CIA’s Secret Plot To Takeover Social Media

A new “Twitter Files” report reveals the CIA’s secret plot to take over social media, exposing efforts by intelligence community members to control Twitter’s content management system and influence information sharing under the guise of national security.

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While the CIA is strictly prohibited from conducting covert operations or spying on American citizens while on US soil, a shocking new “Twitter Files” report reveals that CIA analysts, “former” intelligence community (IC), and a member of the Board of Trustees of InQtel, the CIA’s mission-driven venture capital firm, were involved in a massive effort in 2021–2022 to take over Twitter’s content management system. Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi, and Alex Gutentag report over at Shellenberger’s Public (subscribers can check out the lengthy 6,800-word report here).

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These efforts were part of a larger strategy to control the way information is shared and consumed on social media under the pretense of thwarting foreign propaganda efforts and “misinformation,” according to “thousands of pages of Twitter Files and documents.” This network of individuals and organizations with ties to the government has gone to great lengths to suggest that narrative control is a national security issue.

The report states that the endeavor also comprised;

  • a long-time IC contractor and senior Department of Defense R&D official who spent years developing technologies to detect whistleblowers (“insider threats”) like Edward Snowden and Wikileaks’ leakers;
  • the proposed head of the DHS’ aborted Disinformation Governance Board, Nina Jankowicz, who aided US military and NATO “hybrid war” operations in Europe;
  • Jim Baker, who, as FBI General Counsel, helped start the Russiagate hoax, and, as Twitter’s Deputy General Counsel, urged Twitter executives to censor The New York Post story about Hunter Biden.
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Jankowicz, also known as “Scary Poppins,” was a strong supporter of stricter online speech regulations to combat “rampant disinformation.” She was previously expected to head the DHS’s now-canceled Disinformation Governance Board. As the FBI’s General Counsel and then as Twitter’s Deputy General Counsel, Jim Baker pushed for and carried out regulations that would limit particular forms of expression on the network, including choices that impacted the visibility of content that was politically sensitive.

In addition, businesses like PayPal, Amazon Web Services, and GoDaddy were named as being a part of a coordinated campaign to financially de-incentivize and de-platform people and groups that the IC considered threatening. With this strategy, corporate collaboration is being used far more frequently to accomplish what could be seen as censorship under the pretense of national security.

Nina Jankowicz And The Alethea Group

Do you recall Nina? Jankowicz was a former Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellow who advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and worked as a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center. He was an avid supporter of Christopher Steele, the man behind the infamous Dossier that was funded by Clinton and served as the foundation for the Trump-Russia hoax. She was also in charge of the National Democratic Institute’s activities related to Belarus and Russia.

Jankowicz compares the lack of regulation of speech on social media to the lack of government regulation of automobiles in the 1960s. She calls for a “cross-platform” and public-private approach, so whatever actions are taken are taken by Google, Facebook, and Twitter, simultaneously.

Jankowicz points to Europe as the model for regulating speech. “Germany’s NetzDG law requires social media companies and other content hosts to remove ‘obviously illegal’ speech within twenty-four hours,” she says, “or face a fine of up to $50 million.

By contrast, in the US, she laments, “Congress has yet to pass a bill imposing even the most basic of regulations related to social media and election advertising.”


Jankowicz commends a NATO cyber security expert in her 2020 book, How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict, for having established a “Center of Excellence,” an idea pushed by Renée Diresta of the Stanford Internet Observatory, who argued for the (now-failed) Disinformation Governance Board that Jankowicz would briefly head up.

After a year, Jankowicz started working for Althea Group, an “anti-disinformation” consultancy firm that employed “former” IC analysts.

At one point, Althea famously went after ZeroHedge, spreading a “dossier” that purportedly showed we were causing “increased online panic” in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s catastrophic failure.

The media outlets they sold the dossier to included Bloomberg, who decided after a quick email conversation to leave ZeroHedge out of their story. When one of their agents finally posted the dossier on Twitter, they were ridiculed for being propagandists.

A Federal Reserve report that acknowledged the bank’s failure was partly caused by the Federal Reserve’s regulatory shortcomings refuted their SVB thesis. We can only speculate as to what more they may have concocted behind our backs about us.

A noteworthy $20 million Series B financing led by Google Ventures was obtained by Alethea.

Up until July 2021, Cindy Otis, a former CIA analyst, was also employed by the Alethea Group. She authored a book titled “True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News,” in which she expresses gratitude to Pieter “Mudge” Zatko, a well-known hacker who was employed by Twitter to “tackle everything from engineering missteps to misinformation,” as reported by Reuters at the time.

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Jankowicz states, “My full-time employment with Alethea began September 13, 2021. Ms. Otis left Alethea before that period. To my knowledge, she has not been employed with Alethea since that time.”

“My work with Alethea Group as a consultant (summer 2021) was narrowly focused on my subject matter expertise related to Russia,” she continued. “I conducted Russian language translation and provided cultural analysis. When I joined Alethea as an employee (fall 2021) my work was entirely focused on public products: Changes to Alethea’s website, editing public reports, liaising with media, etc.”

Is Nina lying?

According to Shellenberger et al., “that claim contradicts Alethea’s Statement of Work contract with Twitter, which lists her as “Technical Research Director” for work relating to Twitter’s management of misinformation during the 2020 election, and specifically a “retrospective analysis of how then President Trump or other key figures may have violated Twitters [sic] policies, or otherwise leveraged the platform in a way that may have contributed to key events…”

Alethea Group founder, Lisa Kaplan, told us that Jankowicz “was never given the title Technical Research Director, that is a reference to a labor category for a contract.” Added Kaplan, “We respect client confidentiality and do not discuss relationships with our customers. In reviewing Nina’s timesheets she did provide support to one client that I cannot disclose, however I can confirm that while she was employed as the Director for External Affairs, Nina never conducted work at Alethea on behalf of Twitter.”

When shown the Statement of Work listing her as “Supplier Personnel,”  Jankowicz said, “I have never seen this document before. A statement of work is generally a speculative document that informs clients of potential staffing and work plans. They are usually crafted to allow contractors a degree of flexibility in implementation by listing staff even if they are not assigned to a particular project in case they might do future work for that project. I assume this is what happened in this case.

In fact, the Statement of Work between Alethea and Twitter was a formal contract between the two firms, signed by Alethea’s Founder and CEO and Twitter’s Senior Director and Associate General Counsel, and the contract specifies, “Any changes to the above listed Personnel must be approved by Twitter in writing.” There is no record in the Twitter Files of any change to the project’s personnel.


“Ms. Otis and I were friends and colleagues before my short stint there and remain friends and colleagues,” Jankowicz said in self-defense to the public. Yes, I knew Ms. Otis had worked — emphasis on the past tense — at the CIA. That does not constitute a ‘relationship’ with the intelligence community.”


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Pieter “Mudge” Zatko (Getty Images)

After a July 2020 phishing assault on Twitter staff caused Joe Biden’s account to tweet, “I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000,” along with a crypto wallet address (similar fake tweets were sent from the accouints of Barack Obama, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk,” 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark was arrested. 

Jack Dorsey stated in an email three months later that “Mudge signed.”

Less than three months later, Zatko gave Twitter executives his first significant recommendation: “hire the Alethea Group.”

“I feel an external investigation may be quite valuable,” he said over the company’s Slack channel. “I’d recommend Alethea group for the disinformation angle.”

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Twitter authorized the move. A few weeks later, Zatko that Alethea be hired by Twitter’s legal department to write a report that would center on January 6.

“As folks can understand,” he wrote on Feb. 4, 2021, “there’s a lot still going on around Jan 6th and the 2020 election in general. Alethea is a boutique consultancy that specializes in disinformation and counter-messaging operationsThey have been working with myself and Yoel [Roth].

Zatko, in the meantime, sent a 12-page report by email on March 24, 2021, urging increased censorship through government connections, stating that “the organizations and people behind this recommendation have the connection [sic] to get this in front of the right people in the administration.”

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The report is co-authored by Aspen Institute’s Vivian Schiller, who led the “pre-bunking” of the Hunter Biden laptop story, and Hamilton68 hoax author Clint Watts, and is published by the Mossavar-Rahmani Center at the Harvard Kennedy School and NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.


Later, it was revealed that Alethea’s pusher, Zatko, “had engaged with members of US intelligence agencies…” According to Public, “Attitudes toward Zatko would be quite different two years later.”

Zatko turned whistleblower, sued the company, and settled for $7.75 million. He then filed a complaint with the Justice Department, SEC, and FTC, alleging Twitter executives had misled the government, been negligent in protecting user data, and had violated a 2011 consent decree with the FTC.

Somebody leaked Zatko’s complaint to the Washington Post, which reached out to Twitter for comment on August 19, 2022.

In a shared Google Doc, dated August 21, 2022, called “Comms Statements/Tracking,” Twitter executives fine-tuned the language for responding to the news media about Zatko’s allegations.

Buried deep within that discussion was this revelatory sentence:

Without the knowledge or support of management or the Board, Twitter learned that Zatko had engaged with members of US intelligence agencies and sought to enter a formal agreement that would allow him to work with them and provide information to them.”

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CIA, In-Q-Tel, And Alethea

Ted Schlein, the general partner of Ballistic Ventures, gave Alethea $10 million towards the end of 2022. Ted Smith “provides counsel to the U.S. intelligence community, serves on the Board of Trustees at InQTel [the CIA’s mission-driven venture capital firm], and was recently named as a board member of the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee.”

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Alethea has offered exercises that are comparable to those recommended in the report “Disinformation Workshop,” which was released by IQT in 2022. One of the proposed activities is “Track the confluence of bad narratives.”

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Schlein is unable to affirm or refute…

According to the Wall Street Journal, a full one-third of IQT investments were secret as of 2016. The Journal also reported that Schlein had at least one connection to a firm in which IQT invested, and that was over seven years ago.

I do not know Zatko, Jankowicz or Otis. Lisa is the CEO of Alethea and I serve on her board of directors,” Schlein told us. He added that he is not aware of any relationship between Alethea and the IC and that he has no operational role in the firm.

I get the feeling that Alethea is a byproduct of Ted Schlein,” a high-tech entrepreneur told us, “and the CEO is merely a titular head….Without meaningful experience, it’s not clear to me how [Lisa Kaplan] received $10m in a series A round.”

In March 2022, the Department of Homeland Security made Schlein a member of its advisory council.


Here is Kaplan’s statement endorsing harsh censorship:

Last year, GreatGameIndia reported that House Democrat Rep. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., falsely claimed that “Twitter Files” journalist Matt Taibbi lied under oath during his congressional testimony and threatened him with prosecution and imprisonment.

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