Erm, actually Congresswoman, that collusion was legal and the GOP should be ashamed they passed it 😳

The past week, the House Oversight Committee led by Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has been conducting hearings about censorship on Twitter and Facebook being orchestrated by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force since 2018.

At one point in the hearings, U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) blastedformer Twitter executive Yoel Roth for communicating with the federal agencies via private cloud servers to remove content from Twitter.

“It is highly illegal… This, ladies and gentlemen, is joint action between the federal government and a private company to censor and violate the First Amendment,” Luna declared.

She’s right, but here is the problem. While the actions violate the First Amendment of the Constitution that protects the freedom of speech and of the press, what Luna might not realize — she is a freshman Congresswoman elected in 2022 — it was authorized by Congress in 2018 when Republicans controlled the House led by former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Senate led by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the White House as former President Donald Trump signed the legislation that ending up censoring him, his party and the 74 million Americans who voted for his reelection 2020.

But good luck getting any of them to even acknowledge this. It’s an embarrassment of the first order. But moreover, it points to a serious problem at the Congressional committee level where the bills are drafted, vetted and then put forward for consideration.

In 2018, after Republicans had lost control of the House but before Nancy Pelosi was brought back in as Speaker, the fact is, Congress unanimously passed legislation in the closing days of the Republican-controlled House on unanimous consent, H.R. 3359, that authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to disseminate information to the private sector including Big Tech social media companies in a bid to combat potential foreign and domestic terrorists.

There was no debate. No objections. Just a brand new agency whose purpose it turns out was to censor the American people and, very specifically, Republicans.

The law authorizes CISA to “disseminate, as appropriate, information analyzed by the Department within the Department, to other agencies of the Federal Government with responsibilities relating to homeland security, and to agencies of State and local governments and private sector entities with such responsibilities in order to assist in the deterrence, prevention, preemption of, or response to, terrorist attacks against the United States.”

With that authority, CISA says it “rout[es] disinformation concerns” to “appropriate social media platforms”: “The [Mis, Dis, Malinformation] MDM team serves as a switchboard for routing disinformation concerns to appropriate social media platforms and law enforcement,” according to the agency’s website.

This has been going on since 2018: “This activity began in 2018, supporting state and local election officials to mitigate disinformation about the time, place, and manner of voting.”

And it was expanded in 2020: “For the 2020 election, CISA expanded the breadth of reporting to include other state and local officials and more social media platforms.”

The agency still brags about its “rapport” with Big Tech firms in censoring speech so they’re on the same page: “This activity leverages the rapport the MDM team has with the social media platforms to enable shared situational awareness.”

During the pandemic, CISA also targeted Covid “disinformation” too: “COVID-19…create[d] opportunities for adversaries to act maliciously. The MDM team supports…private sector partners’ COVID-19 response…via regular reporting and analysis of key pandemic-related MDM trends.”

In early May 2020 the agency issued a disinformation warning against “potentially extremely harmful suggestions to drink bleach” after a controversial April 23, 2020 press conference by former President Donald Trump about the use of solar light and other disinfectants to kill Covid on surfaces when Trump proposed using solar light to treat the virus.

As for the FBI Foreign Influence Task Force, according to its website, “The FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for investigating foreign influence operations. In the fall of 2017, Director Christopher Wray established the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) to identify and counteract malign foreign influence operations targeting the United States.”

The site warns of foreign disinformation, “Foreign influence operations have taken many forms and used many tactics over the years. Most widely reported these days are attempts by adversaries—hoping to reach a wide swath of Americans covertly from outside the United States—to use false personas and fabricated stories on social media platforms to discredit U.S. individuals and institutions.” And it “provides tools and resources to political campaigns, companies, and individuals to protect against online foreign influence operations and cybersecurity threats,” including on “Disinformation campaigns on social media platforms that confuse, trick, or upset the public”.

In other words, both CISA and the FITF tell social media what is foreign influence or disinformation so they know what to suppress and censor. The implication, since the law authorizing CISA is to preempt terrorism, is that DHS and the FBI believe regular Americans are terrorists whose communications need to be suppressed. They think they’re at war with little old grandmothers or big influencers opposing mandatory vaccines or the results of the 2020 election on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s madness. Or a type of mass hysteria that has promulgated the corridors of official Washington, D.C.—a perpetual state of paranoia, but boy, they’re going to get to the bottom of it!

But consider the context. This was at the height of the Russiagate investigation by the FBI that falsely accused former President Donald Trump of being a Russian agent. The specter of the investigation was used to pressure Trump and Congress to escalate and send weapons to Ukraine to deter Russia, and to sabotage diplomatic efforts to communicate with Russia to deescalate tensions including those by former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn but also Trump long after Flynn had been removed for no good reason. The apparent goal was to ensure Trump could never again be reelected with all his campaign rhetoric of trying to talk to Russia and God forbid prevent World War III, which, thanks to the escalation and the fact we haven’t really had a president who could talk to Russia without a figurative gun to his head by the FBI since 2014 — when former pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown to get a U.S.-brokered trade agreement with the European Union ratified and then Russia annexed Crimea, starting the war — we appear to be on the brink of nuclear annihilation.

But suing for peace, as Trump suggested, is not “foreign influence”. It’s what Richard Nixon did when he did the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT). It’s what Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter did with SALT II. It’s what Ronald Reagan did with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and what George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama did with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties. It’s called détente, and the FBI is determined to stop it. Why? Why this push to go to war in Ukraine for ten years? To get a trade deal?

Just consider all of the current emphasis on Ukraine. The FBI and CISA and the intelligence community were determined and remain determined to prevent any information from coming out about this and whatever the hell Joe Biden was doing in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014 when this all started. Why?

The Justice Department just appointed another special counsel—now there’s three, time to get rid of those, too, Congress—to seize classified documents Biden had kept in his possession from this period of time, and many of them have a lot to do with Ukraine. Why? The search was warrantless and Biden’s attorneys are “cooperating” with officials. Therefore there is no judicial oversight of the FBI raiding the currentPresident’s home. Why? What are they hiding?

This is not “foreign” influence they are concerned about. It’s domestic politics and who gets to choose which wars we fight. Heads up, Congress, that’s you, but if you vote to go into this particular war, there might not be any more votes. And President Joe Biden, who if he allows America to plunge into a nuclear exchange, will almost certainly be the worst president in American history, but maybe the last president in American history.

But it’s also about who gets to choose when the economy shuts down whether to fight a pandemic or climate change. About who gets to stand up and oppose vaccines or other tyrannical Covid policy mandates. About who gets to run for public office and be able to communicate with potential voters.  It’s our very thoughts they seek to control.

And Congress voted for it. If it wasn’t for the Hunter Biden laptop story, Republicans in Congress—perhaps who think this was the consequential stroke that turned the 2020 election—might not even care so much, having gone along with or being simply ignorant of all of the rest of the above. Only in very narrow, partisan constructs do we get any information about this, but is it the right information?

Let’s look at the Hunter Biden laptop situation. On Dec. 19, journalist Michael Shellenberger released another batch of Twitter files highlighting further details by Twitter’s decision to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story in Oct. 2020 just weeks before the 2020 presidential election, which revealed Biden’s business dealings with China, Ukraine and others as a potential pay-for-play operation directed at his father, President Joe Biden.

In the months leading up to the 2020 election, the FBI had repeatedly briefed Twitter and Facebook about “hack-and-dump” leak operations by foreign adversaries like Russia to interfere in the election. It cited the 2016 publication of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) emails in July 2016 on Wikileaks after Russia allegedly hacked the emails.

And by the time the story was published on Oct. 14, these briefings, both before and after the story was published, persuaded Twitter to label the story as potential hacked materials or disinformation.

In one Oct 14 email, Nick Pickles, Twitter’s head of global government affairs stated in an email thread labeled “PRIVILEGED – Hacked Materials updates source-of-truth” that briefings from “government sources… about the source of the hard drive” supported the conclusion the contents were stolen:  “the seemingly well-timed briefings from Gov[ernment] sources highlighting concerns about the source of the hard drive, which would support an assessment that it’s neither whistleblower or dissident content.”

That was agreeing with Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety, who stated, “The key factor informing our approach is consensus from experts monitoring election security and disinformation that this looks a lot like a hack-and-leak that learned from the 2016 Wikileaks approach and our policy changes. The suggestion from experts – which rings true is there was a hack that happened, and they loaded the hacked materials on the laptop that magically appeared at a repair shop in Delaware (and was coincidentally reviewed in a very invasive way by someone who coincidentally then handed the materials to Rudy Giuliani). Given the sever risks we saw in this space in 2016, we’re recommending a warning + deamplification pending further information.”

To seal the deal, on Oct. 19, 2020, a letter signed by 50 former U.S. intelligence officials including former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan said the New York Post story was Russian disinformation, stating, “the arrival on the U.S. political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving on the Board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

But it added, “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement — just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.”

Later, Roth has since confirmed that the government briefings played a significant role in Twitter’s decision-making, telling Kara Swisher, “It set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 [Advanced Persistent Threat group] hack-and-leap campaign alarm bells.” APT28 refers to one of the groups allegedly responsible for the 2016 DNC hacks that the FBI had been repeatedly warning Twitter about.

The FBI did the same thing to Facebook. The Oct. 2020 Hunter Biden laptop story by the New York Post that was suppressed and labeled as being potentially hacked materials by social media companies like Twitter and Facebook before the 2020 presidential election.

On the Joe Rogan Show on Aug. 25, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the FBI had approached Facebook with a similar general warning but not about that specific New York Post story, stating, “The background here is that the FBI came to us – some folks on our team – and was like ‘hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election, we have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that’. So just be vigilant.”

But when specifically asked if they told him to be on guard about that story, Zuckerberg replied, “No, I don’t remember if it was that specifically but it was – it basically fit the pattern.”

Zuckerberg added, “if the FBI which I still view is as a legitimate institution in this country — it’s a very, very professional law enforcement — they come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something then I want to take that seriously.”

An Oct. 10, 2022 filing by Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt office notes that section chief of the FBI Foreign Influence Task Force Laura Dehmlow and cyber branch head of the San Francisco FBI field office Elvis Chan were “involved in the communications between the FBI and Meta that led to Facebook’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.”

On Nov. 29, 2022 Schmitt’s office, and also the office of Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry deposed Chan in a federal suit brought by both states against the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security. Schmitt told Fox News Digital, “Since filing our lawsuit, we’ve uncovered troves of discovery that show a massive ‘censorship enterprise.’ … Now, we’re deposing top government officials, and we’re one of the first to get a look under the hood — the information we’ve uncovered through those depositions has been shocking to say the least. It’s clear from Tuesday’s deposition that the FBI has an extremely close role in working to censor freedom of speech.”

On Dec. 2, 2022, when the Twitter Files were being first reported, journalist Matt Taibbi had stated there was “no evidence… of any government involvement” in the Biden laptop story, writing, “Although several sources recalled hearing about a ‘general’ warning from federal law enforcement that summer about possible foreign hacks, there’s no evidence – that I’ve seen – of any government involvement in the [Hunter Biden] laptop story…”

Now, Shellenberger has revealed Pickles’ email stating that briefings from “government sources… about the source of the hard drive” was “neither whistleblower or dissident content” even though one of the sources who provided the laptop’s hard drive to the New York Post was Rudy Giuliani, who was working for President Donald Trump’s campaign, to report on his opponent in the election, Joe Biden.

Since then, the FBI has come out and emphatically denied the allegations that it was involved in censorship operations, even though its own website for the Foreign Influence Task Force, cited in the Twitter Files, states, “Private sector partnerships: The FBI considers strategic engagement with U.S. technology companies, including threat indicator sharing, to be important in combating foreign influence actors.”

So, the agencies who say they’re protecting us from “foreign” actors are simply lying to everyone about their activities, keeping multiple sets of books when it comes to Congressional oversight and then when Congress is presented with incontrovertible evidence of what is happening in open hearings, what legislation are they proposing to rein it in?

To be clear, under Article I, Congress—not CISA, not the FBI, not former intelligence officials—are supposed to make laws that protect and defend the constitutional rights of the American people. Instead, they are passing laws that do the opposite, and delegate massive responsibilities to a permanent state, the national security apparatus, the deep state, the administrative state or the military industrial complex. Call it whatever you want. Former President Dwight Eisenhower was right.

So let’s start passing some laws. That is, if Congress is even allowed to address the breadth of this system of control.

Why not just propose a bill repealing CISA and disbanding the so-called Foreign Influence Task Force, the State Department’s Global Engagement Center and many other cacophony of silencing government agencies?

What are these Congressional committees doing? Who writes these bills that are being used to destroy Republicans’ and other Americans’ abilities to communicate with their constituents, potential voters, the media and everyone else? What is being done, really, to rein in this censorship?

Oversight is a highly important function, but members of Congress, especially new ones like Congresswoman Luna, may not be fully aware of which laws are being used to subvert our Constitution. The ones Congress keeps voting for in the dead of night.

Maybe they’re afraid to speak up. Or maybe many of them have been coopted into this system of control. I can’t even get them to acknowledge the fact they voted to create the agency that is doing the censorship. Where are the bils to get rid of CISA or the Foreign Influence Task Force? Because they aren’t telling us, you can make up your own mind as to the reasons why.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government. 

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