Thursday, November 30, 2023

Weaponization Committee: Michael Shellenberger Reveals US and UK Military’s Leading Role in Censoring American Speech and Targeting Trump Supporters

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Federal Government is holding a hearing to examine federal government-sanctioned internet suppression and attacks on journalists and media outlets.

The hearing will feature testimony from Matt Taibbi, Twitter Files journalist and author; Michael Shellenberger, Twitter Files journalist, author, and environmentalist; Rupa Subramanya, Canada-based journalist for The Free Pressand Olivia Troye, former Homeland Security Advisor and Counterterrorism Advisor, Office of Vice President Pence.

Earlier this week Michael Shellenberger revealed that a whistleblower recently stepped forward with documented evidence on the origins of the Censorship Industrial Complex following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016 and the passage of Brexit in the UK.

On Thursday, Michael Shellenberger described to the Weaponization Committee how the US and UK military played a leading role in the establishment of the Government Censorship Complex.

Michael Shellenberger:  Nine months ago, I testified and provided evidence to the Subcommittee about the existence of a censorship industrial complex, a network of government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, government contractors, and big tech media platforms that conspired to censor ordinary Americans and elected officials alike for holding disfavored views. I regret to inform the Subcommittee today that the SCO power and lawbreaking of the censorship industrial complex are even worse than we had realized back in March. 2 days ago, my colleagues and I published the first batch of internal files from the Cyber Threat Intelligence League, which show US. And UK military contractors working in 2019 and 2020 to both censor and turn sophisticated psychological operations and disinformation tactics developed abroad against the American people. Many insist that all that we identified in the Twitter files, the Facebook files, and the CTI files were legal activities by social media platforms to take down content that violated the terms of service.

Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and other big tech companies are privately owned, people point out, and free to censor content, and government officials are free to point out wrong information, they argue. But the First Amendment prohibits the government from abridging freedom of speech. The Supreme Court has ruled that the government may not induce, encourage, or promote private persons to accomplish what is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish, and there’s now a large body of evidence proving that the government did precisely that. What’s more, the whistleblower who delivered the CTIL files to us says that its leader, a quote unquote former British intelligence analyst, was quote unquote in the room at the Obama White House in 2017 when she received the instructions to create a counter disinformation project to, quote, stop a repeat of 2016. The US.

Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency CISA has been the center of gravity for much of the censorship, with the National Science Foundation financing the development of censorship and disinformation tools and other federal government agencies playing a supportive role. Emails from CISA’s, NGO and social media partners show that CISA created the Election Integrity Partnership EIP in 2020, which involved the Stanford Internet Observatory and other US. Government contractors. EIP and its successor, the Virality Project, urged Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to censor social media posts by ordinary citizens and elected officials alike. EIP reported that they had a 75% response rate from the platforms and that 35% of the URLs that they reported were either removed, labeled, or throttled or soft-blocked.

In 2020, the Department of Homeland Security CISA violated the First Amendment and interfered in the election, while in 2021, CISA and the White House violated the First Amendment and undermined America’s response to the COVID pandemic by demanding that Facebook and Twitter censor content that Facebook said that Facebook itself said was, quote, unquote, often true, including about vaccine side effects. All of this is profoundly UN American. One’s commitment to free speech means nothing if it does not extend to your political enemies. In his essential new book, Liar in a Crowded Theater, Jeff Kosef, a law professor at the United States Naval Academy, shows that the widespread view that the government can censor false speech and or speech that, quote-unquote causes harm is mostly wrong. The Supreme Court has allowed very few constraints on speech.

For example, the test of incitement to violence remains its immediacy. I encourage Congress to defund and dismantle the government organizations involved in censorship. That includes phasing out all funding for the National Science Foundation’s track F trust and authenticity and communication systems, and its secure and Trustworthy cyberspace track. I would also encourage Congress to abolish CISA in DHS. Short of taking those steps, I would encourage significant guardrails and oversight to prevent such citizenship from happening again.


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