The Twitter Files • An Exercise in Tweaking as Opposed to Tweeting the Truth

A Massive & Unprecedented Attack on Fundamental Freedoms

Posted In: Politics, National, Opinion, News, Investigative Reporting, National,   By: Robert E Martin

27th December, 2022     0

As we learn more and more from investigative journalist Matt Taibbi’s  pre-Musk era release of documents contained in the ‘Twitter Files’, the revelations of collusion between the FBI and social media - similar to the WikiLeaks revelations that provided evidence of collusion between Hillary Clinton and the DNC in the 2016 election - confirm and give incontrovertible weight and substance to a frightening reality:  Inventing a lie is easy. Spreading a lie is even easier.   In short, tweaking the truth is easier than allowing people to tweet about it.

Indeed, in the latest release that was dumped on December 26th, it is now revealed that during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Twitter’s leaders bowed to government pressure to censor information that was true but inconvenient, suspended medical professionals who disagreed with establishment views, and relied on bots and foreign contractors to moderate complex scientific topics. (But more about that in our next installment).

Uncovering the truth is hard and the truth will always have enemies. 

What the Twitter Files clearly demonstrate is that Federal agencies such as the FBI viewed the 1st Amendment of our Constitution as an annoyance and an impediment. As Taibbi astutely observes: Twitter was essentially an FBI subsidiary.

In order to fully absorb the significance of this revelation, we need to go back to the 2016 Presidential Election when behind-the-scenes collusion between Hillary Clinton & the DNC was released by Wikileaks, and a pernicious lie about Russian involvement was hatched in a collusive effort to sabotage the election and deflect the damages of these revelations. When that plot failed the objective then shifted to destroy the president-elect’s legitimacy, undo the election, and drive him from office.

Regardless of what one thinks of Trump, as best-selling author of The Russia Hoax, Gregg Jarrett astutely notes: ‘The most amazing part, now that the truth has been revealed, is how widely the lie was believed. What people tend to forget about Witch Hunts is that there are no real witches, but the hunt persists because of an overwhelming and irrational desire to believe there must be witches. The absolute, unshakable faith in the impossible is what makes a witch hunt possible. Trump’s enemies argued he could not possibly have won the presidency absent some nefarious cabal to steal the election. They could not conceive that voters had legitimately put him into office, so there had to be witches flying about. The lie justified their hunch.”

The FBI, we now know, was indeed obsessed with Twitter. Through these latest revelations, we’ve learned that agents sent Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth some 150 emails between 2020 and 2022. Those emails regularly featured demands from US government officials for the “private” social media company to censor comments and ban commenters they did not like.

The Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), a US government entity that included the FBI as well as other US intelligence agencies expressly forbidden from domestic activities, numbered 80 agents who engaged regularly in telling Twitter which Tweets to censor and which accounts to ban.

The Department of Homeland Security brought in outside government contractors and (government-funded) non-governmental organizations to separately pressure Twitter to suppress speech the US government did not like. 

Allow this to sink in: US Federal government agencies literally handed Twitter lists of Americans it wanted to see silenced, and Twitter complied.

As former House representative, author, and activist Ron Paul notes:  “This should be a massive scandal and likely it would have been had it occurred under a Trump Administration. Congress would be gearing up for Impeachment 3.0 if Trump-allied officials had engaged in such egregious behavior. But since these US government employees were by-and-large acting to suppress pro-Trump sentiment, all we hear are crickets.”

What Next? •  Navigating the Slippery Slope of Disinformation & Censorship

Now that we have undeniable proof the FBI (along with US intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security) have been acting through “private” social media companies to manipulate what Americans are allowed to say when they communicate with each other, each of us must begin by asking ourselves - regardless of party affiliation - Is there anything more un-American than that?

What type of freedom have American citizens sacrificed their human, material, and financial resources for across the global hemisphere when the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies view their own citizens as the enemy, instituting the same disinformation and censorship tactics they’ve employed for decades in countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Chile, and El Salvador, to name but a few -  let alone their culpability domestically in the Kennedy Assassination?

The good news is that there is a way out of this mess.

As Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote over the weekend, a new Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll found that even though the mainstream media has ignored the “Twitter Files,” Americans have not.   Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that Twitter was involved in politically-motivated censorship in advance of the 2020 election.

Some 70 percent of those polled believe Congress must take action against this corporate/state censorship.

As Professor Turley points out, although the First Amendment only applies to the US government, “it does apply to agents or surrogates of the government. Twitter now admits that such a relationship existed between its former officials and the government.”

Yet - as if living in an isolated tower on another planet -  over the weekend the FBI released the following statement about their involvement in this domestic coup:  “The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries,” the bureau said in a statement. “As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers. The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”

Tragically and unsurprisingly, mostly all of this FBI communique is untrue, except the phrase about the bureau’s “engagements which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries.”   Future disclosures will no doubt reveal similar FBI subcontracting with other social media concerns of Silicon Valley to stifle free expression and news deemed problematic to the FBI’s agenda.

The FBI did not merely engage in “correspondence” with Twitter to protect the company and its “customers.” Instead, it effectively hired Twitter to suppress the free expression of some of its users, as well as news stories deemed unhelpful to the Biden campaign and administration—to the degree that the bureau’s requests sometimes even exceeded those of Twitter’s own left-wing censors.

The FBI did not wish to help Twitter “to protect themselves [sic],” given the bureau’s Twitter liaisons were often surprised at the FBI’s bold requests to suppress the expression of those who had not violated Twitter’s own admittedly biased “terms of service” and “community standards.”

Yet once again, the FBI and its helpers now reboot the same boilerplate about “conspiracy theorists” and “misinformation” smears used against anyone who rejected the FBI-fed Russian collusion hoax and the bureau’s peddling of the “Russian disinformation” lie to suppress accurate pre-election news about the authenticity of Hunter Biden’s laptop.

The FBI is now, tragically, in freefall. The public is at the point, first, of asking what improper or illegal behavior will the bureau not pursue, and what, if anything, must be done to reform or save a once great but now discredited agency.

This is hardly the first time the FBI has violated the constitutional rights of American citizens. In fact, since its founding the Bureau has targeted political activists and leaders such as Martin Luther King, John Lennon, and Abbie Hoffman, whose agenda was considered “extreme” or “dangerous” by the Bureau’s corrupt leadership.

If we fast forward from the 1960s and ‘70s to today’s political climate, the public has no idea what the FBI was doing on January 6, how many FBI informants and agents were among the rioters, and to what degree they knew in advance of the protests. The New York Times reporter most acquainted with the January 6 riot, Matthew Rosenberg, dismissed the buffoonish violence as “no big deal” and scoffed, “They were making this an organized thing that it wasn’t. There were a ton of FBI informants among the people who attacked the Capitol,”  Rosenberg noted. We have never been told anything about that “ton”—a topic of zero interest to the January 6 select committee.

What are the people to do about a federal law enforcement agency whose directors either repeatedly lie under oath, or mislead, or do not cooperate with congressional overseers? What should be done with a government agency that pays social media corporations to warp the dissemination of the news and suppress free expression and communications? Or an agency that hires a foreign national to gather dirt on a presidential candidate and plots to ensure that there is “no way” a presidential candidate “gets elected” and destroys subpoenaed evidence?

What, if anything, should the people do about a once-respected law enforcement agency that repeatedly smears its critics, most recently as “conspiracy theorists”?

The current FBI leadership under Christopher Wray, in the tradition of recent FBI directors, has stonewalled congressional overseers about FBI activity during the Trump and Biden administrations.  The bureau assumes for now, not cooperating with Republican investigations while Democrats hold control of the Senate and White House for a brief while longer ensures exemption.

Wray, most recently, cut short his Senate testimony on the pretext of an unspecified engagement, which turned out to be flying out on the FBI Gulfstream jet to his vacation home.  Yet the bureau’s lack of candor, contrition, and cooperation has only further alienated the public, especially traditional and conservative America, characteristically the chief source of support for the FBI.

There are currently three reforms that must be considered, advanced, and adopted immediately:

1) Simply dissolve the FBI in the belief that its concentration of power in Washington has become uncontrollable and is increasingly put to partisan service, including but not limited to the warping of U.S. presidential elections;

2) Move the FBI headquarters out of the Washington D.C. nexus, preferably in the age of Zoom to a more convenient and central location in the United States, perhaps an urban site such as Salt Lake City, Denver, Kansas City, or Oklahoma City; or

3) break-up and decentralize the FBI and redistribute its various divisions to different departments to ensure that the power of its $11 billion budget and 35,000 employees are no longer aggregated and put in service of particular political agendas.

As journalist Victor Davis Hanson notes,  “The next two years are dangerous times for the FBI—and the country. The House will soon likely begin investigations of the agency’s improper behavior. Yet, simultaneously, the Biden Justice Department will escalate its use of the bureau as a partisan investigative service for political purposes.

The FBI’s former embattled, high-ranking administrators who have been fired or forced to leave the agency—Andrew McCabe, James Comey, Peter Strzok, James Baker, Lisa Page, and others—will continue to appear on the cable news stations and social media to inveigh against critics of the FBI, despite being all deeply involved in the Russia-collusion hoax.

Merrick Garland will continue to order the FBI to hound perceived enemies through surveillance and performance art arrests.  

So obviously, until these reforms are instituted,  we are left with the dilemma of who watches the watchers?

The federal government has no constitutional authority over criminal law except for cases of piracy, counterfeiting, and treason; and the idea of a national police force with the power to target Americans because of their political beliefs would have horrified the drafters of the Constitution.

As President John F. Kennedy explained after the failed CIA ‘Bay of Pigs’ operation that prompted him to seek to break up the CIA during his second term that never materialized because of his assassination:  “We are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerillas by night instead of armies by day.  “It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific, and political operations.”

With so much happening on a daily basis its easy to get distracted nowadays with the simple battle of attempting to makes ends meet.

But one thing is certain: Libertarians, Constitutional Conservatives, Progressives, and all Americans who still care about civil liberties need to join together NOW to defund the FBI, or reconstitute it so that it serve the will of the people instead of subverting the values and principles of the country it was empowered to protect.

 

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