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Dec 19, 2022 50 tweets 25 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter

The FBI & the Hunter Biden Laptop

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
In Twitter Files #6, we saw the FBI relentlessly seek to exercise influence over Twitter, including over its content, its users, and its data.

In Twitter Files #7, we present evidence pointing to an organized effort by representatives of the intelligence community (IC), aimed at senior executives at news and social media companies, to discredit leaked information about Hunter Biden before and after it was published.
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.

nypost.com/2020/10/14/ema… ImageImageImage
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. Image
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. Image
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. Image
9. And yet, within hours, Twitter and other social media companies censor the NY Post article, preventing it from spreading and, more importantly, undermining its credibility in the minds of many Americans.

Why is that? What, exactly, happened?
10. On Dec 2, @mtaibbi described the debate inside Twitter over its decision to censor a wholly accurate article.

Since then, we have discovered new info that points to an organized effort by the intel community to influence Twitter & other platforms

11. First, it's important to understand that Hunter Biden earned *tens of millions* of dollars in contracts with foreign businesses, including ones linked to China's government, for which Hunter offered no real work.
Here's an overview by investigative journalist @peterschweizer
12. And yet, during all of 2020, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies repeatedly primed Yoel Roth to dismiss reports of Hunter Biden’s laptop as a Russian “hack and leak” operation.

This is from a sworn declaration by Roth given in December 2020.

fec.gov/files/legal/mu… Image
13. They did the same to Facebook, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “The FBI basically came to us [and] was like, ‘Hey... you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in 2016 election. There's about to be some kind of dump similar to that.'"
14. Were the FBI warnings of a Russian hack-and-leak operation relating to Hunter Biden based on *any* new intel?

No, they weren't

“Through our investigations, we did not see any similar competing intrusions to what had happened in 2016,” admitted FBI agent Elvis Chan in Nov. ImageImageImageImage
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." Image
16. In fact, Twitter debunked false claims by journalists of foreign influence on its platform

"We haven’t seen any evidence to support that claim” by @oneunderscore__ @nbc News of foreign-controlled bots.

“Our review thus far shows a small-scale domestic troll effort…” ImageImage
17. After FBI asks about a WaPo story on alleged foreign influence in a pro-Trump tweet, Twitter's Roth says, "The article makes a lot of insinuations... but we saw no evidence that that was the case here (and in fact, a lot of strong evidence pointing in the other direction).” ImageImage
18. It's not the first time that Twitter's Roth has pushed back against the FBI. In January 2020, Roth resisted FBI efforts to get Twitter to share data outside of the normal search warrant process. ImageImage
19. Pressure had been growing:

“We have seen a sustained (If uncoordinated) effort by the IC [intelligence community] to push us to share more info & change our API policies. They are probing & pushing everywhere they can (including by whispering to congressional staff).” Image
20. Time and again, FBI asks Twitter for evidence of foreign influence & Twitter responds that they aren’t finding anything worth reporting.

“[W]e haven’t yet identified activity that we’d typically refer to you (or even flag as interesting in the foreign influence context).” ImageImage
21. Despite Twitter’s pushback, the FBI repeatedly requests information from Twitter that Twitter has already made clear it will not share outside of normal legal channels. Image
22. Then, in July 2020, the FBI’s Elvis Chan arranges for temporary Top Secret security clearances for Twitter executives so that the FBI can share information about threats to the upcoming elections. Image
23. On August 11, 2020, the FBI's Chan shares information with Twitter's Roth relating to the Russian hacking organization, APT28, through the FBI's secure, one-way communications channel, Teleporter. Image
24. Recently, Yoel Roth told @karaswisher that he had been primed to think about the Russian hacking group APT28 before news of the Hunter Biden laptop came out.

When it did, Roth said, "It set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack-and-leap campaign alarm bells."
25. In Aug, 2020, FBI’s Chan asks Twitter: does anyone there have top secret clearance?

When someone mentions Jim Baker, Chan responds, "I don't know how I forgot him" — an odd claim, given Chan's job is to monitor Twitter, not to mention that they worked together at the FBI. ImageImage
26. Who is Jim Baker? He's former general counsel of the FBI (2014-18) & one of the most powerful men in the U.S. intel community.

Baker has moved in and out of government for 30 years, serving stints at CNN, Bridgewater (a $140 billion asset management firm) and Brookings ImageImageImageImage
27. As general counsel of the FBI, Baker played a central role in making the case internally for an investigation of Donald Trump

28. Baker wasn't the only senior FBI exec. involved in the Trump investigation to go to Twitter.

Dawn Burton, the former dep. chief of staff to FBI head James Comey, who initiated the investigation of Trump, joined Twitter in 2019 as director of strategy.
29. As of 2020, there were so many former FBI employees — "Bu alumni" — working at Twitter that they had created their own private Slack channel and a crib sheet to onboard new FBI arrivals. Image
30. Efforts continued to influence Twitter's Yoel Roth.

In Sept 2020, Roth participated in an Aspen Institute “tabletop exercise” on a potential "Hack-and-Dump" operation relating to Hunter Biden

The goal was to shape how the media covered it — and how social media carried it ImageImageImageImage
31. The organizer was Vivian Schiller, the fmr CEO of NPR, fmr head of news at Twitter; fmr Gen. mgr of NY Times; fmr Chief Digital Officer of NBC News

Attendees included Meta/FB's head of security policy and the top nat. sec. reporters for @nytimes @wapo and others Image
32. By mid-Sept, 2020, Chan & Roth had set up an encrypted messaging network so employees from FBI & Twitter could communicate.

They also agree to create a “virtual war room” for “all the [Internet] industry plus FBI and ODNI” [Office of the Director of National Intelligence]. ImageImage
33. Then, on Sept 15, 2020 the FBI’s Laura Dehmlow, who heads up the Foreign Influence Task Force, and Elvis Chan, request to give a classified briefing for Jim Baker, without any other Twitter staff, such as Yoel Roth, present. Image
34. On Oct 14, shortly after @nypost publishes its Hunter Biden laptop story, Roth says, “it isn’t clearly violative of our Hacked Materials Policy, nor is it clearly in violation of anything else," but adds, “this feels a lot like a somewhat subtle leak operation.” Image
35. In response to Roth, Baker repeatedly insists that the Hunter Biden materials were either faked, hacked, or both, and a violation of Twitter policy. Baker does so over email, and in a Google doc, on October 14 and 15. ImageImageImage
36. And yet it's inconceivable Baker believed the Hunter Biden emails were either fake or hacked. The @nypost had included a picture of the receipt signed by Hunter Biden, and an FBI subpoena showed that the agency had taken possession of the laptop in December 2019. ImageImageImage
37. As for the FBI, it likely would have taken a few *hours* for it to confirm that the laptop had belonged to Hunter Biden. Indeed, it only took a few days for journalist @peterschweizer to prove it.
38. By 10 am, Twitter execs had bought into a wild hack-and-dump story

“The suggestion from experts - which rings true - is there was a hack that happened separately, and they loaded the hacked materials on the laptop that magically appeared at a repair shop in Delaware” Image
39. At 3:38 pm that same day, October 14, Baker arranges a phone conversation with Matthew J. Perry in the Office of the General Counsel of the FBI Image
40. The influence operation persuaded Twitter execs that the Hunter Biden laptop did *not* come from a whistleblower.

One linked to a Hill article, based on a WaPo article, from Oct 15, which falsely suggested that Giuliani’s leak of the laptop had something to do with Russia. ImageImageImage
41. There is evidence that FBI agents have warned elected officials of foreign influence with the primary goal of leaking the information to the news media. This is a political dirty trick used to create the perception of impropriety.
42. In 2020, the FBI gave a briefing to Senator Grassley and Johnson, claiming evidence of “Russian interference” into their investigation of Hunter Biden.

The briefing angered the Senators, who say it was done to discredit their investigation.

43. “The unnecessary FBI briefing provided the Democrats and liberal media the vehicle to spread their false narrative that our work advanced Russian disinformation.” ImageImageImageImage
44. Notably, then-FBI General Counsel Jim Baker was investigated *twice,* in 2017 and 2019, for leaking information to the news media.

“You’re saying he’s under criminal investigation? That’s why you’re not letting him answer?” Meadows asked.


45. In the end, the FBI's influence campaign aimed at executives at news media, Twitter, & other social media companies worked: they censored & discredited the Hunter Biden laptop story.

By Dec. 2020, Baker and his colleagues even sent a note of thanks to the FBI for its work. Image
46. The FBI’s influence campaign may have been helped by the fact that it was paying Twitter millions of dollars for its staff time.

“I am happy to report we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!” reports an associate of Jim Baker in early 2021. Image
47. And the pressure from the FBI on social media platforms continues

In Aug 2022, Twitter execs prepared for a meeting with the FBI, whose goal was “to convince us to produce on more FBI EDRs"

EDRs are an “emergency disclosure request,” a warrantless search. Image
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.”

Anyone who reads the Twitter Files, regardless of their political orientation, should share those concerns.

Correction: This event occurred on June 25, 2020, not in September. ImageImageImage

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More from @shellenberger

Dec 4
World leaders say they care about climate change, but they don't. If they did, they wouldn't be shutting down nuclear plants and blocking natural gas production. In truth, they're in the grip of an anti-human ideology and profit from keeping energy scarce & expensive.
John Kerry says he wants to shut down coal plants to reduce carbon emissions, but doing so will force Africans, Indians, and others to burn wood and dung, which is far worse than coal. What's more, he opposes cheap natural gas, even though it's what reduces carbon emissions

US emisisons declined 22% between 2005 - 2020, with 61% of the reduction from the switch from coal to natural gas.

Natural gas reduced carbon emissions too much, so "environmentalists" fought to stop it.

The question of whether emissions rise or fall depends on natural gas

Read 9 tweets
Dec 3
Global leaders say they care about climate change, but they don't. They fly private jets while making energy expensive. And now, a new study finds environmental activism is strongly associated with narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Image
Climatism Has Gone From Virtue-Signaling To Vice-Signaling

Hypocrisy is how weak leaders flex their power
The world is making great progress in transitioning away from fossil fuels, but more must still be done, world leaders and the news media agree. The urgency comes from climate change, which is worse than ever. And nobody cares more about climate change than world leaders and the news media.

That’s all nonsense, of course. Fossil fuel use overall has steadily risen, while the largest part of the 22% reduction in carbon emissions by the United States from 2005 to 2020 came from a fossil fuel, natural gas, replacing coal. Carbon emissions peaked and declined in rich nations decades ago and were flat, globally, over the last decade.

Climate change is real, caused mainly by humans, and something we should seek less of, all else being equal. True sustainability requires leaving fossil fuels behind one day. And many, if not most, of the people attending this week’s climate summit are well-intentioned.

But climate change is neither the end of the world nor our most serious environmental problem. Transitioning from fossil fuels to nuclear will take 50 to 100 years at a minimum. And while many of the people attending climate talks are sincere, they are also pursuing an agenda that is making energy scarcer, more expensive, and more environmentally destructive, given the rejection of low-carbon nuclear power and the embrace of wood-burning by Germany and other European nations.

Nuclear makes electricity cheap, and renewables make it expensive. Average household electricity prices in the European Union in the first half of this year increased from €25.3 to €28.9 per 100 kWh compared with the same period last year, while natural gas prices rose from €8.6 to €11.9 per 100 kWh — the highest prices ever. Nuclear-heavy France has significantly lower electricity prices (€23.2 per 100 kWh), while nuclear and hydro-heavy Sweden had smaller price increases than the rest of Europe.

During last year’s climate talks, there were over 300 private jet trips, while this year, German Chancellor Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Vice President Kamala Harris all traveled by private jet, with Sunak, his foreign secretary, and King Charles taking individual planes.
Flying on private jets to a climate conference to announce plans to make energy even more expensive for working people is bread-and-circuses, except there’s no bread, and the circus consists of rich people celebrating their wealth, morality, and superiority.

Consider a recent New York Times real estate article celebrating the virtues of a millionaire couple who bought a second home, a beach home, and demolished it so they could build a larger, $7 million one.

Needless to say, their environmental impact would have been far smaller had they simply kept, and better-insulated, the older house. The best part? The New York Times published the article in the “Living Small” section.

The moral of the story is that it’s no longer good enough for the New York Times to celebrate the ruling class for being rich. The Times now celebrates the rich for being moral, too. “Everything you hate about climate change virtue signaling in the most absurd story you'll read this year” is how Alex Berenson describes the piece.

Except it’s not virtue-signaling, it’s vice-signaling. We have gone from lamenting climate hypocrisy to celebrating it.

A new study in the peer-reviewed journal, Personality and Individual Differences of 839 German environmental activists suggests we shouldn’t be surprised. It found a strong association between environmental activism and “the dark triad traits,” which are Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism, as well as left-wing authoritarianism (i.e., antihierarchical aggression, anticonventionalism, top-down censorship).

“Most of these associations,” wrote the author, “remained significant after controlling for Big Five characteristics, demographic characteristics, political orientation, and right-wing authoritarianism. These findings suggest that environmental activism, in addition to its potential positive outcomes, may also have a dark side in terms of activists' personality.”

Even Greta Thunberg is acting out. In 2019, she melodramatically told U.N. delegates, “How dare you?” accusing them of virtue-signaling. Last summer, someone posted this video of her making fun of that speech.

Please subscribe now to push back against climatism and to read the rest of the article!

Read 4 tweets
Nov 28

Many people insist that governments aren't involved in censorship, but they are. And now, a whistleblower has come forward with an explosive new trove of documents, rivaling or exceeding the Twitter Files and Facebook Files in scale and importance. Image
CTIL Files #1: US And UK Military Contractors Created Sweeping Plan For Global Censorship In 2018, New Documents Show

Whistleblower makes trove of new documents available to Public and Racket, showing the birth of the Censorship Industrial Complex in reaction to Brexit and Trump election in 2016

by @shellenberger @galexybrane @mtaibbi
US military contractor Pablo Breuer (left), UK defense researcher Sara-Jayne “SJ” Terp (center), and Chris Krebs, former director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS-CISA)

A whistleblower has come forward with an explosive new trove of documents, rivaling or exceeding the Twitter Files and Facebook Files in scale and importance. They describe the activities of an “anti-disinformation” group called the Cyber Threat Intelligence League, or CTIL, that officially began as the volunteer project of data scientists and defense and intelligence veterans but whose tactics over time appear to have been absorbed into multiple official projects, including those of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The CTI League documents offer the missing link answers to key questions not addressed in the Twitter Files and Facebook Files. Combined, they offer a comprehensive picture of the birth of the “anti-disinformation” sector, or what we have called the Censorship Industrial Complex.

The whistleblower's documents describe everything from the genesis of modern digital censorship programs to the role of the military and intelligence agencies, partnerships with civil society organizations and commercial media, and the use of sock puppet accounts and other offensive techniques.

"Lock your shit down," explains one document about creating "your spy disguise.”

Another explains that while such activities overseas are "typically" done by "the CIA and NSA and the Department of Defense," censorship efforts "against Americans" have to be done using private partners because the government doesn't have the "legal authority."

The whistleblower alleges that a leader of CTI League, a “former” British intelligence analyst, was “in the room” at the Obama White House in 2017 when she received the instructions to create a counter-disinformation project to stop a "repeat of 2016."

Over the last year, Public, Racket, congressional investigators, and others have documented the rise of the Censorship Industrial Complex, a network of over 100 government agencies and nongovernmental organizations that work together to urge censorship by social media platforms and spread propaganda about disfavored individuals, topics, and whole narratives.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) has been the center of gravity for much of the censorship, with the National Science Foundation financing the development of censorship and disinformation tools and other federal government agencies playing a supportive role.

Emails from CISA’s NGO and social media partners show that CISA created the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) in 2020, which involved the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) and other US government contractors. EIP and its successor, the Virality Project (VP), urged Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to censor social media posts by ordinary citizens and elected officials alike.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of government-sponsored censorship, it had yet to be determined where the idea for such mass censorship came from. In 2018, an SIO official and former CIA fellow, Renee DiResta, generated national headlines before and after testifying to the US Senate about Russian government interference in the 2016 election.

But what happened between 2018 and Spring 2020? The year 2019 has been a black hole in the research of the Censorship Industrial Complex to date. When one of us, Michael, testified to the U.S. House of Representatives about the Censorship Industrial Complex in March of this year, the entire year was missing from his timeline.

An Earlier Start Date for the Censorship Industrial Complex
Now, a large trove of new documents, including strategy documents, training videos, presentations, and internal messages, reveal that, in 2019, US and UK military and intelligence contractors led by a former UK defense researcher, Sara-Jayne “SJ” Terp, developed the sweeping censorship framework. These contractors co-led CTIL, which partnered with CISA in the spring of 2020.

In truth, the building of the Censorship Industrial Complex began even earlier — in 2018.

Internal CTIL Slack messages show Terp, her colleagues, and officials from DHS and Facebook all working closely together in the censorship process.

The CTIL framework and the public-private model are the seeds of what both the US and UK would put into place in 2020 and 2021, including masking censorship within cybersecurity institutions and counter-disinformation agendas; a heavy focus on stopping disfavored narratives, not just wrong facts; and pressuring social media platforms to take down information or take other actions to prevent content from going viral.

In the spring of 2020, CTIL began tracking and reporting disfavored content on social media, such as anti-lockdown narratives like “all jobs are essential,” “we won’t stay home,” and “open America now.” CTIL created a law enforcement channel for reporting content as part of these efforts. The organization also did research on individuals posting anti-lockdown hashtags like #freeCA and kept a spreadsheet with details from their Twitter bios. The group also discussed requesting “takedowns” and reporting website domains to registrars.

CTIL’s approach to “disinformation” went far beyond censorship. The documents show that the group engaged in offensive operations to influence public opinion, discussing ways to promote “counter-messaging,” co-opt hashtags, dilute disfavored messaging, create sock puppet accounts, and infiltrate private invite-only groups.

In one suggested list of survey questions, CTIL proposed asking members or potential members, “Have you worked with influence operations (e.g. disinformation, hate speech, other digital harms etc) previously?” The survey then asked whether these influence operations included “active measures” and “psyops.”

These documents came to us via a highly credible whistleblower. We were able to independently verify their legitimacy through extensive cross-checking of information to publicly available sources. The whistleblower said they were recruited to participate in CTIL through monthly cybersecurity meetings hosted by DHS.

The FBI declined to comment. CISA did not respond to our request for comment. And Terp and the other key CTIL leaders also did not respond to our requests for comment.

But one person involved, Bonnie Smalley, replied over Linked in, saying, “all i can comment on is that i joined cti league which is unaffiliated with any govt orgs because i wanted to combat the inject bleach nonsense online during covid…. i can assure you that we had nothing to do with the govt though.”

Yet the documents suggest that government employees were engaged members of CTIL. One individual who worked for DHS, Justin Frappier, was extremely active in CTIL, participating in regular meetings and leading trainings.

CTIL’s ultimate goal, said the whistleblower, ”was to become part of the federal government. In our weekly meetings, they made it clear that they were building these organizations within the federal government, and if you built the first iteration, we could secure a job for you.”

Terp’s plan, which she shared in presentations to information security and cybersecurity groups in 2019, was to create “Misinfosec communities” that would include government.

Both public records and the whistleblower’s documents suggest that she achieved this. In April 2020, Chris Krebs, then-Director of CISA, announced on Twitter and in multiple articles, that CISA was partnering with CTIL. “It’s really an information exchange,” said Krebs.

The documents also show that Terp and her colleagues, through a group called MisinfoSec Working Group, which included DiResta, created a censorship, influence, and anti-disinformation strategy called Adversarial Misinformation and Influence Tactics and Techniques (AMITT). They wrote AMITT by adapting a cybersecurity framework developed by MITRE, a major defense and intelligence contractor that has an annual budget of $1 to $2 billion in government funding.

Terp later used AMITT to develop the DISARM framework, which the World Health Organization then employed in “countering anti-vaccination campaigns across Europe.”

A key component of Terp’s work through CTIL, MisinfoSec, and AMITT was to insert the concept of “cognitive security” into the fields of cybersecurity and information security.

The sum total of the documents is a clear picture of a highly coordinated and sophisticated effort by the US and UK governments to build a domestic censorship effort and influence operations similar to the ones they have used in foreign countries. At one point, Terp openly referenced her work “in the background” on social media issues related to the Arab Spring. Another time, the whistleblower said, she expressed her own apparent surprise that she would ever use such tactics, developed for foreign nationals, against American citizens.

According to the whistleblower, roughly 12-20 active people involved in CTILworked at the FBI or CISA. “For a while, they had their agency seals — FBI, CISA, whatever — next to your name,” on the Slack messaging service, said the whistleblower. Terp “had a CISA badge that went away at some point,” the whistleblower said.

The ambitions of the 2020 pioneers of the Censorship Industrial Complex went far beyond simply urging Twitter to slap a warning label on Tweets, or to put individuals on blacklists.

The AMITT framework calls for discrediting individuals as a necessary prerequisite of demanding censorship against them. It calls for training influencers to spread messages. And it calls for trying to get banks to cut off financial services to individuals who organize rallies or events.The timeline of CISA’s work with CTIL leading up to its work with EIP and VP strongly suggests that the model for public-private censorship operations may have originated from a framework originally created by military contractors. What’s more, the techniques and materials outlined by CTIL closely resemble materials later created by CISA’s Countering Foreign Intelligence Task Force and Mis-, Dis-, and Maliformation team.

Over the next several days and weeks, we intend to present these documents to Congressional investigators, and will make public all of the documents we can while also protecting the identity of the whistleblower and other individuals who are not senior leaders or public figures.

But for now, we need to take a closer look at what happened in 2018 and 2019, leading up to the creation of CTIL, as well as this group’s key role in the formation and growth of the Censorship Industrial Complex.

“Volunteer” and “Former” Government Agents
Bloomberg, Washington Post and others published credulous stories in the spring of 2020 claiming that the CTI League was simply a group of volunteer cybersecurity experts. Its founders were: a “former” Israeli intelligence official, Ohad Zaidenberg; a Microsoft “security manager,” Nate Warfield; and the head of sec ops for DEF CON, a hackers convention, Marc Rogers. The articles claimed that those highly skilled cybercrime professionals had decided to help billion-dollar hospitals, on their own time and without pay, for strictly altruistic motives.

In just one month, from mid-March to mid-April, the supposedly all-volunteer CTIL had grown to “1,400 vetted members in 76 countries spanning 45 different sectors,” had “helped to lawfully take down 2,833 cybercriminal assets on the internet, including 17 designed to impersonate government organizations, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization,” and had “identified more than 2,000 vulnerabilities in healthcare institutions in more than 80 countries.”

At every opportunity the men stressed that they were simply volunteers motivated by altruism. “I knew I had to do something to help,” said Zaidenberg. ”There is a really strong appetite for doing good in the community,” Rogers said during an Aspen Institute webinar.

And yet a clear goal of CTIL’s leaders was to build support for censorship among national security and cybersecurity institutions. Toward that end, they sought to promote the idea of “cognitive security” as a rationale for government involvement in censorship activities. “Cognitive security is the thing you want to have,” said Terp on a 2019 podcast. “You want to protect that cognitive layer. It basically, it’s about pollution. Misinformation, disinformation, is a form of pollution across the Internet.”

Terp and Pablo Breuer, another CTIL leader, like Zaidenberg, had backgrounds in the military and were former military contractors. Both have worked for SOFWERX, “a collaborative project of the U.S. Special Forces Command and Doolittle Institute.” The latter transfers Air Force technology, through the Air Force Resource Lab, to the private sector.

According to Terp’s bio on the website of a consulting firm she created with Breuer, “She’s taught data science at Columbia University, was CTO of the UN’s big data team, designed machine learning algorithms and unmanned vehicle systems at the UK Ministry of Defence.

Breuer is a former US Navy commander. According to his bio, he was “military director of US Special Operations Command Donovan Group and senior military advisor and innovation officer to SOFWERX, the National Security Agency, and U.S. Cyber Command as well as being the Director of C4 at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.” Breuer is listed as having been in the Navy during the creation of CTIL on his LinkedIn page.

In June, 2018, Terp attended a ten-day military exercise organized by the US Special Operations Command, where she says she first met Breuer and discussed modern disinformation campaigns on social media. Wired summed up the conclusions they drew from their meeting: “Misinformation, they realized, could be treated the same way: as a cybersecurity problem.” And so they created CogSec with David Perlman and another colleague, Thaddeus Grugq, at the lead. In 2019, Terp co-chaired the Misinfosec Working Group within CogSec.

Breuer admitted in a podcast that his aim was to bring military tactics to use on social media platforms in the U.S. “I wear two hats,” he explained. “The military director of the Donovan Group, and one of two innovation officers at Sofwerx, which is a completely unclassified 501c3 nonprofit that's funded by U. S. Special Operations Command.”

Breuer went on to describe how they thought they were getting around the First Amendment. His work with Terp, he explained, was a way to get “nontraditional partners into one room,” including “maybe somebody from one of the social media companies, maybe a few special forces operators, and some folks from Department of Homeland Security… to talk in a non-attribution, open environment in an unclassified way so that we can collaborate better, more freely and really start to change the way that we address some of these issues.”

The Misinfosec report advocated for sweeping government censorship and counter-misinformation. During the first six months of 2019, the authors say, they analyzed “incidents,” developed a reporting system, and shared their censorship vision with “numerous state, treaty and NGOs.”

In every incident mentioned, the victims of misinformation were on the political Left, and they included Barack Obama, John Podesta, Hillary Clinton, and Emmanuel Macron. The report was open about the fact that its motivation for counter-misinformation were the twin political earthquakes of 2016: Brexit and the election of Trump.

“A study of the antecedents to these events lead us to the realization that there’s something off kilter with our information landscape,” wrote Terp and her co-authors. “The usual useful idiots and fifth columnists—now augmented by automated bots, cyborgs and human trolls—are busily engineering public opinion, stoking up outrage, sowing doubt and chipping away at trust in our institutions. And now it’s our brains that are being hacked.”

The Misinfosec report focused on information that “changes beliefs” through “narratives,” and recommended a way to counter misinformation by attacking specific links in a “kill chain” or influence chain from the misinfo “incident” before it becomes a full-blown narrative.

The report laments that governments and corporate media no longer have full control of information. “For a long time, the ability to reach mass audiences belonged to the nation-state (e.g. in the USA via broadcast licensing through ABC, CBS and NBC). Now, however, control of informational instruments has been allowed to devolve to large technology companies who have been blissfully complacent and complicit in facilitating access to the public for information operators at a fraction of what it would have cost them by other means.”

The authors advocated for police, military, and intelligence involvement in censorship, across Five Eyes nations, and even suggested that Interpol should be involved.

The report proposed a plan for AMITT and for security, intelligence, and law enforcement collaboration and argued for immediate implementation. “We do not need, nor can we afford, to wait 27 years for the AMITT (Adversarial Misinformation and Influence Tactics and Techniques) framework to go into use.”
The authors called for placing censorship efforts inside of “cybersecurity” even while acknowledging that “misinformation security” is utterly different from cybersecurity. They wrote that the third pillar of “The information environment” after physical and cybersecurity should be “The Cognitive Dimension.”

The report flagged the need for a kind of pre-bunking to “preemptively inoculate a vulnerable population against messaging.” The report also pointed to the opportunity to use the DHS-funded Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) as the homes for orchestrating public-private censorship, and argued that these ISACs should be used to promote confidence in government.

It is here that we see the idea for the EIP and VP: “While social media is not identified as a critical sector, and therefore doesn’t qualify for an ISAC, a misinformation ISAC could and should feed indications and warnings into ISACs.”

Terp’s view of “disinformation” was overtly political. “Most misinformation is actually true,” noted Terp in the 2019 podcast, “but set in the wrong context.” Terp is an eloquent explainer of the strategy of using “anti-disinformation” efforts to conduct influence operations. “You're not trying to get people to believe lies most of the time. Most of the time, you're trying to change their belief sets. And in fact, really, uh, deeper than that, you're trying to change, to shift their internal narratives… the set of stories that are your baseline for your culture. So that might be the baseline for your culture as an American.”

In the fall, Terp and others sought to promote their report. The podcast Terp did with Breuer in 2019 was one example of this effort. Together Terp and Breuer described the “public-private” model of censorship laundering that DHS, EIP, and VP would go on to embrace.

Breuer spoke freely, openly stating that the information and narrative control he had in mind was comparable to that implemented by the Chinese government, only made more palatable for Americans. “If you talk to the average Chinese citizen, they absolutely believe that the Great Firewall of China is not there for censorship. They believe that it's there because the Chinese Communist Party wants to protect the citizenry and they absolutely believe that's a good thing. If the US government tried to sell that narrative, we would absolutely lose our minds and say, ‘No, no, this is a violation of our First Amendment rights. So the in-group and out-group messaging have to be often different.”

Read 10 tweets
Nov 17
A Stanford group said the government didn’t fund it to censor anyone. But it did. Newly released files show that Twitter, pre-Musk, censored Republicans at the request of Stanford Internet Observatory, and that US taxpayers funded it, adding insult to injury. We have the proof.
After we testified before Congress, Stanford Internet Observatory denied everything. That was a mistake. After months of refusing to turn over key documents, Congress finally forced them to do so. They proved that what we had said was true, and that they had lied.
These guys violated the First Amendment, interfered in an election, and then blamed their interns for it.
Read 14 tweets
Nov 16
A US government-funded group at Stanford said its work was "nonpartisan," but it wasn't. A newly released tranche of files, exclusive to Public, show that it demanded censorship of Republican elected officials, but not of Democrats, for making equivalent claims of election fraud Image
Government-Funded Stanford Group Successfully Urged Censorship Of Republicans But Not Democrats For Equivalent Claims

Both Republicans and Democrats claimed election fraud, but Stanford Internet Observatory and Twitter only sanctioned Republicans

by @shellenberger & @galexybrane
Stanford Internet Observatory Founding Director Alex Stamos (left) and Research Manager Renée Diresta (right)

The US government-funded Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) claims that its 2020 Election Integrity Project (EIP) and its 2021 Virality Project (VP) were “non-partisan research coalitions.” They did not discriminate against Republicans or conservatives, SIO insists.

But a new tranche of SIO files subpoenaed by the House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, Mark Green (R-TN), and Homeland Security Subcommittee for Oversight Chairman Dan Bishop (R-SC) reveal that SIO singled out Republicans for censorship, even though Democrats engaged in similar kinds of inaccurate or misleading speech.

One member of Congress singled out for censorship was alarmed to learn of the pattern. “In striving to silence duly elected Congressmen and prevent them from communicating with constituents,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told Public, “this government-funded censorship network has shown itself to be a far greater threat to our representative democracy than any foreign nation.”

Representatives from Stanford Internet Observatory did not respond to a request for comment.

To see the pattern of partisan behavior, we have to go back to November 2020, when the EIP was well underway.
At 5:58 am, November 4, 2020, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-SC) tweeted, “The Silicon Valley Cartel is in on the STEAL! Censoring our President while DEMOCRATS work overtime to STEAL THIS ELECTION! I need you to join me in the fight to STOP THIS.!” Image
Read 11 tweets
Nov 14
California Gov. @GavinNewsom says he does what he can. In truth, he does what he is told. When told to let people die on the streets, he does. When told to clean up the streets, he does. This is the story of a person who wants to be president but isn't even his own man. Image
All Eyes On What Gavin Newsom Will Do Next Now That Feds Cleaned Up San Francisco

A summit of world leaders has forced the city to shut down a major open-air drug market. Will it last?

by @lwoodhouse
Gov. Gavin Newsom [Getty]

For years, the sidewalks outside the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building in San Francisco’s SoMa district have been clogged with drug dealers and homeless addicts. On any random day, as in the above video that Public shot, you might see EMTs carting away an overdose victim, while swarms of addicts around them continue to smoke meth and fentanyl on the curbside.

But not this week. Suddenly, the sidewalks on 7th and Mission are spotless, as are streets all over the vicinity of the Moscone Convention Center.

On Saturday, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference got underway. On Wednesday, President Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping will be in attendance. So the city has pushed all the dealers, addicts, and tent encampments out of the neighborhood and cordoned off much of the area behind 10-foot fences, creating a Potemkin Village of cleanliness and order.

The sudden change has been head-spinning for those who have watched for years as politicians have promised and failed repeatedly to fix the problem. When now-Governor Gavin Newsom was elected San Francisco’s mayor almost exactly twenty years ago, he pledged to end chronic homelessness in the city within a decade. We’re now 10 years out from that deadline and the problem has only gotten worse.

“Open-air drug dealing and using has been going on for years without the city taking necessary action,” said Randy Shaw, head of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. “It’s not meaningfully better today than when Mayor Breed issued her Emergency Declaration for the Tenderloin two years ago.”

But then last week, seemingly overnight, one of the largest concentrations of open-air drug dealing and public camping in the city, in the SoMa district, vanished into thin air. The crackdown was, in part, to accommodate President Xi, one of the most singularly responsible people alive for the addiction crisis city workers were working double time to conceal. The fentanyl on America’s city streets is manufactured by Mexican drug cartels out of precursor chemicals created in legal, above-ground Chinese labs. China has allowed its lethal fentanyl industry to persist and thrive, in a kind of Opium War in reverse. “Whereas China has gone to war with other drugs that have a demand in China, such as methamphetamines,” New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith said in 2018, “it has conspicuously failed to launch a similar crackdown on fentanyl, which has no demand in China.”

Yet somehow, Xi’s arrival in San Francisco changed everything. How did the city suddenly achieve what it has been unable to accomplish for decades? And will things return to how they were as soon as the heads of state leave town? Or is there room for optimism?
Please subscribe now to hold California's leaders accountable, and to read the rest of the story!

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