was never taken off the table, as Karp seemed to imply, and is currently in effect.
For instance, the plan to exploit WikiLeaks’ “security” weakness mentioned in the document was made manifest through the Obama administration’s persecution (now continued by Trump) of whistleblowers. This crackdown – for the first time – saw legitimate whistleblowers, such as Jeffrey Sterling and John Kiriakou, imprisoned in order to make examples of them. In both of those cases, Sterling and Kiriakou were convicted after allegedly revealing classified information to journalists — James Risen and Matthew Cole, respectively. Risen and Cole are both currently employed by Pierre Omidyar’s The Intercept.
Of course, the longest and harshest prison sentence was reserved for Chelsea Manning, WikiLeaks’ most well-known source, who was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison for the leaks until her sentence was commuted during Obama’s final days as president. Palantir has, as previously mentioned, contributed by helping the government track suspected and potential whistleblowers within the ranks of its employees, increasing the likelihood that anyone who tries to come forward with sensitive or classified information will be exposed and suffer major legal consequences.
There is also evidence that the “financial” weakness of WikiLeaks is again being exploited as the organization finds itself under increased pressure in response to its recent, controversial releases.
As mentioned in Part I of this series, the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) — funded by Omidyar and with many of its directors on The Intercept’s payroll — voted unanimously to stop receiving donations on behalf of WikiLeaks in December, even though it had been set up primarily to help WikiLeaks circumvent the blockade that Omidyar and others oversaw. Even though Omidyar had publicly stated in 2013 that the PayPal blockade was no longer in effect, the FPF had admitted at that time that, despite Omidyar’s statement, the blockade continued. Though the situation between PayPal and WikiLeaks has remained largely unchanged since that year, the FPF’s position on the matter has changed drastically in recent months. Wikileaks has interpreted the FPF’s new position essentially denying the existence of the blockade as proof that the organization has kowtowed to political pressure.
Given what is referenced in the Palantir document and the associated leaked correspondence, there is substantial evidence suggesting that this is the newest iteration of the blockade against WikiLeaks — targeting donations made specifically from within the U.S., which also happens to be WikiLeaks’ largest donor base.