Spooks in Silicon Valley: Flow of U.S. intelligence analysts into Big Tech jobs raises alarm

Those who once served to protect the nation are now using their intel smarts to regulate speech in America.

Updated: January 24, 2023 - 10:30am

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As Congress and the courts delve deeper into federally sanctioned censorship by Big Tech, a troubling revolving door has emerged between the U.S. intelligence community and the Big Tech giants on the front lines of one of the fiercest battles over free speech in modern American history.

A Just the News review of LinkedIn employment histories of senior Big Tech executives found that at least 200 former workers of the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, National Security Council and Homeland Security Department have landed Silicon Valley jobs, many within content moderation units regulating supposed "disinformation" and disproportionately throttling news and opinion deviating from approved, left-tilting norms. 

These individuals range from Aaron Berman, who spent a decade and a half as a CIA analyst before joining Facebook parent Meta as product policy manager for disinformation, to James Baker, the former FBI general counsel recently fired by Elon Musk as Twitter's chief lawyer over a spat about prior review of "Twitter Files" releases exposing past censorship by the platform. Baker was one of the key FBI figures involved in obtaining a FISA warrant based on the now-debunked Steele dossier to surveil onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The spooks-to-Silicon-Valley pipeline has sent an army of federal agents, intel analysts and even psychological operations experts once trained with taxpayer money to fight foreign enemies or capture big criminals into higher-paying private sector jobs where those same skills now target Americans' opinions in the name of fighting "disinformation."

None of the former intel world employees contacted by Just the News returned phone or email requests for comment. But in videos posted online, some acknowledged they are part of a new vanguard of Big Tech censors operating in a world where there is little consensus about what should be done and what is legal.

"There is very little agreement whether we should be leaving more content up or taking more content down," Berman said in a video posted on Meta's site. "With any particular rule or issue that we're looking at where something has come up, where the rules are not 100 percent clear, we're not going to make everybody happy."

Berman, whose LinkedIn biography boasts he used to prepare the presidential daily brief at the CIA, acknowledged there is some discomfort in the power he now wields in his new role in Big Tech to decide the difference between "harmful content" and free speech.

"It's a balance," he said in the video. "I think it should make me uncomfortable, and all of us who do this work."

Some of the federal intel veterans are less inhibited about expressing biases. For example, Nick Rossmann, former CIA analyst and current senior manager of Trust & Safety at Google, overtly supported defeated 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner should be strangled and declared, "Anti-vaxxers are like Nazis." 

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Rossmann even seemed to wish death on elderly Trump voters, tweeting, "I hope they cough on their grandparents, who voted for Trump, & get to rot." 

Jacqueline Lopour, another Hillary Clinton supporter and former CIA analyst — she served for 10 years in the agency — is currently Google Senior Manager, Intel Collection, Trust & Safety. In that capacity, she manages "Intel operations spanning multiple threat verticals, including violent extremism, cyber threats, misinformation, hate speech, spam, fraud, security and privacy, and more," according to her LinkedIn bio.

In a 2017 Canadian Broadcasting Company interview, Lopour invoked her CIA experience to uncritically vouch for the agency's assessment that Russia meddled in U.S. politics to tip the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump, saying, "They [Russia] deliberately released the DNC information to @wikileaks ... with the specific motivation of helping Trump get elected." 

Further LinkedIn profile checks revealed several other key members of Big Tech teams who served in either the Department of Defense, CIA, FBI, NSA, or DHS. The growing pipeline of intelligence and law enforcement officials was previously documented in detail by an anonymous Twitter account posted by the user @NameRedacted247 in a 30-part Twitter thread.

Former President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue with a video message, touting his proposal to end the revolving door between the Deep State" and the "tech tyrants" by imposing "a 7-year cooling off period, before any employee of these powerful agencies is allowed to take a job at a major platform." 

Recent reporting "shows the FBI and other rogue agencies have been systematically colluding with former national security officials placed in high positions at Twitter and very likely other companies to advance their censorship regime," said Trump.

"This anti-American effort," he went on, has been "working to silence dissenting opinions on COVID and crucial issues in public health and on the [2020] election." The suppression of dissenting doctors and health experts "had nothing to do with science" or "saving lives," he alleged. "This was about government working with powerful corporations to seize power over you, the American people."

Trump called on the new Congress to immediately hold hearings and begin issuing subpoenas "to investigate the role of the FBI and other federal agencies in censoring lawful speech." 

Former high-ranking Trump administration national security aide Kash Patel told the John Solomon Reports podcast recently that any elected officials colluding with Big Tech for censorship purposes need to be held accountable. 

"We need to be talking about suspensions, and a complete barring of these individuals from all committees and other such matters," said Patel, who served as senior counsel for the House Intelligence Committee under the chairmanship of Rep. Devin Nunes. "Since the Republicans have the majority in the House, they can do that with [former House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff." 

Twitter currently employs at least 10 former FBI agents, according to LinkedIn profile checks performed by Just The News. 

Just the News reached out to several former members of the intelligence community now employed by Big Tech for comment but has received no replies.

Just the News also reached out to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, along with the FBI, NSA, and DOD, but only received a brief response from the CIA which read, "CIA's intelligence mission is foreign focused, and the Agency at all times abides by US laws, regulations, and executive orders that prohibit unlawful collection related to US persons." 

The FBI field office in Washington, D.C. refused to comment directly, while the NSA recommended reaching out and questioning each Big Tech firm individually. 

You can follow Nick on Twitter @NGivasDC