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The First Amendment Should Restrain CISA Too

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In court filings, it appears that the US Security State may be held responsible for its deliberate usurpation of the First Amendment as the judiciary has an opportunity to remedy past failures.

The Fifth Circuit agreed to rehearing in Missouri v. Biden on whether to reinstate an injunction against CISA, the State Department, and their collaborations with the Election Integrity Partnership and Virality Project (“EIP”). As petitioners outline in their briefing, this issue is critical to the censorship apparatus. 

CISA, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, was at the center of Covid tyranny. In March 2020, CISA divided the workforce into categories of “essential” and “nonessential.” The agency did this with no record of consultation with other agencies with labor-force jurisdiction and no consultation with legislatures. 

Hours later, California used the order as the basis for the country’s first “stay-at-home” order. Nearly every state followed suit as a previously unimaginable assault on Americans’ civil liberties ensued.

After eradicating due process, the agency turned to monitoring speech. CISA organized monthly “USG-Industry” meetings with the FBI and seven social-media platforms, including Twitter, Microsoft, and Meta, that allowed federal agencies to advance censorship requests and demands. These meetings were the origin of the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story in October 2020.

CISA also launched the Election Integrity Project, a government-controlled operation dedicated to censoring unwelcome online speech. As the District Court explained, “The EIP was started when CISA interns came up with the idea; CISA connected the EIP with the CIS [Center for Internet Security], which is a CISA-funded non-profit that channeled reports of misinformation from state and local government officials to social-media companies.” 

CISA and EIP were more than collaborators; they were effectively a unified agency. The three leaders of EIP all have roles at CISA. CISA employees and interns reported to EIP and “were simultaneously engaged in reporting misinformation to social-media platforms on behalf of both CISA and the EIP,” the District Court wrote. 

CISA then directed state and local officials to work with EIP to coordinate censorship efforts. In a process known as “switchboarding,” the agency flagged content it wanted removed from social media platforms. These determinations were not based on veracity; CISA targeted “malinformation,” truthful information that the agency labeled inflammatory.  

This is not just a theory from the plaintiffs; the defendants admit and often celebrate this process. Brian Scully, the head of CISA’s censorship operations, testified that switchboarding would “trigger content moderation.” The government boasted that it “leverage[d] DHS CISA’s relationship with social media organizations to ensure priority treatment of misinformation reports.” 

They then sought to overturn hundreds of years of free speech protections. Dr. Kate Starbird, a member of CISA’s “Misinformation & Disinformation” subcommittee, lamented that many Americans seem to “accept malinformation as ‘speech’ and within democratic norms.” This runs contrary to the Supreme Court’s holding that “Some false statements are inevitable if there is to be an open and vigorous expression of views in public and private conversation.” But CISA – led by zealots like Dr. Starbird – appointed themselves the arbiters of truth and colluded with the most powerful information companies in the world to purge dissent.

It was a coordinated and highly organized effort to usurp Americans’ free speech rights. They used excuses of “misinformation” and “public health” to cover for their true aim, political expediency. The flagged posts that threatened the nation’s power centers: Hunter’s laptop, natural immunity, the lab-leak theory, and side effects of the vaccine were all censored at the government’s behest. 

The pattern is evidence of the national security state’s primary objective: domestic and foreign control. They are agnostic to concerns of civil liberties or constitutional liberties; they’ve plotted killing Julian Assange and forced Edward Snowden to live in exile for challenging their lawless regime.

Citizens would likely object if they knew that supposed civil servants were launching a war against their constitutional rights. Thus, anonymity is critical to CISA’s success. The agency relies on the protection of remaining relatively unknown to the general public. 

That may be why the Biden Administration declined to file a reply brief to the motion for reargument. It may be best served by avoiding any publicity surrounding CISA and the Security State’s role in suppressing dissent. Suzanne Spaulding, a member of the Misinformation & Disinformation Subcommittee, warned that it was “only a matter of time before someone realizes we exist and starts asking about our work.” 

Cable hosts can bicker over Anthony Fauci, but the source of Covid tyranny was far more insidious. In the shadows, the US Security State undermined American democracy in a technocratic coup d’état. Now, the Fifth Circuit has a second chance to defend free speech against the coordinated assault from CISA and its cohorts at the State Department. 



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    The Brownstone Institute for Social and Economic Research is a nonprofit organization conceived of in May 2021 in support of a society that minimizes the role of violence in public life.

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