• March 31, 2023

The Department of Homeland Security has betrayed its constitutional obligations

 The Department of Homeland Security has betrayed its constitutional obligations

There are few terms more calculated to cause a political ruckus than “deep state.” Since the start of Donald Trump’s presidency almost six years ago, “deep state” has been a catchphrase for anything connected with the U.S. government that is opposed to Republicans .

For a few reasons, I broadly oppose the use of the term. But now we have incontrovertible evidence that, since President Joe Biden took office almost two years ago, powerful federal agencies have acted in exactly the manner that many Republicans feared. They’ve colluded with Democrats and Big Tech companies against free speech and conservative interests. Along comes the Intercept with a genuine bombshell report about how the Department of Homeland Security has been working behind the scenes with Big Tech, preeminently Twitter and Facebook, to control content. Put another way, to censor social media postings. The Intercept’s report is detailed and based on U.S. government documents; nobody in Washington is saying it’s not true. Facebook even created a “special portal” for the DHS and other governmental “partners” to report disinformation directly to have it shut down.

What did the Biden administration want censored? According to the report, the DHS is worried about “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.” While anyone concerned about civil liberties should be troubled by the DHS, which is fundamentally a law enforcement entity, colluding with Big Tech to censor speech, if the disinformation is foreign in origin, that’s one thing.

Except that’s not what we’re talking about here.

As soon as Biden entered the Oval Office, the emphasis on foreign disinformation shifted to what the federal bureaucracy now terms “Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malformation,” which clearly encompasses the constitutionally protected free speech of the public. That is what the DHS is trying to censor. I’m no lawyer, but that doesn’t sound constitutional to me.

We went through this a few months ago when DHS announced its Disinformation Governance Board, set to be led by a Democratic troll, to censor domestic speech online. As this column pointed out last spring, that effort was undemocratic and unconstitutional. To be clear, there is already an agency inside the federal government to tackle foreign disinformation, and that’s the Global Engagement Center inside the State Department. There has never been any federal office to shut down domestic information. For good reason: This is America and that is illegal.

The DHS had that bumbling effort blow up in its face amid public outcry, and the board was quietly disbanded. Except that it now seems clear the Biden administration attempted to do the same thing again, in an end run, as the Intercept just exposed.

It gets worse. The report elaborates that DHS this spring advocated employing third-party nonprofit groups as a “clearing house for information to avoid the appearance of government propaganda.” That’s what is called a “cut-out” in the spy trade, the use of a deniable intermediary. Biden’s DHS wanted to use ostensibly private cut-outs to spread political propaganda approved by the White House, paid for with taxpayer money.

That sounds more like East Germany than America. I’ve been countering disinformation, mainly Russian, since the 1990s, and the line between foreign lies and domestic views was always clear inside the Beltway. At least until Biden entered the White House. What’s been going on in Washington is illegal and un-American. It needs thorough exposure. In the new year, when the House of Representatives is likely to be in Republican hands, what DHS and other federal agencies have been up to needs a full investigation.

We are fortunate that the DHS bureaucrats who were colluding with Big Tech against Republicans, and anyone who doesn’t follow the Democratic party line, were foolish enough to write their wacky, unconstitutional ideas down in unclassified memos where reporters could find them. Biden’s Deep State is thankfully inept. On cue, the legacy media is ignoring the Intercept’s bombshell report since it’s not the narrative they want, particularly just a few days away from the midterm elections .

Still, dear journalists who have pontificated for years about how “democracy dies in darkness” — here’s your chance to stand up for free speech and keeping the government away from our cherished values.


John R. Schindler served with the National Security Agency as a senior intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer.

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