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Weekend Read: HILLSDALE’S IMPRIMIS -The Twitter Files Reveal an Existential Threat

Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter last October and the subsequent reporting on the Twitter Files by journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and a handful of others beginning in early December is one of the most important news stories of our time. The Twitter Files story encompasses, and to a large extent connects, every major political scandal of the Trump-Biden era. Put simply, the Twitter Files reveal an unholy alliance between Big Tech and the deep state designed to throttle free speech and maintain an official narrative through censorship and propaganda. This should not just disturb us, it should also prod us to action in defense of the First Amendment, free and fair elections, and indeed our country.

After Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter, he fired a slew of useless or insubordinate employees, instituted new content moderation policies, and tried to reform a woke corporate culture that bordered (and still borders) on parody. In the process, Musk coordinated with Taibbi and Weiss on the publication of a series of stories based on internal Twitter documents related to an array of major political events going back years: the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, Twitter’s secret policy of shadow banning, President Trump’s suspension from Twitter after the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot, the co-opting of Twitter by the FBI to suppress “election disinformation” ahead of the 2020 election, Twitter’s involvement in a Pentagon overseas psy-op campaign, its silencing of dissent from the official Covid narrative, its complicity in the Russiagate hoax, and its gradual capitulation to the direct involvement of the U.S. intelligence community—with the FBI as a go-between—in content moderation.

As Taibbi has written, the Twitter Files “show the FBI acting as 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 Twitter Files contain multitudes, but for the sake of brevity let us consider just three installments and their related implications: the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story, the suspension of Trump, and the deputization of Twitter by the FBI. Together, these stories reveal not just a social media company willing to do the bidding of an out-of-control federal bureaucracy, but a federal bureaucracy openly hostile to the First Amendment.

Hunter Biden’s Laptop

On October 14, 2020, the New York Post published its first major exposé based on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, which had been dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop in April 2019 and never picked up. It was the first of several stories detailing Biden family corruption and revealing the close involvement of Joe Biden in his son’s foreign business ventures in the years during and after Biden’s vice presidency. Hunter, although doing no real work, was making tens of millions of dollars from foreign companies in places like Ukraine and China. The Post’s bombshell reporting shined a bright light on what was happening.

According to the emails on the laptop, Hunter introduced then-Vice President Biden to a top executive at Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that was paying Hunter (who had no credentials or experience in the energy business) up to $50,000 a month to sit on its board. Soon after this meeting, Vice President Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor investigating the company. In an earlier email, a top Burisma executive asked Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” to benefit the company. The Post’s ensuing stories revealed more of the same: a shocking level of corruption and influence-peddling by Hunter Biden, whose emails suggest his father was closely connected to his overseas business ventures. Indeed, those ventures appear to consist entirely of Hunter providing access to Joe Biden.

Twitter did everything in its power to suppress the Biden story. It removed links to the Post’s reporting, appended warnings that they might be “unsafe,” and prevented users from sharing them via direct message—a restriction previously reserved for child pornography and other extreme cases. In an extraordinary step, Twitter also locked the Post’s account and the accounts of anyone who shared links to its reporting, including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. These actions were justified under the pretext that the stories violated Twitter’s hacked-materials policy, even though there was no evidence, then or now, that anything on the laptop was hacked.

Twitter executives at the highest levels were directly involved in these decisions. Former head of Legal, Policy, and Trust Vijaya Gadde, the company’s chief censor, played a key role, as did former head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth. Oddly, all this seems to have been done without the knowledge of Twitter’s then-CEO Jack Dorsey. And it was done despite internal pushback from other departments.

“I’m struggling to understand the policy basis for marking this as unsafe,” wrote a Twitter communications executive in an email to Gadde and Roth. “Can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?” asked former VP of Global Communications Brandon Borman. His question was answered by Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker—a former top lawyer for the FBI and the most powerful member of a growing cadre of former FBI employees working at Twitter—who said that “caution is warranted” and that some facts “indicate the materials may have been hacked.”

But there were no such facts, as Baker and other top Twitter executives knew at the time. The laptop was exactly what the Post said it was, and every fact the Post reported was accurate. Other major media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post would begrudgingly admit as much 18 months later, after Joe Biden was ensconced in the White House.

If there were no hacked materials in the Post’s reporting, why did Twitter immediately react as if there were? Because long before the Post published its first laptop story, there had been an organized effort by the intelligence community to discredit leaked information about Hunter Biden. The laptop, after all, had been in federal custody since the previous December, when the FBI seized it from the computer repair shop. So the FBI knew very well that it contained evidence of straightforward criminal activity (such as illicit drug use) as well as of corruption and influence-peddling.

The evening before the Post ran its first story on the laptop, FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sent ten documents to Roth at Twitter through a special one-way communications channel the FBI had established with the company. For months, the FBI and other federal intelligence agencies had been priming Roth to dismiss news reports about Hunter Biden ahead of the 2020 election as “hack-and-leak” operations by state actors. They had done the same thing with Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted as much to Joe Rogan in an August 2022 podcast. As Michael Shellenberger reported in the seventh installment of the Twitter Files, the FBI repeatedly asked Roth and others at Twitter about foreign influence operations on the platform and were repeatedly told there were none of any significance. The FBI also routinely pressured Twitter to hand over data outside the normal search warrant process, which Twitter at first resisted.

In July 2020, Chan arranged for Twitter executives to get top secret security clearances so the FBI could share intelligence about possible threats to the upcoming presidential election. The next month, Chan sent Roth information about a Russian hacking group called APT28. Roth later said that when the Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop broke, “It set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack-and-leak campaign alarm bells.” Even though there was never any evidence that anything on the laptop was hacked, Roth reacted to it just as the FBI had conditioned him to do, using the company’s hacked-materials policy to suppress the story as soon as it appeared, just as the agency suggested it would, less than a month before the election.

Suspending the President

The erosion of Twitter’s content moderation standards would continue after the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, reaching its apogee on January 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol riot. That is when Twitter made the extraordinary decision to suspend President Trump, even though he had not violated any Twitter policies. As the Twitter Files show, the suspension came amid ongoing interactions with federal agencies—interactions that were increasing in frequency in the months leading up to the 2020 election, during which Roth was meeting weekly with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. As the election neared, Twitter’s unevenly applied, rules-based content moderation policies would steadily deteriorate.

Content moderation on Twitter had always been an unstable mix of automatic enforcement of rules and subjective interventions by top executives, most of whom used Twitter’s censorship tools to diminish the reach of Trump and others on the right through shadow banning and other means. But that was changing. As Taibbi wrote in the third installment of the Twitter Files: “As the election approached, senior executives—perhaps under pressure from federal agencies, with whom they met more as time progressed—increasingly struggled with rules, and began to speak of ‘vios’ [violations] as pretexts to do what they’d likely have done anyway.”

After January 6, Twitter jettisoned even the appearance of a rules-based moderation policy, suspending Trump for a pair of tweets that top executives falsely claimed were violations of Twitter’s terms of service. The first, sent early in the morning on January 8, stated: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” The second, sent about an hour later, simply stated that Trump would not be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

That same day, key Twitter staffers correctly determined that Trump’s tweets did not constitute incitement of violence or violate any other Twitter policies. But pressure kept building from people like Gadde, who wanted to know whether the tweets amounted to “coded incitement to further violence.” Some suggested that Trump’s first tweet might have violated the company’s policy on the glorification of violence. Internal discussions then took an even more bizarre turn. Members of Twitter’s “scaled enforcement team” reportedly viewed Trump “as the leader of a terrorist group responsible for violence/deaths comparable to Christchurch shooter or Hitler and on that basis and on the totality of his Tweets, he should be de-platformed.”

Later on the afternoon of January 8, Twitter announced Trump’s permanent suspension “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”—a nonsense phrase that corresponded to no written Twitter policy. The suspension of a sitting head of state was unprecedented. Twitter had never taken such a step, even with heads of state in Nigeria and Ethiopia who actually had incited violence. Internal deliberations unveiled by the Twitter Files show that Trump’s suspension was partly justified based on the “overall context and narrative” of Trump’s words and actions—as one executive put it—“over the course of the election and frankly last 4+ years.”

That is, it was not anything Trump said or did; it was that Twitter’s censors wanted to blame the President for everything that happened on January 6 and remove him from the platform. To do that, they were willing to shift the entire intellectual framework of content moderation from the enforcement of objective rules to the consideration of “context and narrative,” thereby allowing executives to engage in what amounts to viewpoint discrimination.

Private companies, of course, for the most part have the right to engage in viewpoint discrimination—something the government is prohibited from doing by the First Amendment. The problem is that when Twitter suspended Trump, it was operating less like a private company than like an extension of the federal government.


Among the most shocking revelations of the Twitter Files is the extent to which federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies came to view Twitter as a tool for censorship and narrative control. In part six of the Twitter Files, Taibbi chronicles the “constant and pervasive” contact between the FBI and Twitter after January 2020, “as if [Twitter] were a subsidiary.” In particular, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security wanted Twitter to censor tweets and lock accounts it believed were engaged in “election misinformation,” and would regularly send the company content it had pre-flagged for moderation, essentially dragooning Twitter into what would otherwise be illegal government censorship. Taibbi calls it a “master-canine” relationship. When requests for censorship came in from the feds, Twitter obediently complied—even when the tweets in question were clearly jokes or posted on accounts with few followers.

Some Twitter executives were unsure what to make of this relationship. Policy Director Nick Pickles at one point asked how he should refer to the company’s cooperation with federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, suggesting it be described in terms of “partnerships.” Time and again, federal agencies stressed the need for close collaboration with their “private sector partners,” using the alleged interference by Russia in the 2016 election as the pretext for a massive government surveillance and censorship regime operating from inside Twitter.

Requests for content moderation, which increasingly resembled demands, came not only from the FBI and DHS, but also from a tangled web of other federal agencies, contractors, and government-affiliated think tanks such as the Election Integrity Project at Stanford University. As Taibbi writes, the lines between government and its “partners” in this effort were “so blurred as to be meaningless.”

The Deputization of Twitter

After the 2016 election, both Twitter and Facebook faced pressure from Democrats and their media allies to root out Russian “election meddling” under the thoroughly debunked theory that a Moscow-based social media influence operation was responsible for Trump’s election victory. In reality, Russia’s supposed meddling amounted to a minuscule ad buy on Facebook and a handful of Twitter bots. But the truth was not acceptable to Democrats, the media, or the anti-Trump federal bureaucracy.

In 2017, Twitter came under tremendous pressure to “keep producing material” on Russian interference, and in response it created a Russia Task Force to hunt for accounts tied to Moscow’s Internet Research Agency. The task force did not find much. Out of some 2,700 accounts reviewed, only two came back as significant, and one of those was Russia Today, a state-backed news outlet. But in the face of bad press and threats from Democrats in Congress, Twitter executives decided to go along with the official narrative and pretend they had a Russia problem. To placate Washington and avoid costly new regulations, they pledged to “work with [members of Congress] on their desire to legislate.” When someone in Congress leaked the list of the 2,700 accounts Twitter’s task force had reviewed, the media exploded with stories suggesting that Twitter was swarming with Russian bots—and Twitter continued to go along.

After that, as described by Taibbi, “This cycle—threatened legislation wedded to scare headlines pushed by congressional/intel sources, followed by Twitter caving to [content] moderation asks—[came to] be formalized in partnerships with federal law enforcement.”

Late in 2017, Twitter quietly adopted a new policy. In public, it would say that all content moderation took place “at [Twitter’s] sole discretion.” But its internal guidance would stipulate censorship of anything “identified by the U.S. intelligence community as a state-sponsored entity conducting cyber-operations.” Thus Twitter increasingly allowed the intelligence community, the State Department, and a dizzying array of federal and state agencies to submit content moderation requests through the FBI, which Chan suggested could function as “the belly button of the [U.S. government].” These requests would grow and intensify during the Covid pandemic and in the run-up to the 2020 election.

By 2020, there was a torrent of demands for censorship, sometimes with no explanation—just an Excel spreadsheet with a list of accounts to be banned. These demands poured in from FBI offices all over the country, overwhelming Twitter staff. Eventually the government would pay Twitter $3.4 million in compensation. It was a pittance considering the work Twitter did at the government’s behest, but the payment illustrated a stark reality: Twitter, a leading gatekeeper of the digital public square and arguably the most powerful social media platform in the world, had become a subcontractor for the U.S. intelligence community.


The Twitter Files have revealed or confirmed three important truths about social media and the deep state.

First, the entire concept of “content moderation” is a euphemism for censorship by social media companies that falsely claim to be neutral and unbiased. To the extent they exercise a virtual monopoly on public discourse in the digital era, we should stop thinking of them as private companies that can “do whatever they want,” as libertarians are fond of saying. The companies’ content moderation policies are at best a flimsy justification for banning or blocking whatever their executives do not like. At worst, they provide cover for a policy of pervasive government censorship.

Second, Twitter was taking marching orders from a deep state security apparatus that was created to fight terrorists, not to censor or manipulate public discourse. To the extent that the deep state is using social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to subvert the First Amendment and run information psy-ops on the American public, these companies have become malevolent government actors. As a policy matter, the hands-off, laissez-faire regulatory approach we have taken to them should come to an immediate end.

Third, the administrative state has metastasized into a destructive deep state that threatens to bring about the collapse of America’s constitutional system within our lifetimes. Emblematic of the threat is the fact that “the intelligence community” has proven itself incapable of not interfering in American elections. The FBI in particular has directly meddled in the last two presidential elections to a degree that should call into question its continued existence. Indeed, the FBI’s post-9/11 transformation from a law enforcement agency to a counter-terrorism and intelligence-gathering agency with seemingly limitless remit has been a disaster for civil liberties and the First Amendment. We need either to impose radical reforms or scrap it entirely and start over.

The late great political scientist Angelo Codevilla argued that our response to 9/11 was completely wrong. Instead of erecting a sprawling security and surveillance apparatus to detect and disrupt potential terrorist plots, we should have issued an ultimatum to the regimes that were harboring Al Qaeda: you make war on these terrorists and bring them to justice or we will make war on you. The reason not to do what we did, Codevilla argued, is that a security and surveillance apparatus powerful and pervasive enough to do what we wanted it to do was incompatible with a free society. It might defeat the terrorists, but it would eventually be turned on the American people.

The Twitter Files leave little doubt that Codevilla’s prediction has come to pass. The question we face now is whether the American people and their elected representatives will fight back. The fate of the republic rests on the answer.

The FBI Must Be Disbanded

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

It is not often this column takes a position that is at least semi-quixotic, but sometimes one must take a stand and hope that some others join the cause. The FBI is so out of control and counter to its real mission that a new agency needs to be formed with new leaders, new personnel, and a revised mission.

The FBI is akin to a federal police force, meaning a group of detectives enforce federal laws while working in conjunction with municipal and state law enforcement, particularly where criminal activities cross state borders.

Recently the agency’s mission has significantly changed.

9/11 was the catalyst for the organization’s change. Robert Mueller took over as FBI director on September 4, 2001. To state the obvious, the events soon after were a startling beginning to his career (as the agency’s sixth director).

As he stated in his presentation to a House subcommittee on September 14, 2006, “After the September 11 attacks on America, the FBI priorities shifted dramatically. Our top priority became the prevention of another terrorist attack. Today, our top three priorities—counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber security—are all national security related. To that end, we have made a number of changes in the Bureau, both in structure and in the way we do business. We have recently announced the realignment of our organizational structure to create five branches: National Security, Criminal Investigations, Science and Technology, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and Human Resources.”

What we did not need was another CIA-like operation as there are sixteen of them already. What we do need from the FBI is to focus on the basics of law enforcement.

The problem came to the forefront during the directorship of Mueller’s successor, James Comey. He became infamous not for taking on Donald Trump, with whom he went to war, but for his opponent in the presidential election, Hillary Clinton. He held a news conference telling America about the problems with her elicit computer system which was outside the bounds of her appointed governmental position and should never have existed.

After telling us of her misdeeds, he did not turn the case over to the Justice Department. Instead, he made the stunning statement, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” As a cop he now became a prosecutor and kneecapped any attempt by the DOJ to evaluate the strength of any case and whether it should be brought.

Matters have since escalated since due to the war with Trump and the various high-level FBI employees like Peter Strzok and his paramour, Lisa Page, working to undermine President Trump and others through their political agendas.

You have to wonder why the FBI offered $1 million of our money to Christopher Steele “to prove his explosive claims” in what has become known as the Steele Dossier. Of course, he was never able to validate the dossier and did not get the money. The FBI thereafter used the disproved dossier disinformation to request warrants from the FISA court.

Then there is the amazing case of the Hunter Biden laptop. They seized the laptop from the owner of a computer repair shop where it was abandoned. They sat on it for almost a year until the owner turned a copy of the laptop hard drive over to Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani then provided a copy of the hard drive’s contents to the oldest newspaper in America, The New York Post.

That is when the world (at least the part of the world interested in finding out the truth about what is on the computer) met Tony Bobulinski. He is the only real businessman involved in the Biden business dealings. He validated the authenticity of what was on the laptop with his own copies of emails in which he was included. Yet in further evidence of the politicization of the FBI, they met with him once and never followed up. They did not want to know what he knew because that would validate the very questionable behavior of the family Biden and help his opponent.

This was not a last-minute dirty trick because it was not a dirty trick at all. Since they had this laptop in 2019, they could have easily brought forth the information early in the election cycle and not been seen as partisan. Instead, they hid it and thus suppressed the truth.

The Twitter Files have provided an entirely new twist as we have learned that the FBI corralled Twitter from the inside. We have come to find out that James Baker — who gave an FBI hall pass to Michael Sussman (Hillary’s campaign lawyer in 2016) — was now in a pivotal position at Twitter. He and his cluster of former FBI agents were behind killing the laptop story in coordination with current members of the FBI. Along with other acts of suppression of Twitter members, it is now clear there were violations of the First Amendment. The current FBI has lied about why they paid Twitter $3.5 million of our money to silence voices on the platform.

If the FBI were not slanted, then what is the explanation for the disparate treatment of pro-life vs. pro-choice individuals? Person after person who peacefully protested at abortion clinics is having their homes raided months later by a team of heavily armed FBI agents. While since the Dobbs ruling overturned Roe v Wade there have been 230 attacks on churches and pregnancy centers and not one person has been arrested. Recently, the FBI offered a $25,000 reward for information on these cases. Then they finally charged two people. This seems like a mirage to appear as if they are actually interested in pursuing these cases. I blind man can see there is something wrong here.

We keep hearing about the fact that agents in the field are really good people; it is just the folks running the operation in Washington who are the “bad apples.” How could the field agents not have been affected by the attitudes and positions taken by the FBI leadership? If they are such fine people, why have none publicly resigned? The only ones we now know who left are the ones who went to Twitter to create a cabal to suppress free speech.

The current director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, has been an unmitigated disaster. Trump appointed him to clean up the operation and he has done nothing. Under his regime errant agents were not fired, the Hunter Biden laptop story was buried, and the manipulation of social media occurred. The protection of the organization was paramount instead of the protection of the Constitution.

In the recent boondoggle, omni-bust us bill, $400 million was allocated for new FBI headquarters. This is a perfect time for a clean break. Start a new agency with a clear agenda that takes the organization back to its roots, focusing the efforts on law enforcement and the protection of constitutional norms.

Trash this deeply misguided, dangerously out-of-control organization.


This article first appeared in FlashReport and is reproduced with permission from the author.

FBI Paid Twitter $3.4M for Censorship Operation, Bureau Alumni Packed Payroll

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

So Twitter wasn’t just a “subsidiary” of the FBI, as the Twitter Files Part 6 revealed. It was a handsomely paid subsidiary, which might explain why it acted so quickly to crush the Hunter Biden laptop story at the FBI’s behest.

From Michael Shellenberger’s Twitter Files Part 7, we now know that the FBI pushed Twitter to suppress the laptop story when it almost surely knew it was not “Russian disinformation,” and Twitter complied within hours.

Once again in those files, we see the names of San Francisco FBI man Elvis Chan and his boon companion at Twitter, the hate-Trump homosexual enforcer Yoel Roth.

The Bureau paid Twitter more than $3 million to censor posts the FBI didn’t like. And Twitter employed more than a few former agents.

Yet the FBI’s possibly illegal activities began on December 19, 2019, when it issued a subpoena for the laptop that Hunter Biden left at John Paul Mac Isaac’s repair shop in Delaware, Shellenberber explained. By August 2020, because the FBI hadn’t contacted him again, Isaac emailed Rudy Giuliani, who, in turn, in early October, handed the laptop’s contents to the New York Post.

Those emails showed that Joe Biden lied when he said he knew nothing of his son’s remarkably lucrative business ventures abroad.

“Shortly before 7 pm ET on October 13, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, emails JP Mac Isaac,” Shellengerger wrote:

Hunter and Mesires had just learned from the New York Post that its story about the laptop would be published the next day.

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.

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.

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.

Yet the FBI surely knew the laptop and its contents weren’t just real, but a bomb about to explode in Joe Biden’s face and wreck what would be his last presidential candidacy.

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,” Shellenberger wrote:

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.

But the laptop wasn’t just real and not a “Russian disinformation” operation. Twitter detected very little Russian activity, the Twitter Files show.

So “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.”

$3.4M, Top-secret Clearances

But Twitter was an FBI subsidiary not just because it censored tweets and suppressed accounts on FBI orders, as previously reported.

Twitter’s payroll included so many former agents that they had their own Slack channel for messaging.

One of them was James Baker, the former FBI general counsel whom Elon Musk fired because he helped suppress the laptop story. Baker, of course, was involved in the Clinton Campaign’s Russia Collusion Hoax in 2016. He was on the receiving end of Clinton cutout Michael Sussman’s collusion lies.

Frighteningly, “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.”

And even FBI alumni and top-secret clearance don’t completely explain why Twitter became an FBI subsidiary.

“The FBI’s influence campaign may have been helped by the fact that it was paying Twitter millions of dollars for its staff time,” the files reveal:

“I am happy to report we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!” reports an associate of Jim Baker in early 2021.

Upshot of that fact: Taxpayers subsidized not only Twitter’s effort to stop the laptop from wrecking the Biden campaign, but also its major censorship campaign against conservatives it falsely claimed were spreading “disinformation.”

As The New American reported yesterday, Twitter might be open to First Amendment lawsuits because it censored on orders from the FBI. The latest — that the bureau paid Twitter for services rendered — won’t help its defense.

This article was published by The New American and is reproduced with permission.

FBI Office Investigating Hunter Biden Sent Twitter Numerous Censorship Requests Right Before 2020 Election

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Emails released on Saturday as part of the latest dump of the “Twitter Files” reveal that the week before the 2020 presidential election, the FBI field office investigating Hunter Biden sent multiple censorship requests to Twitter — so many in fact, a top attorney for the tech giant found it “odd.” This blockbuster detail from the weekend came mere days after the FBI issued a statement framing coverage of the “Twitter Files” as “misinformation” being peddled by “conspiracy theorists.”

The FBI has “some folks in the Baltimore field office and at HQ that are just doing keyword searches for violations,” then-Twitter legal executive Stacia Cardille stressed in a Nov. 3, 2020, email to Jim Baker, the then-deputy general counsel for Twitter. “This is probably the 10th request I have dealt with in the last 5 days,” Cardille continued, before telling Baker to let her know if he had any other questions.”

Less than an hour later, Baker responded to Cardille, noting it was “odd” that the FBI is “searching for violations of our policies.”

Independent journalist Matt Taibbi published these emails as part of a 50-something Christmas Eve “Twitter Files” thread that he remarked showed “the FBI acting as 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 entire thread is newsworthy, but that FBI agents in both the Baltimore field office and at FBI headquarters were running keyword searches for supposed Twitter violations proves hugely significant because both offices were involved in the Hunter Biden investigation.

While the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office is — and was at the time of the 2020 election — handling the investigation into Hunter Biden, reportedly for potential money laundering and tax crimes, there is no separate Delaware FBI field office. Rather, the Baltimore FBI field office covers all of Delaware for the bureau and thus supported (and continues to support) the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office in its investigation of Hunter Biden.

We also know from multiple FBI whistleblowers that FBI headquarters entangled itself in the Hunter Biden probe: In July 2022, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced that “multiple FBI whistleblowers, including those in senior positions,” had claimed that “in August of 2020, FBI supervisory intelligence analyst Brian Auten opened an assessment, which was used by a team of agents at FBI headquarters to improperly discredit and falsely claim that derogatory information about Biden’s activities was disinformation, causing investigative activity and sourcing to be shut down.”

The FBI headquarters team allegedly placed their assessment findings in a restricted access subfolder, effectively flagging sources and derogatory evidence related to Hunter Biden as disinformation while shielding the justification for such findings from scrutiny,” according to Grassley.

Given the involvement of both Baltimore FBI and FBI headquarters in the investigation of Hunter Biden — and the latter’s attempt to shut down the probe — the revelation that “some folks in the Baltimore field office and at HQ” were “doing keyword searches for violations,” suggests the FBI undertook a full-court press to interfere in the 2020 election.

Previously released “Twitter Files” and statements from Twitter and Facebook established the FBI lied to the tech giants, representing the Hunter Biden laptop story as Russian disinformation and prompting the censorship of the Biden-family scandal mere weeks before the 2020 election. Internal Twitter communications also revealed that the night before the New York Post published emails from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop that implicated Joe Biden in a pay-to-play scandal, “the FBI used a private communications channel to send 10 documents to a top Twitter executive.”

The “Twitter Files” also exposed “Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary of the FBI,” as Taibbi explained in an earlier thread. The “Twitter Files” Taibbi previously reported showed that from “January 2020 to November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety Chief Yoel Roth.” Those communications indicated “agencies like the FBI and DHS regularly sending social media content to Twitter through multiple entry points, pre-flagged for moderation.”

These earlier threads, however, all focused on either communications coming from the San Francisco FBI field office or discussed the monthly and then weekly meetings between Twitter and the federal government’s Foreign Influence Task Force, or FITF. As Taibbi noted, the FBI greatly expanded the number of agents assigned to the FITF following the 2016 election, with the task force swelling to 80 agents.”

With FBI San Francisco and the FITF already liaisoning with Twitter, why then would the Baltimore field office and FBI headquarters have any involvement in communicating with Twitter? And as Saturday’s emails reveal, those officers were not merely passing on information they received, they were, according to a Twitter legal executive, running “keyword” searches — something even Baker, who was previously general counsel for the FBI, found “odd.”

And the Baltimore field office and FBI headquarters conducted these “keyword” searches and shared the results with Twitter for one reason only: to prompt Twitter to censor the speech the week before the 2020 presidential election.

“Odd” doesn’t even begin to capture the situation — which, given the connection between those two FBI offices and the Hunter Biden investigation, suggests a new wing to the Big Tech scandal: one in which FBI agents proactively sought out people and speech to censor for the benefit their politician of choice.

Ironically, the Wednesday before Taibbi broke this latest news, the FBI issued a statement claiming 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, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries. … It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”

When the bureau’s own former general counsel calls the FBI’s conduct “odd,” it’s pretty clear who is discrediting the agency: It isn’t conspiracy theorists — it’s the FBI.

This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

Bombshells You Might Have Missed About the FBI’s Censorship and Election Meddling

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Matt Taibbi’s analysis of FBI-related internal Twitter documents and the Missouri Attorney General’s release of the deposition transcript of FBI censor Elvis Chan have revealed shocking interference by the bureau in the most sensitive political debates leading up to elections.

As many suspected, Taibbi just confirmed the FBI meddled extensively in election-related speech on Twitter in 2020. Separately, Chan confirmed that the FBI’s election interference extended to Google and Facebook. Using a huge team of 80 agents, the joint task force of censors from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI flagged multiple posts for censorship. Taibbi offered few examples of the types of materials the FBI sought to censor. But some of the examples included obvious jokes, such as one about adding votes to the Democrats’ total in retaliation for posting negative comments on a thread.

Were these rogue agents operating in violation of the FBI’s long-standing policy against interfering in elections? It now appears that the FBI’s censorship of American citizens enjoyed the approval and ratification of FBI Director Christopher Wray himself as the FBI responded to the scandal with this dismissive remark:

The FBI regularly engages with private sector entities to provide information specific to identified foreign malign influence actors’ subversive, undeclared, covert, or criminal activities. Private sector entities independently make decisions about what, if any, action they take on their platforms and for their customers after the FBI has notified them.

Stop for a moment to parse this bureaucratic-speak. Under what authority does the FBI censor non-U.S. citizens in our domestic forums? Censorship injures the rights of the listeners as much as the speakers. Can the FBI legally prevent citizens access to Britain’s Daily Mail or the Russian media outlet RT just because they originate from a foreign source? Legal precedent suggests that the First Amendment includes guarantees of citizen’s access to foreign-based speech. This has become increasingly important because accessing foreign press is sometimes the only way to find reporting on issues that the FBI-influenced domestic media would rather not cover. Don’t we need to know what foreigners are saying about America in order to make informed election decisions?

The permanent domestic security apparatus, led by the FBI, is not terribly concerned about whether information it sought to suppress might be true. Indeed, the call to prevent a repeat of 2016-style “hack and dump,” implicitly seeks the suppression of truthful information that hurts Democrats. The Wikileaks DNC emails accurately depicted Clinton campaign collusion with the press and a pay-for-influence operation run from the Clinton family charity. If it weren’t true, there would be no need for censorship.

The government call this, “malinformation,” or sometimes, “disinformation.” The former, includes “information that is based on fact but used out of context,” while disinformation includes “information that is deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate.” Truth is not a defense. Mind you, left-wing sources can call conservatives racists and Nazis all day long. But if a dissident offers information that might “harm” Democrats or “manipulate” voters into not voting in the manner approved by the FBI, then the government needs to act to “protect” the election. This is exactly why the Hunter Biden laptop story was censored. It didn’t matter whether it came from the Russians or Santa Claus. The government acted to impose an election result on the American people. Everyone knows that.

Chan all but spelled out exactly that in his deposition.

I remember that the FBI warned—that I or someone from the FBI warned the social media companies about the potential for a 2016-style DNC hack-and-dump operation . . . .

Chan saw the FBI’s role as countering the influence of such information.

Q. And I think you—in your thesis you talk about how in 2016 they had high, high levels of success, right, because there were essentially no countermeasures taken by social media platforms?

 That is correct.

The FBI’s “countermeasures”? Directly intervening to flag and encourage censorship to protect the Democratic candidate from a leak like 2016.  They called it, “information sharing,” but the tech companies read the creepy euphemism exactly as intended—encouraging censorship. If the FBI “shared” the identity of objectionable speech on a social media platform, social media complied and censored.

Back to Chan’s deposition.

Q. So—so specifically your thesis focuses on information sharing between the FBI and basically Facebook, Google and Twitter, right?

 That is correct.

Second, missing from the FBI’s statement is any acknowledgement that it bothered to consider the constitutional rights of Americans seeking to inform themselves before elections. We so often hear members of the Justice Department, which includes the FBI, tell us they have taken a sworn oath to protect the Constitution. It’s usually a response to legitimate oversight or questions about the FBI’s abuse of secrecy. But they never mean what they say or they would have a much better record on protecting free speech.

Third, the FBI did not limit its censorship efforts to foreigners (not that censoring speech originating from foreign sources is acceptable). As Taibbi notes, the censorship included posts which joked about election integrity. Are these crimes? The FBI is supposed to be a law enforcement agency, not a speech moderation (i.e. censorship) agency.

Overlooked by much of the reporting on the Chan deposition is this bombshell: The FBI appears to have also started a secret lobbying campaign to influence legislation.

Among the approximately 140 objections Justice Department attorney Indraneel Sur made during the deposition of FBI censor Elvis Chan was one that involved a particularly disturbing secret communication channel between the FBI and congressional staffers. When Chan was asked “what kind of legislation?” the FBI had made recommendations about to congressional staffers, Sur claimed the FBI had a legal right to keep secret the FBI’s legislative interference. “I am going to object,” Sur said. “The deliberative process privilege extends not just to the executive branch, but all sorts of executive communications within the government.”

Did the FBI’s legislative lobbying “relate to Section 230 of the Communications Act?” Sur refused to let Chan answer. “I stand by the same objection on the grounds of deliberative process privilege,” Sur said. “So I will continue to assert and ask that the witness not answer the question on the grounds of the deliberative process privilege.”

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Congress just signed on to an omnibus spending bill without any attempt to rein in the FBI’s election meddling.  Once again, Congress lavishes billions on the FBI with no effort to subordinate it to the constitution’s protections against intrusive law enforcement.

We also learned from Chan’s deposition that the FBI was aware that its censorship recommendations were applied to categorically similar users not identified by the FBI. How did the FBI ensure that its recommendations didn’t quash legitimate political speech? It didn’t, instead relying on Twitter to ensure the accuracy of its account takedowns.

Q. Right. OK. But it sounds like sometimes your reports lead to more takedowns than the accounts you have—you flagged, fair to say?

That is correct.

How confident are you that they are not, you know, kind of making mistakes in taking down real user accounts?

So this is just my personal opinion, obviously not based on being able to see any of their data. In my experience, they take account takedowns very seriously because this affects their bottom line. . . . in my opinion, they take it very seriously. And I would say that to the best of their ability, they are very careful before doing account takedowns.

In other words, the FBI would notify social media companies of content it found objectionable. The companies would occasionally apply the FBI’s recommendations to additional accounts that, while not flagged by the FBI, had the same characteristics that the FBI found objectionable. The only safeguard against social media overzealously applying the FBI’s censorship request is whatever miniscule loss of revenue the social media might experience from the overly broad censorship.

In many cases the FBI sought censorship of supposedly foreign-originating posts after significant engagement. In one example, highlighted in the deposition, users reacted 793 times before Twitter deleted the account that originated the post to which the FBI objected.

Q. And then those comments are people who presumably said something, whether they agree or disagree or just want to say something about this kind of political ad, fair to say?

Yeah. I don’t know what the nature of the comments are, but your characterization is probable.

The accounts—I suppose you have talked about account takedowns earlier. If this account that posted this ad is taken down, do all those comments get taken down with it?

I don’t know.

Oh, so you think that the comments may stay up with the account gone?

 I—to be honest with you, I do not use any social media.

Incredibly, Chan failed to inform himself, or even care, whether censoring a supposedly foreign-originating post would also delete the many comments and reactions by legitimate Americans expressing protected political speech. This one remark reveals volumes about the FBI’s disregard for the First Amendment.

The FBI should not be involved in “moderating” political speech. But when the FBI does violate this principle, it should be seen for what it is: a deprivation of an essential constitutional right without due process. The FBI should be required to notify the target of the censorship and provide an opportunity to that individual to contest this state action before a neutral third party.

The FBI’s censorship “recommendations” should be reported to Congress and the public. If the target of the FBI’s censorship prevails, he or she should be entitled to damages and attorneys’ fees for the loss of civic participation rights that can never be restored. Without a substantial remedy for the injured, the FBI will continue to meddle in our public speech forums to manipulate elections.

We seem to have reached a point at which the Justice Department has seized so much power that it no longer feels the need to lie about its Chinese-style censorship regime. As I’ve previously noted, international election standards require equal access to a media independent of government censorship. Without that, you can’t have a fair election. No foreign adversary could have so effectively harmed the constitutionally protected interplay between free speech and elections.

The FBI has become what it says it’s trying to prevent. It is, above all rivals and adversaries, the greatest single threat to free and fair elections.

This article was published by American Greatness and is reproduced with permission.

The Bigger the Government The Smaller the Democracy

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Dennis Prager is always a source of wisdom. One of his more pithy axioms is “the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” We would like to add a corollary. The bigger the government the smaller the space in which democracy can function.

During much of this year, we have been bombarded by Democrats about the “threat to Democracy” or “the end of Democracy” in America.

Usually, this is in the context of criticizing anyone who questions the veracity of election results or procedures, or the January 6th incursion into the US Capitol building. We only wish their concern extended beyond these narrow topics.  We think they are missing the broader crisis.

We would like to take a view from 20,000 feet. We will purposely avoid the definitional debate about a democracy versus a republic.  Our concern here is the degree to which voters can determine their own fate either directly or through their elected representatives. 

People are free when most aspects of their life and under their control, subject to their judgment, facing the consequences of their decisions based on their circumstances and their life philosophy. Democracy is really the freedom to choose, especially the freedom to choose who runs the government.

So, our working definition of democracy is the freedom to choose on the maximum level possible the terms of one’s own life, and the freedom to choose one’s government through voting.

By our definition, a country is more democratic if both individuals and their representatives largely control policy in the country. We say this recognizing our republic has a Constitution that stipulates “Congress shall make no law”, whether the majority wants it or not. There are limits to what democratic processes can do in our system.

Thus, we are a constitutional republic.

But within the confines of what voters can do, there seems to be ever-diminishing space for actual decision-making. 

Moreover, we supposedly operate in a system where the just powers of government come from the consent of those governed. However, that consent is now increasingly subject to a flawed election system.

The more actual power that voters have to decide who governs is in fact a fair measure of the degree of democracy in any given nation. If democracy is regarded as good, then most things should be controlled by “we the people” as long as they don’t violate the rights of others.

Let’s look at the budget decisions made by the US Congress. Government cannot function without money and the appropriation of funds is a key power of the House of Representatives.

It is estimated that about 85% of the current budget is in fact on “automatic pilot”. Previous decisions have erected a vast array of welfare state, pension, and medical benefits. People qualify for these benefits often just because of reaching a triggering age or income level, and thus Congress has little to say in actuality on budget matters. The partisan battles that you see are over a diminishing 15% slice of the total budget?

Is that really democratic?

We would contend it is not.  If elected representatives don’t even vote on most of the budget, how much control indirectly do citizens actually have on the process? Not much. Who has power, in reality, is the automatic pilot flying the budget, not a pilot elected by the passengers.

Younger voters never got to say how their tax dollars are being spent thus in the vast majority of programs. Two or three previous generations made the decision for them. The opinions and consent of more recent generations were never part of the process. How “democratic” is that? Does one generation have the right to impoverish another generation? Are these major budgetary items forever off limits to democratic scrutiny?

But digging a bit deeper, even the sliver of 15% we get to fight over is conducted in a way that is very undemocratic. We see it operating right now before our eyes. So-called omnibus legislation, where everything is lumped together in one giant “take it or leave it” proposition. Either voting for a lot of wasteful special interest spending or “we will close down the government” are the parameters under which the decisions will really be made. That really narrows the range of choices of our “elected representatives.”

Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs has noted the recent McConnell pact with Democrats effectively removed the leverage the House of Representatives had to investigate the abuses of both the FBI and the Department of Justice. In fact, the omnibus bill gave them both huge raises, a reward for bad behavior.

Under the current system, Congressional budgetary votes are largely symbolic. Symbolic of a system that is not democratic.

In fact, the legislation is usually introduced at one in the morning and voted on at five in the morning without anyone really having a chance even to read the legislation. The real job of legislating is actually done in secret by special interest lobbyists and party leadership.  

Thus, we have no control whatsoever over 85% of the budget, and barely any control over the remaining 15%. 

If democracy is “we the people” having much to say about what happens, then our present system cannot be regarded as very democratic, can it?

Moreover, a vast portion of our lives is determined by unelected bureaucrats that run the fourth branch of government, the regulatory agencies within the ‘administrative state’ and under the control of the Executive branch. These agencies exercise legislative, executive, and judicial functions, all without the proper division of power. We have little if anything to say about what they will order us to do.

With so much of our lives ruled by the permanent bureaucracy, it is difficult to describe this as a democracy in action. And as previously noted, with hardly any control of the budget, Congress has little power to reign in the bureaucracy.

Therefore, regulatory agencies exercise powers without the consent of the governed.

This unelected bureaucracy now extends to international organizations to which no one is elected.  We are speaking about organizations like the United Nations with their global warming agenda. This may determine our standard of living, the reliability of our electrical grid, our competitive position in the world, even the choice we have of automobiles.

The same can be said for the World Economic Forum. When is the last time you voted for Klaus Schwab or Bill Gates to lord over you or the planet?

This is a huge exercise of power over us, and we have no democratic influence on them at all.

Finally, as to the “democratic process” by which we do get to elect our representatives, the last few years have been revelatory.

Democrats pay for bogus opposition research, which is then turned into two impeachment proceedings and multiple legal actions. The FBI helps finance this bogus research and keeps an office with the law firm representing the Democrats. The FBI further lies to the FISA courts and illegally spies on a Republican campaign and a Republican administration. They even spy on Congressman Nunes and his staff, looking into their ‘abuses’!

After years of telling us Russia was interfering in our elections we find it is our own government, largely the unelected part of that government that interferes in our elections.

Lawyers who hatch these schemes get hired by social media companies, which then use their power to suppress information and influence election outcomes. The FBI actually pays millions of dollars to social media firms and employs over 80 agents to stifle our right to free speech. Even the CIA gets into the act of influencing social media.

Hundreds of former employees of our intelligence agencies get hired by social media companies, who then get subsidized by those same agencies and follow government orders. While technically  Congress “makes no law abridging the freedom of speech”, the government outsourced the violations to “private” companies, that live and die by the regulatory relationship they have with the government.

This is just one step shy of state-owned and controlled media companies.

Do you get to vote on policy for these private media partners in government?

Private companies and the government blend together under the fascist ideal and work together impervious to democratic input. Our present system would make Benito Mussolini proud.

The election process by which we choose our representative is then rigged by Federal agencies which use our own tax dollars to suppress our own democratic choices.

If our representatives actually survive that process, they don’t get to vote on much that is relevant, and that which they do get to vote on, they are not allowed to read and have little choice but to follow party leadership in giant omnibus legislation.

Meanwhile, most of our lives are determined day to day by rules and regulations written and enforced by people we neither vote for nor can fire.

No wonder there is a populist backlash building.  People feel the government is no longer listening to them because they aren’t.

The citizen is getting smaller and smaller, and the control of government is now largely out of the control of our elected representatives.



FBI Promised ‘No Impediments’ To Data Sharing With Twitter Before 2020 Election, Internal Docs Show

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The FBI promised that there were “no impediments to information sharing” between itself and Twitter in a Sept. 16, 2020 meeting with Twitter legal executive Stacia Cardille, according to internal documents published by journalist Matt Taibbi Friday.

Cardille reported the promise to then-Deputy General Counsel James Baker — a former FBI lawyer who was instrumental in securing approval for the surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page using information from the discredited Steele dossier — in an email sent following the meeting, according to Taibbi. Cardille also expressed dismay that Twitter’s Public Policy account tweeted about the meeting without first consulting the legal team.

The policy team’s tweets mention that the collaboration was working with the government to address the impact of COVID-19 on the election — something that Cardille does not mention in her email. Cardille tells Baker that the meetings are soon set to become weekly, but no further tweets from the policy team during that election cycle mention meeting with government agencies.

“The FBI regularly engages with private sector entities to provide information specific to identified foreign malign influence actors’ subversive, undeclared, covert, or criminal activities,” the FBI said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Private sector entities independently make decisions about what, if any, action they take on their platforms and for their customers after the FBI has notified them.”

The relationship between the FBI and Twitter appeared to remain in some capacity as recently as Nov. 10, 2022, when the agency reached out to notify Twitter of four accounts that “may potentially constitute violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service,” according to Taibbi. One of the accounts, @fromMA, which regularly posts anti-Republican and anti-Trump comments, was brought to Twitter’s attention for jokingly reminding Republicans to vote “Wednesday November 9,” while Election Day was actually Nov. 8, Taibbi reported.

Although the @fromMA account remains active, the tweet that caught the attention of the FBI appears to have been deleted. Taibbi noted that all four accounts, including @fromMA, were suspended.

The FBI forwarded the names of 25 accounts to Twitter on Nov. 6, 2022, with Twitter taking action against 17 of them, Taibbi reported. The Twitter account for the pro-Trump Right Side Broadcasting Network and actor Billy Baldwin were the only high-profile accounts on the list, and neither had actions taken against them.

Taibbi’s report comes after Twitter CEO Elon Musk temporarily suspended eight journalists from the platform, amid allegations that they were endangering the safety of him and his family for sharing his location on the platform. Several news outlets whose journalists were suspended disputed these allegations, with the Washington Post’s Executive Editor Sally Buzbee saying in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation that the suspensions undermined “Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.”

This article was published by The Daily Caller and is reproduced with permission.