Twitter Files: U.S. Intel Agencies’ Role in Censorship Is Not a “Conspiracy Theory”
The ongoing release of the Twitter Files, as chronicled by investigative reporter Matt Taibbi, has provided an in-depth picture of the role played by U.S. intelligence agencies in a profoundly disturbing censorship regime. The Hunter Biden laptop was not the only story covered up, nor was the illicit activity limited to the FBI.
The most recent tranches make a mockery of an initial defense thrown up by defenders of the social media platform, who argued that, as Twitter is a private corporation, it is not bound by the First Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits government suppression of free speech. Other releases show that the government and the FBI were directly involved in the targeting of posts on Twitter under the guise of “content moderation”.
For example, Taibbi’s post on Dec. 24 cited an FBI official who implicated other government agencies: “Twitter had so much contact with so many agencies,” he reported, “that executives [of the company] lost track. Is today the DOD [Department of Defense], and tomorrow the FBI? Is it the weekly call, or the monthly meeting? It was dizzying.”
According to Taibbi, “files show the FBI acting as a doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government — from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA”. The FBI role “was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary”. Further, “Federal intelligence and law enforcement reach into Twitter included the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which partnered with security contractors and think tanks to pressure Twitter to moderate content.”
The FBI finally responded with a weak attack, stating that “the correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements….It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”
Ah, the “conspiracy theory” defense, hiding behind the argument that routine surveillance should allow the government to silence opinions which go against the prevailing “narratives,” and that any challenge to the government role in suppressing free speech comes from “extremists”. The Twitter Files, and Taibbi’s commentary, confirm what critics of the FBI have said all along , going back to “Russiagate”, when the agency used faked “intelligence” fabricated by British operative Christopher Steele to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016 — knowing that the information was false: namely, that the FBI leadership is corrupt, and engaged in anti-constitutional operations against political opponents.
This is hardly a story that State Department war hawks want out as the U.S. prepares the next “Summit for Democracy”, scheduled for March 2023.