A new report from The Intercept has revealed that the Pentagon is scrolling through social media trying to identify people making mean tweets about military generals. They claim they’re doing this for safety reasons, but they’re actually trying to keep tabs on anyone that is critical of the US war machine. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: A new report from The Intercept has revealed that the Pentagon is scrolling through social media, trying to identify people making mean tweets, mean tweets about military generals. They claim they’re doing this for the safety of the country, but they’re actually trying to keep tabs on anyone that’s critical. I mean, literally critical of the US war machine. That’s what this is about. We were attacked on this. Do you remember? What, Suzanne Spaulding, remember?

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Whatever that hinky organization she was with that was, they were, you know, US Chamber of Commerce, they were associated industry. They attacked us, me in particular, about how I was ruining democracy by being critical of judges, I guess the military and the military complex. You go figure. But this is a crazy story.

Farron Cousins: It really is. And again, gotta hand it to The Intercept. They do such a good job with these kinds of stories. So what they’ve uncovered is the fact that the Pentagon under the guise of keeping our generals safe is going through people’s social media. They’re looking at, oh, okay, this person said something bad about this general, so we gotta beef up security for this general. And they swear to us they’re only using publicly available information and that, as The Intercept points out, is a misleading term because publicly available information means also what they’re selling to corporations. Your data, your browsing history, the places you visited, locations, all of that, that isn’t actually publicly available, but it is if you’ve got the money to buy it.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Okay. So let’s get down to the brass tax. The brass tax is, this is so we can avoid having somebody embarrass or humiliate a general, a sitting general or an ex general along with causing injury or kidnap. I get all that. I mean, you know, that makes perfect sense. But when you start saying you become a target, if you embarrass or humiliate that ex general or sitting general, or if you express opinions that are, these are the words, express opinions that are critical of that general and maybe what he did to flame up a war that shouldn’t have taken place. You name it. But, you know, go ahead and pick up with the secretary Betsy DeVos. You’ve got Mark Pruitt. You’ve had agencies that also are looking for the same protection, right?

Farron Cousins: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, DeVos was tens of millions of dollars spent on her protection based on people being mean to her online.

Mike Papantonio: Literally being mean to her online. That’s the operative word.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. Not threatening her, not saying, Betsy.

Mike Papantonio: $24 million.

Farron Cousins: Right. They weren’t saying, Betsy, I know where you live. I’ll see you tonight. They said, wow, she’s really bad at education. But to me, what we see is we see so many people, we see it on the right, we see it on the left. They’re worried about social media is gonna censor us. They’re coming after the left, they’re coming after the right. No, the people who are actually working on censoring and monitoring your data that’s coming from the Pentagon itself here. And we are being divided into the left and right on this issue to distract from the fact that they are the ones, the government itself is the ones coming after us. And they have been for years. They just continuously evolve in their monitoring methods and the latest is social media.

Mike Papantonio: Okay, let me hear, I love word salad, you know, when it comes from a governmental entity. They base this on a term, we don’t want misattribution, misattribution to take place where you’re mean to a general, you’re mean to a government entity, somebody running the EPA or whatever to where you’re mean to them. The misattribution is what you’re gonna hear. But the point is, it’s worse than that. It’s not just, this agency that’s gonna be doing this is, I mean, there’s tons of these agencies, but they’re so, for example, what you have is you have the Office of Director of National Intelligence. That’s one agency. You have the Foreign Malign Influence Center, whatever the hell that is. These are all people that are doing this. Okay. They’re going into chat rooms, they’re looking at your social media. We have the Foreign Influence Task Force, right?

We have the Disinformation Governance Board. All of these, we have the, and of course you have the broad expanse of the US intelligence community, which is FBI, CIA and all those alphabets. But the point is this, it’s not just one agency. All those that I just read are doing the same thing. And they’re either protecting somebody, again, you can’t be mean to a general, God forbid. You can’t be mean to an agency head, like EPA or SEC, whatever it may be, because that’s just not appropriate. So we have the right to go into your system, your social media system, and tag you. And the next thing you know, you’re at an airport and you get one of these random checks, hey, I’m sorry, but we’re gonna have to do a random check because your name came up. That’s how your name comes up.

Farron Cousins: Well, and not to mention the fact that you do have the compliance from the social media companies, because they’re the ones who turn over the intimate data because they sell it.

Mike Papantonio: Right.

Farron Cousins: So, you know, Twitter, it’s Facebook, it’s Reddit, it’s YouTube, it’s Google, it’s every website you’re going to regularly, they’re all involved in this, you know, the level of compliance may be different depending on the app, but nobody’s hands are clean in this. But the dirtiest hands, are those at the Pentagon

Mike Papantonio: Five different agencies doing this and it’s still not enough.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.