Though the Department of Homeland Security’s infamous Disinformation Governance Board was disbanded due to public pressure last year, it was immediately clear that the department’s already well-established so-called disinformation efforts would continue in less formal, but equally concerning ways.
Enter Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which has been increasingly involved in these efforts. For example, just a couple of weeks ago, Director Jen Easterly made some startling comments about her agency controlling the flow of information to the public:
One could argue that we’re in the business of protecting critical infrastructure, and the most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure … We now live in a world where people talk about alternative facts, post-truth, which I think is really, really dangerous if people get to pick their own facts.
“Protecting … cognitive infrastructure” is code for thought control. “Cognitive infrastructure” is not on the list of critical infrastructure sectors under the agency’s purview. The real danger is people in leadership at this agency and similar agencies wielding their power and telling us they are in the business of “protecting” Americans from our own opinions and discussions.
During a recent House Homeland Security Appropriations hearing where members of Congress were considering her agency’s budget request, Easterly made some surprising assertions that were completely at odds with what we’ve actually seen from her agency.
When questioned about the agency spending money on racial and sexual diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, she implied that the Republicans just misunderstood and that “diverse” meant diversity of thought.
When questioned about the agency’s involvement in curtailing what the Biden administration considers disinformation and misinformation—like falsely labeling the Hunter Biden laptop story as “foreign disinformation”—she firmly asserted that the agency is only involved in tackling foreign, not domestic, disinformation.
And when asked whether her agency has a habit of working with Twitter to flag or censor what it considers disinformation leading up to elections, Easterly absolutely denied it, saying, “We don’t flag anything to social media organizations at all … we don’t do any censorship.”
Yet previous testimony proves otherwise. Recent events point to a deliberate attempt to cover up the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s past and rebrand its mission.
Last week, conveniently prior to the hearing, the agency’s Cybersecurity Advisory Committee reorganized, and Easterly stated that they would no longer be operating the Misinformation, Disinformation and Malinformation advisory subcommittee, as the subcommittee had “successfully answered their taskings and provided recommendations” to the agency.
Additionally, Vijaya Gadde, who was acting in a leadership role on the subcommittee, will reportedly be shifted to another advisory role within the agency. Gadde was the former Twitter executive who made headlines for her involvement in the Hunter Biden laptop censoring scandal, was dubbed the company’s “chief censor,” and was fired after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. The fact that she now works at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency makes Easterly’s testimony of not censoring or working with social media companies highly questionable.
Ahead of the hearing, it was also reported that the agency had whitewashed its website and scrubbed all mentions of “domestic threat actors,” rewording certain mentions of “Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation” to be less controversial. The site now refers only to foreign actors as opposed to foreign and domestic actors, just in time for Easterly to deny domestic censorship in her sworn testimony.
Just as what occurred relative to Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, it appears pushback and public scrutiny have caused the agency to reassess and abandon such brazen admissions of domestic censorship in exchange for more subtle tactics.
However, the abuse of government funds and operations for political gain is already ingrained in the agency and its partners.
For example, the Election Integrity Partnership, created in 2020 in consultation with Easterly’s agency to “work with government and civilian stakeholders to combat mis- and disinformation on social media about voting and elections,” has “received more than $12 million in federal grants since [Joe] Biden took office.” The partnership is still fully functioning.
In its own 2021 report, the Election Integrity Partnership stated in relation to elections:
Dozens of federal agencies support this effort, including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense. However, none of these federal agencies has a focus on, or authority regarding, election misinformation originating from domestic sources within the United States. This limited federal role reveals a critical gap for non-governmental entities to fill. Increasingly pervasive mis- and disinformation, both foreign and domestic, creates an urgent need for collaboration across government, civil society, media, and social media platforms.
According to reports, the Election Integrity Partnership “prioritize[s] … swing states over non-swing states” in its reporting of “misinformation” to the American public and has been exposed for targeting conservative news sources.
To maintain political power, the Biden administration has a clear track record of “disinformation” efforts, no matter the agency, contractor, board, committee, or personnel in charge.
As it continuously rebrands and rewrites the history of its censorship activities, the Biden-run Department of Homeland Security has ingrained the policing of thought and information into our institutions.
Congress and the American people must stay vigilant and work to defund and disband this censorship regime at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, at the Election Integrity Partnership, and wherever it manifests next.
Reprinted with Permission from – The Heritage Foundation by – Erin Dwinell
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