Elvis Ming Chan, the FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the center of the TwitterFiles scandal, had started out as an engineer at NEC: a Japanese computer company. The son of Chinese immigrants who was raised in Seattle, near the hub of Big Tech, Chan describes a tech industry where going into national security was always a backdoor option.
“One of my buddies who I worked with at the company I was at, his game plan was always to join The Bureau,” Chan revealed in an interview. “And he got in and he’s calling me from the FBI academy in Quantico, which you were able to visit with me. Maybe we’ll talk about that later. But he said, ‘Elvis,’ he’s calling me on the phone, he’s like, ‘you would love this. We’re shooting guns. We’re kicking down doors. I’m learning about the constitution. This is awesome.’”
Chan was able to influence Twitter so well because he had come out of the tech industry.
The FBI offered tech industry dorks the opportunity to shoot guns and kick down doors, to wield visceral power rather than just virtual power. While the tech industry influenced far more lives, the Bureau could offer something more tangible. It’s why so many of the recent FBI raids on political opponents have featured large teams of heavily armed men. Behind the body armor are ‘mall cops’ with Ivy League degrees who enjoy shooting guns and kicking down doors even though there’s no threat that they’re dealing with that requires them to be doing either one.
Looking to get a hold on the internet, the FBI recruited from the tech industry. And looking to get a hold on security, the industry recruited from the FBI with at least a dozen senior Twitter personnel coming out of the bureau. The revolving door blurred the lines between the government and the tech industry. It’s still unclear what Twitter was doing on its own initiative or at the behest of the FBI. And it’s unclear where the allegiance of FBI people like Chan really lay.
In 2017, the FBI set up a Foreign Influence Task Force in response to Hillary Clinton’s Russiagate hoax. The legal premise of FITF, charged with combating, in the words of FBI Director Wray, efforts by foreign governments to “sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic processes” was dubious from the start.
Enemy propaganda had always existed. The legal basis for using the FBI, which is charged with domestic operations, as the lead was bound to mean targeting Americans rather than foreign enemies. The FBI had no meaningful legal authority to do anything about foreign propaganda except to do what Chan was doing, which was to form relationships with Big Tech companies and guide them to do the things that the Bureau could not legally undertake to do itself.
The Clinton influence operation that led to Russiagate had always been based on such revolving doors between industries, ex-intel personnel working for former reporters who could bridge the gaps between the media, the FBI and political campaigns using their relationships.
TwitterFiles has cast a harsh light on the fourth leg of the chair.
Russiagate had two phases. While in its first phase it was meant to win an election, in its second phase it was meant to subjugate the internet to government and media oversight. Having failed to achieve Plan A, the coordinated scandals and investigations between the media and the DOJ, Plan B set out to build new relationships between the DOJ, media and Big Tech.
These relationships were based on the big lie of what was initially a crisis of “foreign influence” that eventually became a “crisis of democracy”. Big Tech put media fact checkers in charge of flagging material to censor out front while the FBI flagged material behind the scenes. Much as in Russiagate, the media were the public face of a campaign while the DOJ kept its role secret.
The Hunter Biden laptop scandal tested the model with the FBI providing the guidance that Big Tech would follow to censor the story. Claims of foreign influence had become a pretext for a direct attack on freedom of the press as a major paper was censored using false FITF claims.
Big Tech had been prepped for four years to “redo” the 2016 election correctly. Democrats had blamed Hillary’s stolen emails and the FBI’s response to it for their election defeat. In 2020, the FBI and Big Tech had been prepped to properly play their role when Hunter’s laptop emerged. And that was done by wiring the FBI and Big Tech together into a single political operation.
Personnel is policy. Putting Big Tech people inside the FBI would transform its worldview from law enforcement to content moderation. And moving FBI people into Big Tech would lead platforms to see everything as a threat. The hybrid entity was a paranoid content moderating monster that wielded the untrammeled power of Big Tech and the authority of the feds.
“My mission is, ‘Protect the American people and uphold the constitution,’ Chan claimed. That’s noble, but what he was doing at FITF was hacking the constitution using a back door oligarchy.
The Constitution depends on boundaries between branches of the government, between elected officials and law enforcement, between government and industry, between the media and the government, and between the publishing platforms that enable speech and the government. When these boundaries collapse, the constitution becomes meaningless, and the Bill of Rights a series of technicalities that can be violated with impunity by an oligarchy that subdivides its powers by compartmentalizing them between private and public sectors.
When the DOJ, Big Tech, the media, administrations, companies, engineers, agents, and executives all work together toward the same political goals, the constitution is a dead letter.
And then there are doors to be kicked in and guns to be shot, people to be censored and stories to be suppressed for the emerging ruling class that pretends its coordinated actions are mere synchronicity when they are actually a conspiracy against the constitution.