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.