As much as the US government has been infiltrating and pressuring both the corporate media and social media platforms in a fear and censorship campaign to soften up Americans for its proxy war on Russia, we're now learning that some Twitter executives, at least, were disturbed enough to feebly push back against the overreach.
In Twitter Files #15, journalist Matt Taibbi reports that the Hamilton 68 Dashboard's list of hundreds of Twitter accounts, supposedly run by "Russian bots," is mainly comprised of innocent human users. The contrivance of an USAID-funded bipartisan think tank called the Alliance For Securing Democracy, the Dashboard has been a prime source of disinformation for such outlets as the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Even so-called "fact-checking" sites have treated the specious Hamilton Dashboard as a bona fide source of information for the relentless parade of anti-Russia media reports over the past several years.
Although it's long been obvious, to some of us anyway, that the McCarthyite dashboard of dangerous Twitter accounts was pure fake news propaganda, Twitter itself was able to discern that they were, in fact, mostly legitimate accounts from the U.S., Canada and Great Britain. But its executives apparently were too cowed by the "Deep State" operatives who persistently browbeat them into censorship compliance at the time to blow the whistle publicly. Taibbi was finally granted access to the true identities behind the list of "Russian bots," and has proceeded to notify many of them of their dubious distinction as designated Kremlin plants and stooges.
“I think we need to just call this out on the bullshit it is,” Taibbi quotes Twitter Trust and Safety Chief Yoel Roth as having written when the fraud was first proven beyond a doubt.
Even Twitter execs were stunned to read who was listed. The names ranged from well-known media figures like David Horowitz to conservatives like Dennis Michael Lynch and progressives like editor Joe Lauria. It’s crucial to understand that the list captured not just Trump supporters but a range of political dissidents, including leftists, anarchists and humorists. Wrote policy chief Nick Pickles, upon seeing the name of British satirist @Holbornlolz:
Read Taibbi's whole piece for more on the neocon/neoliberal personalities involved with the Hamilton Dashoard fraud, along with reactions from some of their many unwitting victims. One Dashboard fraudster that Taibbi doesn't mention is Jake Sullivan, who is currently Joe Biden's national security adviser and a chief architect-cheerleader of the Ukraine-Russia proxy war.
Both the think tank running the Hamilton Dashboard propaganda scam and the Twitter managers who eventually uncovered the scam were well-stocked with other future Biden people, many of them alumni of both the Bush and Obama administrations. Taibbi writes:
Taibbi is expecting neither media nor political class culprits to be held accountable for the fraud, given that Twitter execs already did privately warn both complicit Congress members and media people to steer clear of the Hamilton propaganda as a source of their news and information. Don't look for any mea culpas from anybody in the halls of political and information power for their own roles in this massive deceit of the public.
As I wrote here nearly four years ago, the Hamilton 68 fraud, designed to grease the skids for their desired war on Russia, uses the same m.o. that the media-political complex sold to the public as the casus belli for the illegal invasion of Iraq:
The initial public acceptance of the invasion of Iraq, as well as the "belief" of the majority of polled subjects in Russian meddling in the presidential election stays alive thanks largely to the process of amplification.
The first part of the conflict-creation recipe involves bellicose think tanks and defense industry-beholden politicians planting scary stories in the mainstream media, whose stenographers graciously grant the planters anonymity due to the "sensitivity" of the situation and fears that national security will be threatened if the public gets too much detailed information The second step is for the warmongers to then point to these planted stories as proof positive that they are full of facts, the actual details of which must unfortunately be withheld to protect the interests of the planters. These two steps are like yeast. They make the disinformation cake rise and rise.
This is what former Vice President Dick Cheney did in 2002. His office fed New York Times reporters Judith Miller and Michael Gordon the "scoop" that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium from Africa and using it to build nuclear weapons. Then Cheney went on Meet the Press and pointed to the New York Times as his proof that Saddam did indeed plan to attack the US. To give the disinformation an added dose of verisimilitude, "investigative" reporter Miller even went to jail for a time to protect the powerful sources of the false information. Rather than out herself as a stenographer, she made herself a martyr - until the whole scam fell apart, and she lost her job at the Times'
Now, with another manufactured debt ceiling crisis rapidly approaching, it might be a good time to remember that the gaslighting Hamilton 68 fraudsters had also blamed Russia for the shutdown mess in 2018, and that all legitimate Twitter criticism of the hapless Senate leader Chuck Schumer came not from independent-thinking Americans, but from the Kremlin, which had stealthily infiltrated the brains of Americans!
Current New York Times columnist Lydia Polgreen had just (temporarily) migrated to the Democratic veal pen known as the Huffington Post from her previous top post at the Times when the former unquestioningly and breathlessly reported:
#SchumerShutdown has surpassed #ReleaseTheMemo as the highest trending hashtag among Russian influence campaigns. They seized on that hashtag earlier this month in an effort to pressure Republican lawmakers to release a classified memo written by House GOP aides that allegedly describes abuses in FBI surveillance practices. Conservative organizations like Breitbart and the Daily Caller have given major coverage to the memo, but Democratic lawmakers have denounced it as deeply misleading.Alliance for Securing Democracy tracks activity from 600 monitored Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations. It has found that Russian bots and trolls frequently amplify content attacking the United States, conspiracy theories and misinformation.
Coincidentally (of course) Twitter has just sent emails to 677,775 users informing them that they were being monitored for the thought-less crime of having read and/or shared tweets from Kremlin propaganda mills.
Also, totally coincidentally, HuffPo has just sent its own emails to its entire stable of unpaid freelance contributors informing them that their "content" would no longer be accepted. This includes all content from writers like Joe Lauria who dare to express healthy skepticism that RussiaGate has any basis in reality, or that endless war might not be in the best interests of humanity.
HuffPo editor Lydia Polgreen, late of the New York Times, told the New York Times that she's banned the messy, noisy, free-thinking bloggers so as to "declutter" the site and give more room to quality journalism, such as, presumably, the pro-war propaganda provided by neocon think tanks.
Guess who one of those Hamilton Dashboard-identified Russian bots turned out to be?
Why, it was Joe Lauria, the current editor of Consortium News, which is critical of the war and surveillance policies of the United States. Matt Taibbi has Lauria's reaction at the above-linked Twitter Files article. Lauria was disgusted, but not all that shocked.
Even though the Hamilton Dashboard has been completely discredited, thanks to the last bastions of independent journalism still standing, it will doubtlessly be reborn under a different name, in another think tank, another corporate newsroom, another corrupt politician beholden to the war racket and to the interests of the oligarchy.
All that we can do is keep chipping away at their various pathological disinformation campaigns, and shooting all the disinfecting sunlight at them that we can. Since they have no shame, they will never go away quietly or voluntarily.
*Far from it, actually. In a detailed rebuttal of Taibbi's revelations, the Alliance for Securing Democracy website pleads that its critics were either taking their dashboard way too seriously, or else all those stupid journalists, Twitter executives and doubters of all stripes were themselves irresponsible in the way that they used it.
The dashboard’s original methodology acknowledged that “the content within the network is complex and should be understood in a nuanced way.” Members of the media, pundits, and even some lawmakers often failed to include appropriate context when using the dashboard’s data, despite ASD experts’ extensive efforts to correct misconceptions at the time. Because the data was consistently misunderstood or misrepresented, we published multiple follow-up instructions clarifying key points, including: “Some accounts we track are automated bots, some are trolls, and some are real users. Some are in Russia, but many are not”.
This, of course, is the same kind of techno-legal babble used by many dishonest players whenever they are caught out in a crime or a scam. For example, the Justice Department could not possibly prosecute Wall Street after the 2008 financial collapse, because the complex financial instruments of the experts could never be understood by mere mortals. As a matter of fact, some of the same malefactors who precipitated the crisis in the first place were often elevated to government positions, the better to sort everything out while absolving themselves, if not outright proclaiming themselves saviors. If anyone was to blame, it was those greedy people who took out subprime liar loans on houses they couldn't afford.
The Alliance fatuously adds that they (unlike, they insinuate, Elon Musk and Taibbi) were sensitive to their victims' privacy rights and never "doxxed" the people whose Twitter accounts ended up on their dashboard. It's the "shoot the messenger" ploy all over again. They try to change the topic from their own bad behavior to the worse offense of the leaking of their own bad behavior. What the people whose accounts were linked to Russia didn't know didn't hurt them, the Alliance asserts. How could anyone possibly construe that the Dashboard was a McCarthyite blacklist, when they only linked Twitter accounts to Russian influence, and were not directly responsible for anybody losing their job or getting de-platformed as a result. All they really did was warn other people to beware of the provenance of the listed accounts. And Twitter did it too, sending its users those thousands of emails warning them of certain suspicious accounts they had been reading.
The whole disclaimer is just another layer on a disinformation cake puffed up with a very generous helping of enriched gaslight. These people not only have no shame, they've severely overdosed on their own chutzpah.