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CIA's Alleged Attempt to Control Social Media: Insights from the "Twitter Files"

CIA's Alleged Attempt to Control Social Media: Insights from the "Twitter Files"Revelations from the "Twitter Files": CIA's Alleged Attempt to Control Social Media The CIA is explicitly forbidden from conducting clandestine operations or spying on American citizens within the United States. However, a new report known as the "Twitter Files" suggests that a member of the Board of Trustees of InQtel - the CIA's venture capital firm, along with former intelligence community (IC) and CIA analysts, were involved in a significant effort in 2021-2022 to take control of Twitter's content management system. This revelation comes from a report by Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi, and Alex Gutentag. The "Twitter Files" report, which spans a whopping 6,800 words, suggests that these efforts were part of a larger strategy to control how information is disseminated and consumed on social media. This was done under the pretext of combating 'misinformation' and foreign propaganda efforts. The report suggests that a complex network of government-linked individuals and organizations have gone to great lengths to frame narrative control as a national security issue. The report also reveals that the effort involved a long-time IC contractor and senior Department of Defense R&D official who spent years developing technologies to detect whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Wikileaks’ leakers. It also involved the proposed head of the DHS’ Disinformation Governance Board, Nina Jankowicz, who aided US military and NATO “hybrid war” operations in Europe, and Jim Baker, who, as FBI General Counsel, helped start the Russiagate hoax, and, as Twitter’s Deputy General Counsel, urged Twitter executives to censor The New York Post story about Hunter Biden. Furthermore, companies like PayPal, Amazon Web Services, and GoDaddy were mentioned as part of a concerted effort to de-platform and financially de-incentivize individuals and organizations deemed threats by the IC. This approach represents a significant escalation in the use of corporate cooperation to achieve what might essentially be considered censorship under the guise of national security. Nina Jankowicz, who was tipped to lead the DHS’s now-aborted Disinformation Governance Board, has been a vocal advocate for more stringent regulation of online speech to counteract 'rampant disinformation.' Jim Baker, in his capacity as FBI General Counsel and later as Twitter’s Deputy General Counsel, advocated for and implemented policies that would restrict certain types of speech on the platform, including decisions that affected the visibility of politically sensitive content. Jankowicz, a fan of Christopher Steele - architect of the infamous Clinton-funded Dossier which underpinned the Trump-Russia hoax, and who joined the chorus of disinformation agents that downplayed the Hunter Biden laptop bombshell, previously served as a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, and advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry as part of the Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship. She also oversaw the Russia and Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute. Jankowicz compares the lack of regulation of speech on social media to the lack of government regulation of automobiles in the 1960s. She calls for a “cross-platform” and public-private approach, so whatever actions are taken are taken by Google, Facebook, and Twitter, simultaneously. Jankowicz points to Europe as the model for regulating speech. “Germany’s NetzDG law requires social media companies and other content hosts to remove ‘obviously illegal’ speech within twenty-four hours,” she says, “or face a fine of up to $50 million. ” By contrast, in the US, she laments, “Congress has yet to pass a bill imposing even the most basic of regulations related to social media and election advertising.” In a 2020 book, How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict, Jankowicz praises a NATO cyber security expert for having created a "Center of Excellence," a concept promoted by Renée Diresta of the Stanford Internet Observatory, in which she made the case for the (now failed) Disinformation Governance Board that Jankowicz would briefly head up. One year later, Jankowicz began working with 'anti-disinformation' consulting firm, Althea Group, staffed by "former" IC analysts. Althea notably came after ZeroHedge at one point, shopping a 'dossier' around which suggested we were allegedly contributing to "increased online panic" amid the monumental collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. The outlets they peddled said dossier to included Bloomberg - which elected to exclude ZeroHedge from their report following a brief email exchange. Eventually, one of their operatives dropped the dossier on Twitter, only to be mocked as a propagandist. Their SVB thesis was debunked by a Federal Reserve report which admitted that its own regulatory failures contributed to the bank's collapse. We can only imagine what else they've cooked up about us behind closed doors. Alethea notably secured $20 million in Series B financing led by Google Ventures. Another Alethea Group operative until July 2021 was former CIA analyst, Cindy Otis, who wrote a book called "True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News" - in which she thanks Pieter "Mudge" Zatko - a notorious hacker who was hired by Twitter to "tackle everything from engineering missteps to misinformation," Reuters wrote at the time. According to Jankowicz, "My full time employment with Alethea began September 13, 2021. Ms. Otis left Alethea prior to that period. To my knowledge, she has not been employed with Alethea since that time." "My work with Alethea Group as a consultant (summer 2021) was narrowly focused on my subject matter expertise related to Russia," she continued. "I conducted Russian language translation and provided cultural analysis. When I joined Alethea as an employee (fall 2021) my work was entirely focused on public products: Changes to Alethea’s website, editing public reports, liaising with media, etc." Is Nina lying? According to Shellenberger et. al, "that claim contradicts Alethea’s Statement of Work contract with Twitter, which lists her as “Technical Research Director” for work relating to Twitter’s management of misinformation during the 2020 election, and specifically a “retrospective analysis of how then President Trump or other key figures may have violated Twitters [sic] policies, or otherwise leveraged the platform in a way that may have contributed to key events…" Alethea Group founder, Lisa Kaplan, told us that Jankowicz “was never given the title Technical Research Director, that is a reference to a labor category for a contract.” Added Kaplan, “We respect client confidentiality and do not discuss relationships with our customers. In reviewing Nina’s timesheets she did provide support to one client that I cannot disclose, however I can confirm that while she was employed as the Director for External Affairs, Nina never conducted work at Alethea on behalf of Twitter.” When shown the Statement of Work listing her as “Supplier Personnel,” Jankowicz said, “I have never seen this document before. A statement of work is generally a speculative document that informs clients of potential staffing and work plans. They are usually crafted to allow contractors a degree of flexibility in implementation by listing staff even if they are not assigned to a particular project in case they might do future work for that project. I assume this is what happened in this case. ” In fact, the Statement of Work between Alethea and Twitter was a formal contract between the two firms, signed by Alethea’s Founder and CEO and Twitter’s Senior Director and Associate General Counsel, and the contract specifies, “Any changes to the above listed Personnel must be approved by Twitter in writing.” There is no record in the Twitter Files of any change to the project’s personnel. Jankowicz defended herself, telling Public: "Ms. Otis and I were friends and colleagues prior to my short stint there and remain friends and colleagues. Yes, I knew Ms. Otis had worked — emphasis on the past tense — at the CIA. That does not constitute a ‘relationship’ with the intelligence community. " Mudge Pieter “Mudge” Zatko (Getty Images) Following a phishing attack on Twitter employees in July of 2020 which resulted in Joe Biden's account tweeting "I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000," along with a crypto wallet address (similar fake tweets were sent from the accounts of Barack Obama, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk," 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark was arrested. Three months later, Jack Dorsey wrote in an email: "Mudge signed. " Less than three months later, Zatko made his first big recommendation to Twitter execs: "hire the Alethea Group. " "I feel an external investigation may be quite valuable," he said over the company's Slack channel. "I'd recommend Alethea group for the disinformation angle." Twitter authorized the move. Several weeks later, Zatko suggested that Twitter's legal team hire Alethea for a report focusing on Jan. 6. “We can draw a straight line… between the initial ‘Stop the Steal’ narratives and organizing to what ended up happening on the 6th.” Alethea’s assessment of Twitter reflects the view of its CEO, Kaplan, that online misinformation leads to violence. "As folks can understand," he wrote on Feb. 4, 2021, "there's a lot still going on around Jan 6th and the 2020 election in general. Alethea is a boutique consultancy that specializes on disinformation and counter-messaging operations. They have been working with myself and Yoel [Roth]. " Meanwhile, on March 24, 2021, Zatko emailed a 12-page report pushing for more government-linked censorship - suggesting that "The organizations and people behind this recommendation have the connection [sic] to get this in front of the right people in the administration. " The report is co-authored by Aspen Institute’s Vivian Schiller, who led the "pre-bunking" of the Hunter Biden laptop story, and Hamilton68 hoax author Clint Watts, and is published by the Mossavar-Rahmani Center at the Harvard Kennedy School and NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. Then it came out that Zatko, who pushed Alethea, "had engaged with members of US intelligence agencies... " As Public notes, "Attitudes toward Zatko would be quite different two years later." Zatko turned whistleblower, sued the company, and settled for $7.75 million. He then filed a complaint with the Justice Department, SEC, and FTC, alleging Twitter executives had misled the government, been negligent in protecting user data, and had violated a 2011 consent decree with the FTC. Somebody leaked Zatko’s complaint to the Washington Post, which reached out to Twitter for comment on August 19, 2022. In a shared Google Doc, dated August 21, 2022, called “Comms Statements/Tracking,” Twitter executives fine-tuned the language for responding to the news media about Zatko’s allegations. Buried deep within that discussion was this revelatory sentence: “Without the knowledge or support of management or the Board, Twitter learned that Zatko had engaged with members of US intelligence agencies and sought to enter a formal agreement that would allow him to work with them and provide information to them.” CIA, In-Q-Tel, And Alethea In late 2022, Alethea received $10 million from Ballistic Ventures, whose general partner is Ted Schlein. Ted "provides counsel to the U.S. intelligence community, serves on the Board of Trustees at InQTel [the CIA's mission-driven venture capital firm] and was recently named as a board member of the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee." In 2022, IQT published a report describing its "Disinformation Workshop," which recommended several activities similar to those Alethea has offered, including "Track the confluence of bad narratives." Schlein can neither confirm nor deny... According to the Wall Street Journal, a full one-third of IQT investments were secret as of 2016. The Journal also reported that Schlein had at least one connection to a firm in which IQT invested, and that was over seven years ago. “I do not know Zatko, Jankowicz or Otis. Lisa is the CEO of Alethea and I serve on her board of directors,” Schlein told us. He added that he is not aware of any relationship between Alethea and the IC and that he has no operational role in the firm. “I get the feeling that Alethea is a byproduct of Ted Schlein,” a high-tech entrepreneur told us, “and the CEO is merely a titular head….Without meaningful experience, it's not clear to me how [Lisa Kaplan] received $10m in a series A round.” In March 2022, the Department of Homeland Security made Schlein a member of its advisory council. Here's Kaplan on promoting aggressive censorship: “We have to trust the rules and the systems that are governing us.” On February 21, 2022, at Colby College, Alethea’s Kaplan again promotes an aggressive censorship vision, including punishments for people who spread misinformation, and says “we have to trust” election rules.… We are now approximately halfway through Public's report. As X user Sean Michael Murray accurately observes: "It’s such a well sourced report… and there’s so much context to summarize in this post, it’s best to read it.." So, click here and subscribe to Public if you haven't already to read the rest - including: The effort to infiltrate PayPal, GoDaddy and Amazon Web Services Zatko's engagement with the CIA Who is Zatko, really? Althea in, Zatko out Kaplan's "aggressive censorship vision" "The Big Boss" First Amendment vs. “Information War” CODA This report raises several questions about the relationship between the CIA, private companies, and social media platforms. It also brings to light the potential for misuse of power and control over information dissemination. What are your thoughts on this matter? Don't hesitate to share this article with your friends and engage in a discussion. Remember, you can sign up for the Daily Briefing, which takes place every day at 6 pm.

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