[News] The Federal Bureau of Tweets: Twitter is Hiring an Alarming Number of FBI Agents

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sat Jun 25 11:33:22 EDT 2022

The Federal Bureau of Tweets: Twitter is Hiring an Alarming Number of FBI

[image: This July 9, 2019 file photo shows a sign outside of the Twitter
office building in San Francisco. Photo: Jeff Chiu.]

This July 9, 2019 file photo shows a sign outside of the Twitter office
building in San Francisco. Photo: Jeff Chiu.

By Alan Macleod – Jun 21, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter has been on a recruitment drive of late, hiring a
host of former feds and spies. Studying a number of employment and
recruitment websites, *MintPress* has ascertained that the social media
giant has, in recent years, recruited dozens of individuals from the
national security state to work in the fields of security, trust, safety
and content.

Chief amongst these is the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The FBI is
generally known as a domestic security and intelligence force. However, it
has recently expanded its remit into cyberspace. “The FBI’s investigative
authority is the broadest of all federal law enforcement agencies,” the
“About” section of its website
readers. “The FBI has divided its investigations into a number of programs,
such as domestic and international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence
[and] cyber crime,” it adds.

For example, in 2019, Dawn Burton
<https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Dawn-B.png> (the
former director of Washington operations for Lockheed Martin) was poached
from her job as senior innovation advisor to the director at the FBI to
become senior director of strategy and operations for legal, public policy,
trust and safety at Twitter. The following year, Karen Walsh
straight from 21 years at the bureau to become director of corporate
resilience at the silicon valley giant. Twitter’s deputy general counsel
and vice president of legal, Jim Baker
also spent four years at the FBI between 2014 and 2018, where his resumé
notes he rose to the role of senior strategic advisor.


Meanwhile, Mark Jaroszewski
his 21-year posting as a supervisory special agent in the Bay Area to take
up a position at Twitter, rising to become director of corporate security
and risk. And Douglas Turner
14 years as a senior special agent and SWAT Team leader before being
recruited to serve in Twitter’s corporate and executive security services.
Previously, Turner had also spent seven years as a secret service special
agent with the Department of Homeland Security.

When asked to comment by *MintPress*, former FBI agent and whistleblower
Coleen Rowley said that she was “not surprised at all” to see FBI agents
now working for the very tech companies the agency polices, stating that
there now exists a “revolving door” between the FBI and the areas they are
trying to regulate. This created a serious conflict of interests in her
mind, as many agents have one eye on post-retirement jobs. “The truth is
that at the FBI 50% of all the normal conversations that people had were
about how you were going to make money after retirement,” she said.

RELATED CONTENT: Twitter Partners with UK Govt-Backed, CIA-Linked Reuters
to Censor Alternative Views

Many former FBI officials hold influential roles within Twitter. For
instance, in 2020, Matthew W.
a 15-year career as an intelligence program manager at the FBI to take up
the post of senior director of product trust at Twitter. Patrick G.
a 23-year FBI supervisory special agent, is now head of corporate security.
And Twitter’s director of insider risk and security investigations, Bruce A.
was headhunted from his role as a supervisory special agent at the bureau.
His resumé notes that at the FBI he held “[v]arious intelligence and law
enforcement roles in the US, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East” and was a
“human intelligence and counterintelligence regional specialist.” (On
employment sites such as LinkedIn, many users choose not to reveal their
full names.)

Meanwhile, between 2007 and 2021 Jeff Carlton
up a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps, rising to
become a senior intelligence analyst. Between 2014 and 2017, his LinkedIn
profile notes, he worked for both the CIA and FBI, authored dozens of
official reports, some of which were read by President Barack Obama.
Carlton describes his role as a “problem-solver” and claims to have worked
in many “dynamic, high-pressure environments” such as Iraq and Korea. In
May 2021, he left official service to become a senior program manager at
Twitter, responsible for dealing with the company’s “highest-profile trust
and safety escalations.”

Other former FBI staff are employed by Twitter, such as Cherrelle Y.
a policy domain specialist and Laura D.
a senior analyst in global risk intelligence.

Many of those listed above were active in the FBI’s public outreach
programs, a practice sold as a community trust-building initiative.
According to Rowley, however, these also function as “ways for officials to
meet the important people that would give them jobs after retirement.” “It
basically inserts a huge conflict of interest,” she told *MintPress*. “It
warps and perverts the criminal investigative work that agents do when they
are still working as agents because they anticipate getting lucrative jobs
after retiring or leaving the FBI.”

Rowley – who in 2002 was named
<https://edition.cnn.com/2002/US/12/23/time.persons.of.year/>, along with
two other whistleblowers, as *Time* magazine’s Person of the Year – was
skeptical that there was anything seriously nefarious about the hiring of
so many FBI agents, suggesting that Twitter could be using them as sources
of information and intelligence. She stated:

Retired agents often maintained good relationships and networks with
current agents. So they can call up their old buddy and find out stuff…
There were certainly instances of retired agents for example trying to find
out if there was an investigation of so and so. And if you are working for
a company, that company is going to like that influence.”

Rowley also suggested that hiring people from various three-letter agencies
gave them a credibility boost. “These [tech] companies are using the
mythical aura of the FBI. They can point to somebody and say ‘oh, you can
trust us; our CEO or CFO is FBI,’” she explained.

Twitter certainly has endorsed the FBI as a credible actor, allowing the
organization to play a part in regulating the global dissemination of
information on its platform. In September 2020, it put out a statement
<https://twitter.com/TwitterSafety/status/1300848637417644032> thanking the
federal agency. “We wish to express our gratitude to the FBI’s Foreign
Influence Task Force for their close collaboration and continued support of
our work to protect the public conversation at this critical time,” the
statement read.

One month later, the company announced
<https://twitter.com/TwitterSafety/status/1311462538056544258> that the FBI
was feeding it intelligence and that it was complying with their requests
for deletion of accounts. “Based on intel provided by the FBI, last night
we removed approximately 130 accounts that appeared to originate in Iran.
They were attempting to disrupt the public conversation during the first
2020 U.S. Presidential Debate,” Twitter’s safety team wrote.

Yet the evidence they supplied of this supposed threat to American
democracy was notably weak. All four of the messages from this Iranian
operation that Twitter itself shared
<https://twitter.com/TwitterSafety/status/1311462541424558080> showed that
none of them garnered any likes or retweets whatsoever, meaning that
essentially nobody saw them. This was, in other words, a completely routine
cleanup operation of insignificant troll accounts. Yet the announcement
allowed Twitter to present the FBI as on the side of democracy and place
the idea into the public psyche that the election was under threat from
foreign actors.

Based on intel provided by the @FBI
<https://twitter.com/FBI?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>, last night we removed
approximately 130 accounts that appeared to originate in Iran. They were
attempting to disrupt the public conversation during the first 2020 US
Presidential Debate.

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 1, 2020

Iran has been a favorite Twitter target in the past. In 2009, at the behest
of the U.S. government, it postponed
maintenance of the site, which would have required taking it offline. This
was because an anti-government protest movement in Tehran was using the app
to communicate and the U.S. did not want the demonstrations’ regime-change
potential to be stymied.

*A CARNIVAL OF SPOOKS *The FBI is far from the only state security agency
filling Twitter’s ranks. Shortly after leaving a 10-year career as a CIA
analyst, Michael Scott Robinson
<https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-scott-robinson-29158174/> was hired to
become a senior policy manager for site integrity, trust and safety.

The California-based app has also recruited heavily from the Atlantic
Council, a NATO cutout organization that serves as the military alliance’s
think tank. The council is sponsored
NATO, led by senior NATO generals and regularly plays out
scenarios in enemy states, such as China.

The Atlantic Council has been associated with many of the most egregious
fake news plants of the last few years. It published a series
lurid reports alleging that virtually every political group in Europe
challenging the status quo – from the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and
UKIP in Great Britain to PODEMOS and Vox in Spain and Syriza and Golden
Dawn in Greece – were all secretly “the Kremlin’s Trojan Horses.” Atlantic
Council employee Michael Weiss was also very likely
creator of the shadowy organization PropOrNot, a group that anonymously
published a list of fake-news websites that regularly peddled Kremlin
disinformation. Included in this list was virtually every anti-war
alternative media outlet one could think of – from *MintPress* to *Truthout,
TruthDig* and *The Black Agenda Report*. Also included were pro-Trump
websites like *The Drudge Report*, and liberatarian ventures like
*Antiwar.com* and *The Ron Paul Institute*.

PropOrNot’s list was immediately heralded
the corporate press, and was the basis for a wholescale algorithm shift at
Google and other big tech platforms, a shift that saw traffic to
alternative media sites crash overnight, never to recover. Thus, the
allegation of a huge (Russian) state-sponsored attempt to influence the
media was itself an intelligence op by the U.S. national security state.

In 2020, Kanishk Karan
<https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/unnamed.jpg> left
his job as a research associate at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics
Research (DFR) Lab to join Twitter as information integrity and safety
specialist – essentially helping to control what Twitter sees as legitimate
information and nefarious disinformation. Another DFR Lab graduate turned
Twitter employee is Daniel Weimert
who is now a senior public policy associate for Russia – a key target
the Atlantic Council. Meanwhile, Sarah Oh
simultaneously an Atlantic Council DFR Lab non-resident senior fellow and a
Twitter advisor, her social media bio noting she works on “high risk trust
and safety issues.”


In 2019, Twitter also hired Greg Andersen straight from NATO to work on
cybercrime policy. There is sparse information on what Andersen did at
NATO, but, alarmingly, his own LinkedIn profile stated simply that he
worked on “psychological operations” for the military alliance. After
*MintPress* highlighted
fact in an article in April, he removed all mention of “psychological
operations” from his profile, claiming now to have merely worked as a NATO
“researcher.” Andersen left Twitter in the summer of last year to work as a
product policy manager for the popular video platform TikTok.

Twitter also directly employs active army officers. In 2019, Gordon
Macmillan, the head of editorial for the entire Europe, Middle East and
Africa region was revealed to be an officer in the British Army’s notorious
77th Brigade – a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological
operations. This bombshell news was steadfastly ignored
the media.

*POSITIONS OF POWER AND CONTROL *With nearly 400 million
<https://backlinko.com/twitter-users> global users, there is no doubt that
Twitter has grown to become a platform large and influential enough to
necessitate extensive security measures, as actors of all stripes attempt
to use the service to influence public opinion and political actions. There
is also no doubt that there is a limited pool of people qualified in these
sorts of fields.

But recruiting largely from the U.S. national security state fundamentally
undermines claims Twitter makes about its neutrality. The U.S. government
is the source of some of the largest and most extensive influence
operations in the world. As far back as 2011, *The Guardian* reported
the existence of a massive, worldwide U.S. military online influence
campaign in which it had designed software that allowed its personnel to
“secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to
influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.” The
program boasts that the background of these personas is so convincing that
psychological operations soldiers can be sure to work “without fear of
being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.” Yet Twitter appears to be
recruiting from the source of the problem.

These former national security state officials are not being employed in
politically neutral departments such as sales or customer service, but in
security, trust and content, meaning that some hold considerable sway over
what messages and information are promoted, and what is suppressed, demoted
or deleted.

It could be said that poachers-turned-gamekeepers often play a crucial role
in safety and protection, as they know how bad actors think and operate.
But there exists little evidence that any of these national security state
operatives have changed their stances. Twitter is not hiring whistleblowers
or dissidents. It appears, then, that some of these people are essentially
doing the same job they were doing before, but now in the private sector.
And few are even acknowledging that there is anything wrong with moving
from big government to big tech, as if the U.S. national security state and
the fourth estate are allies, rather than adversaries.

That Twitter is already working so closely with the FBI and other agencies
makes it easy for them to recruit from the federal pool. As Rowley said,
“over a period of time these people will be totally in sync with the
mindset of Twitter and other social media platforms. So from the company’s
standpoint, they are not hiring somebody new. They already know this
person. They know where they stand on things.”

*IS THERE A PROBLEM? *Some might ask “What is the problem with Twitter
actively recruiting from the FBI, CIA and other three-letter agencies?”
They, after all, are experts in studying online disinformation and
propaganda. One is optical. If a Russian-owned social media app’s trust,
security and content moderation was run by former KGB or FSB agents and
still insisted it was a politically neutral platform, the entire world
would laugh.

But apart from this, the huge influx of security state personnel into
Twitter’s decision-making ranks means that the company will start to view
every problem in the same manner as the U.S. government does – and act
accordingly. “In terms of their outlooks on the world and on the question
of misinformation and internet security, you couldn’t get a better field of
professionals who are almost inherently going to be more in tune with the
government’s perspective,” Rowley said.

Thus, when policing the platform for disinformation and influence
campaigns, the former FBI and CIA agents and Atlantic Council fellows only
ever seem to find them emanating from enemy states and never from the U.S.
government itself. This is because their backgrounds and outlooks condition
them to consider Washington to be a unique force for good.

This one-sided view of disinformation can be seen by studying the reports
Twitter has published
<https://transparency.twitter.com/en/reports/information-operations.html> on
state-linked information operations. The entire list of countries it has
identified as engaging in these campaigns are as follows: Russia (in 7
reports), Iran (in 5 reports), China (4 reports), Saudi Arabia (4 reports),
Venezuela (3 reports), Egypt (2 reports), Cuba, Serbia, Bangladesh, the
UAE, Ecuador, Ghana, Nigeria, Honduras, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand,
Armenia, Spain, Tanzania, Mexico and Uganda.

One cannot help noticing that this list correlates quite closely to a hit
list of U.S. government adversaries. All countries carry out disinfo
campaigns to a certain extent. But these “former” spooks and feds are
unlikely to point the finger at their former colleagues or sister
organizations or investigate their operations.

*THE COLD (CYBER)WAR *Twitter has mirrored U.S. hostility towards states
like Russia, China, Iran and Cuba, attempting to suppress the reach and
influence of their state media by adding warning messages to the tweets of
journalists and accounts affiliated with those governments.
“State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises
control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or
indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and
distribution,” it noted

In a rather bizarre addendum, it explained that it would not be doing the
same to state-affiliated media or personalities from other countries, least
of all the U.S. “State-financed media organizations with editorial
independence, like the *BBC *in the U.K. or *NPR *in the U.S. for example,
are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy,”
it wrote. It did not explain how it decided that Cuban, Russian, Chinese or
Iranian journalists did not have editorial independence, but British and
American ones did – this was taken for granted. The effect of the action
has been a throttling of ideas and narratives from enemy states and an
amplification of those coming from Western state media.

As the U.S. ramps up tensions with Beijing, so too has Twitter aggressively
shut down pro-China voices on its platform. In 2020, it banned
accounts it said were “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the
Communist Party of China,” such as praising its handling of the Covid-19
pandemic or expressing opposition to the Hong Kong protests, both of which
are majority views in China. Importantly, the Silicon Valley company did
not claim that these accounts were controlled by the government; merely
sharing these opinions was grounds enough for deletion.

The group behind Twitter’s decision to ban those Chinese accounts was the
Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a deeply controversial
tank funded by the Pentagon, the State Department and a host of weapons
manufacturers. ASPI has constantly peddled conspiracy theories about China
and called for ramping up tensions with the Asian nation.

Perhaps most notable, however, was Twitter’s announcement
year that it was deleting dozens of accounts for the new violation of
“undermining faith in the NATO alliance.” The statement was widely
ridiculed online by users. But few noted that the decision was based upon a
partnership with the Stanford Internet Observatory, a
counter-disinformation think tank filled with former spooks and state
officials and headed by an individual who is on the advisory board of
NATO’s Collective Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. That Twitter is
working so closely with organizations that are clearly intelligence
industry catspaws should concern all users.

*NOT JUST TWITTER *While some might be alarmed that Twitter is cultivating
such an intimate relationship with the FBI and other groups belonging to
the secret state, it is perhaps unfair to single it out, as many social
media platforms are doing the same. Facebook, for example, has entered into
a formal partnership with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research
Lab, whereby the latter holds significant influence over 2.9 billion users’
news feeds, helping to decide what content to promote and what content to
suppress. The NATO cutout organization now serves
Facebook’s “eyes and ears,” according to a Facebook press release. Anti-war
and anti-establishment voices across the world have reported massive drops
in traffic on the platform.

The social media giant also hired
NATO Press Secretary Ben Nimmo to be its head of intelligence. Nimmo
subsequently used his power to attempt
swing the election in Nicaragua away from the leftist Sandinista Party and
towards the far-right, pro-U.S. candidate, deleting hundreds of left-wing
voices in the week of the election, claiming they were engaging in
“inauthentic behavior.” When these individuals (including some well-known
personalities) poured onto Twitter, recording video messages proving they
were not bots, Twitter deleted
accounts too, in what one commentator called a Silicon Valley “double tap

An April *MintPress* study
how TikTok, too, has been filling its organization with alumni of the
Atlantic Council, NATO, the CIA and the State Department. As with Twitter,
these new TikTok employees largely work in highly politically sensitive
fields such as trust, safety, security and content moderation, meaning
these state operatives hold influence over the direction of the company and
what content is promoted and what is demoted.

Likewise, in 2017, content aggregation site Reddit plucked
Jessica Ashooh from the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Strategy Task Force
to become its new director of policy, despite the fact that she had few
relevant qualifications or experience in the field.

RELATED CONTENT: Jack Dorsey, the CIA and Twitter Censorship in the Age of

In corporate media too, we have seen a widespread infiltration of former
security officials into the upper echelons of news organizations. So
normalized is the penetration of the national security state into the media
that is supposed to be holding it to account, that few reacted in 2015 when
Dawn Scalici left her job as national intelligence manager for the Western
hemisphere at the Director of National Intelligence to become the global
business director of international news conglomerate Thomson Reuters.
Scalici, a 33-year CIA veteran who had worked her way up to become a
director in the organization, was open about what her role was. In a blog
post <https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/authors/dawn-scalici/> on
the *Reuters* website, she wrote that she was there to “meet the disparate
needs of the U.S. Government” – a statement that is at odds with even the
most basic journalistic concepts of impartiality and holding the powerful
to account.

Meanwhile, cable news outlets routinely employ a wide range of “former”
agents and mandarins as trusted personalities and experts. These include
former CIA Directors John Brennan (*NBC*, *MSNBC*) and Michael Hayden (*CNN*),
ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (*CNN*), and former
Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend (*CBS*). And news for so many
Americans comes delivered through ex-CIA interns like Anderson Cooper (*CNN*),
CIA-applicants like Tucker Carlson
 (*Fox*), or by Mika Brzezinski (*MSNBC), *the daughter of a powerful
national security advisor. The FBI has its own former agents on TV as well,
with talking heads such as James Gagliano (*Fox*), Asha Rangappa (*CNN*)
and Frank Figliuzzi (*NBC, MSNBC*) becoming household names. In short,
then, the national security state once used
infiltrate the media. Today, however, the national security state *is* the

Social media holds enormous influence in today’s society. While this
article is not alleging that anyone mentioned is a bad actor or does not
genuinely care about the spread of disinformation, it is highlighting a
glaring conflict of interest. Through its agencies, the U.S. government
regularly plants fake news and false information. Therefore, social media
hiring individuals straight from the FBI, CIA, NATO and other groups to
work on regulating disinformation is a fundamentally flawed practice. One
of media’s primary functions is to serve as a fourth estate; a force that
works to hold the government and its agencies to account. Yet instead of
doing that, increasingly it is collaborating with them. Such are these
increasing interlocking connections that it is becoming increasingly
difficult to see where big government ends and big media begins.

(MintPress News

Alan MacLeod
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