Carole Cadwalladr Profile picture
Feb 27, 2022 20 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Ok. Deep breath.

I think we may look back on this as the first Great Information War. Except we're already 8 years in.

The first Great Information War began in 2014. The invasion of Ukraine is the latest front. And the idea it doesn't already involve us is fiction, a lie.
It was Putin's fury at the removal of President Yankovych in Feb 2014 that kicked everything off. Information operations were first crucial step in invasion of Crimea & Donbass. A deliberate attempt to warp reality to confuse both Ukrainians & the world.
This was not new. The Soviets had practiced "dezinformatsiya" for years. But what was new in 2014 was technology. Social media. It was a transformative moment. "Hybrid warfare" on steroids: a golden Willy Wonka ticket to manipulate hearts & minds. Almost completely invisibly.
But it wasn't just Ukraine. We now know Russia began another offensive in Feb 2014. Against the West. Specifically, but not exclusively, America. How do we know this? Because the FBI conducted a forensic, multi-year investigation. That almost no-one paid any attention to.
The Mueller Report. You've heard of it. But probably as a headline about how it didn't "prove" collusion between the Kremlin & Trump campaign. We can come back to that. What it did prove - BEYOND ANY DOUBT - was that Russia attacked 2016 US election through multiple routes.
And just *one* of the ways Russia attacked 2016 US election was via the tech platforms. Especially: Facebook. This was a military technique, it pioneered in Ukraine in 2014. By 2016, it refined, iterated & supersized these. Most brilliantly of all, they were entirely invisible
And it wasn't just Russia. Companies such as Cambridge Analytica. Political operatives such as Manafort. Amoral opportunists such as Cummings. They learned how to exploit a platform that was totally open - anyone could do so. And totally closed - no-one could see how.
But also it *was* Russia. That's what the Mueller Report proves. And, again, Ukraine is at centre of it all.(Read @profshaw's thread here. Note walk-on role for Arron Banks's business partner & his friend the Russian spy)
In 2016, we knew none of this. Russia & other bad actors acted with impunity &, in some cases alignment. But now, through the sheer bloody hard work of academics, journalists & FBI, we do know.

But it was complex, messy, difficult. So..We brushed it all under the carpet
We failed to acknowledge Russia had staged a military attack on the West. We called it "meddling". We used words like "interference". It wasn't. It was warfare. We've been under military attack for eight years now.
This failure is at the heart of what is happening now in Ukraine. Because the first offensive in the Great Information War was from 2014-2022. And Putin won.

And he won by convincing us it wasn't even a war.
We fell for it. We said it was "just ads" that "don't work anyhow". And "a bot didn't tell me to vote". Facebook is still an open threat surface. Exploited by authoritarians from Philippines to India to Brazil to Hungary. It's maybe not a world war. But the world is at war.
Meanwhile, in Britain, we're a captured state. In America, the institutions of govt worked. Even in spite of Trump. The authorities investigated. Individuals were indicted, charged, jailed. The hostile actions of a foreign state examined & unpicked.
(Not that it mattered.) The US media & therefore public failed to understand the real lessons of Mueller Report. And in the UK? We didn't even bother trying. We allowed Johnson's govt to sweep 2016 under the carpet. Nigel Farage. Arron Banks. Facebook. Russia. The lot.
But it wasn't 'just ads'. It was war. And it's absolutely crucial that we now understand that Putin's attack on Ukraine & the West was a JOINT attack on both.

That began at the exact same time.

Across the exact same platforms.
And this new front, the invasion of Ukraine, is not just about Ukraine. We are part of the plan. We have always been part of the plan. And Ukraine is not just fighting for Ukraine but for the rest of us too.
And maybe that could be why we've failed to understand Putin's strategy in Ukraine? Because it's not just a strategy in Ukraine. It's directed at us too. And that's what makes this such a uniquely perilous moment. Not least, because we still don't understand we're at war.
If it helps, the penny dropped for me with Skripal. Planned by the GRU - Russia's military intelligence. As was the weaponised hack-&-leak of Hillary's emails. Military doctrine carried out by military officials in military operations. Just like the one now in Ukraine.

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More from @carolecadwalla

May 23
NEW: I'm seeking permission to appeal in the Supreme Court. There's no meaningful free expression in this country if after proving your speech is lawful, you're hit with £££ costs: a devastating ruling that will chill public interest journalism
by @_EmmaGH…
This was filed today in the Court of Appeal. If the Supreme Court rejects it, we believe there’s a strong case to take it to the European Court of Human Rights. ImageImageImageImage
Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights puts an obligation on states to ensure freedom of expression. According to the ruling in this case, it's very far from free: even if you can prove your speech is lawful, it'll still cost you hundreds of thousands of pounds...
Read 5 tweets
Feb 28
The Court of Appeal has ruled.

I've won on 2 of 3 important grounds of principle.

Most importantly, the landmark public interest ruling is intact. The judge's findings of fact are intact. The original judgment holds.

The court found in favour of Banks on a single point
It has ruled that after the NCA concluded its investigation in April 2020, the continued publication of the TED talk caused him serious harm

Only guess what? That 'continued publication' has nothing to do with me! I'm not the publisher. And the court even *acknowledges* this.
The judgment clearly underlines *exactly* why this is a SLAPP. Why didn't Banks sue TED? Or @ObserverUK which first published the words?

And now I've been held *personally* liable for a video published by media org in a foreign jurisdiction protected by the first amendment
Read 8 tweets
Jan 22
It's been a long time but v happy to be back in @ObserverUK today with 2 pieces, both close to my heart. And to launch a new project with @allthecitizens.

1/ An astonishing new claim that MI5 refused to investigate Russian spy's infiltration of Tory party…
2/ Delighted to profile the fierce & brilliant @pevchikh for @ObsNewReview. If you've seen the Navalny doc, she's the woman sitting by Navalny's side as he calls one of his FSB poisoners & gets him to confess to Novichoking his underpants.…
3/ Finally, the story of how the Kremlin captured Britain. And how the UK government covered it up. If you've wondered why no British broadcaster has told the real story behind the Russia Report, please watch this & consider contributing.

Read 5 tweets
Jul 17, 2022
My jaw hit the floor when I discovered Boris Johnson left an emergency NATO meeting after the Kremlin’s chemical warfare attack on Britain & flew to an off-the-books meeting with an ex-KGB spy.

Yours should too.

This is how it happened.
In July 2019, Johnson had just been made PM. And @nickhopkinsnews published 2 extraordinary stories about Foreign Secretary Johnson flying from a NATO meeting to a party in Italy at the height of the Skripal crisis.

The party was at Evgeny Lebedev’s villa. The owner of Independent & Evening Standard.

Hopkins’s first story suggested he’d given his security detail the slip to fly to Italy. Then a Guardian reader supplied photos of him leaving: hungover & dishevelled
3/ Image
Read 17 tweets
Jun 19, 2022
It did almost crush me.

The only reason it didn't is because of my amazing lawyers & the generosity of 28,887 people.

But here's what you don't know. The judgment is *extraordinary*. 117 pages of FACTS.

About Russia, Brexit & the man who funded it.
I was blown away when I read it.

To judge the case on public interest, Mrs Justice Steyn first had to judge if Arron Banks had - as I alleged - lied.

To do so, she examined his relationship with the Russian govt in forensic detail.

We now have this all on public record.
This is what I claimed was the key lie.

The public statement Arron Banks made on the day the Electoral Commission opened its investigation into his Brexit donation.

He said his "sole involvement with 'the Russians' was a boozy 6 hour lunch".

I said this was a lie.
Read 14 tweets
Jun 13, 2022
It hasn’t sunk in yet but…SOME NEWS.

I am so profoundly grateful & relieved.

Thank you to the judge, my stellar legal team & the 29,000 people who contributed to my legal defence fund. I literally couldn’t have done it without you 🙏🙏🙏…
I haven't read the judgment yet but what I can say that the last 3 years have been extraordinarily difficult. Fighting this has been a crushing, debilitating, all-consuming experience that I sincerely hope no other journalist ever has to go through.
The fact that his case was brought clearly shows how our libel laws favour the rich & powerful. I was only able to defend myself because of the incredibly generous support of the public. But this judgment is a huge victory for public interest journalism.
Read 4 tweets

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