Former International Spy Working With Blockstream?
Bitcoin.com published an interesting op-ed piece earlier today where they claimed “Blockstream is working with former national spies.”
“Why is Blockstream Working with Former Spies?” asked Bitcoin.com writer David Shares.
Shares describes how Blockstream employee Bill Scannell, “a former self-admitted national spy for the United States”, has been doing public relations work for Blockstream.
Blockstream is one of the best-known bitcoin (BTC) developers, focused particularly on introducing the controversial Lightning Network as a scaling solution.
Is this just propaganda from Bitcoin Cash-friendly Bitcoin.com and its anti-BTC CEO Roger Ver? Or is Blockstream legitimately working with nefarious individuals to conduct a public relations campaign?
The truth appears to be somewhere in between. Let’s dive in.
Blockstream Is Working With A Former Intelligence Specialist Named Bill Scannell
This part is true: as far as we can tell, Blockstream is working with a public relations specialist named Bill Scannell. In the 1980s, Scannell worked as an intelligence specialist in Cold War-era Berlin. Here’s how Bitcoin.com writer David Shares describes Scannell:
“Bill is a former self-admitted national spy for the United States, focused on signal and human intelligence (SIGINT/HUMINT). Bill entered the world of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin sometime around 2015.”
SIGINT and HUMINT continue to play a crucial role in spy agencies around the world. Signals intelligence (SIGINT) and human intelligence (HUMINT) played a significant role in France’s 2012 election, for example, as “all major French political parties were targeted for infiltration by the CIA’s HUMINT and electronic SIGINT spies in the seven months leading up to the election”, according to documents leaked by WikiLeaks.
It seems clear that Scannell is a former spy. He has given talks about his former spying days. In public speeches, he has discussed his role processing signals and human intelligence in the 1980s in Berlin.
We’ve established Scannell worked as a spy 30 years ago – so what is he doing for Blockstream today?
How Is Former Spy Bill Scannell Working With Blockstream Today?
Bitcoin.com writer David Shares claims Blockstream is using Scannell as part of its propaganda machine.
“what Bill Scannell and Blockstream don’t want the general public to know is that Bill works intimately with Blockstream on their own intelligence. You see, Blockstream is running it’s [sic] own program in order to push their agenda so that they can control Bitcoin and profit from it.”
Shares mentions that Blockstream has been conducting a propaganda campaign since 2015, which is when we first started seeing communities like /r/bitcoin become censored. Around this time, /r/bitcoin and other communities started censoring discussions on raising blocksize limits as a scaling solution and instead promoting centralized, Blockstream-developed solutions like the Lightning Network.
What does Bill Scannell have to do with this censorship campaign? Apparently Scannell is running the entire operation. He’s a counterintelligence specialist employed by Blockstream to push forward the company’s agenda:
“Because they have so much investment capital and need to protect it at all cost in their quest to control Bitcoin, they have employed Scannell as their consultant (agent) to run intelligence and counterintelligence operations on the Bitcoin community.”
Scannell Used Dubious PR Tactics While Working For Political Campaigns In Alaska
Shares then links to Scannell’s LinkedIn profile, which shows he runs a private consulting firm. His LinkedIn profile also mentions previous positions as an “Evil PR Genius”. Plus, an endorsement from a previous employer claims Scannell is a “story-teller, fixer, maker”.
Shares then cites a piece from the Anchorage Daily News back in 2016. Scannell’s private corporation, Special Circumstances LLC, is registered in the state of Alaska. In 2016, the Anchorage Daily News did a piece about Scannell’s wife regarding a local election in Alaska. That article describes Scannell as a “media strategist” with a history of “pedaling some outrageous stories and pulling some outrageous stunts to get media attention.” Scannell was purportedly running PR campaigns for his wife’s benefit in the local Alaska elections.
Similar attacks took place back in 2008, when Scannell was found attacking opposing groups in another local Alaska election. At that time, AlaskaReport.com noted that, “Bill Scannell, the man outed Thursday morning by Jake Metcalfe’s former campaign manager Dana Krawchuk as the person behind some nasty websites attacking Ethan Berkowitz, has resigned. Krawchuk had overheard Scannell talking about building websites specifically to attack Berkowitz.”
Shares claims that Scannell is running similar PR campaigns to benefit Blockstream. How does Shares make the connection between Scannell and Blockstream? Well, he’s been seen at Blockstream events.
Bill Scannell Acts As A “Handler” for Blockstream Executives At Conferences
Up to this point, Shares has established that Bill Scannell worked as a spy in the 1980s in Berlin and that he has a history of using dubious PR tactics to advance the agenda of his employers.
But how is Scannell connected to Blockstream? Well, he’s been spotted playing a significant role at Blockstream events. Here’s how Shares explains it:
“When Samson Mow started working for Blockstream in 2017 as the “Chief Strategy Officer“, Bill Scannell and Samson Mow began working more closely together, along side Adam Back and others. In April 2017, Scannell and Back both attended the The 21st International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security in Malta, where Scannell helped moderate a panel that Back was speaking on. Blockstream was the sponsor at the event, where others spoke as well, such as Peter Todd.”
Bill Scannell was spotted at this event in close proximity to Samson, according to Bitcoin.com CEO and Bitcoin Cash supporter Roger Ver:
On Reddit, Bitcoin.com CEO and entrepreneur, Roger Ver, had this to say about Scannell:
“This guy was with Samson when I had the debate with him in Seoul. He was clearly Samson’s handler at the event.”
What Does This All Mean?
Ultimately, it’s hard to determine the significance of Bitcoin.com’s recent op-ed piece. Here are the core facts of the piece:
- Blockstream, like many corporations, is working with a public relations firm
- That public relations firm is in charge of advancing the company’s agenda
- The public relations firm is led by a man, Bill Scannell who has used dubious PR tactics – like building negative websites and releasing negative videos – in political campaigns in Alaska
- In the 1980s, Scannell worked as a SIGINT/HUMINT specialist in Berlin, working as a spy for the United States
One of the most obvious problems with the story is that it repeatedly mentions that Blockstream is working with “spies” – as a plural. The article, however, describes Blockstream working with a single spy. There’s no evidence Blockstream is working with other “spies”.
That’s everything the piece claims. You can read the entire piece here. I’ll leave it up to you to determine whether or not this changes your perception of Blockstream – or if it’s just another attack in the ongoing war between Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and bitcoin (BTC).