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Pennsylvania Partners With DHS, CISA Censors To Target Election Speech It Deems A ‘Threat’

Pennsylvania is partnering with the ‘nerve center’ of the censorship efforts the federal government has weaponized against Americans.

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Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Thursday the state would partner with state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to “mitigate threats” to elections, such as speech it deems “misinformation.” The Pennsylvania State Department separately revealed to The Federalist that the task force’s cooperation with DHS would include “continu[ing] to work closely” with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Shapiro created the “Pennsylvania Election Threats Task Force” that will “coordinate plans to mitigate threats to the election process, protect voters from intimidation, and provide voters with accurate, trusted election information.”

“The Election Threats Task Force will ensure all levels of government are working together to combat misinformation,” the press release continued. Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt said the force would target those who spread “lies and baseless conspiracy theories” or attempt “to delegitimize our safe, secure, and accurate elections.”

The state provided no public information about what the task force’s collaboration with DHS would look like, but after multiple inquiries, the Department of State revealed the partnership would include collaboration with CISA, which falls under DHS.

“The Department of State will continue to work closely with the United States Department of Homeland Security and its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA),” said Press Matt Heckel of the State Department’s communications office. “The formation of the Election Threats Task Force will allow us to open lines of communication and share intelligence among the included government agencies.”

It is unclear what “intelligence” is being referred to or what will be done with said information.

CISA Has a History of Censoring Election-Related Speech

In working with CISA, Pennsylvania is partnering with the “nerve center” of the censorship efforts the federal government has weaponized against Americans and their free speech, including speech about election integrity. Shapiro said part of the task force’s mission is to “combat misinformation,” but CISA has used the “misinformation” smear to wrongfully censor online speech before.

[READ: Government Censorship Op Targeted The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, Sean Davis During 2020 Election]

CISA, which has facilitated collusion between Big Tech companies and federal agencies to flag speech the government disapproves of, doesn’t just target free speech it claims is false, but also punishes Americans for “malformation,” which the agency defines as anything “based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.”

CISA Director Jen Easterly put it in more dystopian terms, explaining the agency wants to secure the public’s “cognitive infrastructure.”

Documents obtained by America First Legal show that CISA was aware of risks associated with unsupervised mail-in voting ahead of the 2020 election but still chose to classify social media posts pointing out similar concerns as “disinformation” before flagging them to be censored.

Internally, CISA went so far as to create a six-point list in October 2020 warning of the risks to the mail-in voting process, weeks after communications revealed CISA knew that evidence did not support the claim that in-person voting “increased the spread of COVID.” Internal communications also revealed CISA was aware of “challenges with absentee voting” including “high numbers of improperly completed ballots.”

But CISA then partnered with consulting firm Deloitte and asked them to notify CISA of social media trends about “narratives relating to ‘Vote-By-Mail’ — and to flag specific social media posts for CISA’s awareness and attention.”

Tweets Deloitte flagged to CISA included an October 2020 tweet from former President Donald Trump in which he claimed there were “Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA” as well as a tweet from a conservative pundit who, as Deloitte described, “accused Twitter of ‘SUPPRESSING’ a story about the Democratic presidential nominee’s son to help the nominee win the election.”

CISA On Trial

Curiously, Shapiro’s press release didn’t explicitly mention CISA’s involvement. The omission comes at the same time that some state election officials, such as West Virginia’s Secretary of State Mac Warner, have “pulled away” from CISA because “when we have our own federal agencies lying to the American people, that’s the most insidious thing that we can do in elections.”

But CISA is no stranger to working in the shadows. The agency has tried to cover up its tracks in recent years, according to a report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government detailing CISA’s “disinformation” and surveillance programs. The report claims CISA tried to “disguise the true nature” of its work by scrubbing “references to surveillance and censorship” from the agency’s website.

In an email exchange with The Federalist, the Pennsylvania State Department was not immediately forthcoming about the extent of the Keystone State’s partnership with CISA — but the agency’s license to censor Americans in the future hangs on a case that’s currently at the Supreme Court.

In Missouri v. Biden, now Murthy v. Missouri, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction in October barring the agency from taking any “actions, formal or informal, directly or indirectly, to coerce or significantly encourage social-media companies to remove, delete, suppress, or reduce, including through altering their algorithms, posted social-media content containing protected free speech.” The Supreme Court lifted the injunction while it considers the case, but has yet to rule on the censorship activities of CISA and other Biden administration agencies.

DHS Says ‘Misinformation’ Is a ‘Terrorism Threat’

Another partner in Pennsylvania’s new “task force” is CISA’s parent agency DHS, which has its own history of targeting Americans’ free speech under the guise of preventing “threats.”

DHS has described an “online environment” of “misinformation” about Covid-19 and election integrity as a “terrorism threat.” The agency warned the nation remained in a “heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors.”

“These threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence,” the agency claimed in a February 2022 bulletin. “For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and Covid-19. Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021.”

The DHS, however, failed to provide any evidence of their claims when repeatedly pressed by the Daily Caller News Foundation. The agency also targeted Americans who rejected their governments’ heavy-handed approach to Covid-19 and questioned lockdown policies.

The National Terrorism Advisory System issued a bulletin warning that grievances over “perceived government restrictions” and “anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists” could pose a domestic terrorist threat.

This is the same federal department that will now “coordinate” with Pennsylvania to “mitigate” so-called “threats” and tackle “misinformation.”


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