Whistleblower Says Intelligence Community Members Filled Internal Messaging System With Hate Speech, Support For Insurrectionists

from the getting-in-on-the-ground-floor-of-authoritarianism dept

If you work for the government and the government is leaning towards more power and less accountability, why wouldn’t you be supportive of the government, no matter who’s running the joint? That’s what happened in the Intelligence Community, according to a whistleblower who oversaw the IC’s internal chat services for nearly a decade.

An internal U.S. intelligence messaging system became a “dumpster fire” of hate speech during the Trump administration, a veteran National Security Agency contractor says. And it’s “ongoing,” another Defense Department contractor tells SpyTalk.

Dan Gilmore, who was in charge of overseeing internal chat rooms for the Intelink system for over a decade starting in 2011, says that by late 2020 the system was afire with incendiary hate-filled commentary,  especially on “eChirp,” the intelligence community’s clone of Twitter. 

None of this is surprising. People get into government work for a number of reasons, but those deeply involved in law enforcement and surveillance rarely get into it to make the world a better place. Law enforcement has long been home to racists and bullies — a culture it has cultivated since its inception as an entity charged with tracking down escaped slaves.

The Intelligence Community isn’t much better. It saw a massive expansion of power following the 9/11 attacks. It was given free rein to track down people who worshipped a different god and had too much pigmentation. If it wasn’t white and Christian, it was suspect — an attitude supported by many Americans who believed anything they didn’t immediately understand or relate to must be dangerous.

Donald Trump didn’t win the popular vote, but he won the votes that mattered. His ascension to power became a justification for all the hatred and bigotry regular people felt they couldn’t express publicly. With Trump in power, hatred for all things not white and presumably “unamerican” became acceptable. Trump’s version of “draining the swamp” consisted of eliminating anyone opposed to his authoritarian dreams and the expansion of power for law enforcement and national security agencies.

Dan Gilmore saw this self-interest unfold in real time. By the time the 2020 election was underway, IC members were openly supporting the Trump supporters who raided the Capitol building and attacked law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol building.

Fast forward to late 2020. Hate speech was running rampant on our applications. I’m not being hyperbolic. Racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamaphobic, and misogynistic speech was being posted in many of our applications.

On top of that, there were many employees at CIA, DIA, NSA, and other IC agencies that openly stated that the January 6th terrorist attack on our Capitol was justified.

Gilmore apparently tried several times to inform IC management about the hate speech being distributed by IC internal chat channels. Other IC members were also concerned with what they were seeing. But they were apparently in the minority. And they could be safely ignored because the man (temporarily) in power was publicly supportive of racism, misogyny, and insurrection.

For his attempts to curb this hatred — and for informing other concerned IC members he was doing what he could — Gilmore was fired.

On July 9th, 2021, I was called into a meeting with my company team lead, and he said “We’re going to have to let you go”. I asked why, and he said, “You were told to not give internal information to folks outside the organization, and you did”.

They had chatroom transcripts of what I had said to people outside my organization in reference to internal information in our ticketing system. Keep in mind, all this information is completely unclassified. The information I was providing these government employees was for them to take to their own agencies’ Inspector General. They didn’t trust Intelink to do the right thing, so they were taking their complaints to the next level.

None of this is surprising. The government hates people who point out its wrongdoing. And support for insurrectionists isn’t government employees arguing against their own best interests. In Trump, these employees saw a leader who valued power over accountability, a sentiment they firmly agreed with. And if it meant destroying democracy to ensure a lifetime of employability without the irritation of oversight, so be it. Those who stood in their way — including other government employees not so willing to become part of an authoritarian regime — had to go. By serving Trump, they were setting themselves up for a massive influx of power unrestrained by constitutional checks and balances.

That’s why so many law enforcement officials and officers made the trip to Washington, DC on January 6th to participate in an attempt to deny an elected president his new position. There are few things more perverse than unfettered self-interest, especially when it involves people who are supposed to be servants of the public.

Trump encouraged bigotry and hatred with his statements, policies, and directives. The “war on terror” is largely predicated on the assumption that Muslims are violent and untrustworthy. Anti-immigration efforts are supported by bullshit claims that immigrants are more dangerous than US citizens. The “war on drugs” combines an inherent distrust of foreigners with “too big to be accountable” government thinking — something that has been sustained without meaningful interruption for nearly 50 years.

What was observed by Gilmore was the government freely speaking its mind. It has very little respect for the general public. It has even less for those it considers to be undeserving of rights and protections. The election of Joe Biden meant questions might be asked and powers might be slightly curtailed. That was apparently unacceptable, so IC members cheered on insurrectionists, apparently hoping it would eliminate the lawfully elected interloper from rolling back some of the powers granted by a president who mobilized a base loaded with bigots to move America closer to embracing the ideals of authoritarianism.

Gilmore’s exit and his subsequent blacklisting by the US government means that, despite the regime change, no one’s really interested in ejecting racists and misogynists from government positions, even when they openly call for the overthrowing of the same government that employs them. Gilmore is gone but these assholes are still operating surveillance programs and curating collected intel to ensure it aligns with their worldview. The problem hasn’t gone away. It’s simply no longer being observed by someone who finds it problematic.

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Comments on “Whistleblower Says Intelligence Community Members Filled Internal Messaging System With Hate Speech, Support For Insurrectionists”

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sumgai (profile) says:

Re: correction

No, they are not fascists, they’re authoritarians.

Fascism is the partnership between private corporations and government (regardless of if elected or dictatorial). Authoritarians are in it for the raw power over the populace, and could care less how the government comes to power.

Fascists are comfortable with hiding behind a facade of respectability, via elections and so on. They are good at appearing to be responsible, even when they aren’t in any way, shape or form. OTOH, authoritarians chafe at having to hide behind such, and wish to be able to openly control the total environment around them, without any amount of accountability.

Mick Jabber says:

Re: Thank god for progress

“If it wasn’t white and Christian, it was suspect — an attitude supported by many Americans who believed anything they didn’t immediately understand or relate to must be dangerous.”

And how stupid they were. The only thing that happened by embracing everything non-White and non-Christian is the murder and rape rates went up over 400%,formerly idyllic cities that were the envy of the world like Detroit became impoverished disaster zones,the percentage of the American population that is White went from over 85% in 1965 to a questionable 59% if light-skinned Mexicans,Middle-Easterners,and jews are considered “White” (and they sometimes are by their own groups for certain reasons,but not by the Anglos and Germans and other Scandies who founded America),all of their statues and historical reference points that have peacefully stood for hundreds of years through war,and famine, and violent upheaval have now been torn down and all of America’s traditions are on the verge of being declared a hate crime,as hate crimes are on the verge of being declared “domestic terrorism”,oh, and collective and intergenerational punishments are back after the West spent thousands of years trying to stamp it out.

Thank god we left all of that racist bigotry and prejudice in the past. Except against WHITE people,which is mandatory.

thor says:

I think this is more a content moderation is hard issue (see the recent post from Mike Masnick) than it is a “IC = bad” issue. Any group of employees will have people on both sides of the aisle. Some of those people will have views all over the place (that does not make them acceptable). I do think that there was an issue, and if you read Dan Gilmore’s post, it had reached ODNI level of attention. I think that there was fall-out from Dan’s post, and things like it, which is why there was messaging that went out and everyone had to read/agree to standards of behavior for internal messaging/posting shortly thereafter.

I think the majority of the people working for government want to do the best they can, and are not foaming at the mouth conspiracy material. If you think about the typical postman that you see every day, they have a dependable stable job and are getting it done. Long time employees can still want to do what they think is right for the country, even if they think the president at the time is wrong. After all, the oaths that government people take are loyalty to the constitution and the country, not a person. Trump did not get along with the intel community, and there have been many posts about how he demonized the people that work there.

The Washington D.C. area is full of people that work directly or in-directly for the government, and no-one I know thinks that Jan 6 was acceptable. You said “What was observed by Gilmore was the government freely speaking its mind.” I think what he observed was the vocal minority of people who posted on Intelink or the trolls (like “Fred” in his post), not everyone in the government.

AnonyOps says:

Lemme guess Christopher A. Wray and Merrick Garland will get right on this? No. Well blame the milqtoast political reps who appointed them and didn’t clean house. As long as the authorities are looking internally they aren’t looking at the rich not paying taxes, Israeli assets in the United States or reforming and reshaping racism in the police forces.

Bilvin Spicklittle says:

The scary part

I had to read this several times to be sure I was reading it correctly. The at-a-glance take is that these were some sort of fascist goons that do what they want because they can. However:

On top of that, there were many employees at CIA, DIA, NSA, and other IC agencies that openly stated that the January 6th terrorist attack on our Capitol was justified.

What this means is that there are people who have all the resources of the world’s most expensive intelligence agencies at their disposal, and that despite such, they reach the conclusion that the Jan 6th stuff was “justified”.

As much as I dislike Trump, had there been some sort of widespread election fraud, or even if there was evidence that the incoming administration were going go commit some sort of crimes-against-humanity… that might justify any attempt to thwart transfer of power.

So either these goons were stupid enough to believe (one or both of) those things to be true, or they’re the sort of moral cretin for whom “justify” means something other than the commonly accepted definition of that word.

Like, Jesus WTF.

The people in charge are imbeciles. The tools that should allow them to know far more about the people and the powers of the world have left them utterly ignorant and toxicly cynical. And there’s simply no way to root any of them out… too many, all covering for each other so that substantive reform is impossible. We’re royally fucked.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I think they’ve never watched Scream.
The bad guy is already in the house, you’re already fucked, and you should have called the cops 20 min ago but you were distracted by a shadow outside.

Its a shame they will never actually clean house given than 1 side needs white nationalists to keep power and the other side needs white nationalists to keep the public believing they will FINALLY do something about it.

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