Yesterday’s hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray was another maddening experience of faux contrition and open evasion.
Wray apologized for violations that have already been established by courts or Congress (often over the best efforts of the FBI). However, on ample public evidence of new violations, Wray continued to use his favorite testimonial trilogy to dismiss any questions: expressing (1) lack of knowledge, (2) ongoing investigations, and (3) promises of later answers or briefings.
He did, however, hold forth in detail after Rep. Eric Swalwell asked him about FBI Family Day.
Despite the near total lack of substance, Wray did make one surprising denial.
He insisted that the FBI does not engage in censorship efforts, focuses only on “foreign disinformation,” and does not pressure companies to censor others.
Those denials are not only directly contradicted by the recent 155-page opinion of a federal court and the Twitter Files, but a new release from the Twitter Files and journalist Matt Taibbi.
Wray said that “…The FBI is not in the business of moderating content, or causing any social media company to suppress or censor.”
He then added that these companies are not under any pressure in making their own decisions whether to censor people or groups flagged by the FBI.
The statement is obviously false.
The FBI maintained a large operation of agents actively seeking the censorship of thousands, as discussed in my prior testimony.
Taibbi, however, has released another example of how aggressive the FBI was with social media companies. In the latest Twitter Files release, there is one email exchange where Twitter “immediately” suspended accounts flagged by the FBI without investigation.
“In one shot, you can see the FBI asks to remove three accounts, that gets forwarded to Twitter, Twitter immediately suspends them, the accounts. But more importantly, when there’s a glitch, and the accounts remain up, the FBI immediately writes back and says, what’s the deal? We just wrote to you, why is it still up? So, that shows the nature of the relationship basically that it’s not really a collaboration. It’s much more like somebody reporting to an authority.
… [W]hat happens in these instances in the ones that I was showing, they’re just forwarding names of accounts that they say are associated with foreign threat actors. It’s very vague. And Twitter is taking them down before they even investigate. In this case, they later determined that they couldn’t find anything connecting them to any bad actors. In fact, one of them was from Canada. And so, that’s the problem. If it’s not connected with a crime, they’re just asking to take accounts down because they don’t like the profile of them.”
We also have hundreds of emails that show the FBI and other agencies targeting individuals for a wide array of disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation. The latter category is truly Orwellian. It covers true statements that can be used for a misleading purpose.
The latest email does not suggest that the FBI was the passive, helpful agency portrayed by the Director. For most people reading the email, it sounds like it is my Wray or the hard Wray.