By: The Editorial Board – wsj.com – December 4, 2022
The first is that Mr. Musk would do the country a favor by releasing the documents all at once for everyone to inspect. So far he’s dribbled them out piecemeal through journalist Matt Taibbi’s Twitter feed, which makes it easier for the media to claim they can’t report on documents because they can’t independently confirm them.
A second point is an huzzah for Rep. Ro Khanna, the California progressive Democrat, who warned Twitter in 2020 about the free-speech implications and political backlash of censoring the New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. That was good advice, even if Twitter didn’t take it.
A third point is the confirmation of the central role that former spies played in October 2020 in framing the Hunter Biden story in a way that made it easier for Twitter and Facebook to justify their censorship.
Recall that former Democratic intelligence officials James Clapper and John Brennan led the spooks in issuing a public statement suggesting that the laptop may have been hacked and its content was Russian disinformation. On Oct. 16, 2020, Mr. Clapper told CNN that “to me, this is just classic textbook Soviet Russian tradecraft at work.” On Oct. 19, 51 former spooks released their statement claiming that the arrival of the emails “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” (The statement and signers are published nearby.)
We now know that the Clapper-Brennan claims were themselves disinformation and that the laptop was genuine and not part of a Russian operation. CBS News recently waddled in two years later with a forensic analysis of its own and concluded it is real.
But the claims by the spies gave an excuse for the media to ignore the Hunter Biden story and even to dismiss Hunter’s former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, who went on the record before the election to confirm much of the content on the laptop with documentation in the form of voluminous text messages.
We examined those messages ourselves at the time, and our Kimberley Strasselspoke with Mr. Bobulinski and put it all on the record before the election. We also wrote an editorial. But nearly all of the rest of the press ignored or trashed the story.
The Twitter documents published by Mr. Taibbi include part of what appears to be a memo from James Baker, the Twitter deputy general counsel. “I support the conclusion that we need more facts to assess whether the materials were hacked. At this stage, however, it is reasonable for us to assume that they may have been and that caution is warranted,” Mr. Baker wrote.
He continued that “there are some facts that indicate that the materials may have been hacked, while there are others indicating that the computer was either abandoned and/or the owner consented to allow the repair shop to access it for at least some purposes. We simply need more information.”
With an election so close, any delay helped the Biden campaign, which was trying to squelch the Hunter Biden story that raised questions about what Joe Biden knew about Hunter’s foreign business dealings. Twitter went ahead and suppressed the story across its platform, going so far as to suspend the New York Post’s Twitter account.
Readers may recall that Mr. Baker was director Jim Comey’s general counsel at the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the Russia collusion fiasco in 2016. He was the main FBI contact for Michael Sussmann, the Clinton campaign lawyer who spread falsehoods about the Trump campaign regarding Alfa Bank, among other things.
Mr. Baker’s ties to the former intelligence officials who signed the “Russian information operation” statement may have influenced his Twitter memo and the censorship decision. All of this is likely to be fodder for House Republican hearings into the FBI’s role in the Hunter Biden story.
The partisan foray by current and former U.S. intelligence officials in the last two elections should be deeply troubling to Americans on the left and right. They have authority by dint of access to information that isn’t confirmable by the press, which takes their spin as gospel. This is a form of political corruption that needs to be exposed, and perhaps the Twitter documents will help to unlock the story.
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