CN Editor Joe Lauria was one of 644 Twitter accounts that secretly formed part of Hamilton 68’s fake “dashboard” that wrongly influenced major media about alleged “Russian influence.”
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
The editor of this website is part of a secret list created by the organization Hamilton 68 that was fed to major media and Congress to identify so-called “Russian accounts” that were “sowing discord” in the United States.
The list of 644 Twitter accounts were discovered by Twitter executives who were unable to prove any links to Russia, reported Matt Taibbi in his latest installment of the Twitter Files on Friday.
“This was digital McCarthyism, taking people with dissident or unconventional opinions and mass-accusing them of ‘Un-American activities,’” writes Taibbi.
Hamilton 68 was created in 2017 by Clint Watts, a former F.B.I. counterintelligence officer and MSNBC analyst as a project of the German Marshall Fund and the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), a bipartisan think-tank.
On Hamilton’s advisory council sits former acting C.I.A. chief Michael Morell, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and former editor of the neoconservative Weekly Standard Bill Kristol.
Twitter Pushes Back
Twitter executives were not taken in by Hamilton 68’s secret list of Twitter accounts, with Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth, saying in an email obtained by Taibbi: “I think we need to just call this out on the bullshit it is.” Twitter uncovered the secret list by analyzing Hamilton’s Application Program Interface (API) requests to reverse-engineer the list in late 2017, Taibbi reported.
“The two founders of Hamilton 68, the blue-and-red team of former counselor to Marco Rubio Jamie Fly and Hillary for America Foreign Policy Advisor Laura Rosenberger, told Politico they couldn’t reveal the names of the accounts because “the Russians will simply shut them down.” Tchya, right. One look at the list reveals the real reason they couldn’t make it public.
This was not faulty science. It was a scam. Instead of tracking how ‘Russia’ influenced American attitudes, Hamilton 68 simply collected a handful of mostly real, mostly American accounts, and described their organic conversations as Russian scheming. As Roth put it, ‘Virtually any conclusion drawn from [the dashboard] will take conversations in conservative circles on Twitter and accuse them of being Russian.’”
But as Taibbi points out, it was not only conservatives who were targeted. “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,” he wrote.
Major U.S. universities as well as members of the U.S. Congress were also duped by the Hamilton 68 scam, writes Taibbi.
39.Perhaps most embarrassingly, elected officials promoted the site, and invited Hamilton “experts” to testify. Dianne Feinstein, James Lankford, Richard Blumenthal, Adam Schiff, and Mark Warner were among the offenders. pic.twitter.com/X97OmZ3dv1
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 27, 2023
“Watts, who clearly knew how to play up the melodrama of his role, gave dire warnings to the Senate Intelligence Committee, telling them they should ‘follow the dead bodies’ if they wanted to get to the bottom of the Russian interference problem,” Taibbi reported. Twitter tried to privately warn Feinstein and Blumenthal about Hamilton 68 but were ignored. By not going public, Twitter helped perpetuate the fraud, Taibbi said.
“The scam needed just three elements: credentials of someone like ‘former FBI agent’ Watts, the absence of any semblance of fact-checking, and the silence of companies like Twitter.
On the third point, 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.
Even if Twitter had pushed back, it wouldn’t have mattered. As it was, when company spokespeople urged reporters off the record to stay away, they didn’t — just as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal didn’t, when Twitter tried to warn them that ‘Russian bot’ stories were fake. Horne wrote several times that she had no luck in steering journalists away from these hack headlines. ‘Reporters are chafing,” she wrote, adding, ‘it’s like shouting into a void.’” …
Indeed, corporate media gobbled up what Hamilton 68 was serving. Wrote Taibbi:
“If one goes by volume alone, this oft-cited neoliberal think-tank that spawned hundreds of fraudulent headlines and TV news segments may go down as the single greatest case of media fabulism in American history. Virtually every major news organization in America is implicated, including NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and the Washington Post. Mother Jones alone did at least 14 stories pegged to the group’s ‘research.’ Even fact-checking sites like Politifact and Snopes cited Hamilton 68 as sources.”
Illusion of Ongoing Russian Interference
28.What makes this an important story is the sheer scale of the news footprint left by Hamilton 68’s digital McCarthyism. The quantity of headlines and TV segments dwarfs the impact of individual fabulists like Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass. pic.twitter.com/zfyjLb5Tkq
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 27, 2023
Taibbi wrote: “The Hamilton 68 tale has no clear analog in media history, which may give mainstream media writers an excuse not to cover it. They will be under heavy pressure to avoid addressing this scandal, since nearly all of them work for organizations guilty of spreading Hamilton’s ‘bullshit’ stories in volume.”
“The Hamilton 68 story shows how the illusion of ongoing ‘Russian interference’ worked. The magic trick was generated via a confluence of interests, between think-tanks, media, and government. Before, we could only speculate. Now we know: the ‘Russian threat’ was, in this case at least, just a bunch of ordinary Americans, dressed up to look like a Red Menace. …
‘Outfits like Hamilton 68 don’t have to agree with us,’ says Lauria. ‘But they should just leave us the hell alone.'”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the list was shared with Twitter. Twitter had to reverse-engineer data requests from Hamilton to reveal the list.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe
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How many other such outfits are there?
Clearly, getting the story right is not the objective of those who prioritize career over journalistic integrity. The kind of integrity displayed by Matt, Joe and the other contributors to this site and a few others. Fealty to empire is how you advance your career in establishment media. And government as well. I suspect we’ll see the same cowardly behavior by the titans of corporate press as when the WMD in Iraq story blew up in their faces. They simply promoted those who got it wrong and marginalized those who got it right. Demonstrating the above.
24 months ago VLADIMIR PUTIN’S biggest ally, on the WORLD stage, was the only “orange” POTUS of The Divided $tates of Corporate America.
Imo, The CULT’s, Hamilton 68’s, “Quiet Diplomacy” was fed to MSMedia & Congress to identify so-called “Russian accounts,” 644 SUSPECTS, “that were “sowing discord” in the United States,” $ponsored by Biden’s-Harris’ Board of Executioners.
The only “black” POTUS, Ohbama, who HOPED to sow peace, instead leads the nation in war, surveillance NOT peace, “Welcome to the Malarky “Low WATTage” Factory’s, ASD’s “sowing discord.”
The TRUTH IS: “The Party for Jackasses aka Democrats, “have a long history of discreetly collaborating with the GOP.
As former POTUS Ohbama w/Joey Biden by his side, explained with remarkable clarity when DJTrump was elected, the relationship between these parties is like a relay race. They hand off the baton to one another because, in Ohbama’s own words, “ultimately, we’re all on the same team.”
The Commander N $peech, OhBama, “representative of the ruling class, neglected to add the name of the team: CAPITAL.” OhBama, “didn’t mention that he had run a particularly good leg of the race by preparing the way for DJTRUMP.”
Ohbama’s leftovers, the f/up four, Kristol, Podesta, Morell, McFail, have extensive practice in lying to the American people; &, to the WORLD about drone missile assassinations, illegal wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, global spying, lying, flying by the USG’s intelligence apparatus, etc., etc., etc.
“Since there are patent signs of an inside job, Assuring Securing Democracy, it behooves us to ask, “CUI BONO?!?”
Consequently, plant, animal & human “LIFE,” in The Divided $tates of Corporate America, is @ risk of extinction. LIFE is seriously, in EXTREME Decline. People, individually & collectively, are being targeted.
A best practice, abort The ASD & its $ponsor. STOP ‘EM from escalating the crisis, “the Kremlin’s hand @ work,” it helped ignite.”
“This moral vacuity provides the spectacle, as H.G. Wells wrote, of “a great material civilization, halted, paralyzed.” It happened in Ancient Rome. It happened in Weimar Germany. It is happening here.”
“What sensible minds may expect is that even as we’ll keep suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, this New Cold War hopefully won’t become hot.” PEPE ESCOBAR
This goes out to CULT 68 aka Hamilton, “Don’t say nothin bad about CN’s Editor. Oh, No. Don’t say nothin bad about CN’s Editor. We love him, so. Don’t say nothin bad about the Editor! Dontcha know? He’s true. One of the Best! Soooo, “Hamilton,” ya better $hut your mouth!!!” The Cookies “Don’t Say Nothin Bad About…” hxxps://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vmt9NVb4hww
‘Outfits like Hamilton 68 don’t have to agree with us’ ‘But they should just leave us the hell alone.’” (JOE LAURIA) “Keep It Lit!”
As several commenters in this thread indicate, these “anti-American” programs are IN THEMSELVES perversely anti-American, as they stand in opposition to the constitution, including the first amendment and the provision that military action shall be defensive, decided by Congress, not empire-building for the special interests of a few.
The problem specifically lies in a gulled public assisted by whipped-up emotions for the nation’s historical enemies. Hillary Clinton, Clint Watts, et al utilize Joe McCarthy’s opportunism and prime the pump with jingoism. In this atmosphere critical voices questioning activities such as using Ukraine and Nato to advance neo-liberal programs are then demonized, as McCarthy demonized imaginary communists in the government and anyone else not taking the officially preferred narrative.
Unforunately, the human is vulnerable to savage hatred, much in the way road rage can take over an otherwise rational person and lead on to disaster. Manipulating this rage is the crime, not exposing and deliberating on where a course of action is taking the country.
Matt Taibbi has mentioned in interviews that before publication (being the responsible, professional journalist he is), he contacted the publications and authors who had published stories sourced from Hamilton 68 for comment. None of them replied, except for the Washington Post, and then only to say that they had no comment.
Clearly, they’re hoping that if they just ignore this, it will all blow over in a couple of weeks and eveybody will forget about it. Sadly, they’re probably right.
It’s a kind of litmus test, isn’t it? They will studiously ignore it, while the demonisation of all things Russian will go on relentlessly. Shameless but very well paid.
Speaking of childish name-calling and smear tactics: I just checked “Counter Punch” website for kicks, and the Resident Russophobe, Eric Draitser just wrote an article “Making (No) Sense of the Ukraine War” smearing Medea Benjamin and Code Pink.
Draitser likens Medea Benjamin to Vladimir Putin! Wow, what a sophisticated and fact-filled argument. Counter Punch just keeps sinking to new lows. Draitser and SuckerPunch apparently have no interest reporting on Hamilton 68.
Criticize or report the facts about Israeli crimes, get smeared with “antisemite” or “self-hating Jew”. If one criticized Iraq War 2.0, one was smeared with “Saddam apologist” or worse. If you criticized GWOT, you got smeared with “conspiracy theorist” or “soft on terror”.
Report the truth about the Russiagate nonsense, or the hysterical Russophobia, (New Red Scare) or any other issues related to Russia, get smeared. No facts are required.
The pathetic propaganda-pushers are desperate: they know they have no factual or rational arguments, so they must resort to childish name-calling to discredit anyone who challenges the BS. Of course in a formal debate, one would be disqualified immediately for such tactics.
Assange has been smeared as a “Russian agent”. Robert Parry was smeared, as have others who report factual information about the issues. Now Joe Lauria has been smeared. I recall some years ago “Prop or Not” listed CN as Russian disinfo or some such BS.
This would be pathetically humorous, if it weren’t so serious
I am hoping that the Twitter files serve to out the sniveling fascists behind Propornot next.
Also Clint Watts is a despicable POS.
Clint Watts, see this guy’s wiki. No birth date or family history. The perfect example of what to look for when things are not as they appear. I’d say we have a DeepState functionary here. If something appears to be a CIA front better look twice. Clint acts and walks the part of being the type of individual they would want. Droning on constantly repeating the same mantra with his fingers in his ears. Commies BAD, Commies Bad Commies Bad!
Alliance for Securing Democracy is affiliated with and housed at the German Marshall Fund (SEE the WIKI) which is based in Washington D.C..
In 1987 George Keenan gave the keynote address art a conference in organized West Berlin by GMF to commemorate the 40the anniversary of the Marshll plan. Do some reading and you will find this org is loaded with NEOCONS. George Frost Keenan was one individual listed in a group referred to as “The Wise Men”, a group attributed with establishing the world bank. These men rubbed elbows with the likes of others from Georgetown Set, SEE the Wise Men wiki. SEE George town Set wiki.
listed in the index of THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY – an instrument of government to 1950, George Frost Keenan is listed INDEX p501
“Keenan, George F., p104, 131; guidance and reform of covert operations, 266-67; National Estimate Board, 420; NSC 4-A A directive, 245-46; Office of Policy Coordination and, 277-79; on the responsibility for political warfare, 311; Special Procedures Group and 263-65.”
Ya’ ll need to get a copy of the CIA book like I been telling you. You see the Nut – a crazy or eccentric person never falls far from the nut tree.
I will remind you all once again that things Are not as they appear.
This Hamilton 68 business is only one of several groups now exposed for their efforts to discredit alternative analysis/viewpoints.
By now, we should all be familiar with Newsguard’s attempt to discredit CN and their analysis of Ukrainian issues/events. (Joe Lauria’s point-by-point response was brilliant).
Big Tech does most of the heavy lifting, outsourced with the task of minimizing those voices/sites that veer too far away from mainstream narratives. From scary warning symbols telling readers the site they’re about to enter is ‘unreliable’ —to—-outright de-platforming, the dirty work of this kind of censorship is one step removed from gov’t.
——– The entire corporate media culture in the US – and most of the West – could be considered an ongoing psy-op aimed at independent/dissident viewpoints. Operation Mockingbird continues in evermore sophisticated and insidious ways.
Speaking of psy-ops, one of Obama’s last acts was to remove the ban on the CIA from initiating propaganda campaigns WITHIN the US.
Sadly, the general public is largely unaware of all this subterfuge meant to undermine/discredit alternative media.
Is there anything, anything at all, that the US is capable (willing?) to do the honest way?
Great comments, all. I would say the two parties in this country are just one party rolling dice to win the bones of our dead democracy. Authoritarians always use the existing structure to create the authoritarian structure they secretly desire. Like “Hamilton 68,” I guess “NewsGuard” is also saving us from Russian information intrusion. The “shining city on a hill” turns out to be a drive-in theater showing disinformation commercials between dramas touting the Empire’s eternal glory.
Ditto the DH “badge of honor” comment. If CN were not being harassed I would not be a reader, and would request to see their donor list.
Is this somewhat akin to “the Red Scare” in the late 40’s/early 50’s?
It’s certainly “scary”.
Yes. The “red scare” actually began in the 1920’s after Russia became The Soviet Union. McCarthy rode it to personal fame and glory, which intoxicated him, and this sort of fervor also fueled The John Birch Society. The 1950’s and even into the 1960’s were infected with the rabid nonsense that the commies were coming to get us. The Vietnam War was propped up on “the domino theory”–that Chinese and the Soviets were behind North Vietnam and due to arrive on Malibu Beach at any moment. Now look at W’s non-existent WMD.
I believe the Russiagate and this kind of thing was to remind Americans that they are supposed to hate Russia above all things….well, Cuba too. The MIC wanted to warm people up to that hatred so it’d be easy peasy to get their support for Ukraine when the time came to push Russia into defense mode. Truly despicable. I couldn’t believe the speed at which people put up the blue (eyed) yellow (haired) flags.
Think-tanks: manufacturing jingoist narratives for the masses to accept what is fed them without having to think.
The central unspoken, yet obvious truth about the war in Ukraine today is that Russia started out with a massive advantage in manpower and weapons one year ago. That Russian advantage has increased steadily over the past year, despite the most determined efforts of rapidly dwindling Ukrainian troops. But tune in today to Deutsche Welle, France 24, BBC and all you will receive is the most preposterous propaganda imaginable. They will assemble panels of ‘experts’ to pretend that up is down and that every announcement of more vast sums of money and deadly weapons flowing into Ukraine from the West is the one that will insure Russian annihilation and victory for Ukraine. It demonstrates to anyone with a functioning brain that we inhabit an age where our own governments and practically all mass media conspire to lie directly in our faces on a constant basis. The people who perpetrate these lies and have embarked on these insane military farces should be rounded up and paraded through the streets like China’s ‘Gang of Four.’ Half of the population of every Western country fully and passionately believe the lies. We will need some sort of truth and reconciliation project to unwash those brains. Until then, the madness will continue to rule like a devil’s plague.
Hamilton 68 started in 2017 and is just exposed now? Many of the people at Twitter working closely with Hamilton 68 are now in federal jobs; the revolving door of censoring American citizens’ viewpoints in now a great career path. NO ONE IS EVER HELD ACCOUNTABLE. When officials of the federal government censure people, directly or indirectly violating the First Amendment, what is their punishment? An increase in salary? Failing upwards? These people and their enablers at Twitter, Facebook, etc are rewarded.
well said and worthy of attention!
Very true, if you lie and cheat foe the go wrnment in America you get rewarded, if you expose the truth like Julian Assange does you get life in prison. So there is no free speech in America when it comes to reporting on the crimes of government. Isn’t that exactly what we’ve been taught banana republics do?
“NO ONE IS EVER HELD ACCOUNTABLE”, that is right especially when the U.S. national security apparatus is calling the shots. As Mark W. Scott reminds us “This is a gross offense against the very first amendment to the US Constitution.” Ignoring the US Constitution is something the USNS Apparatus excels at.
Sam, I wonder also, why is it some cannot see things for what they are?
GHW Bush and select parts of the USNS Apparatus put the country through more hell that any president in history, see the neocon influence on Both parties.
Clint Watts is one of those paid useful idiots, are you sure you really wish to buy into his B.S.
The charade that the two party system we suffer under continues to have leverage because far too many do not see reality for what it is.
See my comment on micheal888 about this stuff.
I have to wonder if Clint perjured himself to congress when he said what he did about Russia? I’m betting that he did, but nothing will happen to him because he was parroting the democrats line. Also how many times did Schiff perjure himself and lie to the American people? Sad that no will be held accountable for what democrats put the country through with their bogus Russia Russia crap.
This is a gross offense against the very first amendment to the US Constitution and one of the seminal reasons for the founding of our Republic. Until the deep state and their uni party compatriots are tried for treason, then this country will never heal.
Absolutely right, and that will never happen so the country will never heal and never live up to its ideals unfortunately.
IMO, the USA has been revealed to be irredeemably dysfunctional in recent years — and as a Canadian, I can live with that. But it would be better for my country and the rest of the world if the USA were be reduced in power & influence to the level of a middling power. My hope is that the end of the petro-dollar will result in exactly this outcome…
America – vis consili, expers mole ruit sua
It’s worth remembering that the entire Russiagate scheme began in early 2017 as the Democrats” attempt to overturn the 2016 election. In their arrogance, the liberal bourgeoisie disregarded all the warnings about the contempt/rage among so many former Dem voters toward the Clintons and the Clinton right wing. They simply couldn’t believe that Hillary Clinton could be defeated. Interestingly, Clinton did get more votes than Trump in the 2016 election, but Trump got the most electoral votes, so he was rightly (by our elections system) named president. Dems counted on the ignorance of their supporters, and blamed Clinton’s loss on Russia. They then exploited this lie to a profoundly irresponsible, dangerous degree.
From there, we could discuss the role played by the Clintons’ business interests in Ukraine dati8ng back to the ’90s, the US role in Ukraine’s 2014 coup, the US role in installing Zelensky in 2019, and in financing his subsequent war against eastern Ukraine (which had the audacity to vote to remained allied with Russia).
Much to your surprise, I’m sure, I agree with you. I’m still amazed that no one seems to be inclined to examine the relationship between, Slick Willy and G.H.W. . . . , aw, just never mind!
Your commentary is deadly accurate so I wonder if you’ve qualified to be targeted by the Hamilton 68 as well? While many influential and credible journalists have been targeted are they also targeting individuals for their opinions as well, for example by responding to editorials and stories such as this?
I submit that the seeds for Russiagate were planted by Hillary Clinton herself during the Democratic primary debates when she had already begun implying that Trump was cozy with Putin.
I introject that Russiagate began in earnest during Killary’s primary and continued throughout her campaign. She loudly beat the Russian war drums at every chance throughout her campaign. During the campaign, many on the left were terrified that Trump, if elected, would have his finger on the red doomsday button.
To no avail, I continually encouraged all my lefty friends to listen to what Killary was saying. It was clear that she was the one who couldn’t wait to push the button, whereas Trump was calling for NATO de-escalation (make no mistake, I am not a Trump supporter but that doesn’t mean I automatically supported or voted for Killary).
I suspect, to this day, that had Killary been elected, the Ukraine conflict would have started four years earlier.
These systematic efforts to suppress legitimate political discussion in America is an attack on the US Constitution. Therefore the people orchestrating this are enemies of America. They need to be regarded and treated as enemies.
I’ve gotta ask myself…. Does the government have any idea how much they hurt their credibility and trust when they pull stunts like this?
I doubt they care as the mission is accomplished with the non-readers!
It’s a badge of honor to be on that stupid list.
Clint Watts just keeps putting his kneepads on for the Washington militarist Russophobes. What a pathetic cretin he is.
His visibility on MSNBC says a bit about the MSM and it’s eager to pay to brainwash the public.
Exactly herbert davis