, 20 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
1. So @RonanFarrow and co-author Adam Entous dropped a story in the New Yorker today that I can't believe isn't getting more attention. It's largely about the Israeli intelligence firm Psy-Group and role of 'psy-ops' in our politics newyorker.com/magazine/2019/…
2. Maybe some of the lack of attention is because the story is framed around a fascinating but not consequential example: The use of psy-ops like fake websites and personas, or avatars, in a California hospital board election. The story is also a warning about...
3. The growing number of intelligence experts, especially grads from Israel's Mossad, who are now for hire and are a selling the notion that a fake reality can be created through social media that can influence elections. And buried in the New Yorker story is some new info on...
4. ...the bizarre and tantalizing contacts between Psy-Group, the Trump campaign and some shadowy intermediaries. Some of this has been reported in NYT and elsewhere but here there's some more meat on the bones. So it seems that...
5. ...by early 2016, Psy-Group's somewhat mysterious Israeli owner, Joel Zamel, had cultivated ties with Americans like Newt Gingrich and Elliott Abrams (who, in the small-world department, is our new envoy to Venezuela). Zamel's goal? Create a social media campaign for Trump.
6. Zamel's first effort went through now felon Rick Gates and went up the ladder to Jared Kushner and Brad Parscale, Trump's digital-media guru. The idea was rejected, we are told, and yet somehow... vanityfair.com/news/2018/10/r…
7. On August 2, 2016, just after Trump's nomination, Zamel got a meeting at Trump Tower at which he pitched his proposal to Donald Trump Jr., and where Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious Blackwater, was present along with a dude named George Nader nytimes.com/2018/05/19/us/…
8. Nader was a longtime player in the Middle East with a connection to the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, as well as their close allies, the Saudis. Zamel thought that Nader could tap some of his "Gulf sources" to finance his covert efforts to help Trump win.
9. Team Trump has insisted -- reiterated in the New Yorker article -- that the Zamel-Nader plan for psy-ops and an offer of help from the UAE and Saudis was rejected. Maybe so, but after the meeting something very strange happened.
10. From the New Yorker article: "But, according to the Nader representative, shortly after the election Zamel bragged to Nader that he had conducted a secret campaign that had been influential in Trump’s victory. Zamel agreed to brief Nader on how the operation had worked."
11. "During that conversation, Zamel showed Nader several analytical reports, including one that described the role of avatars, bots, fake news, and unattributed Web sites in assisting Trump. Zamel told Nader, “Here’s the work that we did to help get Trump elected"...
12. The New York article says Zamel showed Nader some reports on how avatars, fake news and bots helped Trump win, and then something strange happened: Nader paid Zamel's company $2 million nymag.com/intelligencer/…
13. Something else strange: in 2017 Psy-Group started making presentations in Washington that employees called the "If We Had Done It" report on the role avatars, etc., had played in electing Trump. A Psy-Group founder said that while Russia got caught, they were "more careful."
14. So....let me get this straight. An Israeli firm want to mount a covert op to elect Trump. It pushes for a meeting to pitch campaign officials - and it gets one. Then it brags about mounting the campaign that it pitched. And at the same time...
15. ...the firm's Middle Eastern ally who said that the UAE and Saudis wanted to get Trump elected paid the firm $2 million! And yet we're supposed to believe that the plan was rejected, that Psy-Group's reports showing what they did was a bluff, and they were paid $2 million...
16. ...for the heck of it. That just doesn't add up. There aren't enough fake avatars on the web to sell a story like that. There's a lot more about what Nader and Erik Prince were up to after the election. I cover some here... philly.com/philly/columni…
17. There's also some other mind-blowing stuff in the Farrow-Entous article, include the work Psy-Group has done on behalf of wealthy donors to discredit the BDS movement on U.S. college campuses. Also, the stunning implications of using psychological warfare on civilian voters.
18. Again, maybe the denials -- implausible as they are -- are true. Maybe George Nader is the dumbest guy on the planet and paid this company $2 million for work it never did. But what if the opposite is true?
19. What if Nader's $2 million came from the Gulf States he said wanted Trump to win? What if he believed the payment was for work that Psy-Group did on 2016 election, and what if Psy-Group really did the psychological warfare on American voters that it seemed to imply?
20. That would be a lot worse than some burglars breaking into the Watergate back in the day. It would be a foreign effort to hijack our election. The worse part? Trump only won by 100,000 votes in 3 states. It may have worked. -30-
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