Jim Jordan's Committee Uncovers DHS Paid for Censorship in 2020 Election!
by Josh Christenson, NY Post, November 7, 2023
New emails show officials at the Department of Homeland Security created a Stanford University “disinformation” groupthat censored Americans’ speech before the 2020 election, according to a House Judiciary Committee report exclusively obtained by The Post.
The House panel’s 103-page staff interim report says never-before-seen emails and internal communications were obtained from the group, known as the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), and show how it worked with DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to flag, suppress and remove online speech in coordination with big tech companies.
One of EIP’s founding partners — the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab — described CISA’s central role in the alleged censorship effort in a July 31, 2020, email.
“I know the Council has a number of efforts on broad policy around the elections, but we just set up an election integrity partnership at the request of DHS/CISA and are in weekly comms to debrief about disinfo,” the lab’s senior director Graham Brookie wrote.
The staff report says, “[T]he federal government and universities pressured social media companies to censor true information, jokes, and political opinions.
“This pressure was largely directed in a way that benefitted one side of the political aisle: true information posted by Republicans and conservatives was labeled as ‘misinformation’ while false information posted by Democrats and liberals was largely unreported and untouched by the censors.”
The “misinformation” posts were made by public officials such as former President Donald Trump, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), media outlets such as Newsmax and the Babylon Bee and many conservative commentators.
The Judiciary report also found that while under the purview of CISA’s Countering Foreign Influence Task Force, the central focus of the feds’ effort was to “censor Americans engaged in core political speech in the lead up to the 2020 election.”
DHS acknowledged that it could not “openly endorse” a centralized portal to flag information in a May 2020 email released in the staff report, which cleared the way for Stanford’s EIP to take up the effort in July of that year.
The task force used a tactic known as “switchboarding” to refer to removal requests from state and local officials to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, which CISA-CFITF director Brian Scully confirmed in testimony in the bombshell case Missouri v. Biden.
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Emails in the interim staff report show Scully informing members of the Office of the Colorado Secretary of State that he had flagged parody accounts to Twitter and advised Facebook to take down a post about the election that was deemed misinformation.
The exchanges show that CISA recognized it was on shaky legal ground by participating in the effort and chose to add a disclaimer beneath many emails that its requests were “voluntary” and the agency “neither has nor seeks the ability to remove what information is made available on social media platforms.”
However, those emails also included a line that the “information may also be shared with law enforcement or intelligence agencies,” implying those agencies could take action if the posts weren’t removed.
Former CISA director Chris Krebs, who was fired by Trump after the 2020 election, testified to the subcommittee that “switchboarding” was done before his agency was created as well.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified in a House Judiciary Committee hearing in July that the agency no longer participates in the practice.
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The Judiciary staff report also discloses that Stanford students were working at both CISA and EIP simultaneously.
“Not only were there a number of university students involved with the EIP, at least four of the students were employed by CISA during the operation of EIP, using their government email accounts to communicate with CISA officials and other ‘external stakeholders’ involved with the EIP,” it states.
In a statement given to The Post on Monday, CISA executive director Brandon Wales said the agency “does not and has never censored speech or facilitated censorship.
“Every day, the men and women of CISA execute the agency’s mission of reducing risk to U.S. critical infrastructure in a way that protects Americans’ freedom of speech, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy,” Wales said.
“In response to concerns from election officials of all parties regarding foreign influence operations and disinformation that may impact the security of election infrastructure, CISA mitigates the risk of disinformation by sharing information on election literacy and election security with the public and by amplifying the trusted voices of election officials across the nation.”
The “disinfo” organization was led by Stanford University’s Stanford Internet Observatory and founded with the help of other academics who communicated directly with Homeland Security officials and members of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, the report said.
SIO was conceived as a “one-stop shop for local election officials, DHS, and voter protection organizations” to coordinate with social media platforms in the censorship effort, according to its director Alex Stamos, who previously served as chief security officer at Facebook.
In June, Stamos testified to the House subcommittee that CISA’s coordination with the FBI came across as a threat.
Stanford Group Helped US Government Censor Covid Dissidents and Then Lied About It, New Documents Show
A trove of newly released Virality Project reports confirms that the government used a Stanford cut-out to censor true content about Covid vaccines, vindicating Twitter Files reporting
A Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) spokesperson says it “did not censor or ask social media platforms to remove any social media content regarding coronavirus vaccine side effects.” This denial came in response to Twitter Files published by Matt Taibbi in March, which revealed that SIO’s so-called “Virality Project” had pushed platforms to treat user concerns about vaccine mandates and passports as “disinformation” and to consider “stories of true vaccine side effects” to be actionable content on social media. The Virality Project was an initiative undertaken jointly by Big Tech, universities, and NGOs to combat “anti-vaccine misinformation.” SIO responded to Taibbi’s Twitter Files by claiming that his findings were “inaccurate and based on distortions of email exchanges in the Twitter Files.”
But new evidence shows that Stanford lied about the scope of the Virality Project and that its censorship efforts were undertaken on behalf of the US government.
As Public reported on Tuesday, new documents shared by the House Judiciary Committee revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), created the Virality Project’s predecessor, the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), to censor protected speech. Explains the committee, “EIP reconstituted as the Virality Project” and continued working with the federal government. The Twitter Files also found that the Project partnered “with several government agencies,” including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Office of the Surgeon General, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Still, Stanford and the mainstream media insist that “disinformation” experts were merely conducting research, and not involved in actual censorship.
Now, an investigation by Public has uncovered clear evidence that the Project was directly and deliberately involved in successful censorship efforts. Public analyzed a trove of newly released Jira system tickets, the Virality Project’s tipline to social media companies. These tickets overwhelmingly contradict Stanford’s assertion that it did not try to get content censored.
The Virality Project, acting as a cut-out for DHS and CISA, worked directly with employees at Facebook, Google, YouTube, TikTok, and more, who were all signed up to their Jira system. Those companies regularly assured the Project that they were addressing the content it flagged. Companies responded with comments like, “Thanks for flagging this. We have actioned the content,” or “Thanks for escalating to us — our team is looking into this now.” The Virality Project kept track of actions on the content it flagged, and was frequently successful in getting content labeled or removed by platforms, and in getting users suspended.
The Virality Project appears to have played a major role in one particularly infamous case of Covid-related censorship. On March 15, 2021, Harvard professor of medicine Martin Kulldorff tweeted, “Thinking that everyone must be vaccinated is as scientifically flawed as thinking that nobody should. COVID vaccines are important for older high-risk people, and their care-takers. Those with prior natural infection do not need it. Nor children.”
“Dear Twitter Team,” a representative of the Virality Project wrote in response to Kulldorff’s post, “This Tweet directly contradicts CDC’s advice.”
“Thanks team — we’re looking into this,” a senior Twitter Trust & Safety policy specialist wrote back.
Kulldorff’s tweet was then labeled as misleading and he was temporarily suspended from the platform. Internally, the Virality Project identified Kulldorff, a renowned biostatistician, as a “repeat offender.”
This process was indeed a deliberate, state-sponsored act of censorship. In many egregious instances, the Virality Project — again, a government cut-out — intentionally and knowingly worked to silence and deplatform social media users. Jira records vindicate the Twitter Files and are evidence of First Amendment violations.
These are some of the Virality Project’s most egregious, absurd, and anti-science censorship efforts: ...