A new round of Twitter files proves that the Pentagon uses the social media to run psychological operations, or PsyOps. This means that they create fake Twitter accounts and pretend to be foreign actors and use those accounts to sew discord in foreign countries.
Update: Rep. Schiff has replied to Musk’s question… and just like every politician before him, has failed to answer the question…instead choosing some snark and distraction to a narrative of his choice…
I don’t support censorship. Or hate speech.
As the (outgoing) CEO of Twitter, how about you? Why not do more to stop slurs against Black people, LGBTQ+ people, Jewish people, and others? Do you commit to providing the public with actual answers and data, not just tweets? https://t.co/aejdHNLud5
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) December 20, 2022
As we detailed earlier, in the wake of the most recent ‘Twitter Files’ release – which showed that the FBI infiltrated the social media giant, then primed its ‘Trust & Safety’ head to interpret things like the Hunter Biden release as foreign influence – CEO Elon Musk asked Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) whether he approved ‘hidden state censorship in direct violation of the Constitution.”
As (outgoing) Chair of House Intelligence, did you approve hidden state censorship in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States @RepAdamSchiff?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2022
Some have speculated that the speed at which Twitter reacted to the NY Post‘s Hunter Biden bombshell was the result of a “powerful Dem” reaching out to the FBI’s operative, Elvis Chan.
There’s just no way that someone from Biden’s team or a powerful Dem like Schiff or Pelosi did not contact Chan in this 3-hour window.
They knew it was going to drop. The question is—who contacted Chan to get the plan in motion? pic.twitter.com/BVo8zeYLgB
— Julie Kelly 🇺🇸 (@julie_kelly2) December 19, 2022
Musk also advocated for a modern-day Church Commission, responding to a suggestion promoted by investor David Sacks.
We need a new Church Commission to investigate why the FBI and Intelligence Community are engaged in social media censorship, including the suppression of the Hunter Biden story. https://t.co/eUjK8RpY4S
— David Sacks (@DavidSacks) December 20, 2022
“Hear, hear!!” Musk replied.
Hear, hear!! https://t.co/LbvnmOGAVy
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2022
Of note, thought leaders such as Eric Weinstein have been calling for a new Church Commission for years to unravel revelations that the FBI participated in the Russiagate hoax against candidate – and then sitting President, Donald Trump.
— Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) December 20, 2022
Meanwhile, in response to the Twitter Files revelation that the FBI was deeply embedded at Twitter, Rep. Jim Jordan said: “I have concerns about whether the government was running a misinformation operation on We the People.”
In response to the Twitter Files revelation of high-level FBI agents at Twitter, @Jim_Jordan said, “I have concerns about whether the government was running a misinformation operation on We the People.”https://t.co/nlbBPTeDg8
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 19, 2022
Perhaps Jordan will get behind the new Church Commission idea?
These Twitter Files drops are getting further and further down the dystopian rabbit-hole. Today’s drop, brought to you by The Intercept‘s Lee Fang, provides insight into Twitter’s efforts to aid the Pentagon’s ‘online psychological influence ops.’
Take it away, Lee:
3. But behind the scenes, Twitter gave approval & special protection to the U.S. military’s online psychological influence ops. Despite knowledge that Pentagon propaganda accounts used covert identities, Twitter did not suspend many for around 2 years or more. Some remain active.
4. In 2017, a U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) official sent Twitter a list of 52 Arab language accounts “we use to amplify certain messages.” The official asked for priority service for six accounts, verification for one & “whitelist” abilities for the others.
5. The same day CENTCOM sent the list, Twitter officials used a tool to grant a special “whitelist” tag that essentially provides verification status to the accounts w/o the blue check, meaning they are exempt from spam/abuse flags, more visible/likely to trend on hashtags.
6. The CENTCOM accounts on the list tweeted frequently about U.S. military priorities in the Middle East, including promoting anti-Iran messages, promotion of the Saudi Arabia-U.S. backed war in Yemen, and “accurate” U.S. drone strikes that claimed to only hit terrorists.
7. CENTCOM then shifted strategies & deleted disclosures of ties to the Twitter accounts. The bios of the accounts changed to seemingly organic profiles. One bio read: “Euphrates pulse.” Another used an apparent deep fake profile pic & claimed to be a source of Iraqi opinion.
8. One Twitter official who spoke to me said he feels deceived by the covert shift. Still, many emails from throughout 2020 show that high-level Twitter executives were well aware of DoD’s vast network of fake accounts & covert propaganda and did not suspend the accounts.
9. For example, Twitter lawyer Jim Baker mused in a July 2020 email, about an upcoming DoD meeting, that the Pentagon used “poor tradecraft” in setting up its network, and were seeking strategies for not exposing the accounts that are “linked to each other or to DoD or the USG.”
10. Stacia Cardille, another Twitter attorney, replied that the Pentagon wanted a SCIF & may want to retroactively classify its social media activities “to obfuscate their activity in this space, and that this may represent an overclassification to avoid embarrassment.”
11. In several other 2020 emails, high-level Twitter executives/lawyers discussed the covert network and even recirculated the 2017 list from CENTCOM and shared another list of 157 undisclosed Pentagon accounts, again mostly focused on Middle East military issues.
12. In a May 2020 email, Twitter’s Lisa Roman emailed the DoD w/two lists. One list was accounts “previously provided to us” & another list Twitter detected. The accounts tweeted in Russian & Arabic on US military issues in Syria/ISIS & many also did not disclose Pentagon ties.
13. Many of these secretive U.S. military propaganda accounts, despite detection by Twitter as late as 2020 (but potentially earlier) continued tweeting through this year, some not suspended until May 2022 or later, according to records I reviewed.
14. In August 2022, a Stanford Internet Observatory report exposed a U.S. military covert propaganda network on Facebook, Telegram, Twitter & other apps using fake news portals and deep fake images and memes against U.S. foreign adversaries.
15. The U.S. propaganda network relentlessly pushed narratives against Russia, China, and other foreign countries. They accused Iran of “threatening Iraq’s water security and flooding the country with crystal meth,” and of harvesting the organs of Afghan refugees.
16. The Stanford report did not identify all of the accounts in the network but one they did name was the exact same Twitter account CENTCOM asked for whitelist privileges in its 2017 email. I verified via Twitter’s internal tools. The account used an AI-created deep fake image.
17. In subsequent reporting, Twitter was cast as an unbiased hero for removing “a network of fake user accounts promoting pro-Western policy positions.” Media covering the story described Twitter as evenly applying its policies & proactive in suspending the DoD network.
18. The reality is much more murky. Twitter actively assisted CENTCOM’s network going back to 2017 and as late as 2020 knew these accounts were covert/designed to deceive to manipulate the discourse, a violation of Twitter’s policies & promises. They waited years to suspend.
19. Twitter’s comms team was closely in touch with reporters, working to minimize Twitter’s role. When the WashPost reported on the scandal, Twitter officials congratulated each other because the story didn’t mention any Twitter employees & focused largely on the Pentagon.
20. The conduct with the U.S. military’s covert network stands in stark contrast with how Twitter has boasted about rapidly identifying and taking down covert accounts tied to state-backed influence operations, including Thailand, Russia, Venezuela, and others since 2016.
* * *
And some reactions:
In the latest episode of ‘THE TWITTER FILES,’ journalist Michael Shellenberger reveals “How the FBI & intelligence community discredited factual information about Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings both after and *before* The New York Post revealed the contents of his laptop on October 14, 2020.”
The story begins in December 2019 when a Delaware computer store owner named John Paul (J.P.) Mac Isaac contacts the FBI about a laptop that Hunter Biden had left with him
On Dec 9, 2019, the FBI issues a subpoena for, and takes, Hunter Biden’s laptop.
By Aug 2020, Mac Isaac still had not heard back from the FBI, even though he had discovered evidence of criminal activity. And so he emails Rudy Giuliani, who was under FBI surveillance at the time. In early Oct, Giuliani gives it to @nypost
Shortly before 7 pm ET on October 13, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, emails JP Mac Isaac.
Hunter and Mesires had just learned from the New York Post that its story about the laptop would be published the next day.
7. At 9:22 pm ET (6:22 PT), FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sends 10 documents to Twitter’s then-Head of Site Integrity, Yoel Roth, through Teleporter, a one-way communications channel from the FBI to Twitter.
8. The next day, October 14, 2020, The New York Post runs its explosive story revealing the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Every single fact in it was accurate.
15. Indeed, Twitter executives *repeatedly* reported very little Russian activity. E.g., on Sept 24, 2020, Twitter told FBI it had removed 345 “largely inactive” accounts “linked to previous coordinated Russian hacking attempts.” They “had little reach & low follower accounts.”
And some thoughts from the peanut gallery: