Pierre Omidyar: A Billionaire Prone to Reclusiveness and his Trove of State Surveillance Secrets


by Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal, MintPress News:

With strategically placed donations, Omidyar has placed himself in the rare position of being able to support both the national security state and at least part of its self-proclaimed opposition. In the eyes of the former element, that might be precisely what makes him so valuable.

This is the concluding part of our series exploring billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s broad sweep of influence over global media and surveillance enterprises. Part 1 examined Omidyar’s use of investment to build a vast and tangled web of influence in NGOs and media outlets around the world; Part 2 illuminated his involvement with regime-change networks and the surveillance state.

Flinging accusations of cultism while funding the Dalai Lama

Since pumping $100 million into a network of news outlets, fact-checking sites, film projects and press-advocacy groups, Pierre Omidyar has emerged as one of the most quietly influential media funders in the country. All along, he has kept out of the spotlight, avoiding the scrutiny and attack campaigns that have followed other politically influential oligarchs like Jeff Bezos and George Soros.

Omidyar lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, far from the American mainland. From there, he courts famous gurus and wields his media empire against a Hawaiian lawmaker who has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the national security state and its militaristic agenda.

The billionaire’s target is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a military veteran and member of Congress from Omidyar’s primary state of residence, Hawaii. Gabbard recently announced a long-shot campaign for the White House centered on mobilizing opposition to U.S. regime-change wars and interventionism.

Mark Ames, co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast and former editor of The eXile, who produced a series of investigations on Omidyar’s media activities, described the billionaire’s attacks on Gabbard as “very particular to Hawaiian politics and Omidyar’s love for the military-intelligence world. If you chart their respective political trajectories,” Ames continued, “you’ll see that Tulsi [Gabbard] has learned from her past mistakes and moved left on major issues, while Omidyar has moved gradually to the right — which is where he was already aligned overseas.”

This December, The Intercept published an article entitled, “Tulsi Gabbard is a rising progressive star, despite her support for Hindu nationalists.” It was one in a long series of sharply critical piecesleveled at Gabbard by Omidyar-backed publications. Omidyar’s local Hawaiian outlet, the Honolulu Civil Beat, promptly re-published the article.

This article homed in on Gabbard’s relationship with American supporters of Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India and leader of a party, the BJP, that has stoked lethally violent attacks on Muslims in the past. The article based its case partly on the arguably bigoted assertion that Gabbard had many donors with “names that are of Hindu origin.” It noted only in passing that Gabbard had recused herself from attending the 2018 World Hindu Congress, a gathering that has been criticized as a global hub of Hindu nationalism. Three weeks after publishing the article, The Interceptpublished an apology for “a parenthetical sentence about donations to Tulsi Gabbard from individuals with names of Hindu origin, as identified by an expert.”

One local resident griped a few years ago about two articles published on the same day in Civil Beat in 2015 that tied Gabbard to Modi and the BJP, and another that profiled “rumors” of Gabbard’s involvement with a group it paints as an even more cultish offshoot of the Hare Krishna movement called the “Science of Identity Foundation.”

That Omidyar’s outlets publish so much material criticizing Gabbard on the basis of her connections to the BJP raises serious questions of hypocrisy. Jayant Sinha, a former member of Omidyar’s five-member global executive committee and managing director for the Omidyar Network’s India branch (whose shady financial practices were detailed in the Panama Papers), is a member of Modi’s cabinet and oversaw the effort to put Modi in power while heading the Omidyar Network in India. Sinha, in fact, used Omidyar’s funding to bankroll a series of anti-corruption campaigns through local NGOs that helped subvert the Indian public’s faith in the ruling center-left Congress Party. In July, Sinha honored eight men who were convicted of lynching a Muslim cattle trader by placing wreaths of marigolds over their heads after they were bailed out of prison.

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