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What is CISA?

What Is CISA and Why Does It Matter?


On October 27, 2022, Elon Musk fired Vijaya Gadde from her job at Twitter where she was general counsel and the head of legal, policy, and trust. It became quickly obvious to him and others on his team that it was she who drove the censorship policy within the company, including that which blocked all information about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election and otherwise shut down critics of government Covid policy. 

Her termination from Twitter did not leave her unemployed and homeless. A year earlier, she had already been tapped as an advisor to CISA, which is the government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency headed by Jen Easterly, who was chosen to head the new agency (created in 2018) out of her tenure at the National Security Agency. As Freddy Gray puts it in the UK Spectator, “That seems fishy, to put it mildly.”

Easterly was called to give a deposition in the case brought by the Attorneys General of Missouri and Louisiana but the government rejected the idea. Fauci and others could be called but not the head of CISA. According to Epoch Times, the judge “ruled that three of the individuals—Murthy, Easterly, and Flaherty—will no longer be required to appear for a deposition after a federal appeals court blocked the move last month, stating that the judge had failed to consider whether alternative and less ‘intrusive’ means could be used to obtain the information being sought.”

Don’t want to be intrusive, right? That would be inhumane. Can’t make such a demand of the head of CISA.

And yet, it was CISA itself that gave the whole of the initial advisory in 2020 for all the stay-at-home orders that were imposed around the country. The agency is also the one primarily responsible for the division of the whole of the American workforce into sharp lines between essential and nonessential. It was a clear sign that something had gone very wrong, even to the point of feeling like martial law. 

I’ve puzzled about where this all came from for almost three years. Thanks to research done by many Brownstone writers, we now know. It was CISA from the very beginning. Indeed the webpage laying it all out still survives, including a video. You can look at it all here

The initial edict was issued March 19, 2020, three days following the catastrophic press conference that announced the need for universal social distancing and issued what is surely one of the most totalitarian edicts in the history of public policy: “indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.” 

CISA explained the exception. It includes this helpful graphic of those who were entitled or even required to work while everyone else stays home. 

Note the inclusion of communications, which of course, means all media, and of course information technology, which means all Big Tech. As for “commercial facilities” that ended up meaning big-box chain stores while small businesses were brutally shut. Reinforcing the Trump administration’s fatwa against “bars, restaurants, and gyms,” they were closed immediately following the release of CISA’s order. 

But of course, and consistent with all this machinery, CISA was careful to note that “This guidance was provided to clarify the potential scope of critical infrastructure to help inform decisions by state and local jurisdictions, but does not compel any prescriptive action.” 

Further: “This guidance is not binding and is primarily a decision support construct to assist state and local officials. It should not be confused as official executive action by the United States Government.”

This way, like Fauci, CISA can claim that it didn’t force the shutdown of anything. It only made recommendations and state-level agencies took it from there. And yet here is a FAQ to give you a sense of the military footing that the whole country entered up on in the course of only a few days. 

How is this different than traditional disasters or emergencies impacting critical infrastructure?

COVID-19 is different than any emergency the Nation has faced, especially considering the modern, tightly interconnected economy and American way of life. In traditional emergencies, government coordinates with the private sector to get businesses back to business. In this case, as the government works with partners to slow the spread of COVID-19, the economic goal is maintaining resilience of the Nation’s foundation—its critical infrastructure.

In retrospect, the whole thing seems truly hard to believe, all for a respiratory virus with an infection fatality rate that compares with the flu except with a huge risk gradient by age. A military-style cooperation was unleashed on the entire country even as basic therapeutics were completely neglected and concern for collateral damage to health, culture, education, and enterprise were tossed out the window. 

The initial lockdowns were followed by quarantine rules, travel restrictions, violations of religious freedom, forced masking and eventually forced medicalization of quickly approved shots that most of the population never needed and vast numbers now regret. 

As CISA said, this crisis was “different than any emergency the Nation has faced.” Instead of keeping business going, the response this time was massive destruction of everything except “critical infrastructure.”

Indeed, the whole country fell into complete shambles and trauma for the better part of 2020, leading up to the November elections that gutted Republican control of Congress and flipped the White House. We are now finding out with piles of evidence that this was the ambition of many employees at Twitter, including the general counsel who ended up as a consultant to the very agency that issued the stay-home advisory. 

CISA is part of the Department of Homeland Security, created only in 2018 with an act signed by President Trump. As is clear from the text of the law, the whole point was to protect the nation against cyber attacks and develop a response. Nowhere in the text could one discern a broad edict to divide the whole workforce, crush civil liberties, smash businesses, and trample on the Bill of Rights, much less shepherd into being a vast machinery of censorship that would effectively nationalize all major tech platforms on behalf of regime priorities. 

On the weekend of March 14-15, 2020, Trump surrounded himself with a handful of advisors including Fauci, Birx, Pence, Kushner, along with a few outside consultants from pharma and tech, and agreed to “15 days to flatten the curve.” It seems highly unlikely he knew that he was approving a complete takeover of the country by the national security arm of the government, much less empowering this one agency with the task of crushing the whole economy except that which government called essential. 

We are finding out ever more about what went on behind the scenes, especially thanks to the exceptional research of Debbie Lerman, who has fleshed out the underlying shift that occurred in these days. We went from being a normal nation with all the usual struggles to a country under quasi-martial law, ruled by administrative bureaucrats drawn from the national security arm of government. CISA was an agency that led the charge. Did Trump have any idea what he had approved? I would say it is highly doubtful. 

I’ve been unable to find out anything about the agency’s budget or payroll but we do know that it is hiring: “CISA is always searching for diverse, talented, and highly motivated professionals to continue its mission of securing the nation’s critical infrastructure. CISA is more than a great place to work; our workforce tackles the risks and threats that matter most to the nation, our families, and communities. With more than 50 career fields available CISA offers multiple opportunities as well as multiple tracks for employment.”

A perfect home for many thousands of fired Twitter employees, no doubt.

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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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