Twitter Files: FBI's Infiltration of Big Tech is Step on Path to Totalitarian State, Journo Warns
12:41 GMT 24.12.2022 (Updated: 05:41 GMT 30.04.2023)
American author Michael Shellenberger released the seventh tranche of the explosive "Twitter Files" earlier this week to shed light on the FBI's censorship and meddling with the platform. New Twitter owner Elon Musk made internal Twitter files available for several US investigative journalists in December.
The recently released sixth and seventh batches of the Twitter Files shed light on the FBI's instructions to censor specific tweets and accounts for "violating" the company's terms of service.
The internal documents also lifted the veil of secrecy on how the bureau launched an apparent damage control operation prior to the publication of the New York Post's bombshell concerning Hunter Biden's laptop.
On top of that, an email by Twitter's former Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker revealed that the platform collected a staggering $3 million from the bureau at least on one occassion.
"My opinion - based on the evidence available - is the FBI did this because the FBI is fundamentally corrupt," Jason Goodman, a US investigative journalist and founder of Crowdsource the Truth, told Sputnik. "Failure to investigate Hunter Biden based on the evidence on the laptop is bad enough. Evidence being revealed now by Twitter’s new management suggests the FBI actively worked to protect Hunter Biden from public scrutiny and hide their own lack of enforcement action. Broad knowledge of the evidence on Hunter Biden’s laptop would certainly have led to public outcry at least for further investigation. We have never witnessed such a brazen criminal act by a US government agency so nakedly exposed. For the past two years, any individual who even debates these facts online loses access to the major social media platforms."
The Twitter Files exposure apparently hit the FBI's raw nerve as the bureau issued an official statement claiming that "the men and women of the FBI" were doing their job, while "conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency."
While commenting on the bureau's statement, one prominent legal expert remarked that it is not clear "what is more chilling: the menacing role played by the FBI in Twitter's censorship program or its mendacious response to the disclosure of that role."
2 November 2022, 15:06 GMT
Make no mistake, this started long ago, noted Goodman: in fact, the groundwork was laid after September 11, 2001, with the passage of the Patriot Act.
"Prior to that, Americans were protected from undue search and seizure by the fourth amendment of the constitution," the journalist explained. "In the newfound 'war on terror' the Patriot Act was sold to the American public as increased security. But it introduced several unconstitutional new laws and new law enforcement tools that removed our constitutional protection. One such tool was the National Security Letter (NSL)."
Goodman has drawn attention to the fact that prior to the advent of NSLs, investigators needed to get a warrant from a judge and had to have probable cause supported by some kind of evidence before they could lawfully investigate a person or their property, including electronic accounts, like email or Twitter.
However, with the Patriot Act, the FBI could simply write up an NSL under the suspicion that an individual was a national security threat and launch a probe into them, according to the journalist. "No warrant or evidence was required," Goodman added. Moreover, the bureau could also reject the requests of those asking for proof on the basis that the evidence would risk revealing sources and methods and was also a national security threat, according to the journalist.
"These newfound powers were quickly and consistently abused," Goodman continued. "Former FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni was admonished by both the House and the Senate for gross abuses of NSLs and other unconstitutional acts."
However, it appears that the US Congress' attempts to rein in the bureau have not borne any fruit and the FBI has only grown more brazen in the years since.
"By alleging that the FBI was engaged in a counterintelligence investigation, they no longer had to adhere to the same rules or obey the constitutional protections that existed previously," said Goodman. "This is exactly how the FBI began their shambolic investigation into the so-called Russian collusion with Trump."
20 December 2022, 00:53 GMT
Hunter's and Hillary's Emails & APT28
Meanwhile, the story of FBI's attempts to shield Hunter Biden evokes strong memories of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack amid the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. The disclosure of Hunter's bombshell emails was downplayed and smeared as a "hack" and "disinformation" by "Russian APT28" just as the 2016 DNC email leak was.
to Shellenberger, the bureau took Hunter Biden's "laptop from hell" from Mac Isaac, a Delaware repair shop owner, on December 9, 2019. By August 2020, Isaac still had not heard back from the FBI, even though he had found alleged evidence of criminal activity on the device. So Isaac contacted lawyer Rudy Giuliani, "who was under FBI surveillance at the time," and provided him with a copy of the laptop's hard disk. In early October, Guiliani gave the disk to the New York Post.
On October 13, 2020, a day before the Post planned to release its bombshell, "FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sent ten documents to Twitter's then-Head of Site Integrity Yoel Roth through Teleporter, a one-way communications channel from the FBI to Twitter," Shellinberger revealed citing internal Twitter documents. On October 14, 2020, the bombshell article saw the light of day but soon was banned and suppressed by major Silicon Valley giants, including Twitter.
But that is not all. According to Yoel Roth's testimony, during all of 2020, the FBI warned him about the forthcoming Russian "hack and leak" operation "involving Hunter Biden" prior to the 2020 election. The bureau particularly referred to APT28, claiming that it's a group of Russian hackers linked to Moscow's intelligence services. In one of his recent interviews, Roth said that when Hunter's emails finally emerged "it set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack-and-leap campaign alarm bells."
The "laptop from hell" posed a challenge to Hunter's father, the Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, as the bombshell suggested that the latter not only knew but also participated in his son's murky financial schemes.
Similarly, the 2016 DNC leak threatened the Clinton campaign
, demonstrating, in particular, that the party's primaries were rigged in favor of Hillary. It was Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann who requested cyber security firm CrowdStrike's help in investigating the alleged DNC hack.
CrowdStrike "detected" and "attributed" the alleged breach of DNC servers to Russia
during the 2016 election cycle. The company claimed that the perpetrators were "two Russian espionage groups": Cozy Bear (APT29) and Fancy Bear (APT28), suggesting with a "low" to "medium"-level of confidence that they may be affiliated with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and Main Intelligence Department (GRU), respectively. Moscow denied the claim as absurd.
For its part, the FBI relied on CrowdStrike's conclusions, although the bureau has never physically examined the DNC servers and has only been provided with their "digital copies" instead.
According to Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), a group of former US intelligence officers working within the CIA, the FBI and the NSA, there had been no hack: it was an inside job. Moreover, CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry admitted under oath in 2017 that the company does not have "concrete evidence" that the alleged "Russian hackers" exfiltrated any data from the servers.
The story of the DNC "hack" played a big role in smearing Russia and linking Donald Trump to Moscow. The Dems claimed that Moscow "hacked" the emails to help Trump win the 2016 elections. In summer 2016, the FBI launched Operation Crossfire Hurricane on the pretext of alleged "collusion" between Trump and the Kremlin. However, Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation found no evidence to back the allegations, which were rubbished by Moscow from the very start as nonsensical.
"The true origin of the Russiagate hoax has not yet been revealed but it is becoming increasingly clear that top executives in the FBI have been involved in an ongoing coverup for a very long time," said Goodman. "APT28 is likely a concoction of Dmitri Alperovitch’s Crowdstrike, which itself is an obvious FBI cutout. Crowdstrike co-founder Shawn Henry left the FBI to create the company, then shortly thereafter received $150 million from Google. Sounds fair enough but think about that for a moment. Google cannot easily hand $150 million to the FBI, but they can invest whatever they want in a startup tech company."
It is not clear if the US public understands the legal games the FBI can play, according to the journalist.
"The FBI’s infiltration of Twitter is the tippy top of tip of the upper edge of the tip of the iceberg," Goodman remarked. "We need to understand just how many private companies and non-profit organizations are secretly working with or for the incredibly dangerous and subversive US 'Intelligence' community. This hidden-in-plain-sight network of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private industry is what is spoken of as the 'Deep State'."
Operation Mockingbird and Church Committee
The FBI's attempts to control and infiltrate the work of social media giants resembles nothing so much as the US intelligence Operation Mockingbird
which was first mentioned by CIA Director William Colby during his briefing to the Justice Department on December 31, 1974.
Later, the issue was touched upon by Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein in Rolling Stone in 1977. Bernstein revealed how numerous journalists, including Pulitzer-prize winners, wrote fake stories and disseminated propaganda at the CIA's behest during the Cold War. The scale of the CIA's huge international media network was described by one CIA official as ranging from Radio Free Europe to a third‐string guy in Quito who could get something in the local paper. According to the US mainstream press, the program has never been officially discontinued.
"It is essentially an extension of Operation Mockingbird," Goodman said about the US intelligence community's collusion with Big Tech. "The revelations of the Church Committee showed us the CIA’s intention. There is no reason to believe they would change. We see these 'retired' intelligence people on the news all the time. It should be obvious to anyone looking at the evidence if the FBI or any law enforcement or intelligence agency is doing anything other than tracking dangerous criminals on Twitter, they should not be doing it."
The Church Committee was a US Senate select committee that investigated abuses by the CIA, NSA, FBI, and IRS in 1975.
Presently, it's not a matter of the FBI getting away with what it has done (they already have), this is "an inflection point like none other in American history," according to the journalist.
"We are in a dangerous moment," Goodman warned. "The United States has become a neofascist technocratic autocracy. The new Congress must take bold steps to shut this down immediately and begin the journey back to the constitutional republic that was established in 1776 or it will only get worse (…) Another thing the Patriot Act created that most people are not aware of is the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force. It is an interagency intelligence-sharing operation overseen by the FBI. Critics say it eliminates the compartmentalization that is in place to prevent the types of abuses that are commonplace today. Without oversight, who knows what these interagency operations are capable of."