In a recent addition to the “Twitter Files,” Matt Taibbi revealed to the public how Twitter — the preferred social media platform of politicians, academics, and journalists — co-opted the algorithmic blacklist of a bipartisan neoliberal propaganda outfit known as Hamilton 68.
Hamilton 68 was a digital dashboard that, as my colleague Emily Jashinsky recently discussed, was used to perpetuate and mainstream the myth of Russian interference in American politics through algorithmic censorship and suppression.
But it wasn’t just egghead professors, left-wing activist journalists, and the tragically narcissistic (Adam Schiff) who perpetuated the thoroughly repudiated lie that Russia determined the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by hijacking the internet.
Hamilton 68 was of unique interest to the unelected members of the American government who staff the national bureaucracy and compose the federal civil service. It was — and likely still is — used by these bureaucrats on a regular basis to substantiate and launder bogus intel into the government’s policy-making narrative to further establish a rule of permanent bureaucracy and chip away at the democratic nature of the American republic.
Amanda Milius, a former member of the Trump administration and the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Content at the State Department, recently confirmed this when speaking to The Federalist.
Outsourcing Intelligence Makes Being Corrupt Easier
According to Milius, from the day Hamilton 68 went online, senior officials at the State Department were elated because it enabled them to effectively outsource large swaths of their information sourcing for communications. Naturally, this was a huge time saver since “everything [was] 100 times redundant,” and having access to pre-sourced and verified intel from somewhere you trust while trying to maintain a fast-paced digital communications bureau with 24-hour access to the rest of the world would be a massive time saver.
Once the department began to process intel from Hamilton 68, they insisted that they could “use it as a tool to track all the Russian misinformation, which at that moment in 2017, was the shiny ball of foreign policy.”
Milius noted that with the election of Donald Trump, there was a distinct shift in the bureaucracy’s expressed priorities. Previously, the federal government had been preoccupied with the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), but along with Trump’s ascension to the presidency, federal agencies began to place a disproportionate emphasis on utilizing “public-private partnerships” to root out alleged Russian influence.
Another former senior government official recently suggested that information-based operations, a practice that in the digital era found its roots in the GWOT, was found to be useful in the domestic private sector as well. And this is likely how Hamilton 68 came into being. Individuals who had acquired specific skills while serving the country brought those skills home and began using them in service of political goals.
And Milius’ experience with the State Department’s “bot detection” efforts that were meant to keep tabs on people spreading Russian disinformation online substantiates this. She affirmed that the public-private partnership between the federal bureaucracy and Big Tech, in particular, established a sense of comfort and familiarity between the two bodies. Because bureaucrats were able to “take free trips to Silicon Valley and hang out with people from Google and Facebook and Twitter,” the managerial elite in both entities knew they were operating on the same wavelength.
This additional face time likely provided both groups reassurance that their ideological goals were similar and that they would have allies in the quest to delegitimize and stonewall Trump’s presidency.
Swamp Creatures Tend to Be Lazy
Once Hamilton 68 came online, an inordinate amount of attention was placed on 644 Twitter accounts that were flagged as “bots” spreading “Russian disinformation.” Thanks to Taibbi’s reporting, it is now publicly documented that these accounts were overwhelmingly run by American citizens and other Western civilians with no connection to Russia whatsoever. But to people involved in conservative politics at the time, it was clear that Hamilton 68 was a con.
“It was run by the teams that ran Russiagate, so this was yet another arm of their public attack on Trump and Trump supporters,” Milius said. “I was looking at the list of users, and I was like, ‘Bro, my secret handle is on there. Like all my friends are on there. I know these people. They’re not bots.’”
Milius stated that the individuals behind Hamilton 68 were directly providing “someone or multiple people” at the State Department with the lists of accounts being algorithmically monitored.
Such collusion would indicate the government was effectively taking orders from a politically biased third party about which private citizens it should monitor, suppress, and allow to be libeled by the corporate media.
And despite the fact that — as we now can deduce — the people behind Hamilton 68 knew what they were doing was fraudulent, the users who were algorithmically placed on these curated lists had information about them used to source not only news stories about a malicious foreign presence in American domestic issues but as the basis for intel used in reports within federal agencies.
Furthermore, the data analytics included alongside Hamilton 68’s information were frequently drastically inflated to manufacture a sense of severity, Milius said, further indicating to her and to some of those with whom she worked that the entire operation was bogus. When data analysts in the State Department would compare the analytics provided by Hamilton 68 with the actual data from the monitored accounts’ traffic, they would find massive discrepancies, she noted. The people behind Hamilton 68 were blatantly lying, and if people looked in the right places the lies fell apart.
But because their numbers were few and leadership enjoyed the convenience of pre-sourced intel, Hamilton 68 continued to be utilized by the State Department.
The Deep State Is a Hammer; Everything Else Is a Nail
Even Yoel Roth, the former head of trust and safety at Twitter, knew that Hamilton 68 was bogus. There is no reason to believe that GS-15s in the State Department had a good-faith reason to accept it at face value. After all, bureaucrats overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton in 2016, so why wouldn’t they take a chance at sabotaging someone they believed would lead the U.S. down the wrong path?
Milius contends that the political bias of entrenched bureaucrats who make decisions in federal agencies played a key role in deciding to utilize a tool like Hamilton 68, subsequently prolonging the narrative of Russian collusion.
“They wanted [Russian collusion] to be true so badly,” she said. “They felt like they were freedom fighters. In their minds, every Trump appointee was probably a Russian plant because, in their minds, Trump was a Russian plant.”
“The whole media pretended that this Russaigate thing was real. It didn’t just affect citizens. It affected everyone who worked in Washington, D.C., which includes everybody that worked with the [State] Department, the CIA, and more,” she continued. “These people were going home at night being told Trump and his people were Russian agents and then would come into work with the idea that they were going to save America from us.”
If Trump and everyone affiliated with him are Russian assets, and Russian assets pose an existential threat to the country, why wouldn’t a well-meaning new hire at the State Department who wants to grow in his career treat an intelligence briefing sourced from Hamilton 68 with the utmost importance if his boss told him to?
What Else Is Being Used Against Us?
Whether they were conditioned by their superiors and Big Tech or not, hundreds if not thousands of entry and mid-level bureaucrats perpetuated the lie the Russian government hijacked American politics. They, along with the corporate media and the universities, went along with this narrative to weaponize society against people — American citizens — who supported a democratically elected president from a major political party.
Taibbi’s reporting shows how Hamilton 68 was used by Big Tech and the corporate media to perpetuate the myth of Russian collusion by unfairly suppressing and regulating speech online. Milius’ experience at the State Department indicates how it was used to weaponize one of the most important parts of the federal government against the American people.
Both narratives likely only give us a look under the hood. We know about the Hamilton dashboard — which is still operational, albeit under the slightly different moniker of Hamilton 2.0 — solely because of the “Twitter Files,” and we know of the use of Hamilton 68 at the State Department because of people like Milius who are willing to share their stories.
We have no reason to believe Hamilton 2.0 isn’t being used by the government, nor do we know whether systems similar to the Hamilton dashboard are being used to curate lists of people on platforms other than Twitter.
But we do know that unelected members of the government are weaponizing themselves against the American people in collaboration with the private sector as they chip away at our democratic republic. This is irrefutable.
So the question remains: what else is the U.S. government using to monitor its citizens while mobilizing against domestic targets who have done nothing wrong?
Samuel Mangold-Lenett is a staff editor at The Federalist. His writing has been featured in the Daily Wire, Townhall, The American Spectator, and other outlets. He is a 2022 Claremont Institute Publius Fellow. Follow him on Twitter @Mangold_Lenett.