Facebook Hires NATO Press Officer as Intelligence Chief

Feature photo | George Washington University School of Media & Public Affairs | Additions and editing by MintPress News

Ben Nimmo, a former NATO press officer and current senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, has announced Facebook has hired him to “lead global threat intelligence strategy against influence operations” and “emerging threats.” Nimmo specifically named Russia, Iran and China as potential dangers to the platform.

His announcement was greeted with joy by several NATO officials but was not met with such enthusiasm by others. “More censorship on the way as the former NATO press officer turned Pentagon-funded ‘researcher’ who labeled real people as Russian bots and peddled disinformation to link Jeremy Corbyn to Russian active measures moves to big tech,” responded investigative journalist Max Blumenthal.

Nimmo’s questionable past certainly raises questions over whether such an official having a substantial say in what 2.8 billion Facebook users worldwide see in their feeds is such a positive step for the free and open exchange of information.

“Disinformation agents”

For example, in 2019, U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn revealed secret Conservative Party documents showing negotiations the Tory government had with the U.S. over the privatization of the National Health Service (NHS). With just days to go before the U.K. general election, the scandal could have toppled the government and brought into power the most radical antiwar, anti-establishment government in the country’s history. Corporate media went into overdrive to spin the news, and Nimmo was a key part of this, immediately announcing, without evidence, that the documents “closely resemble…a known Russian operation.” His supposedly expert conjecture allowed the story to become “Corbyn’s links to Russia” rather than “Tories privatizing the NHS in secret.” Nimmo’s work helped the Conservatives to an election victory and consigned Corbyn to the scrapheap.

This was much to the relief of Nimmo’s Atlantic Council, who had brandedCorbyn the “Kremlin’s Trojan Horse” — someone pushing Moscow’s agenda abroad. A British Army general was of a similar opinion, claiming that if Corbyn were to win the election, the military would respond. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that the U.S. government was “doing its best” to prevent a radical leftist from winning power in the U.K.

Nimmo has been extremely liberal with whom he labels Russian disinformation agents. In 2018, his research identified one Twitter user, @Ian56789, as a “Kremlin troll.” In reality, the user, Ian Shilling, was a British pensioner, as Sky News was easily able to confirm, interviewing him on air and asking him the patently absurd question if he was actually a Russian bot or not. Despite clearly being a flesh and blood human, Shilling’s account was later deleted anyway.

In the past, Nimmo has also insisted that Ruslana Boshirova was an influential Russian bot. In reality, she is an internationally known concert pianist, as one Google search would have shown. This sort of behavior does not augur well for those critical of Western foreign policy, who have faced constant harassment, suspension, or outright bans from social media.

Pro-war putsch

The Atlantic Council began as an offshoot of NATO itself and maintains extremely close connections to the military alliance. It continues to receive major funding from Western governments and weapons contractors, and its board of directors is filled to the brim with senior American statespersons, such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Henry Kissinger. Also appearing on the board are no fewer than seven former CIA directors and a number of top military generals, such as Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Wesley Clark, and David Petraeus.

In recent years, the council’s employees have penetrated deep into big tech and social media organizations. In 2018, it announced it had partnered with Facebook to aid in the curation of Facebook news feeds of users worldwide, giving it considerable power over what sort of views to highlight and which to demote. One year previously, Jessica Ashooh left the position of the council’s Deputy Director of Middle Eastern Strategy to take the position of Director of Policy at Reddit, the eighth-most visited website in the United States. However, as with many intelligence agencies, it is unclear whether one truly “leaves” the Atlantic Council.

It is not just Russia that is in NATO’s crosshairs. Last week, the Atlantic Council published an anonymous, 26,000-word report stating that their goal for China was regime change and advising President Biden to draw a number of “red lines” around it, beyond which the U.S. would respond militarily. Meanwhile, the head of STRATCOM, Admiral Charles A. Richard, wrote that the U.S. must prepare for a potential nuclear war with Beijing.

Greater control

The military escalation has been mirrored by an intensifying online propaganda war, where the U.S. has attempted to isolate China economically and stop advancing Chinese technologies such as Huawei’s 5G network, mobile phone, and semiconductor manufacturer Xiaomi, and video sharing app TikTok. Nimmo has played his part in ramping up suspicions of nefarious Chinese activity online, claiming the existence of a wide-ranging pro-Beijing bot network encouraging Americans to believe that China has handled the COVID-19 pandemic far better than the United States. That Americans might have come to that conclusion on their own appears not to have been considered.

There is an enormous government effort to convince its population of the existence of (foreign) government efforts to manipulate their opinions online. In a massive case of projection, Western governmental organizations point the finger at their enemies, all the while securing greater access and control over the means of communication themselves, to the point where it is now difficult to distinguish where the deep state ends and the fourth estate begins. Nimmo’s move from NATO to NATO-aligned think tank to Facebook is just another example of this phenomenon. Perhaps the reason Nimmo is not looking for any Western influence operations online is that he is part of one.

Source: Facebook Hires NATO Press Officer as Intelligence Chief

TRIAL MEMORANDUM OF DONALD J. TRUMP

 TRIAL MEMORANDUM 

OF DONALD J. TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 

House Impeachment Brief Against Trump Threatens Freedom of Speech of All Americans: Dershowitz

President Donald Trump greets the crowd at the "Stop The Steal" Rally in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Thursday that the House impeachment brief against former President Donald Trump, which seeks to undermine Trump’s First Amendment-based argument in his defense, amounts to a dangerous broadside against the freedom of speech of all Americans.

Writing in an op-ed for The Hill, Dershowitz made a case against a key argument contained in the brief (pdf), namely that “the First Amendment does not apply at all to impeachment proceedings,” signals Congressional willingness to take aim at freedom of speech more broadly.

“The brief filed by the House managers advocating the conviction and disqualification of citizen Donald Trump contains a frontal attack on freedom of speech for all Americans,” Dershowitz wrote. “It states categorically that ‘the First Amendment does not apply at all to impeachment proceedings,’ despite the express language of that amendment prohibiting Congress from making any law, or presumably taking any other action, that abridges ‘the freedom of speech.’”

Epoch Times Photo
Attorney Alan Dershowitz, then a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, speaks to the press in the Senate Reception Room during the Senate impeachment trial at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 29, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The legal scholar then challenged another statement in the brief, namely that “the First Amendment exists to promote our democratic system.”

“This categorical statement surely would have surprised the Framers of the First Amendment, who believed in freedom of speech but not so much in democracy,” Dershowitz wrote. “The Framers of our constitutional system thought they were building a ‘republic,’ with limited suffrage and many checks on ‘democracy,’” he added, arguing that freedom of speech is “essential to keeping it a republic, but not necessarily a democracy.”

“So, no, the First Amendment does not exist only to ‘protect our democratic system.’ It exists to protect our liberty, regardless of what system we choose,” he wrote.

Dershowitz said that the argument made by the authors of the House brief that the First Amendment “doesn’t apply to presidents or others who ‘attack our democracy,’ is the same as that made by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his acolytes decades ago “when they sought to deny First Amendment protection to communists and others who were seen as enemies of democracy and who, if they had come to power, would have denied the rest of us our freedoms, including that of free speech.”

“Freedom of speech must include those who would replace democracy with other systems of governance. It must even include those who advocate severe restrictions on freedom of speech, as many young left wing radicals do today. They, too, must be allowed to express their dangerous views,” he argued.

The House brief argues that the First Amendment protects private citizens from the government but “it does not protect government officials from accountability for their own abuses in office.”

Holding Trump “accountable through conviction on the article of impeachment would vindicate First Amendment freedoms—which certainly offer no excuse or defense for President Trump’s destructive conduct,” the brief’s authors argue.

“Even if the First Amendment were applicable here, private citizens and government officials stand on very different footing when it comes to being held responsible for their statements,” they wrote.

Citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings in cases Branti v. Finkel and Elrod v. Burns, they argued that, “as the leader of the Nation, the President occupies a position of unique power. And the Supreme Court has made clear that the First Amendment does not shield public officials who occupy sensitive policymaking positions from adverse actions when their speech undermines important government interests.”

The House brief alleges that Trump incited a mob that breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by sowing doubt about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.

capitol
Protesters clash with police at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

Trump’s legal team denies the allegation and argues in a memo (pdf) that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president. The team also argues that Trump exercised his First Amendment rights in calling into question the results of the election.

“After the November election, the 45th President exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect, since with very few exceptions, under the convenient guise of COVID-19 pandemic ‘safeguards’ states election laws and procedures were changed by local politicians or judges without the necessary approvals from state legislatures,” the legal team wrote.

“Like all Americans, the 45th President is protected by the First Amendment,” they wrote. “Indeed, he believes, and therefore avers, that the United States is unique on Earth in that its governing documents, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, specifically and intentionally protect unpopular speech from government retaliation.”

“If the First Amendment protected only speech the government deemed popular in current American culture, it would be no protection at all,” they added.

Dershowitz’s sentiment that the reasoning featured in the impeachment brief is a threat to freedom of speech more broadly was echoed in a statement by Trump adviser Jason Miller, who said: “not only will President Trump be on trial next week. The First Amendment will be on trial next week because the Democrats aren’t going to stop with attacking President Trump, they want to go after the free speech and the rights of all Americans.”

Democrats face an uphill battle in the Senate in their pursuit of an impeachment conviction against Trump. Forty-five Republican senators voted in favor of a resolution calling the trial unconstitutional since Trump is now a private citizen. With the Senate split 50–50, the impeachment managers would have to convince 17 Republicans that the trial is constitutional and that Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection.

Source: House Impeachment Brief Against Trump Threatens Freedom of Speech of All Americans: Dershowitz