The seventh release of the Twitter files on Monday showed the FBI and intelligence agencies worked at media outlets and social media companies to discredit true information about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Unfortunately, this story is the latest in a long line of stories showing indisputably that the FBI has developed a sick culture of nondisclosure over time.
I’ve documented this culture in my Freedom of Information Act case against the FBI which is currently in federal court. The case is more than four years old – still relatively young by FOIA standards – but one of the things I learned recently is that the FBI’s main database – the Sentinel system – is effectively off limits to FOIA researchers. Sentinel contains millions of documents but can only be searched one word at a time, the FBI told the court in my case. The FBI does not have the capability to combine search terms to narrow results, or so it claims. So, if you put in a word like ‘mosque’, you get a million hits and the FBI says it has no duty to wade through a million records to look for anything specific FOIA researchers might be after. The FBI’s refusal to acquire simple combination search technology makes a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act, as I’ve argued to the court.
My first pleading in the case documented the FBI’s sick culture of nondisclosure going back to Waco, where the FBI hid evidence and destroyed the crime scene so its actions could not be examined. The sick culture continues to this day, with the FBI initially claiming it had no records regarding Seth Rich only to admit later it had 20,000 pages and his laptop. In October, the FBI asked for 66 years to release the information, like the murder of Seth Rich was the JFK assassination or something.
The FBI’s sick culture of nondisclosure was transmitted to Twitter when the social media company was under Jack Dorsey. Twitter employed a dozen former FBI officials in such positions as senior director of product trust. That’s on top of previous revelations about Twitter deputy general counsel James Baker, a former FBI lawyer who recently got fired by Elon Musk for – you guessed it – hiding information. There were so many former FBI officials at Twitter they formed their own Slack channel to communicate with each other.
The Twitter files show deep ties and weekly meetings between the FBI and Twitter executives designed to suppress true information in the run-up to the 2020 election. Some of the information was about the Hunter Biden laptop story, which Twitter went on to censor. The FBI also pressured Twitter to take down specific accounts to silence bothersome individuals.
The sixth release of the Twitter files, plus supplementary material, shows an FBI making so many demands on Twitter for censorship a Twitter executive was becoming uncomfortable with the arrangement.
But there’s nothing like a little cash to soothe doubts. We now know the FBI paid Twitter millions of dollars to suppress information and keep it from the public. It was all carried on through emails and back channel reporting platforms, all of which have now been exposed.
The FBI had 80 agents working on this and says they were just after bad foreign actors and subversive or criminal conduct. But the Bureau’s words don’t match its actions, starting with the Hunter Biden laptop story. We need look no further than the seventh release of the Twitter files which shows the FBI worked with Twitter to discredit “factual information about Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings.” That information was embarrassing to Joe Biden and could conceivably have cost the Big Guy the election. It was embarrassing to a political favorite and that’s why the FBI wanted it suppressed.
My FOIA case has been pending for more than four years. The FBI won’t tell me what it’s up to regarding the questions I’ve asked. But they’re going to have to take subpoenas from the House Republicans more seriously. The Republicans will be investigating the Bureau’s collaboration with Twitter to suppress information. There are more files – secret files which the FBI doesn’t want to release – that the Republicans know about and will be demanding. The Republicans believe the FBI’s claims about foreign actors are just a pretext and a full-blown censorship operation against the American people was underway. They’ve threatened to use the power of the purse to get answers. I will be watching closely as the FBI’s sick culture of nondisclosure is held up to the cold light of day. The FBI is supposed to be working for us and it shouldn’t have to take 66 years – or even four years, as in my case – for it to tell us what it’s up to. The day of reckoning is coming.
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