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.
“I was the admin of this application and after a couple years, it became a dumpster fire,” Gilmore, a 30-year veteran of Navy and NSA cryptologic systems, wrote Thursday in an extraordinary public post on his own web site. “Professionalism was thrown out the window, and flame wars became routine.”
NSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Hate speech was running rampant on our applications,” wrote Gilmore, whose identity and credentials have been vouched for by another Pentagon contractor. “I’m not being hyperbolic. Racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamaphobic [sic], and misogynistic speech was being posted in many of our applications.”
Even more startling, Gilmore alleges, “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 says that “more than a few government employees at many different IC agencies” grew “concerned about the content that Intelink was allowing to be hosted.”
IC is shorthand for the Intelligence Community, composed of 18 organizations, including two independent agencies, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, and the Central Intelligence Agency.
“Again and again,” he writes, “I was contacted via instant messaging, emails and phone calls, asking what was being done to stomp the hate speech.” He would respond that policies for the chat rooms were set by high level ODNI officials “waaay above my pay grade,” not him.
Last summer, however, his inadvertent entanglement in the case of an ODNI contractor who had been a target of repeated hate speech due to his race and gender identity got him fired, he recounts. His crime was sharing information outside Intelink, his boss told him. Gilmore explained that the complainant had copied him on emails to a top IC official without his assent—to no avail.
But he had, he admits, tried to moderate the behavior of the worst hate-speech offenders.
“I wanted to tell everyone that there is a cancer within the government and when I tried to weed it out, I got fired,” Gilmore wrote. “It was just easier for government management to get rid of me rather than to deal with the underlying issue.”
Another NSA contractor told SpyTalk that the hate speech started in 2016 after Trump’s election and is “ongoing.” Trump’s followers in the agency get away with professional indiscretions, some of them serious, while others get dismissed for minor infractions, this person said on condition of anonymity.
“We literally had folks get their clearances burned for time card discrepancies while pro-MAGA types might have multiple DUIs, foreign contacts, and (in one case) vehicular homicide,” the source said. “They were kept working while others were let go.”
Extremist groups have made inroads in U.S. military and police units, experts say. Intelligence sources have told SpyTalk over the past several months that pro-Trump fervor is centered in special operations and hostage rescue units.
Gilmore says now that getting fired and losing his security clearance turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Since then, he’s turned a woodworking hobby into a business.
“I’m done with the Department of Defense, having a clearance, and everything that comes with that,” he wrote. “I spent 30 years serving my country, and I have the unique opportunity to do what I want to do now: follow my dream.“
“Hey @GenMHayden,” Gilmore tweeted, addressing the former NSA and CIA director. “Please read why I was fired from NSA. I’m not crapping all over the Agency or the IC, but you should know what’s going on after you left.”