by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Editors at the Washington Examiner set out a task for the next Congress: limiting mischief at the Department of Homeland Security.
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.