The United States government has been exposed as running a shadowy censorship operation in contravention of the Constitution of the United States. The federal government has been contracting with third-party actors to censor the political opinions of U.S. citizens, particularly, conservative Americans, according to new research from The Federalist.
The State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) used a covert corporation led by a former intelligence officer to finance and promote the blacklisting of conservative media outlets and other censorship efforts, according to the report.
This Censorship-Industrial Complex was exposed when Elon Musk granted a group of independent journalists access to internal Twitter communications, resulting in the “Twitter Files.” Among the federal players identified was the State Department’s GEC, which went beyond influencing tech giants to censor unfavorable viewpoints.
The GEC not only provided funding for the development of censorship tools, but also utilized government employees as sales representatives to pitch these products to Big Tech. Further investigation has now revealed that the GEC used one or more for-profit businesses to lead four separate censorship initiatives, with contractors at times performing “inherently governmental functions.”
The following graphic from GEC provides “a simple summary of its Technology Engagement Team (TET) initiatives,” the report said, “but Disinfo Cloud provides the best entry point to understanding GEC’s other activities.”
The Global Engagement Center (GEC), as stated on its website, has a platform called Disinfo Cloud that serves as a repository for cataloguing tools and technologies aimed at countering propaganda and disinformation (CPD). Initially limited to “.mil and .gov” users, access to Disinfo Cloud was later expanded to include the private sector.
Under its “Silicon Valley Engagement” initiative, the GEC actively encouraged social media companies to join Disinfo Cloud, which assists users in identifying technologies for speech censorship. This raises significant concerns regarding the First Amendment, as the details of Disinfo Cloud’s operations and funding remain opaque, but it is evident that U.S. tax dollars were used to develop and maintain the platform.
A State Department spokesperson has previously explained that an external group called Park Advisors was tasked with managing Disinfo Cloud, with approximately $300,000 awarded to the group for this purpose. Christina Nemr, a former State Department employee who played a role in founding the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, served as the director of Park Advisors and the administrator of Disinfo Cloud.
The Tech Demo Series, which was promoted by the government, claimed to showcase “promising technologies to combat propaganda and disinformation.” However, the fact that Disinfo Cloud, a platform managed by the government’s Global Engagement Center, highlighted the Tech Demo Series raises questions about whether these demonstrations of censorship technology were open to non-governmental groups, including Big Tech, and took on an infomercial-like quality.
The GEC’s webpage states that the intended audience for the virtual demos of the Tech Demo Series consists of U.S. government counterparts and foreign partners, leaving uncertainty about whether censorship technology was marketed to external entities and, if so, in what manner. The roles of Disinfo Cloud and the GEC in hosting the Tech Demo Series remain unclear as well.
Danny Rogers, the American partner in the initiative, stressed in the team’s presentation that “over a dozen ad-tech companies,” covering “20 different media markets,” used GDI’s technology, the report added. That technology succeeded in “cutting the number of ad options” by over half, “redirecting millions of dollars away from disinformation peddlers toward quality journalism,” Rogers boasted.
Significantly, after learning GEC had selected the Global Disinformation Index as one of the winners of the U.S.-Paris Challenge, Rogers’ U.K. partner, Clare Melford, explained that the award, in addition to allowing GDI to increase its “language coverage capability,” would also allow GDI to expand its risk assessments into video news and bolster the infrastructure “underpinning all of the GDI’s activities … so that the ad tech base can offer advertisers the chance to choose which their ads support,” the report noted.
“In other words, our government paid for the infrastructure of GDI’s ratings system that resulted in conservative news outlets being blacklisted — $100,000 worth of U.S. tax dollars in total, funneled by the GEC to the Global Disinformation Index through Park Advisors,” the report stated.
“While Disinfo Cloud was a GEC initiative, it appears Park Advisors and Nemr controlled the platform at DisinfoCloud.com, which has since been shuttered,” the report noted.
According to the State Department’s website, as this report adds, the U.S. agencies that used the Disinfo Cloud were: The Census Bureau, U.S. Congress, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Global Affairs, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Treasury Department, U.S. Agency for Global Media, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The foreign governments that used the Disinfo Cloud were: The Australian Government, the Estonian Government, European Union, and the United Kingdom Government.
As noted by the Federalist’s report, Disinfo Cloud’s Twitter account also promoted Disinfo Digest and the Tech Demo Series. The account also amplified the marketing of private censorship tools and companies, such as the unreliable media-ratings organizations Global Disinformation Index and NewsGuard.
The Federalist raises the issue of Newsguard’s dubious track record. It should be noted that Newsguard has attacked Becker News over its editorial content, which has repeatedly been validated by subsequent reportage. Newsguard’s opinionated and unsubstantiated attacks on Becker News has led to disruption in the site’s advertising capabilities, including with Google News.
“One of the winners of this challenge was the irresponsible, reliability-ratings company NewsGuard,” The Federalist states. “Like GDI, NewsGuard also champions leftist outlets that peddled the Russia-collusion hoax and wrongly framed the Hunter Biden laptop as Russian disinformation, while branding conservative outlets such as The Federalist as unreliable.”
As noted before, Newsguard partners explicitly with the Department of Defense and the U.S. State Department. It is openly and explicitly acting as an arm of the federal government to unconstitutionally silence dissent, particularly against the Democratic Party’s political enemies.
This one is pretty egregious. It actually has partnerships with the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense. I have no idea how its behavior can be considered constitutional. It should be sued for maliciously depriving Americans of their rights.https://t.co/vSEC5iQuUF pic.twitter.com/6joLd8sxF9
— Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) May 3, 2022
The federal government has contracted with at least five private companies or public non-profits to ‘flag’ Americans’ views on everything from Covid-19 to the 2020 election.
In an editorial at Just the News, John Solomon and Greg Piper reported on four of these groups, but the report suggests that the radical left’s operation to chill free speech is just the tip of the iceberg.
“A consortium of four private groups worked with the departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and State to censor massive numbers of social media posts they considered misinformation during the 2020 election, and its members then got rewarded with millions of federal dollars from the Biden administration afterwards, according to interviews and documents obtained by Just the News.”
“The Election Integrity Partnership is back in action again for the 2022 midterm elections, raising concerns among civil libertarians that a chilling new form of public-private partnership to evade the First Amendment’s prohibition of government censorship may be expanding,” the report states.
“The consortium is comprised of four member organizations: Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and social media analytics firm Graphika,” the article adds. “It set up a concierge-like service in 2020 that allowed federal agencies like Homeland’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and State’s Global Engagement Center to file ‘tickets’ requesting that online story links and social media posts be censored or flagged by Big Tech.”
“Three liberal groups — the Democratic National Committee, Common Cause and the NAACP — were also empowered like the federal agencies to file tickets seeking censorship of content,” the article goes on. “A Homeland-funded collaboration, the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, also had access.”
It should be noted that the U.S. Constitution not only guarantees Americans’ right to free speech, but the right to consume information freely in the marketplace of ideas. As the Liberty Center’s Harmeet Dhillon explains in an op-ed at Fox News, this coordination between the state and private entities to regulate political speech is blatantly unconstitutional.
“As recently as 2019, the Supreme Court reasoned ‘a private entity can qualify as a state actor,’ subject to First Amendment protections, under three circumstances,” Dhillon pointed out, citing three cases.
“When the private entity performs a traditional, exclusive public function,” see Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co. (1974); “When the government compels the private entity to take a particular action,” see Blum v. Yaretsky, (1982); or *“When the government acts jointly with the private entity.” See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co. (1982).
Dhillon also pointed at the case filed by the Liberty Center, O’Handley v. Padilla, which tackles California’s coordination with Big Tech to censor criticism of the 2020 election.
“In both cases, the government is working with and directing social media platform proxies to remove user expression that clearly would enjoy the protection of the First Amendment if the government tried to censor it directly. Such joint action runs afoul of established SCOTUS precedent,” Dhillon notes.
The U.S. government is violating the Constitutional rights of Americans in states across the country. The organizations acting as arms of this tyrannical regime should be sued for damages; even if that requires a class action lawsuit.
The Congress should also pass legislation explicitly banning the federal government’s participation in America’s marketplace of ideas. The law would ideally make it illegal for federal employees of any agency to engage in covert information operations designed to influence and manipulate public opinion. This would include censorship of constitutionally protected political opinions.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.