Saturday, January 28, 2023

Shocker: #Russiagate Is a Big Fat Fraud

*Updated below.

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. 

“The selection of accounts is… bizarre and seemingly quite arbitrary,” wrote Roth. “They appear to strongly preference pro-Trump accounts (which they use to assert that Russia is expressing a preference for Trump… even though there’s not good evidence any of them are Russian).”

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 Consortium 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:

“A wind-up merchant,” he wrote. “I follow him and wouldn’t say he’s pro-Russian… I can’t even remember him tweeting about Russia.”

These people never knew they were used for years to drive hundreds if not thousands of media headlines about supposed Russian bot infiltration of online discussions: about the Brett Kavanaugh hearingsTulsi Gabbard’s campaign, the #ReleaseTheMemo affair, the Parkland shootingDonald Trump’s election, the #WalkAway and #IStandWithLaura hashtags, U.S. missile strikes in Syria, the Bernie Sanders campaign, the “Blexit” movement to peel black voters away from Democrats, calls to fire National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, “attacks” on the Mueller investigation, and countless other issues.

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:

...Twitter is not guiltless. Though people like Roth wanted to go hard at the fabulists — “My recommendation at this stage is an ultimatum: you release the list or we do,” he wrote — ultimately people like future White House and National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne advised caution. “We have to be careful in how much we push back on ASD publicly,” she wrote. Carlos Monje, future senior advisor to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, concurred.

“I also have been very frustrated in not calling out Hamilton 68 more publicly, but understand we have to play a longer game here,” Monje decided.

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.

As I'd reported at the time:

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.


voice-in-wilderness said...

I've never been tempted to use Twitter, a decision that is reinforced every time I see some Twitter dialog copied. At the same time I've noticed for years that mainstream journalists are some of the most habitual Twitter uses. And I'm puzzled as to what the journalists are getting out of it versus the dangers of disinformation.

wildermiss said...

Ha, they hardly need to explain themselves! There has been no corporate media coverage of any of the Twitter Files revelations, unsurprisingly. The 'dangers of disinformation' obviously means anything the Empire doesn't want us to see.

As the Twitter Files are proving, we've been propagandized by our own Gov't/Empire by omission as well as commission. The whole propaganda shitshow legally kicked off in 2012 when Obama signed the NDAA of 2012. Tucked into that massive piece of legislation (NDAA is always used to hide other things) was the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act legalizing the targeting of American citizens with propaganda within our own country which used to be illegal. There was a new agency created at that time to coordinate with corporate media but I can't recall the name right now - something about Information.

Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter has allowed a can of worms to be opened and pored over by independent journalists which are starting to reveal the extent of this on the digital social media side. I highly recommend reading any/all of the 15 Twitter files or however many there are to date. One good summary up to Jan 4th Files is at the link below but there have been more recently revealed, as discussed in Karen's piece.

I have a free non-blue check account on Twitter, although I never post anything or retweet. I follow many accounts for information from experts ranging from Covid research to finance to geopolitics and everything in between. I also follow many great independent journalists who are never seen or heard in the legacy media.

No one makes anyone else sign up or follow anyone or read anything on Twitter. As a matter of fact, if you don't want to see or read anything or follow anyone anymore, it just takes a click of a button to Block or Mute or Unfollow. Or just drop out. The corporate media makes it look like people are being force-fed when they're the ones actually doing it.

What I value most about Twitter is easily finding "the helpers" as Mr. Rogers would say. Everyone is connected and that connection can expand as far and wide as you choose. When you find say, a Matt Taibbi, you can see who he follows or retweets and connect with them. There are tons of links to news site and original sources. You can also find other viewpoints, like Marjorie Taylor Green or Miranda Devine, journalist at the NY Post. It's a lot easier to curate our own news and information instead of letting corporate media spoon-feed me us their pablum.

I'd like to see Karen on Twitter, especially now that NYT articles are of reach for anyone who doesn't pay that rag. She could do what Caitlin Johnstone does and publish pieces of her latest blog post in segments to share widely with a link to her website, certainly more widely than NYT ever did. When one person likes and shares it, pretty soon it's seen far and wide by whoever freely chooses to read it.

BTW, Twitter is soon to expand the character limit to 4000 - in February I think. That might apply only to the blue check accounts but I'm not sure.

Think about it Karen. We all need your voice to be more widely heard. Twitter can be a treasure trove of useful information and connections but only if we use it.

Freedom - use it or lose it!

Karen Garcia said...

I'm of two minds about Twitter. If the character limit is increased, I would consider posting there, but as far as tweeting out blog posts in choppy increments is concerned, I'd be disinclined. I personally find this format quite difficult to read. So I appreciate that Taibbi himself has used the regular blog format to post some of his Twitter Files stuff. It is much easier on my eyes and brain.

Also, I've worried about the addictive potential of Twitter and how many people just find it dominating their lives. Plus the trolls, etc. I just didn't think it was a healthy place to be. Perhaps that will change with the new ownership, or maybe Twitter will go down in flames as so many in the pundit class are predicting.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion and I will mull it over carefully!

annenigma said...

The Global Engagement Center is the agency I was trying to recall. It was enabled by the passage of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 and birthed like Rosemary's Baby through the labor of Hillary Clinton.

After originally being titled the Countering Information Warfare Act, it took form as the Global Engagement Center with the passage of the NDAA of 2017. (That sounded better than the Ministry of Truth.) It's purpose was ostensibly to counter foreign influence campaigns to prevent their sowing division and discord domestically.

With critical help from the Clinton cabal, the Blob commenced to claim that Trump was colluding with Russia and that innocent American Tweeters were Russian agents etc., giving a convenient splash of foreign color and cover to their own domestic disinformation/influence campaign.

The audacity of meddling in our own elections while claiming our 'democracy' was under attack by President Trump and other Commie sympathizers masquerading as ordinary Americans was/is beyond Orwellian.

Clearly, that's their story and they're sticking to it come hell or high water. Hence the media blackout of the Twitter files revelations and lack of corrections and apologies by the many involved in this now proven hoax.

As revealed in one of the Twitter files, the GEC sent ban lists to Twitter. Did they also coordinate with media? That would be more along the line of their mission and expertise. Actually, given their legal cover, I expect them to continue their influence campaign unabated, such as ensuring undivided public support for funding our war against Russia, I mean the Ukraine war. Aka WWIII.

God, I really miss Jay-Ottawa today for some reason. RIP, friend, wherever you are.

annenigma said...

Sorry to hog Karen's blog today but here's a link to the Columbia Journalism Review of their 1 1/2 year comprehensive investigation into Trump-Russiagate - in 4 parts.

'The Press Versus the President'

Impressive journalism!

Anonymous said...

tried to engage with twitter last summer






my twitter was a fritter

Mark Thomason said...

Russiagate was very useful to those who did it.

It would be worth looking more closely at the uses to which they put it. So far, "it was a lie" has dominated, instead of "this is what the liars did to us with those lies."

It revived Democratic fundraising.

It protected Hillary.

It changed the subject, from anything at all to just demonizing Trump, which served those who really did not intend to do other things and did not want even to talk about them -- Republican Lite hid this way.

annenigma said...

The CJR piece about the press and the president pointed out that the NYT enjoyed a huge increase in their digital $ubscription$ as a result of their serial lying.

Nominating themselves for and winning a Pulitzer based on those many lies certainly helped too. They knew what they were doing.

annenigma (aka wildermiss) said...

'Independent Media Need You to Get the Word Out on Social Media'

This From FAIR, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, whose particular interest in this case is spreading fundraising appeals more widely on social media but applies to others as well.

"When people like, comment, share and click on the links of independent media posts on a site like Facebook, it tells Facebook‘s algorithm that this is content it should show to others. This increases the amount of people the post will reach. Without these engagements, it is safe to assume that Facebook would show these posts to hardly anyone. More than simply co-signing their content, engaging with posts on social media is a meaningful way of supporting journalism organizations you are sympathetic to by ensuring the organization reaches a larger audience."