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Mark Ames
The Nation / Op-Ed
Published: Friday 24 February 2012
“Can Paul really oppose such ‘fascism’ while his campaign is bankrolled by one of the chief protagonists and beneficiaries of the very system Ron Paul claims to oppose?”

Ron Paul Wants to Abolish the CIA; His Largest Donor Builds Toys for It

If there’s one thing that distinguishes Ron Paul from the rest of the GOP field, it’s his principled stand against American empire and his ardent defense of individual liberties. Paul’s opposition to wars, bloated defense budgets and government espionage of US citizens has made him a hero among some young conservatives. His seemingly rock-solid principles and radicalism has even drawn some on the left; unlike even left-wing Democrats, Paul has said he wants to abolish both the CIA and the FBI to protect individual “liberty.”

So it should come as a shock and disappointment to his followers that Ron Paul’s single largest donor—his Sheldon Adelson, as it were—founded a controversial defense contractor, Palantir Technologies, that profits from government espionage work for the CIA, FBI and other agencies, and which last year was caught organizing an illegal spy ring targeting American political opponents of the US Chamber of Commerce, including journalists, progressive activists and union leaders. (Palantir takes its name from the mystic stones used by characters in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to spy one another.)

According to recently filed FEC disclosure documents, Ron Paul’s Super PAC has received nearly all of its money from a single source, billionaire Peter Thiel. So far, Thiel has contributed $2.6 million to Ron Paul’s Super PAC, Endorse Liberty, providing 76 percent of the Super PAC’s total intake. 

Thiel, a self-described libertarian and opponent of democracy who made his fortune as the founder of PayPal, launched Palantir in 2004 to profit from what the Wall Street Journal described as “the government spy-services marketplace.” The CIA’s venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, was brought in to back up Thiel as one of Palantir’s first outside investors. Today, Palantir’s valuation is reported to be in the billions.

A recent Businessweek profile explained how Palantir makes its money—and why Ron Paul’s followers should be bothered:

Depending where you fall on the spectrum between civil liberties absolutism and homeland security lockdown, Palantir’s technology is either creepy or heroic. Judging by the company’s growth, opinion in Washington and elsewhere has veered toward the latter. Palantir has built a customer list that includes the U.S. Defense Dept., CIA, FBI, Army, Marines, Air Force, the police departments of New York and Los Angeles, and a growing number of financial institutions trying to detect bank fraud. These deals have turned the company into one of the quietest success stories in Silicon Valley—it’s on track to hit $250 million in sales this year—and a candidate for an initial public offering. Palantir has been used to find suspects in a case involving the murder of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent, and to uncover bombing networks in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. “It’s like plugging into the Matrix,” says a Special Forces member stationed in Afghanistan who requested anonymity out of security concerns. “The first time I saw it, I was like, ‘Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.’ ”

It gets worse: the technologies and know-how acquired over years of spying on suspected foreign terrorists and threats were turned to private, political use against US citizens. In what became known last year as the “Chamber-Gate” scandal, Palantir was outed by Anonymous as the lead outfit in a private espionage consortium with security technology companies HBGary and Berico; the groups spent months “creating electronic dossiers on political opponents of the Chamber through illicit means.”

According to ThinkProgress, Palantir “may have used techniques and technologies developed under military contracts in their pro-Chamber campaign.”

Thiel’s Palantir and its two intelligence contractor partners—collectively named “Team Themis” after the Roman goddess of law and order—proposed to the Chamber’s lawyers a plan that involved illegal cyber-espionage against the Chamber’s enemies, including targeting activists’ families and children. Among those targeted: ThinkProgress, union leaders, MoveOn, Brad Friedman and Glenn Greenwald, whose support for Wikileaks reportedly rankled Chamber member Bank of America.

Ron Paul came out vocally supporting WikiLeaks and Assange, positions that made Paul popular among young libertarians and progressives. Just weeks before PayPal announced it had cut off funding for Wikileaks, Thiel’s stake in PayPal was reportedly worth $1.7 billion (he sold the company to eBay in 2002). 

Thiel has funded a number of far-right-wing causes over the years: He was an early investor in conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe’s career, funding a video called “Taxpayer’s Clearing House,” which shows O’Keefe duping working-class minorities into believing they’d won a sweepstakes, only to stick them with a tax bill for the bailouts. O’Keefe, of course, later produced the infamous ACORN and Planned Parenthood videos and was also charged with entering a federal building under false pretenses in an attempt to wiretap the offices of US Senator Mary Landrieu. Thiel was a member of the right-wing Federalist Society while at Stanford Law School, and he co-authored an anti–affirmative action book, The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus—a book that belittles “imaginary oppressors” of minorities, blames homophobia on homosexuals and attacks domestic partnerships. Thiel himself is gay.

In a recent article published in the libertarian Cato Unbound, Thiel came out against democracy and majority rule, and blamed women’s suffrage for ending “freedom”:

The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women—two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians—have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron. 

Thiel also funds a libertarian project headed by Milton Friedman’s grandson, Patri Friedman, called the “Seasteading Institute,” which designs offshore “libertarian utopias.” Patri Friedman also denounced democracy as “ill-suited for a libertarian state.”

If Ron Paul is serious about his principled defense of Americans’ individual liberties and his opposition to war-profiteering and government espionage against its own citizens, then why does his main Super PAC rely so heavily on one of the worst violators of Paul’s core principles?

What exactly is Ron Paul talking about when he warns his followers that America is becoming a “fascist system”? In his recent speech, Paul defined this “fascist system” as “a combination of government and big business and authoritarian rule and the suppression of the individual rights of each and every American citizen.” Can Paul really oppose such “fascism” while his campaign is bankrolled by one of the chief protagonists and beneficiaries of the very system Ron Paul claims to oppose?

This story originally appeared in The Nation.
Copyright © The Nation – distributed by Agence Global.

When you think about the key

When you think about the key messages Ron Paul is sending out it makes sense that his critics will be doing everything they can to divert attention away from these by raising as many side issues as they can. This article reeks of being a cheap attempt to do this as it attempty to focus attention away from what he stands for and onto the character of his supporters.
If the character of a candidates supporters really did matter there would be no presidential candidates. How did NOC let this idiot loose on their site?

" should come as a shock

" should come as a shock and dis­ap­point­ment to his fol­low­ers that Ron Paul’s sin­gle largest donor—his Shel­don Adel­son...—founded a con­tro­ver­sial de­fense con­trac­tor, Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies."

Do you know anything about Paul? Given his many decades of transparency and fearless "the-way-I-see-it" talk - the very thing that we've been missing in public discourse - I don't see him feeling obligated to this supposed contractor. It hasn't worked so far and the old guy isn't going to change his lifetime of beliefs for a few bucks.

Ron Paul is a TEXAS OIL MAN?

Ron Paul is a TEXAS OIL MAN? Thanks Dennis Knicely for this misinformation.I beleive what he is against as far as the green technologies goes is goverment bank rolling it. I think someone else is being alittle deceitful here Dennis.

One of the biggest challenges

One of the biggest challenges with Republican Presidential candidates is the use of deceitful spin, saying one thing when they mean something else. Many uninformed think Ron Paul is the greatest. How many know the Paul is against funding for clean green technologies we need to get off the oil nipple? I searched and found a page on his official website verifying this. Sorry, the man is two faced, representing one ideal when in fact he is funded by opposite interests. What do you expect from a "Texas oil boy"?

so Ron Paul is just a foil -

so Ron Paul is just a foil - surely he is aware of all of this and as such, a fraud.

Paul's message about the war

Paul's message about the war is exceedingly important.

We have the equivalent of cancer and may need the equivalent of chemotherapy, which is uncertain and risky at best. (I.e., there may be sketchy things about Thiel, but if we have any chance of stopping a multi-trillion dollar war --- which might be a 10-trillion dollar one if we go against Iran, we have to check it out.)

In reply to DANH Totally

In reply to DANH

Totally agree. I don't understand why so many people are NUMB to the fact that this poor country is fighting multi-front, multidimensional wars at an enormous cost, not just to our finances, but to the moral high ground we claim for ourselves.

I don't see anything that is

I don't see anything that is "sketchy"about Thiel, the facts are pretty much cut and dried. One thing for sure, the last thing this nation needs is a war with Iran. Let Israel take care of their corner of the world...

For a man that wants of

For a man that wants of

For a man that wants of

For a man that wants of

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