‘Censorship-industrial complex’

How does it work, click link for video about what was once the Military Industrial complex.

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STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • The United States has been unique in its dedication to free speech, but that Constitutional right has been slowly eroded in the name of national security and protecting public health
  • In 1950, Sen. Joseph McCarthy claimed to have proof of a communist spy ring within the U.S. State Department. The lesson from that time was the destructive power of accusation
  • In 2017, an organization called Hamilton 68 claimed to have proof showing hundreds of Russian-affiliated Twitter accounts manipulated the U.S. election to get Trump into the White House. It turned out to be a complete hoax, but media never updated the public with that truth
  • In 1948, the same year the CIA launched Project Mockingbird, the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act (aka the Smith-Mundt Act) became law, which forbade the U.S. government from pushing propaganda onto the U.S. population. President Barrack Obama repealed this law in 2013, thereby legalizing the propagandizing of Americans
  • For propaganda to be truly successful, especially in the long term, you also need censorship, and in the U.S., this requires the undermining of free speech rights. The undermining of free speech took off at the end of 2016, when Obama signed into law the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, which opened the door to an offensive information war against the public

In a March 28, 2023, article titled “A Guide to Understanding the Hoax of the Century,”1,2 Jacob Siegel, senior editor of Tablet magazine’s afternoon news digest, News and The Scroll, discusses the emergence of the “disinformation industrial complex,” which is the topic of his forthcoming book.

The United States has been unique in its dedication to free speech, but that Constitutional right is rapidly eroding in the name of national security and protecting public health.

Siegel traces the early days of the information war to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who in 1950 claimed to have proof of a communist spy ring within the U.S. State Department. Initially, he claimed to have the names of 205 communist spies. A day later, he revised it to 57. However, the inconsistency is not the point.

“The point was the power of the accusation,” Siegel says. “For more than half a century, McCarthyism stood as a defining chapter in the worldview of American liberals: a warning about the dangerous allure of blacklists, witch hunts, and demagogues.”

Blacklists and Witch Hunts Return

By 2017, American liberals had seemingly forgotten that lesson, as mainstream media pundits accused Donald Trump of being a Manchurian candidate installed by Russia. An organization called Hamilton 68 claimed to have proof showing hundreds of Russian-affiliated Twitter accounts manipulated the U.S. election to get Trump into the White House.

As it turns out, none of these accusations were true and Hamilton 68 turned out to be a “high-level hoax.” Most of the accounts were Americans engaged in organic conversations, which Hamilton 68 arbitrarily described as “Russian scheming.” Twitter’s safety officer, Yoel Roth, even admitted the company had labeled “real people” — again, mostly Americans — as “Russian stooges without evidence or recourse.”

A key difference between the McCarthy and Hamilton 68 episodes was that journalists, U.S. intelligence agencies and Congressional members didn’t swallow McCarthy’s accusations without chewing. When the witch hunt against Trump took off, anyone who questioned the accusations was attacked as a co-conspirator.

Media even refused to report on the evidence proving that Hamilton 68 was a complete scam. The level of disinterest in the truth suggested that American liberalism “had lost faith in the promise of freedom and embraced a new ideal,” Siegel writes.

Propaganda and Censorship — Two Sides of the Same Coin

Propaganda is as old as humanity itself, but the modern version of it can be traced back to 1948, when the CIA’s Office of Special Projects launched Operation Mockingbird, a clandestine CIA media infiltration campaign that involved bribing hundreds of journalists to publish fake stories at the CIA’s request.

The dismissal of conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists as mentally unstable crackpots was one of the tactics invented by the CIA at this time. Its intent was (and still is) to marginalize and demoralize anyone who questions the fabricated narrative.

It’s quite telling that Operation Mockingbird was launched the same year the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act (aka the Smith-Mundt Act) became law, which forbade the U.S. government from pushing propaganda onto the U.S. population.

This anti-propaganda law was repealed in 2013 by then-President Barrack Obama. So, since July 2013, the U.S. government and CIA have been legally permitted to propagandize U.S. citizens. In addition to the simplification of global coordination of news by way of news agencies, this is yet another reason why propaganda has flourished and grown exponentially in recent years.

The undermining of free speech took off at the end of 2016, when Obama signed into law the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, which opened the door to an offensive information war against the public.

But for propaganda to be truly successful, especially in the long term, you also need censorship — a concept wildly opposed in the U.S. until recently — and censorship, at least in America, requires the undermining of free speech rights.

As noted by Siegel, the effort to undercut free speech really took off at the end of 2016, when Obama signed into law the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, which opened the door to “an open-ended, offensive information war” against the general public.

Seemingly overnight, “misinformation” and “disinformation” were said to pose an urgent existential threat to national security, freedom, democracy and, later, to public health. We’re now told we must eliminate misinformation to preserve free speech, which is so twisted that no Constitutionally-literate person can make sense of it.

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The Acceleration of Free Speech Elimination

By repealing the Smith-Mundt Act, and signing into law the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, Obama laid the legal groundwork for government control of speech in the U.S. Since then, a sprawling disinformation industrial complex has emerged, which seeks to control the internet and all information in it.

As described by Siegel, the U.S. national security infrastructure has now fused with social media platforms, which is where the information war is being fought. The national mobilization against disinformation has also been expanded from a whole-of-government approach to a whole-of-society approach.

In a 2018 document, the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) calls for “leveraging expertise from across government, tech and marketing sectors, academia, and NGO’s.” “This is how the government-created ‘war against disinformation’ became the great moral crusade of its time,” Siegel writes.

Of course, media have also played a significant role in the “whole-of-society response” to disinformation, but they are “by far the weakest player in the counter-disinformation complex,” Seigel notes, adding:3

“The American press, once the guardian of democracy, was hollowed out to the point that it could be worn like a hand puppet by the U.S. security agencies and party operatives.

It would be nice to call what has taken place a tragedy, but an audience is meant to learn something from a tragedy. As a nation, America not only has learned nothing, it has been deliberately prevented from learning anything while being made to chase after shadows.

This is not because Americans are stupid; it’s because what has taken place is not a tragedy but something closer to a crime. Disinformation is both the name of the crime and the means of covering it up; a weapon that doubles as a disguise.

The crime is the information war itself, which was launched under false pretenses and by its nature destroys the essential boundaries between the public and private and between the foreign and domestic, on which peace and democracy depend.

By conflating the anti-establishment politics of domestic populists with acts of war by foreign enemies, it justified turning weapons of war against American citizens. It turned the public arenas where social and political life take place into surveillance traps and targets for mass psychological operations.

The crime is the routine violation of Americans’ rights by unelected officials who secretly control what individuals can think and say. What we are seeing now, in the revelations exposing the inner workings of the state-corporate censorship regime, is only the end of the beginning.

The United States is still in the earliest stages of a mass mobilization that aims to harness every sector of society under a singular technocratic rule.

The mobilization, which began as a response to the supposedly urgent menace of Russian [election] interference, now evolves into a regime of total information control that has arrogated to itself the mission of eradicating abstract dangers such as error, injustice, and harm — a goal worthy only of leaders who believe themselves to be infallible, or comic-book supervillains.”

Phase 2 of the Information War — Total Control

The COVID pandemic was a significant part of Phase 1 in the information war, although the war on public perception began years earlier. As noted by Siegel, the COVID phase was “marked by distinctively human displays of incompetence and brute-force intimidation.” Phase 2 will undoubtedly be carried out by artificial intelligence, now thoroughly trained to identify the greatest triggers of fear and panic, both on an individual and societal basis.

We can also expect censorship by algorithm. It will no longer be a game of whack-a-mole with humans tagging posts and requesting their removal. Instead, messages containing certain words simply won’t go anywhere and won’t be seen. Spoken and written key words will be automatically flagged and deleted or barred from posting by AI.

AI-based bots and “sock puppets” (fake accounts) can also be launched across platforms and be algorithmically amplified to alter the perceptions of billions in real time. We saw this trend emerging during the first round of COVID, where multiple accounts were posting the same “original” message, verbatim, at the same time.

As noted by Siegel, the end goal of all this information wrangling is control. Not partial control, but total. Over everything and everyone. This is also why we will never see a government authority admit they spread disinformation themselves, even though, technically, they’ve been guilty of such on numerous occasions over the last three years.

They dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop as Russian disinformation, even though U.S. intelligence had proof that it, and its contents, were real. They claimed the lab leak theory was a racist conspiracy, even though, privately, the scientific consensus was that the virus came from a lab. They told us the COVID jabs would stop transmission, even though that was never tested in the first place. The list goes on.

“Disinformation, now and for all time, is whatever they say it is,” Siegel writes.4 “That is not a sign that the concept is being misused or corrupted; it is the precise functioning of a totalitarian system.”

Partners in Crime

Siegel isn’t the only one calling out the information war as a crime. In another Tablet article titled “Partners in Crime,”5 New Civil Liberties Alliance attorney Jenin Younes reviews evidence from the Missouri legal case6 against the Biden administration showing how government and Big Tech built “a whole-of-system censorship campaign” in clear violation of the First Amendment.

Internal Meta documents obtained by the House Judiciary Committee’s Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government in July 2023 has also fleshed out the story of how state-sponsored censorship came to be the official policy of so many private companies.

The evidence shows that Facebook and other social media companies did not take it upon themselves to become arbiters of truth. Rather, they were aggressively pressured to do so by Biden administration officials, and officials within various federal agencies. Sometimes they did meekly follow the direction given, but even in cases where they tried to push back, they eventually had to fall in line for fear of government retaliation.

“While other lawsuits alleging First Amendment violations based on government involvement in social media censorship have been filed over the past two years, Missouri [v. Biden] has proven uniquely successful,” Younes writes.7

“When the complaint was filed in May of 2022, the main proof the Missouri plaintiffs had were public statements from high-ranking members of the administration, including former White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and President Biden himself.

The plaintiffs cited public statements of government officials unabashedly proclaiming they were flagging posts for social media companies to censor; openly criticizing the companies for inadequate removal of content (especially anything that cast doubt on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines); accusing tech executives of ‘killing people’ for not adequately censoring so-called misinformation; and threatening to hold them accountable should they refuse to comply.

Judge Terrence Doughty ordered discovery at an early stage of litigation … For the first time, the public became aware of the Biden administration’s clandestine censorship operation, which began a mere three days after President Biden’s inauguration …

By February of 2021, then-White House Director of Digital Media Robert Flaherty had intensified the administration’s tactics … He began bullying companies — using expletives, wielding accusations, and making demands — in his efforts to get them to remove content that he claimed might cause people to decline vaccines …

On numerous occasions, Brian Rice and other Meta employees sent the White House detailed lists of agreed-upon policy changes after initial attempts to assuage Mr. Flaherty’s wrath proved unsuccessful.

On July 4 of this year, Judge Doughty granted the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction in Missouri, observing that ‘the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history,’ and describing the administration’s censorship regime as akin to an ‘Orwellian Ministry of Truth.’

Crucial to the outcome was the court’s finding8 that the Biden administration and various federal executive agencies coerced, pressured, and encouraged social media companies to suppress First Amendment protected speech, converting otherwise private action into that of the state.

The core principle at issue, which forbids the government to co-opt private industry to circumvent constitutional prohibitions, is known as ‘state action doctrine.’ Without it, the Bill of Rights would be worthless.

Police could, for instance, hire a private company to search your home despite lacking probable cause, in order to get around the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against warrantless searches and seizures. Or the government could evade the guarantees of Equal Protection in the 14th Amendment by funding racially segregated private schools.

The judge agreed with the plaintiffs in Missouri v. Biden that … since the First Amendment prohibits government from abridging freedom of speech, the Constitution cannot be read to permit government to commandeer private companies to accomplish its viewpoint-based censorship aims.”

Direct Evidence of Coercion

While the initial evidence suggested the Biden administration was the driving force behind the media censorship, it was still circumstantial. That changed in late July 2023, when internal Meta documents were obtained by the Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government.

According to Younes, “These documents tie the knot: They unequivocally establish that but for the Biden administration’s strong-arm tactics, certain viewpoints would not have been suppressed.”

For example, in a July 2021 email, Meta’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, asked Brian Rice, who was in charge of Facebook’s content policy, why they had removed, rather than flagged or demoted, claims that SARS-CoV-2 was manmade.

Rice replied, “Because we were under pressure from the [Biden] administration and others to do more and it was part of the ‘more’ package.” He ended the email saying, “We shouldn’t have done it.”

“Not only did Rice explicitly state that pressure from the White House caused Meta to remove content endorsing the lab leak theory of COVID’s origins, he also expressed remorse for this decision.

These new documents also prove that the removal of ‘vaccine discouraging content’ occurred because of government pressure,” Younes writes.

Clegg, for example, told Andy Slavitt, former White House senior adviser for the COVID response, that removing humorous memes disparaging the COVID jab — as demanded by Slavitt — “would represent a significant incursion into traditional boundaries of free expression in the U.S.” Slavitt insisted and brushed off Clegg’s concerns as immaterial, and in the end, Clegg acquiesced to avoid potential retaliation.

Quid Pro Quo

Younes continues:9

“The White House’s coercive tactics had the desired effect. Both Clegg and [Meta COO Sheryl] Sandberg urged acquiescence to avoid adverse consequences. In Clegg’s words, ‘Sheryl is keen that we continue to explore some moves that we can make to show that we are trying to be responsive to the WH.’

He explained that the company’s ‘current course … is a recipe for protracted and increased acrimony with the WH as the vaccine roll out continues to stutter through the Fall and Winter. Given the bigger fish we have to fry with the Administration — data flows etc — that doesn’t seem a great place for us to be.’

Thus, ‘given what is at stake here, it would also be a good idea if we could regroup to take stock of where we are in our relations with the WH, and our internal methods too.’ The ‘data flow’ referenced a dispute Meta was having with the European Union at the time over transfer of users’ data. If resolved in favor of the EU, Meta could face significant fines.

As Twitter files journalist Michael Shellenberger and his co-authors recently explained in analyzing this exchange, ‘the series of events suggests a quid pro quo. Facebook would bow to White House requests for censorship in exchange for its help with the European Union.’”

First Amendment Seeks to Prevent Suppression of Dissent

As noted by Younes, President Biden had promised to make mass vaccination against COVID central to his agenda. The problem was, a great many Americans didn’t feel comfortable being injected with an experimental gene therapy that had no long-term safety data.

This was an impediment to Biden’s political agenda, and rather than acknowledging that the mass vaccination campaign was ill received, the White House simply scapegoated social media instead.

It was their fault that Americans weren’t rolling up their sleeves in sufficient numbers. Internal Meta emails attest to the fact that employees felt they were being used as scapegoats whenever the vaccination campaign wasn’t going as hoped.

“A government using its power to suppress dissent is precisely what the First Amendment sought to prevent,” Younes notes.

“‘Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved,’ Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers, famously wrote.

The first president of the United States, George Washington, once said, ‘If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.’

Let us hope that when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and probably the Supreme Court, consider these cases in the upcoming months, they interpret the First Amendment as the Constitution’s Framers understood it. Otherwise, the future of free speech, and liberty itself, is in grave danger.”

In closing, while Younes recognizes the terrible threat state-sponsored censorship poses, he doesn’t follow the bread crumbs as far as Siegel does. Younes seems to believe the government censorship network came about to protect Biden’s political goals, but it’s way bigger than that.

Like Siegel states, the end goal is global control. To get there, those seeking that control must create a total stranglehold on all information, because that’s how you best control a population.

What’s more, this stranglehold is global. It’s not an American phenomenon that sprung up because Biden wanted to get a jab in every arm. COVID censorship is happening in every country, and every country needs to investigate what role, if any, their governments played in the suppression of truth.

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/mercola/special-content/dynamic-ending-ad-super-foods.aspx?cid_medium=email

OPINION

Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi warns of the emerging ‘censorship-industrial complex’


‘The ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex’ is just the Military-Industrial Complex reborn for the ‘hybrid warfare’ age.’

Featured ImageMatt Taibbi on the Joe Rogan Experience podcastJoe Rogan Experience / YouTube


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(LifeSiteNews) — With a post on Zerohedge yesterday, journalist Matt Taibbi builds on the revelations of the Twitter Files with an introduction to the Western censorship industry. 

Detailing the top 50 companies engaged in narrative control, the report is credited to Susan Schmidt, Andrew Lowenthal, Tom Wyatt, Techno Fog, and 3 others via Racket News.

A comprehensive guide to the forces arrayed against free speech, the report begins with the dire warning of Dwight D Eisenhower against the power of a growing “military-industrial complex,” which would one day destroy democracy. 

Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Eisenhower would be proud of Taibbi’s work, who with the Twitter Files has done much to expose just how far these forces have corrupted not only American democracy, but have captured the media of the formerly free world. 

As Taibbi says:

The ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex’ is just the Military-Industrial Complex reborn for the ‘hybrid warfare’ age.

This is the reason he has joined this effort to document and expose the institutions who work to keep you safe from the dangers of free speech. 

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A handy guide to the enemies of freedom 

The team hopes that this list will help readers, writers and journalists make better informed decisions about the provenance of their information. Taibbi continued:

‘The Top 50 List’ is intended as a resource for reporters and researchers beginning their journey toward learning the scale and ambition of the ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex.’

The list is in a handy magazine format, noting factors such as funding, the type of organization throttling speech, where they come from and how they do it. Taibbi’s remarks also reveal something of the dark arts – how these and other agents isolate and neutralize people who, in their view, have had too much to think. 

Of course, these organizations are often presented as providing a service to the public good, keeping them safe from the contamination of unsterilized ideas. They call themselves “anti-disinformation” groups, fighting what the RAND Corporation recently called “truth decay.” How nice of them! Taibbi explains how they go about their selfless and principled work – to keep anyone anywhere from developing a think problem.

Taibbi writes:

Many anti-disinformation groups adhere to the same formulaic approach to research, often using the same ‘hate-mapping,’ guilt-by-association-type analysis to identify wrong-thinkers and suppressive persons.

There is even a tendency to use what one Twitter Files source described as the same ‘hairball’ graphs.

An example of a ‘hairball graph’ from the Omidyar Group (no 27 in the report)

The idea of protecting people from free speech is as ridiculous as it is sinister. As Tucker Carlson noted in his recent move to Twitter, without the freedom of speech you have no others. 

It is for this reason it is obvious that free speech is a danger to democracy. Democracy, that is, as it is understood by the people who are destroying it – in order to defend it. This is no paranoid flight of fancy. Taibbi continues:

Together, these groups are fast achieving what Eisenhower feared: the elimination of ‘balance’ between the democratic need for liberalizing laws and institutions, and the vigilance required for military preparation.

Before handing the floor to the fifty foremost agents of information warfare, Taibbi notes an important dimension of the rising power of the censorship industry. In seeking to stigmatize and marginalize any narrative in disagreement with that of the regime and its ideology, it hopes to train the general public to consider free speech a threat.  

It is a form of aversion therapy, where the specters of hate, extremism, foreign interference and misinformation are invoked to warn people off anything that the elites do not want you to see. 

Democratic society requires the nourishment of free debate, disagreement, and intellectual tension, but the groups below seek instead that ‘shared vocabulary’ to deploy on the hybrid battlefield.

They propose to serve as the guardians of that ‘vocabulary,’ which sounds very like the scenario Ike outlined in 1961, in which ‘public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific and technological elite.’

This report is a welcome addition to the arsenal of freedom, with dystopian censorship bills and legal penalties attached to anything the regime defines as “hate speech.” The march of this capture has not been halted by this report, but its comprehensive nature means it is very likely to remain a stone in the shoe of information suppression for a long time.  

The ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex’: Report Names Top 50 Groups Working to Censor Americans

Journalist Matt Taibbi’s Racket News on Wednesday published a comprehensive report on the top 50 organizations engaged in censorship of so-called “misinformation” and “disinformation.”

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Journalist Matt Taibbi’s Racket News on Wednesday published a comprehensive report on the top 50 organizations engaged in censorship of so-called “misinformation” and “disinformation.”

Written by Taibbi and eight other contributors — and dubbed “the citizen’s starter kit to understanding the new global information cartel” — the lengthy report provides a summary profile of each major organization involved in the “Censorship-Industrial Complex.”

Taibbi coined that term during his and fellow journalists’ work on the “Twitter Files,” which revealed the widespread cooperation between government agencies and social media companies to censor information in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (Legal challenges and investigations into social media censorship are ongoing).

The “Censorship-Industrial Complex” is a play on the “military-industrial complex,” a term President Dwight D. Eisenhower used during his famous farewell address of 1961 to warn Americans about the threat posed by the growing merger of military power and private industry that emerged in the wake of World War II.

“Public policy,” Eisenhower warned, “could itself become the captive of a scientific and technological elite.”

More than 60 years later, “The Censorship-Industrial Complex is just the Military-Industrial Complex reborn for the ‘hybrid warfare’ age’ of digital information,” Taibbi wrote.

Credit: Racket News

The Top 50 List,” according to the report, “is intended as a resource for reporters and researchers beginning their journey toward learning the scale and ambition of the ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex.’ … it tries to answer a few basic questions about funding, organization type, history, and especially methodology.”

Most of the 50 organizations profiled in the report use vague language — what the report describes as “gibberish verbiage” — to justify their anti-free-speech activities.

The organizations vaguely refer to combating “hate speech,” for example, and use unusual terminology such as “toxicity monitoring,” “constructive alternative messages,” “pre-bunking” and “malinformation” (i.e. information that is true but intended “to cause harm”).

In fact, their mission is to enforce strict conformity with official narratives on major political, economic and social issues — from COVID-19 to war to climate change.

The censorship capabilities being established by this network of organizations have the potential to be used in myriad ways in the future.

For example, a number of the top 50 groups refer to “climate misinformation” as part of their mission — but the full range of what that term entails is unclear. If local citizens and conservation groups oppose a corporation’s “clean” energy project, for example, can their social media posts be labeled “climate misinformation”?

Meta (Facebook and Instagram) is already collaborating with one of the top 50 organizations — the Poynter Institute, which runs the “fact-checking” group Politifact — to censor posts by citizens and activists that claim a connection between offshore wind development and the death and endangerment of marine wildlife.

Many of the top 50 are nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which according to the report, are funded by corporations such as Google, Facebook and BlackRock, and by private tax-exempt “philanthropies” set up by powerful billionaires, such as the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller FoundationBill & Melinda Gates FoundationWellcome Trust, Open Society Foundations, Omidyar Network and Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

Some on the list are initiatives and programs at elite U.S. universities, including Brown, Harvard, Stanford and Duke.

A U.S. government agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, also is on the list.

The goal of the top 50 organizations is “a new homogenous politics,” Taibbi said, “which can be perpetually tweaked and amplified online via algorithm and machine learning.”

In this “homogenous politics” enforced through digital tools, there is to be a “shared vocabulary” — in other words, conformity — in which no substantial disagreement on the issues that truly matter is permissible.

“Democratic society requires the nourishment of free debate, disagreement, and political tension,” Taibbi said, “but the groups below seek instead that ‘shared vocabulary’” and the cold, hard power of censorship.

Another article as published online.

NEWS

Whistleblower leak reveals ‘missing link in government, private collusion to control online information


What started as a private group of activist censors wanted to ‘become part of the federal government.’

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Calvin
Freiburger

Wed Nov 29, 2023 – 6:23 pm EST

(LifeSiteNews) – The activities of a volunteer “anti-disinformation” initiative that has inspired tactics for official government policy provides the “missing link” between public and private censorship of the internet, according to a bombshell new collection of documents about the so-called Cyber Threat Intelligence League (CTIL).

Writing at the Substack newsletter Public, journalists Michael Shellenberger, Alex Gutentag, and Matt Taibbi detail an “explosive new trove of documents” provided by a “highly credible” anonymous CTIL whistleblower that “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.”

According to the documents, the censorship framework defining the strategies of public and private censorship efforts in 2020 and beyond – including government pressure on private companies to quash objectionable content – was developed in 2019 by a group of American and British defense contractors led by former UK defense researcher Sara-Jayne “SJ” Terp, and that in addition to curbing disfavored content it entailed promoting preferred narratives through a variety of tactics, including the creation of fake or “sock-puppet” social media accounts.

CTIL’s goal “was to become part of the federal government,” according to the whistleblower, who alleges to have been recruited into the project via cybersecurity meetings hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “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.”

At the very least, the group succeeded to some extent in creating what Terp called “Misinfosec communities” with government entities; in April 2020, for instance, then-director of the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Chris Krebs touted the agency’s partnership with CTIL and the “more than 1,000 net defenders from around the world” it represented, ostensibly to “stop malicious cyber activity related to” the COVID pandemic.

At least a dozen and as many as 20 people involved with CTIL were also employees of CISA and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and even temporarily bore their agency seals next to their names in the slack messaging system, according to the whistleblower.

Among CTIL’s fruits was the creation of a strategy framework called Adversarial Misinformation & Influence Tactics & Techniques (AMITT), adapted from a cybersecurity framework by billion-dollar define contractor MITRE. 

AMITT was later used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to counter vaccine criticisms, and earlier this year was formally adopted by the U.S. and European Union as part of a “common standard for exchanging structured threat information on Foreign Information Manipulation and Inteference” [sic].

AMITT is not just about silencing individual pieces of content, according to the documents, but discrediting their authors more comprehensively and even pressuring for organizers of dissenting messages to be denied access to financial services.

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.

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The documents also contain further confirmation that such efforts significantly grew after 2016 as a response to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s loss of the U.S. presidency to an unlikely foe, and the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the E.U., which leftists took as signs of their weakening monopoly on what the general public knows about current events.

“A study of the antecedents to these events lead us to the realization that there’s something off kilter with our information landscape,” Terp and colleagues wrote in one report. “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.”

“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),” the report added. “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.”

Most agencies implicated in the leak predictably declined to comment, but one individual involved in CTIL simply insisted to Public that the group was “unaffiliated with any govt orgs” and “had nothing to do with the govt.”

“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,” Shellenberger, Gutentag, and Taibbi say.

Earlier this month, House Republicans released a report detailing how under Trump CISA and the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) worked with Stanford University and other entities to establish the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), through which requests to censor “thousands” of conservative posts were laundered so as to keep the government’s fingerprints off censorship.

Since then, the Biden administration has at times openly admitted that it encourages platforms like Facebook to take down certain content. Next year, the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear Murthy v. Missouri, which concerns whether the White House’s encouragement of private censorship constitutes a violation of the First Amendment and will have wide-ranging implications for activities like those exposed by these reports.

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