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Thursday June 13, 2024

Twitter Files: Twitter and the FBI “Belly Button”

1.THREAD: The Twitter Files
Twitter and the FBI “Belly Button” by Matt Taibbi. Archive of files published today.

2.By 2020, Twitter was struggling with the problem of public and private agencies bypassing them and going straight to the media with lists of suspect accounts.
3.In February, 2020, as COVID broke out, the Global Engagement Center – a fledgling analytic/intelligence arms of the State Department – went to the media with a report called, “Russian Disinformation Apparatus Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Concerns.”
4.The GEC flagged accounts as “Russian personas and proxies” based on criteria like, “Describing the Coronavirus as an engineered bioweapon,” blaming “research conducted at the Wuhan institute,” and “attributing the appearance of the virus to the CIA.”
5.State also flagged accounts that retweeted news that Twitter banned the popular U.S. ZeroHedge, claiming the episode “led to another flurry of disinformation narratives.” ZH had done reports speculating that the virus had lab origin.
6.The GEC still led directly to news stories like the AFP’s headline, “Russia-linked disinformation campaign led to coronavirus alarm, US says,” and a Politico story about how “Russian, Chinese, Iranian Disinformation Narratives Echo One Another.”
7.“YOU HAVEN’T MADE A RUSSIA ATTRIBUTION IN SOME TIME” When Clemson’s Media Forensics Hub complained Twitter hadn’t “made a Russia attribution” in some time, Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth said it was “revelatory of their motives.”
8.“WE’RE HAPPY TO WORK DIRECTLY WITH YOU ON THIS, INSTEAD OF NBC.” Roth tried in vain to convince outsider researchers like the Clemson lab to check with them before pushing stories about foreign interference to media.
9.Twitter was also trying to reduce the number of agencies with access to Roth. “If these folks are like House Homeland Committee and DHS, once we give them a direct contact with Yoel, they will want to come back to him again and again,” said policy director Carlos Monje.
10.When the State Department/GEC – remember this was 2020, during the Trump administration – wanted to publicize a list of 5,500 accounts it claimed would “amplify Chinese propaganda and disinformation” about COVID, Twitter analysts were beside themselves.
11.The GEC report appeared based on DHS data circulated earlier that week, and included accounts that followed “two or more” Chinese diplomatic accounts. They reportedly ended up with a list “nearly 250,000” names long, and included Canadian officials and a CNN account:
12.Roth saw GEC’s move as an attempt by the GEC to use intel from other agencies to “insert themselves” into the content moderation club that included Twitter, Facebook, the FBI, DHS, and others:
13.The GEC was soon agreeing to loop in Twitter before going public, but they were using a technique that had boxed in Twitter before. “The delta between when they share material and when they go to the press continues to be problematic,” wrote one comms official.
14.The episode led to a rare public disagreement between Twitter and state officials:
15.“IT MAKES SENSE TO PUSH BACK ON GEC PARTICIPATION IN THIS FORUM” When the FBI informed Twitter the GEC wanted to be included in the regular “industry call” between companies like Twitter and Facebook and the DHS and FBI, Twitter leaders balked at first.
16.Facebook, Google, and Twitter executives were united in opposition to GEC’s inclusion, with ostensible reasons including, “The GEC’s mandate for offensive IO to promote American interests.”

17.A deeper reason was a perception that unlike the DHS and FBI, which were “apolitical,” as Roth put it, the GEC was “political,” which in Twitter-ese appeared to be partisan code.

“I think they thought the FBI was less Trumpy,” is how one former DOD official put it.

18.After spending years rolling over for Democratic Party requests for “action” on “Russia-linked” accounts, Twitter was suddenly playing tough. Why? Because, as Roth put it, it would pose “major risks” to bring the GEC in, “especially as the election heats up.”
19.When senior lawyer Stacia Cardille tried to argue against the GEC’s inclusion to the FBI, the words resonated “with Elvis, not Laura,” i.e. with agent Elvis Chan, not Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) unit chief Laura Dehmlow:
20.Eventually the FBI argued, first to Facebook, for a compromise solution: other USG agencies could participate in the “industry” calls, but the FBI and DHS would act as sole “conduits.”
21.Roth reached out to Chan with concerns about letting the “press-happy” GEC in, expressing hope they could keep the “circle of trust small.”
22.”STATE… NSA, and CIA” Chan reassured him it would be a “one-way” channel, and “State/GEC, NSA, and CIA have expressed interest in being allowed on in listen mode only.”
23.”BELLY BUTTON” “We can give you everything we’re seeing from the FBI and USIC agencies,” Chan explained, but the DHS agency CISA “will know what’s going on in each state.” He went on to ask if industry could “rely on the FBI to be the belly button of the USG.”
24.They eventually settled on an industry call via Signal. In an impressive display of operational security, Chan circulated private numbers of each company’s chief moderation officer in a Word Doc marked “Signal Phone Numbers,” subject-lined, “List of Numbers.”
25.Twitter was taking requests from every conceivable government body, beginning with the Senate Intel Committee (SSCI), which seemed to need reassurance Twitter was taking FBI direction. Execs rushed to tell “Team SSCI” they zapped five accounts on an FBI tip:
26.Requests arrived and were escalated from all over: from Treasury, the NSA, virtually every state, the HHS, from the FBI and DHS, and more:
27.They also received an astonishing variety of requests from officials asking for individuals they didn’t like to be banned. Here, the office for Democrat and House Intel Committee chief Adam Schiff asks Twitter to ban journalist Paul Sperry:
28.“WE DON’T DO THIS” Even Twitter declined to honor Schiff’s request at the time. Sperry was later suspended, however.
29.Twitter honored almost everyone else’s requests, even those from GEC – including a decision to ban accounts like @RebelProtests and @bricsmedia because GEC identified them as “GRU-controlled” and linked “to the Russian government,” respectively:
30.The GEC requests were what a former CIA staffer working at Twitter was referring to, when he said, “Our window on that is closing,” meaning they days when Twitter could say no to serious requests were over.
31.Remember the 2017 “internal guidance” in which Twitter decided to remove any user “identified by the U.S. intelligence community” as a state-sponsored entity committing cyber operations? By 2020 such identifications came in bulk.
32.“USIC” requests often simply began “We assess” and then provided lists (sometimes, in separate excel docs) they believed were connected to Russia’s Internet Research Agency and committing cyber ops, from Africa to South America to the U.S.:
33.One brief report, sent right after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early last year, flagged major Russian outlets like Vedomosti and Gazeta.ru. Note the language about “state actors” fits Twitter’s internal guidance.
34.Some reports were just a paragraph long and said things like: “The attached email accounts… were possibly used for “influence operations, social media collection, or social engineering.” Without further explanation, Twitter would be forwarded an excel doc:
35.They were even warned about publicity surrounding a book by former Ukraine prosecutor Viktor Shokhin, who alleged “corruption by the U.S. government” – specifically by Joe Biden.
36.By the weeks before the election in 2020, Twitter was so confused by the various streams of incoming requests, staffers had to ask the FBI which was which:
37.“I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR WORK LOAD”: Requests poured in from FBI offices all over the country, day after day, hour after hour: If Twitter didn’t act quickly, questions came: “Was action taken?” “Any movement?”
38.Wrote senior attorney Stacia Cardille: “My in-box is really f— up at this point.”

39.It all led to the situation described by @ShellenbergerMD two weeks ago, in which Twitter was paid $3,415,323, essentially for being an overwhelmed subcontractor.

Twitter wasn’t just paid. For the amount of work they did for government, they were underpaid.

40.For more on the #TwitterFiles, check out @bariweiss, @ShellenbergerMD, @lhfang, and @davidzweig. For more on this story, read
http://www.taibbi.substack.com
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BOOKS WORTH READING

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"What we priests were forced to endure under the Nazi regime, especially in Dachau concentration camp, is no more than a cup filled from the vast sea of human suffering in the world today," wrote Fr. John Lenz. "It is not this suffering as such that is important. The important thing is to show those who have crosses of their own to bear in life just what the grace of God can do for those who follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ the Crucified. It is no less important to reveal the wickedness of Hell."

The Nazi hellhole Dachau concentration camp held the largest number of Catholic priests -- more than 2,400 -- in the Nazi camp system. They came from two dozen countries, from every background -- parish priests and prelates, monks and friars, teachers and missionaries. More than one-third were killed.

Among the survivors was Fr. Lenz, who was asked by his superiors to write an account of what he saw -- and experienced -- so that it would not be forgotten. This book, filled with gripping real-life stories and eighty photos, was the stunning result and became an immediate sensation.

This work is unique among those written on the Holocaust; it reveals how, by tireless sacrifice amid barbaric suffering, the Church was victorious in one of the darkest times in human history. When the Nazis entered several European countries, many people were afraid to speak up. Numerous priests, however, continued to preach the gospel and the truth about the dignity of life and freedom. Through their courageous witness you will learn about:

The arrest and imprisonment of priests and other faithful citizens
What really happened at Dachau and the horrific treatment of prisoners
How priests ministered to fellow prisoners and prayed unceasingly in the camps
Ways in which priests secretly brought the Blessed Sacrament to the people and heard confessions
Spiritual lessons learned in the face of death and despair

"Only when we are forced to endure the most profound suffering and hardship do we learn how to catch hold of God's hand in our misery," Fr. Lenz reflected. "We learn to pray."
Christ in Dachau by Fr. John Lenz
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700,Bluetooth, Over-Ear Wireless with Built-In Microphone for Clear Calls & Alexa Voice Control,Black
The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard
Unrestricted Warfare: China's Master Plan to Destroy America
Unrestricted Warfare: China's Master Plan to Destroy America by Colonel Qiao Liang , Colonel Wang Xiangsui
Dr. Mary's Monkey: How the Unsolved Murder of a Doctor, a Secret Laboratory in New Orleans and Cancer-Causing Monkey Viruses Are Linked, by Edward T Haslam
Dr. Mary's Monkey: How the Unsolved Murder of a Doctor, a Secret Laboratory in New Orleans and Cancer-Causing Monkey Viruses Are Linked, by Edward T Haslam
Rules for Radicals Defeated: A Practical Guide for Defeating Obama/Alinsky Tactics by Jeff Hedgpeth
Rules for Radicals Defeated: A Practical Guide for Defeating Obama/Alinsky Tactics by Jeff Hedgpeth
How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff, illustrated by Irving Geis. Recommended by Bill Gates
How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff, illustrated by Irving Geis. Recommended by Bill Gates
The Virus and the Vaccine: Contaminated Vaccine, Deadly Cancers, and Government Neglect by Debbie Bookchin, Jim Schumacher
The Virus and the Vaccine: Contaminated Vaccine, Deadly Cancers, and Government Neglect by Debbie Bookchin, Jim Schumacher
Turtles All The Way Down: Vaccine Science and Myth
Turtles All The Way Down: Vaccine Science and Myth by Anonymous (Author), Zoey O'Toole (Editor), Mary Holland J.D. (Editor, Foreword)
Dark Influence: How Social Media and Influencers Were Used to Manipulate the COVID Pandemic
Dark Influence: How Social Media and Influencers Were Used to Manipulate the COVID Pandemic Kindle Edition Affiliate Advertisement