by Jon King
By Jon King
The All-Seeing Eye
Ever wondered who is behind the internet’s all-seeing eye, Google? Who put the ‘face’ in Facebook? Who’s ‘pal’ you’ve become when you send or receive through PayPal?
Ever thought Big Brother might be logging every sale and purchase you make on its virtual auction website, eBay?
No? Well if you think the above notions are little more than paranoid conspiracy fears, you’d best think again. Evidence that the CIA, directly or by proxy, bankrolled at least some of these internet giants, is now beyond doubt.
Which means the world’s most powerful intelligence agency has more control over the internet than even the hardiest conspiracy theorist may wish to believe.
Back in 2006 former CIA case officer, Robert Steele (left), made headline news when he revealed that Google was ‘in bed with the CIA’, confirming fears that the internet’s all-seeing eye is more a US government spy tool than a user-friendly search engine.
Further rummaging at the murky end of venture capital investment deals seems to suggest Steele knew exactly what he was talking about, as we shall see.
The PayPal Mafia
In 1999, PayPal became the world’s first virtual banking system, making it possible for surfers everywhere to send and receive money via the internet. The idea was conceived, and the website founded, by US futurist, entrepreneur, and 2009 Bilderberg attendee, Peter Thiel.
These days Thiel is recognized as the godfather of what was recently dubbed by Fortune Magazine the ‘PayPal Mafia’, a group of super-wealthy Silicon Valley venture capitalists with alleged business ties to the CIA.
Indeed, according to some reports, it is largely via Silicon Valley’s venture capital boardrooms that the spy agency has taken control of the internet.
“The CIA is throwing caution (and several tens of millions of dollars) to the wind, joining the dot.com frenzy and investing in Silicon Valley,“ wrote Andrew Gumbel in The Independent way back in April 2000. “It is not looking for the next cool way to swap musical downloads, or place orders for organic groceries. What it wants is a super-smart search engine to marshal all the information on the internet – in secret if possible.”
As the evidence reveals, that “super-smart search engine” would manifest itself in the form of Google. But first, the seemingly ubiquitous Peter Thiel…
For the record, PayPal was not Thiel’s only internet success. He is also the ‘face’ behind Facebook.
While ostensibly true that Facebook is headed up by Harvard graduate Mark Zuckerberg, what is not so well publicized is that the internet’s phattest social networking empire was effectively the brainchild of Thiel and his entrepreneurial VC syndicate.
And that, via this syndicate, Facebook was early on picked up and deployed by the CIA as a social networking experiment.
“Facebook is a deliberate experiment in global manipulation,â” wrote Tom Hodgkinson in the Guardian. “The creators of the site need do very little bar fiddle with the programme. In the main, they simply sit back and watch as millions of Facebook addicts voluntarily upload their ID details, photographs and lists of their favourite consumer objects. Once in receipt of this vast database of human beings, Facebook then simply has to sell the information back to advertisers, or, as Zuckerberg puts it in a recent blog post, ‘to try to help people share information with their friends about things they do on the web’.”
The Guardian article goes on to reveal Facebook’s surprisingly open connections to the CIA.
Aside from Thiel, major investors in Facebook include Silicon Valley’s Accel Partners (also major investors in eBay) and Greylock Venture Capital, both of whom, together with NVCA (National Venture Capital Association), share boardroom execs with an altogether more notorious outfit called In-Q-Tel.
And guess what? In-Q-Tel is the official venture capital wing of the CIA – check out the In-Q-Tel website.
A CIA Bed Partner
About the same time as Peter Thiel was busy setting up PayPal, just across the street the CIA was busy setting up In-Q-Tel, ostensibly an investment capital firm for the development of cutting-edge IT and communications technologies.
With the almost overnight global reach of the internet, the US intelligence community realized it was time to gain a length on this new electronic information highway, and in many ways PayPal was seen as an early social experiment in this regard.
As well as providing the means to unwittingly utilize the internet-connected public for intelligence gathering, it would also serve to shift vast sums of money around the globe regardless of national borders or currencies.
The experiment worked well enough. Thiel pocketed a handsome $55 million from the sale of PayPal to eBay in 2002, while the CIA went on to learn new ways of cyber-laundering vast sums of cash worldwide. Ingenious.
But the experiment did not end there. The CIA may have bought its way into PayPal and eBay. But it wanted more, and already had its sights on further, potential acquisitions – one in particular: Google.
What was to become the internet’s most successful “super-smart search engine”, Google, was founded in 1998 by two Stanford University students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, with seed funding from Sun Microsystems founder, Andy Bechtolsheim.
By the end of that same year the innovative search engine was already the web’s most visited domain, sufficient in itself to make America’s defence and intelligence community sit up and take note.
Indeed, just a few short months later, Google received a further $25 million development funding, primarily from Sequoia Capital (investors in Apple, Atari, eBay, PayPal, and now Google) and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who just happened to be bed partners with In-Q-Tel. From that point on Google and the CIA became lovers.
“Even while Google presents a public image of vigorously protecting its users’ privacy,“ wrote Michael Hampton for Homeland Stupidity, “it has quietly provided assistance to several U.S. intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency… In addition, Google may be providing assistance to the National Security Agency.”
In 2004 Google further expanded its cyber-empire by acquiring a company called Keyhole Inc., until then a strategic CIA-front satellite imaging firm funded by In-Q-Tel.
Within a year Keyhole’s cutting-edge ‘virtual satellite imaging’ software had become Google Earth, and In-Q-Tel’s Director of Technology Assessment, Rob Painter, had crossed the street and joined the Google board, becoming the internet spy firm’s Senior Federal Manager. Fait accompli.
The more recent addition of Google Street View and future plans to develop the 360-degree spy-cam service into a live-feed CCTV webcam service streaming directly back to CIA HQ, Virginia, is evidence enough that Orwellian Earth has finally arrived.
Big Brother is watching. His lens is Google. His name is the CIA…
The Birth Of Facebook
While Google was busy setting up the CIA’s public domain satellite spy-cam service, three Harvard University students were unwittingly preparing to present the CIA with yet another social experiment.
Indeed, they were already catching the eye of the CIA and its Silicon Valley business fronts.
In June 2004, Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskowitz met with PayPal founder Peter Thiel in San Francisco, who invested an initial $500,000 in their fledgling ‘Facebook’ idea. The following April (2005), Thiel’s investment was boosted by a staggering $12.7 million investment stumped up by Thiel’s buddy and former Chairman of NVCA, Jim Breyer.
It is NVCA remember, which shares company execs with the CIA’s In-Q-Tel. And Breyer himself shares CIA associations via his business relationships with Gilman Louie, former CEO of In-Q-Tel and NVCA board member.
Another former Chairman of NVCA, Howard Cox, would later head up a further investment in Facebook of some $27.5 million, this time on behalf of investment firm Greylock Venture Capital. As we have already noted, Greylock and the CIA are conjoined in their business ambitions via shared boardroom interests with In-Q-Tel.
Howard Cox, for one, senior partner in Greylock, is also on the board of the CIA’s In-Q-Tel.
An Unprecedented Success
Which brings us full circle. The CIA, via In-Q-Tel and other spy-front investment firms, effectively bankrolled many of the internet’s biggest success stories – no doubt the reason behind their unprecedented successes.
And speaking of unprecedented successes…
In October 2006, Google purchased YouTube for a staggering $1.65 billion. Not bad for a video-sharing website founded eighteen months earlier by three computer nerds with nothing better to do.
Indeed, given what we now know about the internet’s most omnipresent search engine, the question must surely be asked: who really bought YouTube – Google, or the CIA?
The PR story circulated at the time was that the nerds in question (YouTube’s founders) were former PayPal employees, itself sufficient to set sirens wailing.
But it’s the way the story is told that makes it sound so cosy and innocent, deflecting as it does all attention from the incestuous financial links now known to exist between PayPal, Google, Facebook, eBay, the US intelligence community… Oh, and YouTube.
So there we have it. Each in their own unique way, eBay, PayPal, YouTube, Facebook – not forgetting the trusty Google and a small host of others, including the web’s biggest online privacy protection firm, TRUSTe – would appear to be virtual eyes and data collectors for the world’s biggest and most powerful intelligence agency, the CIA.
Even Yahoo is suspected of being used by the CIA, as well as the NSA and other US intelligence agencies.
So the next time you log on to Facebook, or YouTube; or make a search via Google, or Yahoo; or a transaction via PayPal for something you just bought on EBay; take comfort in the knowledge that Big Brother has footprinted your every move.
And that those tracking cookies you’ve just picked up are hotwired back to Central Computer, Langley, Virginia – home of the CIA.
See also: The Empire Of Facebook
See also: Internet Giant Google Faces EU Probe
Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring