Stone Washington
Congress cracks down on the weaponization of government
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By Stone Washington
April 1, 2023

“Ordinary Americans are not just being reported to Twitter for de-amplification or de-platforming, but to firms like PayPal, digital advertisers like Xander, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe. These companies can and do refuse service to law-abiding people and businesses whose only crime is falling afoul of a distant faceless unaccountable algorithmic judge.”

~Matt Taibi, independent journalist

The start of 2023 has sparked a wave of new oversight opportunities for Republicans in the House of Representatives. The historic lauch of the 118th Congress was contentious, seeing the longest bout of denial for the incoming Speaker of the House—Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)—in exactly 100 years (1923). Rewinding back to 1923, the 68th Congress was formed under Republican leadership in both the House and Senate, but lacked a clear consensus over who would assume the Speakership in the House. During this time, Frederick H. Gillet (R-MA), attempted to gain the 218 votes necessary to solidify his nomination as Speaker, only to struggle with denial after denial in eight straight session votes. Votes cast by the Progressive wing of the GOP resulted in multiple ballots being supported, all with no Speaker candidate gaining a majority. Finally, on the ninth ballot, after the Republican leadership reluctantly agreed to stiff Progressive procedural reforms, Gillet was eventually elected Speaker. The House would not see such a contentious battle for Speakership until 100 years later in present year 2023, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy battling to gain majority support after multiple ballots deny him.

Replacing the Progressive Republicans of the 1920’s with the conservative patriot Freedom Caucus Republicans of 2023, demands were levied against McCarthy for his untrustworthy establishment ties and deniability of non-negotiable concessions that many conservatives sought. Firebrand patriots in the House such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA), and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) stood firm on having the needs of the conservative Freedom Conference met, for the sake of their constituents and the betterment of the country. Reps. Gaetz and Boebert were instrumental in denying McCarthy the essential threshold of votes—218—needed for him to clinch the Speakership for 4-days and 15 straight attempts.

McCarthy remained the predominate favorite for Speaker ever since voting started in November 2022, with 188 votes to the runner up, Andy Biggs’s 31 votes. Biggs worked to garner as much widespread opposition to MCarthy in the two months following the election, persuading a number of hold-outs to remain firmly opposed. By January 3rd, McCarthy had failed to obtain a majority vote, with 19 Republicans and every one of the 213 Democrats opposing him. On the 15th ballot, McCarthy was able to break the historic delay and garner a majority support to become Speaker of the House, after conceding to some of the demands by Freedom Caucus members. Gaetz was particularly happy about the concessions that were granted to them which McCarthy incorporated into the rules package adopted by the majority party. Gaetz declared, “I feel like the American people won. I feel that the House of Representatives will be a healthier institution,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post. “Many of these things had been resisted by Kevin McCarthy as early as Monday and now we have an exquisite rules package.”

Many of these adopted gains for the Freedom Caucus include:

  • A promise for guaranteed votes on pet issues, like a balanced budget amendment, and term limits, a Texas border plan, and an end to all remaining coronavirus mandates and funding.

  • A new committee to investigate the alleged weaponization of the FBI against its political foes. The committee would be modeled on the Church Committee, which investigated US intelligence agencies in 1975. It would have a budget comparable to the recently disbanded Jan. 6 Committee.

  • More single-subject bills to allow members to vote on specific, narrow issues instead of thousand-page pork barrel behemoths.

  • A 72-hour window for members to read any new bill before it can be voted on.

  • A promise to refuse any increase in the debt ceiling in the next federal budget agreement.

With the Speaker selection past, Republicans have used their majority control of the House to make good on a host of planned probes, investigations, and hearings. The bulk of these have centered around investigatory insight into the Hunter Biden laptop scandal and how certain federal agencies have become weaponized to serve the bidding of Joe Biden. Agencies like the FBI were emboldened to partner with Twitter employees to suppress damaging stories on the Biden laptop controversy in the weeks leading up the November 2020 election. This suppression of news content extended to the agency deputizing Twitter employees to target political dissidents and anyone that the Bureau deemed to be a political threat to the election interests of the Democrat Party. Twitter was given the green light to issue a host of suppressive algorithms that disabled elements of a targeted users account, such as preventing their posts from trending, preventing their user accounts from being searched, and even temporary blocking their pages.

Republican members of the House of Representatives launched a revelatory set of hearings that dig deeper into this controversy, exploring many of the principal discoveries made by new CEO of Twitter, Elon Musk, in what has become known as the “Twitter Files”. Much of these revelations of Twitter-FBI collusion were disclosed by investigative journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss, who were provided with specialized access to troves of Twitter’s email exchanges over the past several years. Taking advantage of this critical period, the House Judiciary Committee headed by Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) launched the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Government, devoted to uncovering the truth behind the radical trend of government abuse of power occurring across intelligence agencies. Among the list of government abuse lies the Twitter Files and the corrupt political and corporate motivations at play in the FBI’s weaponization of Twitter to de-platform right-leaning users. The following section will explore a notable legislative hearing on the Twitter Files that was recently hosted on Thursday March 9th.

Exposing the FBI’s Collusive Relationship with Twitter

In the House Judiciary Subcommittee’s hearing on the Twitter Files, Chairman Jim Jordan framed the FBI’s secretive engagement with Twitter like a shadowy communications network established between allied nations amid war. The FBI contacted Twitter via a closed, back-door chat service, “Teleporter App”, where submitted messages disappear shortly after being sent. The FBI deputized Twitter as if they were a consulting firm, sending out orders to Twitter operatives to censor accounts, limit visibility of Tweets that were designated as a threat to covert operations, and shadow ban notable individuals through a host of content suppressive methods. It is also pointed out that the FBI paid the tech giant $3.4 million. This dirty money is of course being derived from the Bureau’s budget that is leveraged by taxpayer funds to pursue a scandalous objective without their awareness.

To this point, author Michael Shellenberger states in his testimony how today’s U.S. taxpayers are unknowingly funding the enhancement of the power and authority of a “censorship industrial complex”, in what represents the worst possible fear during the Eisenhower Administration of what government weaponized tech and science companies could become. Shellenberger argues that the controversial legal protection – Section 230 – that tech companies typically rely upon, becomes eroded by consistent instances of Twitter acting at the behest of government to target disfavored users. Private tech companies cannot claim immunity from user content and neutrality under the law while at the same time acting behind the scenes to unjustly censor user content at the direction of an intelligence agency. Such action poses a serious threat to America’s First Amendment privileges as they pertain to users being free to express their personal views online without fear of retribution.

Shellenberger sheds light on a twisted public-private alliance of government working through various organizations to punish private citizens for expressing unfavorable views. It has become known that the US government paid off organizations that agree to pressure advertisers into boycotting select conservative news media organizations and patriotic social media platforms that refuse calls to censor the spread of what elitists deem to be “disinformation”, including alleged conspiracy theories. This occurred heavily during the covid-19 pandemic, when many alternative, right-of-center news outlets like One America News, and social media companies like Parler promoted stories that exposed the origins of the Covid-19 virus (“lab leak theory”) from the virology institute in Wuhan China.

Certain media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and academic institutions like Stanford and University of Washington, received hefty payments from the CIA, FBI, and Defense Department to target and de-platform users for promoting the “debunked” lab-leak theory, which has now become widespread fact. And many noncompliant media entities loss disloyal advertisers that were pressured by intel agencies to drop support. This, all to target the growing nationalistic, MAGA patriots, and red-pilled communities that are waking up to the reality of governmental subversion of the American way of life. Such groups are regarded as “destabilizing”. To this end, Shellenberger warns that “the government no longer needs a predicate of calling you a terrorist or an extremist to deploy government resources to counter your political activity. The only predicate it needs is simply the assertion that the opinion you expressed on social media is ‘wrong’.”

This dangerous reality can see that any individual, organization or group is unjustly shadow-banned for expressing one of the many forbidden truths that manipulative governmental entities do not want to be disseminated across media platforms. Censorship agents define the targeted information as anything that can “delegitimize governmental, industrial, and news media” interests, creating a very broad sweep for what can be targeted. Shellenberger rightfully called for such government-directed censorship to be immediately de-funded and investigated by Congress, while severely limiting the leverage that social media companies enjoy (have abused) to censor content designated as propaganda or misinformation.

Matt Taibi provided strong testimony to double-down on some of these points, stating that social media had been weaponized into a tool by government to foment social control and suppress the free flow of content via censorship. Taibi points to how the blacklists designated by Twitter extend from directives made across the federal government, covering any agency or department that in some way analyzed the social media outlet. Any relevant information discovered by these government entities and quasi-private organizations contracted by the government would be analyzed and designated as “misinformation, disinformation, or mal-information” (that which is true, yet inconvenient to prevailing Deep State interests.

Taibi adds another layer to the diabolical partnership between government and social media entities, pointing to how news networks would intervene to pressure organizations like Twitter to pursue rigorous action against certain users to echo the same commands of government agencies. An interesting quote from his testimony encapsulates much of the threat inherent in this shadow-censorship, “ordinary Americans are not just being reported to Twitter for de-amplification or de-platforming, but to firms like PayPal, digital advertisers like Xander, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe. These companies can and do refuse service to law-abiding people and businesses whose only crime is falling afoul of a distant faceless unaccountable algorithmic judge.”

FBI Director Wray Covers up the FBI’s Corrupt Involvement in the Hunter Biden Scandal

A parallel hearing by the House Intelligence Committee the FBI’s shameful mishandling of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, which saw the Big Tech censorship of notable media outlets like the New York Post that shared stories on this, transpired on March 9th. A notable segment from the hearing occurred during House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s questioning of FBI Director Christopher Wray, suspicious of the Bureau’s ongoing investigation of Hunter Biden. To date, the FBI ignored 50 requests for information and documents regarding its investigation from the House Judiciary Committee, ignoring its accountability to Congress. When pressed by Stefanik, Wray refused to acknowledge the Hunter Biden laptop story as being disinformation, with the excuse that it was part of an ongoing investigation.

Stefanik also called out Wray for stonewalling the American people when he refused to disclose how long the agency was in possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop, the news of which, was deliberately withheld from being disseminated across mainstream outlets until after the 2020 Presidential election. The FBI reportedly had possession of the laptop as early as December 2019. Wray also wormed around answering questions about whether he signed off on the FBI raid of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate in Palm Beach Florida. He refused to speak on internal discussions involving the raid and the Bureau’s improper justification for storming the President’s home for classified material, while refusing to acknowledge why Joe Biden’s residence was not pillaged through in a similar manner. This, despite the Washington Post having reported extensively on the FBI’s presence at Trump’s estate, likely with access to leaked information from the Bureau.

Senate Oversight of the Department of Justice

On Wednesday, March 1st, the Senate Judiciary Committee hosted an oversight hearing on the Department of Justice. The hearing featured Attorney General Merrick Garland and covered a range of concerns that lawmakers have expressed toward the department’s selective prosecution of political activists, its unwillingness to uphold laws protecting federal judges from harm’s way, and its coordination with FBI officials to designate innocent public-school parents as domestic terrorists. In addressing the surge of violent threats and protests mounted against Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justices following the landmark case of Dobbs v. Jackson in 2022, Attorney General Garland claimed that the department was engaged in robust new protective measures to quell civil unrest. But reality showed otherwise, as protestors were given free rein to stage demonstrations outside of the homes of conservative Justices, including Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh. News coverage would often show hordes of left-wing activists organized by groups like “Ruth Sent Us” and “Jane’s Revenge”, marching outside of the Justices’ homes with loud megaphones ranting pro-choice mantras, while blockading their driveways and doors.

Justice Clarence Thomas says Supreme Court won’t ‘be bullied’ by abortion protests

Pointing out the hypocrisy of Garland’s refusal to acknowledge any federal response to protect the Justices, Senator Ted Cruz vigorously questioned him on this matter. Cruz grilled Garland on the DOJ’s refusal to execute existing law that would have protected the lives of the six targeted Supreme Court Justices and their families, who were harassed and targeted by rioters following the Dobbs v. Jackson opinion. Garland refused to answer Cruz's questioning on why the DOJ failed to enforce an existing statute that protects judges from harassment and coercion by picketing, refusing to prosecute a single criminal individual that swarmed the homes of the conservative Justices that overturned Roe v. Wade.

This harassment first began after a draft opinion of the Dobbs case was mysteriously leaked in February 2022, and intensified following the Court’s overturning of Roe four months later in June. Outside of the U.S. Marshall detail assigned to protect each Justice, federal law enforcement was silent when the rioters came after the Justices' children at school and in places of worship. There were zero prosecutions made against rioters, despite the repeated violations to U.S. Code § 1507, which imposes a fine and/or a one year prison sentence to those seeking to persuade a Justice amid a pending case. Cruz laments, “in my judgement, the Department of Justice has been politicized to the greatest extent I’ve ever seen in this country”.

Garland only succeeded in speaking around the Senator’s line of questioning, while refusing to address the department’s innate failure to uphold the law with judicial protection. Garland deflected by admitting that the DOJ sent 70 U.S. Marshalls to protect the Justices, but did not mention one person being arrested by said Marshalls for violating federal law. He also disregarded Cruz’s asserted criticisms on how the DOJ blatantly ignored attacks made against innocent pro-life activists in the aftermath of the Dobbs case.

A disgusting double standard is revealed when Senators Cruz and Hawley point to how the FBI sent two-dozen armored officers with a battering ram to the home of a pro-life protestor after he pushed a pro-choice activist, while turning a blind eye to pregnancy centers that were vandalized and fire-bombed in Buffalo New York in June. This, despite the fact that the Christian pro-lifer was planning to bring himself in for what would have only been prosecuted as a simple misdemeanor offense or a minor fine, of which he was later acquitted before a jury after only 1 hour of deliberations. His wife and kids were held at gun point, terrified by the SWAT style agents banging on their door. This incident follows a politicized FBI memorandum targeting Christians in Virginia using research produced by the radical left-wing advocacy group, Southern Poverty Law Center. Even Garland admittedly agreed that the memo was “appalling” and should not have been circulated.

Conclusion—How Congress should move forward following hearings

The Republican majority in the House and sizable Republican minority in the Senate kicked off the 118th Congress in a productive fashion as it relates to putting pressure on the DHS, DOJ and FBI’s weaponization of government. The above hearings have unraveled further information into the widespread collaboration between various private tech companies and liberal academic think tanks that have received money from over a dozen federal agencies with the directive to censor designated mal-information from users promoting narratives dangerous to Deep State interests. This was on full display with mass shadow banning, censoring of information and de-platforming due as revealed through the Twitter Files.

Another element of Twitter’s deceptive censorship was exposed by Rep. Elise Stefanik and others in a hearing that featured FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was very avoidant when pressed to provide information on his agency’s mishandling and cover-up of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal to manipulate the 2020 election in Biden’s favor. The FBI was also exposed for its unsanctioned predawn raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, a clear mistreatment for uncovering classified documents that they already knew the President was in possession of, yet refused to apply a similar standard to Joe Biden’s possession of classified documents when Vice President (illegal). Senate Republicans also did well to come after Attorney General Merrick Garland for his department’s disgusting double-standard of enforcement and refusal to protect conservative Justices by prosecuting abusive rioters.

With the truth being revealed, Republicans in Congress must now capitalize on these hearings by taking swift punitive action to hold these partisan bureaucrats accountable for abusing their authority. With the appropriations process underway and various proposals being discussed, Republicans should target select agencies like the FBI and DOJ for sizable spending cuts as a curtailment to their lawless behavior. This would send a clear message that the American people elected representatives who are unafraid to take retaliatory action against out-of-control agencies. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees can also launch joint criminal investigations into the DOJ and FBI’s corrupt actions during the 2020 election involving the Twitter Files and Hunter Biden story. If enough evidence is uncovered to reveal this intentional interference in a federal election, then a named special counsel can levy indictments against guilty federal officials involved in these matters. Articles of impeachment may even be drawn up against Bureau heads (such as what the House recently did for DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas) who have presented an endangerment to marginalized groups of voters due to election tampering, in addition to the other groups affected by censorship.

Republicans in Congress should take action and strike while the iron is hot when using their oversight functions to hold government officials accountable for wrongdoing. Government must never be weaponized against innocent American citizens.

Download AFPI’s full report here

© Stone Washington

 

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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a PhD student in the Trachtenberg School at George Washington University. Stone is employed as a Research Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, focusing on economic policy as part of the Center for Advancing Capitalism. Previously, he completed a traineeship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also a Research Assistant at the Manhattan Institute, serving as an extension from his time in the Collegiate Associate Program. During this time, he worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Clemson's Department of Political Science and served as a WAC Practicum Fellow for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication. Stone is also a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Council.

Stone possesses a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Clemson University, a Juris Master from Emory University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Clemson University. While studying at Emory Law, Stone was featured in an exclusive JM Student Spotlight, highlighting his most memorable law school experience. He has completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader's Program at The Heritage Foundation, and served as a former student intern/Editor for Decipher Magazine. Some of Stone's articles can be found at EllisWashingtonReport.com, which often provide a critical analysis of prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Stone is a member of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, and has written a number of policy-related op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The College Fix, Real Clear Policy, and City Journal. In addition, Stone is listed in the Marquis Who's Who in America and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Friend him on his Facebook page, also his Twitter handle: @StoneZone47 and Instagram. Email him at stonebone20@att.net.

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