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Good evening. It's Tuesday, October 10.
Tonight: the European Union takes another major step toward forcing Big Tech and especially X, formerly known as Twitter, to censor more in accordance with their demands. In September, the EU adopted a new law called the Digital Services Act, one of the most repressive such laws anywhere in the West which vests EU officials with vast new powers to require social media platforms to censor political speech in accordance with their demands and allows them to impose massive fines – 6% of the overall revenue of these companies: not 6% of their profits, 6% of their overall revenue – for failure to censor whatever the EU decides is disinformation or hate speech or pro-Russian propaganda.
Last month, the EU released a study that purported to show that far more disinformation and “pro-Russian propaganda” is circulating on all Big Tech platforms – but, again, especially Twitter, now known as X, and that's their target given how controversial Elon Musk has become – as a result, they said, of the fact that these platforms are failing to censor with sufficient aggression and frequency. The study they commissioned was conducted by a group that has anointed itself “disinformation experts,” one of the most fraudulent new titles ever invented. Like so many of these “disinformation groups,” that one is funded by the neo-liberal billionaire Pierre Omidyar, who seems obsessed with creating an industry that is empowered to determine truth and falsity, with the intention of censoring what they declare false from being heard on the Internet.
As we reported and documented, when all of this happened last month, the Washington Post trumpeted that study in order explicitly to blame Elon Musk and X for insufficiently censoring and then warning them, as well as other platforms like Facebook and Google, that they would now be in violation of the new EU law if they did not censor more. Earlier today, the French EU official responsible for this new law, both for creating it and then overseeing it, Thierry Breton, wrote a letter to Elon Musk, warning him that X was failing to censor content that the EU now officially regards as disinformation. This time, instead of citing Russia, they're exploiting the emotions around the war in Israel to claim that X is allowing “disinformation” to circulate about Israel and Gaza. Then the EU official threat index explicitly with serious punishments in the event that it does not immediately start complying with the EU censorship demand. This is one of the most authoritarian, really creepy letters you will ever see, but it's absolutely a sign of what is coming. An even more aggressive expansion of the censorship regime under which we now live. And so, we will show you this threatening letter and discuss its implications.
Then: Speaking of exploiting the war in Israel, this war is not even three days old yet, and the Biden White House is already plotting how its operatives can opportunistically use the high levels of support for Israel in the United States among both political parties to force Congress to do something. In the last several weeks it has been reluctant to do so, namely approve the appropriation of another $24 billion for the war in Ukraine. Knowing that there is immense pressure on both parties to quickly approve additional funding for Israel – meaning funding to fuel their new war beyond the close to $4 billion annually that the U.S. already gives to Israel – Democrats, along with their Republican allies who support further funding for the war in Ukraine, are seeking to force Republican members of Congress who have been opposing more funding for Ukraine to now vote on a joint package that would only allow them to fund Israel in its war if that new funding for Israel is accompanied by billions more for the war in Ukraine. We'll discuss the implications of this as well.
And then finally, one of the most unhinged people I have ever encountered in public life is the former head of the CIA and NSA for the Bush-Cheney administration, General Michael Hayden. He was the head of the NSA when the 9/11 attack happened. It is hard to imagine a more shameful value than that. Imagine having that suit on your conscience. I don't think he has one, though, so I don't think it bothers him. After winning the CIA through some of the worst post-9/11 abuses, General Hayden became a fanatical opponent of Donald Trump, endlessly claiming that Trump was a Kremlin agent and a traitor, just like his successor at the CIA, John Brennan did. And it probably comes as no surprise to learn that General Hayden, like almost every former operative of the U.S. Security State who devoted his life to opposing Trump, is now employed as a news analyst for CNN.
Earlier today, General Hayden posted a tweet that can really only be read either as a death threat against Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama or, at best, incitement for others to go and do violence against that Senator. There is, of course, endless chatter about this kind of rhetoric. Not only is it used to demand censorship of the Internet, but they even invented a new term for it: Stochastic terrorism. Yet General Hayden's deranged incitement of violence was directed at one of the most currently despised people in Washington, someone who is blocking the appointment of senior Pentagon officials. None of the people usually so upset at this kind of rhetoric care at all about what General Hayden said today. Still, it's really a mass-dropping moment for someone who, let's remember, ran a U.S. government agency that is notorious for, among other things, targeted assassinations. So, it's really well worth looking at.
And then actually finally, as a follow-up to last night's show, we will have a few updates on things that are happening regarding the war between Israel and Gaza and especially the U.S. role in it.
For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now.