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By now, it should not surprise you to learn that a federal intelligence agency is trying to cover up evidence showing that they are working to censor free speech. The past decade has shown us that the federal government has no qualms with trying to use its power to shape public opinion – especially through censorship.
This time, it is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that was reportedly caught trying to conceal its role in squashing certain political views on Big Tech platforms. Fox News reported:
A federal agency in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that’s been scrutinized for what critics argue is suppression of dissenting political views under the guise of combating disinformation now appears to be “burying” evidence of its alleged censorship, experts and watchdog groups say.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, has come under fire for working with Big Tech companies to flag and take down social media posts related to elections, COVID vaccines, and a range of other issues that were deemed mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM).
Mike Benz, executive director of the Foundation for Freedom Online, told Fox News his research found that CISA has attempted to hide its involvement in suppressing opinions posted on social media by Americans. The agency’s MDM webpage discusses “foreign influence operations and disinformation … targeting election infrastructure.” It says nothing of focusing on domestic activity.
But this particular page is new and “has a short web archive history” according to the Fox News report, which also noted that it only existed “since late last month.”
However, the old CISA page related to MDM addresses both “foreign and domestic threat actors [using] MDM campaigns to cause chaos, confusion, and division.” It also gives a much wider definition of CISA’s mission as working “in close coordination with interagency and private sector partners, social media companies, academia, and international partners on a variety of projects to build resilience against malicious information activities.”
The Homeland Security Department created CISA to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity and infrastructure security. It was established in November 2018 and is responsible for safeguarding America’s infrastructure from physical and cyber threats. This includes protecting the electrical grid, financial systems, transportation systems, communication networks, and others. It also takes the lead in the government’s mission to defend the nation against cyber threats and collaborates with public and private sector partners to this end.
But, the agency’s objective eventually morphed into addressing “disinformation campaigns and efforts that appear in social media,” according to a report from the Office of Inspector General.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency was set to go after “inaccurate information” related to vaccines and the origins of the coronavirus. It was also monitoring posts discussing racial justice, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and the endless stream of support for Ukraine coming from the U.S.
“One could argue we’re in the business of critical infrastructure, and the most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure, so building that resilience to misinformation and disinformation, I think, is incredibly important,” said Jen Easterly, the agency’s director at a conference in November 2021.
Given the fact that CISA has been criticized for widening its focus beyond what it was originally intended to be, it makes sense that it would try to hide its true activities from the public.
“CISA pulled a fast one on the American public by setting up a social media censorship division in the name of fighting foreign influence, but then quickly seizing long-arm jurisdiction over domestic opinions online as well,” Benz said to Fox News. “CISA officials knew they lacked the legal authorization to do what they did. Now, CISA appears to be burying the evidence of its domestic censorship activities, right as oversight of potential malfeasance is heating up.”
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) also slammed the agency for trying to conceal its activities, noting that it “raises more questions than answers about the focus and priorities of the agency.”
“CISA’s stealth course correction raises more questions than answers about the focus and priorities of the agency. CISA should be acutely focused on protecting critical infrastructure against foreign threats, not on domestic censorship of Americans,” he said. “It’s unacceptable, point blank. CISA can expect inquiries from the Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability Subcommittee to ensure that it does not deviate from its critical mission.”
Naturally, CISA denies having ever participated in censorship campaigns against Americans and claimed the changes to its website was part of a redesign.
“CISA does not and has never censored domestic political speech,” said a spokesperson, who also claimed that the agency’s focus is “building resilience to foreign influence operations and disinformation so the American people don’t face the brunt of these threats on their own.”
The spokesperson also mentioned that he has some prime oceanfront property in Wyoming to sell for cheap.
Alright, I might have made that last part up. But if you believe CISA’s denials, I might actually have that property for you.
Sometimes it seems that every week, more details emerge showing how extensively our government is involving itself with Big Tech specifically to suppress certain viewpoints on the internet. It may not be actively passing legislation to tamp down on these posts, but it is most definitely colluding with private entities that are more than happy to help Big Brother monitor and silence dissenting views on various issues. There will undoubtedly be more revelations in the future. The question is, what is going to be done to stop this new brand of tyranny?