The Twitter Files
The Twitter Files
Internal Communications Reveal Collusion With Outside Parties, Including Government Officials and Political Operatives, to Censor and Deplatform People Based on Their Views – the Most Prominent Being Donald Trump
Despite Being a Story of Historic Importance, Mainstream Media Are Colluding to Censor It Through a Conspiracy of Silence
On December 2, 2022, Part 1 of what’s being referred to as The Twitter Files was posted by independent journalist and author Matt Taibbi. In Part 1, he explains what The Twitter Files are and advises that Part 1 “is the first installment in a series, based upon thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter.” Here’s Part 1.
For many readers, this is likely the first you’ve heard of The Twitter Files because mainstream media’s concerted efforts to conceal this damning story from the general public, unfortunately, has been effective. Consequently, additional background information will be helpful.
Following his acquisition of Twitter, Elon Musk naturally had access to all records and data that still existed, so he investigated whether there was any evidence to support the claims that certain individuals had been censored and deplatformed over the years based upon their views and opinions at the behest of various influential outside parties. He found a treasure trove of evidence that, indeed, supports those claims, despite the persistent and unequivocal denials by the management team leading Twitter prior to Musk’s takeover.
The various documents and communications were sent to several independent journalists, each receiving a tranche of evidence on a specific topic and tasked with summarizing and posting their findings as a separate Part in The Twitter Files. As of December 21, 2022, eight Parts have been released.
We begin our coverage of The Twitter Files with Part 6. The reason for starting our coverage midstream is because that’s where the evidence first establishes the FBI’s direct involvement in censorship and deplatforming activities. Prior to Part 6, there isn’t any indication of direct law enforcement involvement. Criminal Legal News’ mission doesn’t include coverage of general media and political news, so it wasn’t until the FBI was directly implicated that The Twitter Files met our reporting criteria.
Part 6 is presented below, and in the following days, we will provide coverage of Parts 7 and 8, which involves the FBI once more as well as the military, respectively. Because this is a story of historical magnitude and the mainstream media, for the most part, have abdicated their duty to chronicle these events that are of utmost importance to public discourse, we will provide coverage of all Parts of The Twitter Files, beginning with Part 2 after the publication of our coverage of Parts 7 and 8. This is an ongoing story, so there may very well be additional Parts released in the near future. If so, we will cover them.
The Twitter Files Part 6: Twitter, the FBI Subsidiary
Big Brother and Big Tech Are Secretly Silencing You: Evidence Shows Twitter Served as the FBI’s Censor
by Benjamin Tschirhart
Before summarily dismissing any new government-involved horror story of overreach and abuse of power as a conspiracy theory, it pays to remember that every scandal in modern times began its life derisively branded as a conspiracy theory by the conspirators and their enablers. Most conspiracy theories ultimately aren’t proven due to a lack of definitive evidence. But that shouldn’t be surprising because that’s the very nature of a conspiracy – it’s a scheme agreed upon by two or more people in secret. However, The Twitter Files represent that rare case where clear evidence of the conspiracy has been obtained, and even rarer still, it’s being exposed for all to see.
Our story begins in midstream with Part 6 of the disclosures by independent journalist Matt Taibbi, which revealed the collusion of federal law enforcement agencies with Twitter to censor accounts deemed unacceptable for a variety of reasons.
It’s been public knowledge for years that law enforcement agencies use social media for investigative purposes; controversy over practices like “geofencing” has been ongoing for some time. But these recent developments represent a troubling shift in the relationship of federal agencies to social media. Their role appears to have become more active; Taibbi describes the dynamic between Twitter and the FBI less charitably as having a “master-canine quality.”
The Twitter Files reveal that federal agencies are taking steps to actively influence and curate the participation of citizens on these platforms while maintaining the thin fiction of benign collaboration with the administrators of the companies. As Taibbi puts it, “Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary.”
Created in the wake of the 2016 election, the FBI’s social media task force (known as “FTIF”), has ballooned to 80 agents and maintains a surprisingly intimate level of interaction with representatives of Twitter. In the documents that serve as the source material for Part 6, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco – Cyber Branch, Elvis Chan exchanges emails with Twitter’s former Trust and Safety Chief Yoel Roth, making reference to “soon to be weekly” meetings between the two organizations.
At these meetings and in numerous emails, the FBI, and to a certain extent, the Department of Homeland Security were flagging the names and profiles of Twitter users together with specific posts for action by Twitter staff. Under the pretext of alerting staff to violations of “terms of service agreements,” the FBI was having these accounts silenced and suspended, suggesting in a cloying doublespeak “any action or inaction deemed appropriate within Twitter policy.” Wink, wink.
Taibbi reports that the “FBI in one case sent over so many ‘possible violative content’ reports, Twitter personnel congratulated each other in Slack for the ‘monumental undertaking’ of reviewing them….”
In a further plot wrinkle, most of the accounts suspended were of the Republican, conservative, and generally right-wing variety, and a surprising number were low traffic and posted mostly humor or satire. It should be noted that a few left-leaning voices were also quashed.
Republican leadership figures have not been circumspect in their denunciations. Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) responded on Twitter to Taibbi’s release: “80 @FBI agents were colluding with Twitter to police content and moderate Americans’ speech? … Investigations are coming!”
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee, also chimed in on the scandal: “But what we found today is the FBI had its own ministry of propaganda — 80 FBI agents dedicated to nothing but censoring free speech on the internet.”
Information contained in the documents seems to indicate that the FBI also exerted an unknown (but presumably extensive) degree of influence in the 2020 elections (more on this in our coverage of Part 7).
Speculation abounds among lawmakers as to the extent of federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies’ involvement with censoring and influencing speech on other social media and big tech platforms, primarily Facebook and Google.
“Instead of chasing child sex predators or terrorists, the FBI has agents — lots of them — analyzing and mass-flagging social media posts. Not as part of any criminal investigation, but as a permanent, end-in-itself surveillance operation. People should not be okay with this,” Taibbi concluded.
Here’s the original Twitter thread that constitutes Part 6.
Twitter Files Part 7: The FBI and the Hunter Biden Laptop
Laptops And PsyOps: Twitter Assists the Intelligence Community in Disseminating Misinformation and Helps the FBI Suppress True Information About the Contents of Hunter Biden’s Laptop
by Benjamin Tschirhart
The story so far:
The Twitter Files continue to reveal an unsavory story of FBI interference in the political arena, as the agency suppresses news stories of troubling Biden family business deals and propagates a false narrative of Russian interference to cover their trail.
In his emails, Yoel Roth (Twitter’s former head of trust and safety) repeatedly refers to the work Twitter staff has done for the FBI, as well as the influence the FBI has attempted to exert with varying degrees of success, on Twitter and its operations. It is clear that Twitter’s assistance dates back to 2017, and in internal emails, Roth mentions the FBI exerting pressure on the company “everywhere they can.”
Twitter has employed a surprisingly high number of ex-FBI agents including, notably, FBI’s former general counsel Jim Baker, who was Twitter’s deputy general counsel at the time (later fired by Elon Musk reportedly for his role in attempting to coverup the FBI’s activities at Twitter by redacting information from the internal documents provided to independent journalists for these very same Twitter Files), and Director of Strategy Dawn Burton, who was former deputy chief of staff to FBI head James Comey (who initiated the investigation of Trump).
But even this level of influence was apparently not satisfactory. Internal emails among Twitter executives refer to the FBI’s dissatisfaction with their “low rate of success” and their desire for Twitter to “produce more” when responding to “emergency disclosure requests” or, in other words, warrantless searches of users’ private information.
If this level of infiltration and influence at Twitter represents a low rate of success, it doesn’t take much imagination to assume the degree of influence the FBI exerts on other social media platforms and big tech entities is likely at least similar to that which has been exposed at Twitter.
As time went on, the FBI would use its influence for all it was worth. After Hunter Biden’s laptop came into FBI custody in 2019, the Bureau embarked on a campaign of deception, priming Yoel Roth, other Twitter execs, and various politicians to believe that the revelations discovered on Hunter’s laptop were simply part of a Russian disinformation operation, even going so far as to conduct meetings where agents instructed Twitter staff and politicians to expect a Russian “hack and dump” operation in the near future. This not only influenced how the information would be received by the public but also how Twitter’s “Hacked Materials” policy permitted treatment of the disclosure. Indeed, the story was dropped and censored by both Twitter and Facebook.
It took independent journalist Peter Schweitzer only a few hours to prove that the files from the laptop are genuine. Internal Twitter documents show that the FBI had custody of the laptop in 2019 and that they were fully aware of its provenance and authenticity. Nevertheless, the agency unleashed an elaborate campaign of lies, disinformation, and subterfuge in order to thoroughly discredit the story as simply Russian disinformation and prevent the story from being picked up by the mainstream media.
An email from an assistant to then-deputy general counsel Jim Baker informed him and then-general counsel Sean Edgett that “we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!” In fact, Twitter’s Safety, Content & Law Enforcement division created a “reimbursement program” in exchange for devoting staff hours to “processing requests from the FBI.”
Here’s the original Twitter thread that constitutes Part 7.
Twitter Files Part 8: How Twitter Quietly Aided the Pentagon’s Covert Online PsyOp Campaign
Twitter Helped Shape Public Opinion for the Military
Twitter has long claimed to place a high priority on “detection, disruption, and transparency efforts related to state-backed information operations” and that its goal is “to remove bad faith actors and to advocate public understanding of these critical topics.”
Noble rhetoric, to be sure. But the eighth installment of The Twitter Files contains enough morally gray disclosure to raise even a fairly cynical eyebrow. This particular narrative begins in 2017, with an email from Nathaniel Kahler, an officer with the Pentagon’s Central Command (“CENTCOM”) to an undisclosed employee of Twitter (who spoke only on the condition of anonymity), asking for the little blue bird’s help.
“We’ve got some accounts that are not indexing on hashtags — perhaps they were flagged as bots … A few of these had built a real following and we hope to salvage.”
Kahler then sent an email containing a spreadsheet listing 52 Twitter accounts. He requested that the accounts be whitelisted and for six of them to be granted priority status. That same day, patriotic Twitter staff accessed company systems in order to apply exemptions to these accounts, protecting them from algorithms that identify misinformation, propaganda, and spam. Kahler promised that the accounts would be “USG-attributed, Arabic-language accounts tweeting on relevant security issues.” Yet after receiving whitelist status, these accounts promptly divested themselves of any U.S. government attributions.
Several of these accounts have been active all the way up to 2022, spreading lies and disinformation in the Middle East, accusing Iran of “threatening Iraq’s water security and flooding the country with crystal meth” and “harvesting the organs of Afghan refugees.” These were not ethically neutral statements and claims. These statements carried the potential of serious and deadly consequences. It’s one thing to engage in this sort of endeavor knowingly, with full disclosure but to be duped or coerced into facilitating these activities is altogether different.
The degree of knowledge and complicity that can be assigned to specific individuals is not yet established; Twitter employees claim that their involvement was involuntary and that they felt betrayed by the way they were deceived. As information continues to surface though, every indication is that these circumstances were well known within the company, understood to be business as usual and handled routinely, albeit with a certain amount of gravitas.
The dubious partnership became known to the public by accident (no whistleblowers here!) when, in 2022, Stanford’s internet observatory exposed a U.S. government propaganda network on Twitter using fake news portals, deepfakes, and other psyop techniques to spread misinformation against nations considered to be adversaries of the United States.
One of them, @yemencurrent (now deleted), was used to propagate information about U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, touting their accuracy and denying claims of civilian casualties.
While Twitter employees as a whole might not bear equal responsibility for facilitating the actions of CENTCOM, it is clear that certain figures (including Jim Baker, Twitter’s former deputy general counsel and former general counsel for the FBI, and Stacia Cardille, another Twitter attorney) provided more than a little support, giving advice to agents of the government and enabling them in their subterfuge. Both attorneys actively assisted government actors in their deceptive operations, stating in 2020 emails that CENTCOM personnel had employed “poor tradecraft” in setting up the accounts and encouraging them to “obfuscate their activity in this space” by using accounts that were not “linked to each other or to the DoD or the USG” in order to “avoid embarrassment.”
After these activities became public, internal emails show Twitter staff congratulating one another that the company largely escaped scrutiny while the Pentagon drew most of the blame. The mainstream media, perhaps put uncomfortably in mind of their own complicity, continue to ignore the scandal. The public should be aware that pre-Musk Twitter allowed these accounts and their authors to carry on uninterrupted for years, making no effort to close or stop them, all the while presenting a public facade of ethical conduct and even-handed objectivity. Even now, some of the accounts remain active.
Here’s the original Twitter thread that constitutes Part 8.
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