A cybersecurity agency within the Department of Homeland Security has been engaging in censorship and then justifying it under the guise of “critical infrastructure security,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry testified this week before the House Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
Called to testify based on findings in his ongoing lawsuit, Louisiana and Missouri v. Biden et al., Landry said DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has classified American “thoughts, ideas, and beliefs” as “critical infrastructure.” To “control” these “cognitive assets,” Landry added, CISA and “numerous federal agencies” then use private entities to orchestrate what amounts to unconstitutional government censorship: The government flags dissenting beliefs for Big Tech companies to silence in an attempt to bypass the First Amendment.
“It is axiomatic that the U.S. government and its officials cannot … circumvent the First Amendment by inducing, threatening, and/or colluding with private entities to suppress protected speech. Shockingly, this is exactly what has occurred through this federal censorship enterprise,” Landry said.
CISA claims to be the “national coordinator for critical infrastructure security and resilience,” and, among other things, purports to address risks from “foreign influence operations and disinformation.” But as The Federalist’s Senior Editor John Daniel Davidson wrote in these pages last year, “A security and surveillance apparatus originally constructed to keep us safe from terrorists has been transformed into an instrument of domestic surveillance, and is now being used against us.”
Behind all CISA’s legal jargon, Landry’s case has exposed the roots of a widespread censorship operation, obvious in efforts to affect election outcomes and silence speech critical of the regime on everything from Covid-19 lockdowns to FBI corruption.
“CISA serves as a ‘switchboard’ for sending disfavored information from state and local officials to the necessary social media company to ensure content-moderation policies are applied,” Landry said.
According to Landry, CISA and other government agencies use three strategies to push companies to censor: “public pressure … coercion … and deception.” These Orwellian tactics are systemic:
Still, this conspiracy to control the thoughts and minds of the American public is deeply entrenched, with social media companies meeting with federal officials on a regular basis. These meetings are often focused on streamlining and maximizing censorship efforts related to flagging, fact-checking, and reporting on ‘borderline’ or disfavored content, even parodies, comedic material, and criticism of the President. Yet while many federal officials from the President on down have accused social media companies of “killing people” for not censoring enough content, this censorship enterprise has likely resulted in significant loss of life by ensuring the American public did not gain true and accurate information during a global pandemic.
While Landry cautioned that this government censorship cannot be allowed to continue, he said it is likely to because bad actors have succeeded in their censorship with virtually no accountability. To that end, the Louisiana attorney general called for consequences including “the termination of federal employment and forfeiture of retirement benefits for those who have
betrayed their oaths of office by silencing what the White House has characterized as the ‘low
quality speech’ of our fellow Americans.” He also urged Congress to pass a law criminalizing federal government censorship and establishing recourse for silenced Americans, involving punitive and monetary damages against the censors.
“These comprehensive measures are essential to preventing large-scale constitutional violations of Americans’ First Amendment rights,” Landry concluded.