Republicans must end DHS censorship
by Washington Examiner
November 03, 2022 07:00 AM
When news first broke that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) husband had been assaulted with a hammer, Democrats and their media allies moved swiftly to identify the attacker as a Republican. Reports that the attacker asked Paul Pelosi, “Where’s Nancy?” were portrayed as an “echo” of the Jan. 6 riot.
Never mind that the attacker also was an illegal immigrant drug addict from Canada who thought he was Jesus and had been involved with the Castro district nudity movement for years. Democrats were determined to use the attack to mute conservative criticism of Nancy Pelosi. They went so far as to suggest that Republicans pull ads that reference the speaker, the most powerful legislator in America and third in line for the presidency.
THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY HAS BETRAYED ITS CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATIONS
“Look at the sewage that is online that they amplify on these networks and in social media to dehumanize people like Nancy Pelosi and other political leaders,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said of Fox News earlier this week. “Don’t tell me that’s not aiding and abetting all this. Of course it is.” He was especially incensed that Jesse Watters had dared cover Paul Pelosi’s recent drunk driving charge as if this had caused the attack.
CBS News’s Margaret Brennan also pushed Republicans to mute their criticism of the speaker. On Face the Nation, she pressed Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), “Republican candidates have spent more than $116 million on ads that mentioned Speaker Pelosi by name in their cycle,” Brennan said. “Why not pull some of these ads?”
The Democratic Party’s effort to use the Pelosi attack as a weapon to silence completely justified criticisms of the speaker’s political positions and record would not be so worrisome were it not connected to a much larger and sustained effort by the federal government, in partnership with the most powerful Big Tech platforms, to surveil and censor messages of political dissent.
After a number of large U.S. companies were hacked by foreign entities, Congress passed and then-President Donald Trump signed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act, which created a new agency in the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to protecting the nation’s “cyber and physical infrastructure.”
Protecting domestic websites from foreign hackers does sound like a reasonable job for DHS to carry out. Unfortunately, however, CISA’s mission quickly morphed from stopping hackers to countering “disinformation campaigns and efforts that appear in social media,” according to an August 2022 DHS Office of Inspector General report.
And what type of “disinformation” has DHS been looking to counter? According to a draft report from DHS obtained by the Intercept, the list of subjects the Biden administration wants to control includes “the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”
Under no circumstances should DHS bureaucrats be looking to control how any of those issues are discussed in any forum, including on social media. The idea that President Joe Biden is abusing his power to control discussions about the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the disastrous event that completely shook public confidence in his presidency last summer, is especially chilling.
The Intercept also highlighted extensive coordination between Twitter, Facebook, DHS, and the FBI about alleged misinformation during the 2020 presidential election. Both outlets chose to throttle perfectly true reports about the contents of a laptop connected to Hunter Biden after pressure from the FBI and DHS. To this day, Facebook still maintains a special portal for DHS and other domestic law enforcement agencies to report disinformation directly.
There is a reason Joe Biden’s 2022 National Security Strategy identified “domestic violent extremists” motivated by “anti-government or anti-authority sentiment” as an “increased and significant threat” to national security. Biden and Democrats like Newsom want to use the full power of the federal government to deputize Big Tech to stymie the free flow of information and thus shut down and silence their political opposition.
Conservatives cannot allow this war on the First Amendment to continue. Giving DHS even a splinter of authority to monitor domestic speech is an open invitation to domestic censorship of political discourse. Republicans must revise the 2018 CISA Act to make it clear that DHS is not authorized to monitor or censor domestic social media discussions in any way whatsoever.
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