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Paul Hair is a national security expert and an author. He writes under his own name and as a ghostwriter. Connect with him at http://www.liberateliberty.com/. Contact him at paul@liberateliberty.com.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Peter Thiel Backed Group Put Me on a ‘Watch’ List for Honorably Serving in the IC

Peter Thiel is one of the of the funders of a group called Transparency Toolkit, and I recently learned that this group placed me on a “watch” list for honorably serving in the intelligence community. Yet some quick research found that the group has excluded Thiel from the list despite his IC ties. The group also isn’t very transparent about its own organization.

ZDnet ran an article on May 6 advising of how a group called Transparency Toolkit mined the public portions of LinkedIn for intelligence community veterans and then they created a database watch list from it.
The resumes of over 27,000 people working in the US intelligence community were revealed today in a searchable database created by mining LinkedIn. 
Transparency Toolkit said the database, called ICWatch, includes the public resumes of people working for intelligence contractors, the military and intelligence agencies.
Part of my résumé is public since I write publicly. And Transparency Toolkit included me on its watch list.  And Transparency Toolkit provides explicit information on why it created this database.
Transparency Toolkit uses open data to watch the watchers and hold the powerful to account. We build free software to collect and analyze open data from a variety of sources. Then we work with investigative journalists and human rights organizations to turn that into useful, actionable knowledge. Currently, our primary focuses are investigating surveillance and human rights abuses.
In other words, because I honorably served in the IC and armed forces I now am placed on a watch list to be scrutinized for possible human rights abuses and other violations. This is the U.S. in the twenty-first century.

I had my résumé vetted by all the proper IC and DOD agencies before I posted it so there is nothing classified or sensitive in it. I also made sure all my LinkedIn connections are private in case anything like what just happened with ICWatch occurred, so no one who is connected to me needs to be concerned about their information. But the fact remains that I now am on a watch list because I honorably served in the intelligence community and armed forces.

Peter Thiel, by way of his Thiel Fellowship, is one of the backers of Transparency Toolkit. Thiel has major connections to the IC and U.S. government in general. Yet he is conspicuously absent from ICWatch. I asked Transparency Toolkit about this but its representative didn’t have a good answer for that omission.

Notice the last tweet. Transparency Toolkit, which boasts of transparency and holding “the powerful to account,” doesn’t even know much about its backers or where they get their money.

But there is more. The résumé the watchers at Transparency Toolkit assign as being mine is phony. Some of it is accurate but the rest is pure fiction.

So Transparency Toolkit is funded by money coming in part from Peter Thiel, who has earned millions of dollars from the IC, which Transparency Toolkit demonizes. And not only does Transparency Toolkit not put Thiel on its watch list, but it admits that it doesn’t know him and doesn’t fully know or understand where its backers get their money. Furthermore, Transparency Toolkit is assigning phony data to at least my résumé, which leads to questions about every other piece of data it has assembled.

Transparency Toolkit says it watches the watchmen. But who is watching the watchers that watch the watchmen? Right now, it looks like no one.

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