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(Reclaim The Net)—A whistleblower has come out with information pertaining to a group known as the Cyber Threat Intelligence League (CTIL), made up of a number of government officials, including at least a dozen from the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The whistleblower allowed Michael Shellenberger, Alex Gutentag, and Matt Taibbi access to documents corroborating his claims, and the three presented it to the public in a detailed report.
The significance of CTIL is that some observers believe it turned out to be the “censorship ground zero” that grew to unprecedented size on both sides of the Atlantic, spawning an entire industry “dealing” with suppressing free speech on anything from Brexit to Covid, and the 2020 election.
According to the whistleblower, CTIL was essentially prompted into existence with Donald Trump’s 2016 election as president and involved representatives of both US and UK authorities, and private military contractors.
The same source claims that co-leader of CTIL is former UK defense researcher, contractor Sara-Jayne Terp, and that the group’s goal was to be preventing “a repeat of 2016” under the guise of fighting disinformation.
Meanwhile the overall ambition was to incorporate CTIL into the federal government, thus formalizing and cementing its role.
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This is why some see this particular set of documented evidence of the early days of the now notorious online censorship era, principally in the US, but also in Europe, as even more important than the Twitter or Facebook files. If CTIL was the original disease, then those files can be seen as the symptoms.
One of the key and most scandalous points is at the same time not surprising at all to anyone who’s been keeping a close eye on how that censorship is being carried out: although the government – military and intelligence agencies were “the co-founders” of CTIL, they quickly realized private entities would have be brought it.
As one document reads, spies and soldiers can act against foreigners abroad unchecked – but when it comes to suppressing the rights of Americans, “the government doesn’t have the legal authority.”
Meaning, for example, to directly trample on the First Amendment – so the tech and legacy media industry got involved.
CTIL, billing itself as “an anti-disinformation” group, started out as an outfit gathering defense and intelligence veterans as well as data scientists on a voluntary basis, but the way it operated was quickly noted as something positive to include in the work of government agencies, notably the DHS.
The large amount of leaked documents and training videos, the report’s authors say, serves to fill in some of the blanks from the Twitter and Facebook files, and provide a big and clearer than ever before picture of what has been happening behind the scenes during the past 7 years of the “dark censorship ages” on both sides of the Atlantic.
Picking some (documented) points from the data trove provided by the whistleblower, Taibbi wrote a series of posts on X, detailing CTIL’s techniques, that wound up being held in such high regard by the authorities they felt they needed to incorporate them in official (if secretive) policies.
Taibbi says that one recurring theme that those involved in CTIL are either heard saying or had written down, is the admission that they are “using many of the same techniques as the bad guys.”
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But citizens in democratic countries should apparently not at all be worried about this scandalous turn of events – because the CTIL people seemed assured that their bad actions were motivated by good reasons.
Some of these “same things” included infiltrating “disinformation spaces” to then flood them what is referred to in the documents as “obviously fake content.”
Further, in the effort to “dilute” core messages found there (considered by CTIL to be misinformation), the group was creating honeypots with “coordinated inauthetics,” infiltrating, or making false claims of infiltration of groups to discredit leaders.
Next, CTIL was “creating fake websites to issue counter narrative, and counter narrative through phsycial merchandise,” as well as use bots, and flag legitimate speech and memes.
But if any of what the group was trying to counter was in fact illegal, wouldn’t there be an easier way to deal with it than go to all this trouble?
At one point, CTIL big-wig Pablo Breuer lamented: “(It’s) expressly forbidden (for the US Defense Department) to operate against US citizens.”
Read the full report here.