Conspiracy Fact: How The U.S. Government Covertly Invented A "Cuban Twitter" To Create Revolution

Tyler Durden's picture




 

Submitted by Michael Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

It appears the U.S. government is doing its best to ensure that nobody anywhere in any corner of planet earth will ever trust American technology again (or U.S. aid for that matter). This process of distrust first really got going with the Edward Snowden revelations, which demonstrated that essentially all major U.S. tech firms are mere wards of the state with little to no privacy protections, and absolutely zero backbone.

This story of the U.S. government covertly creating a “Cuban Twitter” called ZunZuneo in order to overthrow the regime there has enormous long-term ramifications on many, many levels, which I will address throughout this post.

From the AP via The Washington Post:

WASHINGTON — In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government.

 

McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Washington and Denver. Their mission: to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. To hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company’s ties to the U.S. government.

 

McSpedon didn’t work for the CIA. This was a program paid for and run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid.

Now we can pretty much guarantee that foreign nations will forever be skeptical of any U.S. “aid”. Great work morons.

Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through “non-controversial content”: news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize “smart mobs” — mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”

 

At its peak, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.

 

“There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,” according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord, one of the project’s contractors. “This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission.”

 

The program’s legality is unclear: U.S. law requires that any covert action by a federal agency must have a presidential authorization. Officials at USAID would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it. McSpedon, the most senior official named in the documents obtained by the AP, is a mid-level manager who declined to comment.

“The program’s legality is unclear”, as if that matters!

But the ZunZuneo program muddies those claims, a sensitive issue for its mission to promote democracy and deliver aid to the world’s poor and vulnerable — which requires the trust of foreign governments.

 

The Associated Press obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents about the project’s development. The AP independently verified the project’s scope and details in the documents — such as federal contract numbers and names of job candidates — through publicly available databases, government sources and interviews with those directly involved in ZunZuneo.

 

“We should gradually increase the risk,” USAID proposed in a document. It advocated using “smart mobs” only in “critical/opportunistic situations and not at the detriment of our core platform-based network.”

 

USAID’s team of contractors and subcontractors built a companion Web site to its text service so Cubans could subscribe, give feedback and send their own text messages for free. They talked about how to make the Web site look like a real business. “Mock ad banners will give it the appearance of a commercial enterprise,” a proposal suggested.

 

McSpedon worked for USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), a division that was created after the fall of the Soviet Union to promote U.S. interests in quickly changing political environments — without the usual red tape.

We have an “Office of Transition Initiatives“? Who knew…

In 2009, a report by congressional researchers warned that OTI’s work “often lends itself to political entanglements that may have diplomatic implications.” Staffers on oversight committees complained that USAID was running secret programs and would not provide details.

 

“We were told we couldn’t even be told in broad terms what was happening because ‘people will die,’” said Fulton Armstrong, who worked for the Senate Foreign Relations committee. Before that, he was the US intelligence community’s most senior analyst on Latin America, advising the Clinton White House.

How’s that for Congressional oversight. This phony “people will die” rationale seems to be the reason for all shady secret programs these days.

The money that Creative Associates spent on ZunZuneo was publicly earmarked for an unspecified project in Pakistan, government data show. But there is no indication of where the funds were actually spent.

 

Paula Cambronero, a researcher for Mobile Accord, began building a vast database about the Cuban subscribers, including gender, age, “receptiveness” and “political tendencies.” USAID believed the demographics on dissent could help it target its other Cuba programs and “maximize our possibilities to extend our reach.”

Of course, the NSA would never compile such data domestically, right?

Carlos Sanchez Almeida, a lawyer specializing in European data protection law, said it appeared that the U.S. program violated Spanish privacy laws because the ZunZuneo team had illegally gathered personal data from the phone list and sent unsolicited emails using a Spanish platform. “The illegal release of information is a crime, and using information to create a list of people by political affiliation is totally prohibited by Spanish law,” Almeida said. It would violate a U.S-European data protection agreement, he said.

 

“If it is discovered that the platform is, or ever was, backed by the United States government, not only do we risk the channel being shut down by Cubacel, but we risk the credibility of the platform as a source of reliable information, education, and empowerment in the eyes of the Cuban people,” Mobile Accord noted in a memo.

 

To cover their tracks, they decided to have a company based in the United Kingdom set up a corporation in Spain to run ZunZuneo. A separate company called MovilChat was created in the Cayman Islands, a well-known offshore tax haven, with an account at the island’s Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Ltd. to pay the bills.

 

A memo of the meeting in Barcelona says that the front companies would distance ZunZuneo from any U.S. ownership so that the “money trail will not trace back to America.”

 

Officials at USAID realized however, that they could not conceal their involvement forever — unless they left the stage. The predicament was summarized bluntly when Eberhard was in Washington for a strategy session in early February 2011, where his company noted the “inherent contradiction” of giving Cubans a platform for communications uninfluenced by their government that was in fact financed by the U.S. government and influenced by its agenda.

 

They turned to Jack Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter, to seek funding for the project. Documents show Dorsey met with Suzanne Hall, a State Department officer who worked on social media projects, and others. Dorsey declined to comment.

This is not going to be good for Twitter’s reputation internationally, or Facebook for that matter…

By early 2011, Creative Associates grew exasperated with Mobile Accord’s failure to make ZunZuneo self-sustaining and independent of the U.S. government. The operation had run into an unsolvable problem. USAID was paying tens of thousands of dollars in text messaging fees to Cuba’s communist telecommunications monopoly routed through a secret bank account and front companies. It was not a situation that it could either afford or justify — and if exposed it would be embarrassing, or worse.

If you did this it’d probably be called money laundering and you’d be locked up in a cage forever. Such as what happened to Charlie Shrem.

Toward the middle of 2012, Cuban users began to complain that the service worked only sporadically. Then not at all.

 

ZunZuneo vanished as mysteriously as it appeared.

Call me crazy, but it might be better idea to end the embargo if we want to foster a “market economy” in Cuba. No, that would be way too enlightened and rational. Better to covertly attempt to spark a revolution that could spiral in impossible to know directions…

Meanwhile, we are encouraging people out in the streets in other countries, while brutally cracking down on domestic protests by labeling Occupy Wall Street demonstrators as “terrorists”.

At the end of the day, would it be so horrible if the U.S. government wanted to foster greater social media communication for Cubans? No, not at all. Unfortunately, that is not what it was doing. Rather, we attempted to covertly foster dissent with the expressed purpose of regime change. This will only encourage an arms race of this sort of activity from all governments against one another all over the world.

This revelation will serve to sow further distrust across the globe, both for American humanitarian intentions and American technology generally. Besides, don’t we have enough problems internally to focus on. Why do we seem to be allocating so many taxpayer resources abroad rather than here at home? As an American, that’s the most disturbing part in all of this to me.

Full article here.

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:08 | 4623671 Soul Glow
Soul Glow's picture

Viva la Rev!

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:10 | 4623675 THX 1178
THX 1178's picture

Mark Cuban explains HFT... Cuban Twitter... Sounds like someones PULLING ALL THE STRINGS MAAAAAAANNNNNNN

ITS A FRACTAL CONSPIRACY MAAAAANNNNN

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:16 | 4623689 knukles
knukles's picture

Propaganda propagates form the king's crier through the press and SW to ether-space.  Nothing to see here,  move along.  The camp entrance is right down there to your left.  Have a great reeducation!

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:21 | 4623700 SilverIsKing
SilverIsKing's picture

So I paid for this and I don't get an account?

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:26 | 4623711 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

I don't trust the US gov on any-fucking-thing.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:44 | 4623739 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

I wonder what will happen when the world started to create revolutions within US!

Whole Wild World VS USA

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:47 | 4623749 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

Karma is a bitch.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:54 | 4623755 i_call_you_my_base
i_call_you_my_base's picture

There is no karma. Assholes win every day. There is only justice.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:04 | 4623775 Soul Glow
Soul Glow's picture

If I were one of these assholes - from Jamie Dimon to George Bush - I would be scared to die and go to hell.  Of course these fuckers only believe in their skull and bones, and no life after death.  Fuckers.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:08 | 4623780 Gaius Frakkin' ...
Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Every week some “big revelation” comes out, and surer than Old Faithful, the sheep clamor to exclaim how astonishing, outrageous, egregious, etc., it seems. Their confidence finally “shaken”... only to be regained (presumably) sometime between this “revelation” and the next, and the whole process repeats itself. Will this madness ever end?

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:17 | 4623800 0b1knob
0b1knob's picture

Will ZunZuneo be overrun by bots and global warming / peak oil shills like ZeroHedge?

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 07:40 | 4624238 clooney_art
clooney_art's picture

All these activities spying, detaining, torturing, subverting --- in foreign soil amounts to TERRORISM. And we wonder why "others" don't like us and take every opportunity to off us.

We need to start minding our god damn business.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 08:57 | 4624430 N2OJoe
N2OJoe's picture

What a crock of shit. The more the USSA de-legitimizes itself, the better off we all become!

Foreigners will be wary of accepting foreing aid from us? Boo fucking hoo, don't take it then.

They will be wary of letting US companies set up in their countries? Boo fucking hoo, kick them out and kick the us gubbmint in the nuts in the process.

The whole fucking system is rotten to the core and the less legitimacy it has in the eyes of the world, the sooner it all comes crashing down to the Great Reset.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:36 | 4624483 Thought Processor
Thought Processor's picture

 

 

Don't thinnk for a moment that all these social networks are not completely gamed by our Governments.

 

Many were completely rigged for the forment of unrest in countries like Libya, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Ukraine........

 

This is now a major tool in the Psy-Op toolbox.  

 

One wonders how much they are using them inside the US now, though you can be assured that they are.

 

 

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 09:21 | 4624493 strannick
strannick's picture

America ruins he world to rule it, as Jim Willie says. Or as Vicki Nuland summed up Americas view of Others, Fuck Europe. I Bet she was sweet in High School.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:22 | 4623813 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

"Will this madness ever end?"

Not until you remove a certain small section of brain tissue from almost every American's brain.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:41 | 4623840 Aussie V
Aussie V's picture

I know many 'Yanks'. I have found them to be generally really good people. Smart, confident and incredibly patriotic. So patriotic that they are kind of comatose to any thing anti-American. It seems to trigger off something deep inside.

To think that they are somehow responsible is abhorrent to them.

To think that their Govt may be responsible is acceptable but, OK as long as it doesn't harm them.

This programming had to happen at a very early age to issue such a response and will take a hell of a lot to un program them!

If you're interested I wrote a piece on it here, www.for-the-fans.com (Obama Manhattan)

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 00:03 | 4623874 JR
JR's picture

It's called political awareness class; nothing un-Soviet, er un-American, can be thought or expressed. Better known as the Obama/Hillary core corriculum.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 07:00 | 4624194 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

In the first grade, Comrade teacher announces the day's lesson in School Number
One: Marxist criticism and self-criticism.

"Ivan, please stand up and tell us what Marxist criticism and self-criticism
means,” she instructs.

The little boy stands up. “Comrade teacher, Marxist criticism is how we must
view my parents, who joined the reactionary counter-revolutionary forces who
sought to destroy our heroic workers' and peasants' state, and then fled to
the imperialist, capitalist west, to continue their intrigues against the
Socialist regime.”

“Excellent, Ivan. And what is your Marxist self-criticism?”

“I didn't go with them.”

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 00:04 | 4623875 knukles
knukles's picture

Bravo, mate!
Excellent article via link
I've bookmarked the site

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 06:04 | 4624162 RSloane
RSloane's picture

I have as well. I plan to visit there regularly.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 07:28 | 4624223 Curiously_Crazy
Curiously_Crazy's picture

As have I. Great read. Interesting site.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 00:28 | 4623915 TN Jed
TN Jed's picture

There are many reasons for this but I think the biggest is lack of foreign travel and I'm not talking about airport to hotel travel.  I believe a paltry 10% or no more than 20% of Americans own a passport and the number who use it is of course even less.  My travels woke me up in a big way.  Not a single eureka moment but lessons were learned which only came full circle once I returned home.  I met a lot of fine people out there and Americans were very hard to find.  Humbling to suddenly be a minority in the world.

Granted, it's expensive and a long way to get out of western influence but man it's worth it.  To think as a high school kid I used to think travel was the biggest waste of money and now I think it's the best I've ever spent.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 03:30 | 4624047 lakecity55
lakecity55's picture

I was able to grow up partly overseas, so my outlook is different. I still travel but professionally.

I just told the wife yesterday everyone in the US should be sent to a 3rd world pit for a weekend. Maybe they would not take things for granted.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 07:45 | 4624241 bonderøven-farm ass
bonderøven-farm ass's picture

Huxley's 'Savage Holiday' retreat?

 

The sheep are too medicated or too indiffrent to give a shit.  When the US population is reduced to 3rd world status it may just sink in....but they'll continue to wonder just how in the hell they got there; remaining none the wiser.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 05:25 | 4624143 mc225
mc225's picture

there's a lack of astral space travel too

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 00:56 | 4623939 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

 

So patriotic that they are kind of comatose to any thing anti-American. It seems to trigger off something deep inside.

To think that they are somehow responsible is abhorrent to them.

I think that is the best assessment than I have ever seen from somebody who isn't an American.  Hell, most Americans don't see it, because if they did, it would cause some sort of crisis.  I know it was pretty rough for me when the realization hit.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 12:05 | 4625095 Bananamerican
Bananamerican's picture

Tell your amerikan kids the ways of the world, especially the nature of the would-be "leaders" of men

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 13:02 | 4625348 Zerozen
Zerozen's picture

It's interesting that this topic came up on ZH because I have a timely story to share:

I shit you not...2 days ago my boss was telling us (his employees) how proud he was of his 2 year old son, because his son had almost mastered the pledge of allegiance.

The kid is 2. Can't form anything other than simple sentences (if that), can't count...but can pledge an oath to a flag.

The brainwashing starts young. Patriotism, my ass. More like zombie-jingoism.

And of course there exists a growing blowback-type subculture in response to this...the self-hating American liberal.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 04:12 | 4624087 45Condor
45Condor's picture

If I had the means with which to endorse your site to a wider public, I would jump to it. Unfortunately, I do not, but will try to incorporate it into my writing - which reaches a small audience over on Forex Factory; with the occasional book pushed out on Amazon.

I, too, have bookmarked your site. In no small part due to the Shame no longer exists video. The dialogue within that clip resonates so strongly. I also liked the Can You Believe This Shit? In particular, the 30-something response to a T-90 tank. So true…

Yours,

Damon Cockcroft

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 06:12 | 4624165 UselessEater
UselessEater's picture

Aussie V, I was just looking for that clip of the monkey with the AK-47, just this morning. LOL got the clip and your piece for a good read. Thanks.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 06:16 | 4624169 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

Thanks from a yank. So we are not all "septic tanks"?

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:11 | 4623789 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Look, I think our dopey Feds are completely out of control. But frankly it seems like destabilizing an indefensible and criminal regime that resides 90 miles offshore of Florida is actually within shouting distance of their legitimate job description.

So naturally they fuck it up.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:36 | 4623830 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Ukraine is WAY farther away than that.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:42 | 4623842 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

Think of the annoying old hag down the street who's always sticking her nose into everyone else's business. Now imagine her with a military and an intelligence apparatus.

That's the fucking government of the United States.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 05:08 | 4624129 tonyw
tonyw's picture

And they've been doing it for the last 100 years.

Read "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq" by Stephen Kinzer to see how foreign governments and leaders both elected and unelected have been destabilised and overthrown.

Time to put our own house in order instead of lecturing the world, it's not like everything is perfect in the US.

 

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 03:25 | 4624044 lakecity55
lakecity55's picture

but it will be "surprise surprise" time then.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:55 | 4623757 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Quite frankly i was disappointed by the term "ward of the State" in this article.
these are the best Warfighters we've got!

And they do it "gratis"!

Why we even have a military...let alone a military budget...is simply beyond me.
I'm sure The Skirmishers will get their "real computer simulation" soon enough.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 09:16 | 4624481 sessinpo
sessinpo's picture

Anusocracy          I don't trust the US gov on any-fucking-thing.

---

Or on any non-fucking-thing too.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 08:37 | 4624350 Bangin7GramRocks
Bangin7GramRocks's picture

"They" hate us for our freedoms. Yeah right! "They" have a thousand reasons to hate us. It's a fucking miracle that Americans tourists aren't pummeled to death daily around the world. The U.S. is the most hypocritical nation in the history of the world. Shameful!

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 00:04 | 4623877 Milestones
Milestones's picture

Holy Mary Poppins, No wornder we are all broke!! This is some little backass kindergarden program--what the fook does the State Dept. spend??                        Milestones

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:41 | 4623832 LMAOLORI
LMAOLORI's picture

 

 


Important paragraph from the article

 

"The program's legality is unclear: U.S. law requires that any covert action by a federal agency must have a presidential authorization. Officials at USAID would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it."

 

USAID is the same group we used to start trouble in the Ukraine

 

"Pando has confirmed that the American government – in the form of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – played a major role in funding opposition groups prior to the revolution. Moreover, a large percentage of the rest of the funding to those same groups came from a US billionaire who has previously worked closely with US government agencies to further his own business interests."


 

 

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 01:08 | 4623895 mccvilb
mccvilb's picture

Caught In the Act aka Charlie India Alpha

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 03:23 | 4624042 lakecity55
lakecity55's picture

well gee, who could the mysterious billionairewhale be?

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 09:42 | 4624476 Dewey Cheatum Howe
Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

And almost every major tech IPO as of recent times those companies and heads are officially controlled by 'higher authority'. In a rigged system it is not their money they are just stewards to spend the rigged loot based upon pre-approved aims.

This is all part of the central control.... Push the liquidity into specific hands creating controlled oligarchs like Zuckerberg and control of key companies like facebook, twitter etc. Companies that should never have went public and shouldn't trade at the levels they do since they have no business plans that any sane person would agree would generate revenues to justify the money pumped into these things, stock price or trading volume.

There are no rags to riches, feel good, heart warming stories when you get into this realm unless they already have a way of keeping you in line. Anyone who wants to sit at that table on their own terms and without them controlling you has to fight their way in like a certain country some people think is controlled opposition.

A little lesson people need to understand in general if they want their country back and right to self determination through it.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 04:12 | 4624085 ilion
ilion's picture

All big empires ultimately fail. This will happen also to US. I hope I will live till that day.

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:14 | 4623680 Bindar Dundat
Bindar Dundat's picture

I liked Mark , but now I love him.   Go after the Ukes next Mark!

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 22:14 | 4623681 fockuyu
fockuyu's picture

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

#YouStupidFuckers

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 23:49 | 4623857 813kml
813kml's picture

Next thing you know they're gonna say that SnapChat isn't on the up-and-up.

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 00:12 | 4623893 seek
seek's picture

Of course it is! How else would they supply TBTP with endless photos of naked 14 year olds?

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!