Of all the disruptions unleashed by the Trump White House on how the federal government typically works, the saga of one small project, called the Open Technology Fund, stands out.
The fantastical tale incorporates the spiritual movement Falun Gong, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, the daughter of a late liberal congressman and a zealous appointee of former President Donald Trump.
And specifically, it involves a fierce, months-long battle over whether the U.S. Agency for Global Media and the U.S. State Department should subsidize software developed by adherents of Falun Gong that auditors found wanting. The decision to prioritize this software stripped money intended for critical apps from a federal fund designed to bolster technology vital to dissidents overseas, officials say.
On top of that, once the software was approved for funding, a grand total of four people abroad used it to access Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, a key purpose for its subsidy. That's right, four.