The Ambassador
The Spin Doctors
Leaked Papers or "Leaked" Papers?
A Limited Hangout
Cui Bono?
A Digital Guillotine


The Panama Papers are a set of approximately 11.5 million "leaked" documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that an anonymous source sent to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The documents chronicle the dealings of offshore companies employed by global elites to avoid taxes in their home countries. The leaked documents have not been made public in their entirety and are currently (as of today, April 14) being curated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists or ICIJ which began publishing stories about the documents in a coordinated global effort among relatively mainstream partner publications on April 3, 2016 (partner list here).

The Ambassador

Almost immediately following the announcement of the Panama Papers on April 3, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan named Craig Murray fired off a blog post that went viral entitled "Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak". We can only assume from his impressive resume that Craig Murray might have something to say about how corporate media and the "Western 1%" collude.

"What do you expect? The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named 'International Consortium of Investigative Journalists', which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

Ford Foundation
Carnegie Endowment
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)

among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished."

The Spin Doctors

Fast-forward one day. The world was still trying to absorb the enormity of this data leak while media outlets were busy spinning the narrative -- which did not go unnoticed by alt news media and other spectators.

One of the best of these spin-analyses was published via YouTube by James Corbett (of on April 4:

The TL;dr of James Corbett's analysis:

* The list of people implicated in Panama Papers so far is basically a who's who of US State Department enemies
* Despite best efforts, there is no smoking gun that leads directly to Putin, whom The Guardian and others in the media outlets that have access to this data are straining so hard to tie in to this scandal
* The Guardian really really wants us to know that privacy laws in the British Virgin Islands are a real problem when it comes to sniffing out corruption (maybe we should just do away with privacy laws, alright old chap?)
* The "international consortium" of journalists who coordinated the investigation were funded by George Soros, among other neo-liberal foundations and organizations
* Panama has so far refused to embrace a worldwide plan for sharing offshore banking information, the first step in establishing a new worldwide taxation plan

Leaked Papers or "Leaked" Papers?

The day after that, April 5th, was the day the spin went sideways. ZeroHedge reported on a feud that broke out between and the head of the ICIJ.

In an interview with Wired Magazine, the head of the ICIJ was asked why the ICIJ had not elected to do a Wikileaks-style data dump, which would mean making all of the documents public (rather than allowing mainstream media outlets to sift through the data in private and cherry-pick stories as they saw fit). In response, Gerald Ryle of the ICIJ off-gassed some doublespeak about wanting to show how journalism could be done "responsibly".

That's when shit got real. (presumably Julian Assange himself), unleashed a series of scorching tweets documented in ZeroHedge's article: "Shots Fired: Wikileaks Accuses Panama Papers' Leaker Of Being 'Soros-Funded, Soft-Power Tax Dodge'".

So at this point, a fascinating question arose: are the Panama Papers a proper leak if the documents are not dumped in their entirety and made available to the public? Maybe the Panama Papers are not a leak -- perhaps they are more of a "leak".

A Limited Hangout

A "limited hangout" is spy jargon for the art of exposing some information about a situation without exposing all of the information in the hopes that the public is so shell-shocked that it does not pursue the most key, damaging facts of the situation. As Pepe Escobar articulated in "Dance to the Panama Papers Limited Hangout Leak":

"Even without a smoking gun, a case can be made this alleged most massive leak ever was obtained by – what else – U.S. intel. This is the kind of stuff the NSA excels at. The NSA is able to break into virtually any database and/or archives anywhere; they steal 'secrets' and then selectively destroy/blackmail/protect assets and 'enemies' according to USG interests. That’s the essence of a limited hangout sold to public opinion as a serious corruption investigation. And that’s where Western corporate media enters the scene, protecting whatever 0.00000001 percent honcho is caught in the net, as well as sacrificing some disposable pawns."

So what (or who) is being hung out? Many commentators were left wondering "Where are the Americans in all this?". To this complaint, the ICIJ has said, "don't worry, there's more coming". But so far there have only been a few American pawns implicated; the big fish are nowhere to found. Time will tell. (I will post updates at the bottom of this page as the news continues to trickle in).

Cui Bono?

When we are presented with cloudy, ambiguous situations as we are with the Panama Papers, sometimes it is best to back up and ask one simple question in order to clear the air:
Who benefits?

The most cogent commentary I have seen in answer to this question has been offered by author, attorney, speaker, activist and former 2014 Green Party candidate for the California office of State Treasurer Ellen Brown. Her blog post entitled "The Panama Papers, Bail-Ins and the Push to Go Cashless" was picked up by It is a wild ride.

The TL;dr on Ellen Brown's article:

* Iceland's prime minister was a casualty because Iceland was the only country not to bail out its banks (I'll also insert my own commentary here: their prime minister was the only elite that jailed other elites for banking crimes. For this reason it was imperative that he be punished by the banking mafia)
* The leak dovetails with an ongoing attempt to create an international registry which would collect asset ownership information from governments around the world -- which Panama had been resisting.
* The leak also dovetails beautifully with David Cameron's anti-corruption summit on this subject which is set for next month.
* The banking system has used up all of the tools at its current disposal for rescuing what is a rapidly devolving system in which many banks are technically insolvent across the world
* All of this may be setting the stage for the rollout of a global tax scheme, a cashless society based on biometric currencies, negative interest rates that punish hoarders and ultimately, "bail-ins" for the central banks (what the hell is a bail-in? its when the bank seizes depositors earnings to pay for its own bail-out)
* Most interestingly, she speculates that the Panama Papers may be a prelude to what she calls the "War on Cash" that will be waged in order to save the lucrative banking system at all costs. In other words, the big fish (0.000001% banking elite) are chewing up the smaller fish (1%-ers) that are making the hoards of tiny proletariat 99% fish angry, thus jeopardizing the entire monetary ecosystem upon which banking sharks depend.

A Digital Guillotine

We cannot know the intentions of the person or organization that leaked the Panama Papers -- perhaps they were noble, perhaps not. At this point we are seeing the Panama Papers' corrupt "victims" hung out each day in the press: Putin, the PM of Iceland, and now even David Cameron. Could it be that the Panama Papers are becoming the sort of digital guillotine that the 99% have been waiting for?

What we do know is that by leaking the papers to the press rather than going with a bare metal Wikileaks-style dump, the leaker and the 1% media have created a situation that echoes the Edward Snowden NSA papers: a scant few in the press who work for the elites are allowed to cherry-pick narratives for the rest of us to passively absorb.

If we are to understand the full implications of the Panama Papers as a "limited hangout" operation whereby the global elite sacrifice a few pawns in the service of saving the monetary ponzi scheme that is central banking itself, we begin to go down a road where we understand that the pawns who have been marched out for judgement have been shepherded there by the kings and queens who still remain hidden; a stage-crafted French revolution dinner theater for the internet generation that gives the satisfying illusion of justice while leaving the key players in place at the very top of an unjust system.

The question then becomes:

Is the best use of energy to ferret out corruption among the 1%, or to dismantle the corrupt system in which the 1% thrive?

Ancillary questions about the role of the media also arise from this scenario:

Can true whistleblowers trust the press with data dumps?

Should we take at face value previous non Wikileaks-style dumps that are curated by members of 1%-funded press organizations (aka Snowden/The Intercept)?

Is it ethical for the free press participate in limited hangout-style leaks, knowing that there is a possibility they could be used as pawns in novel internet propaganda techniques?

Did I miss anything? Email vision (( at )) Updates will be posted below.
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"The Panama Papers: Inequality Theater for the 99%" by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Lauren Garcia is a software developer in the San Francisco Bay Area.