April 5, 2023 – Judicial Watch sues Homeland Security for records on censorship meetings with Big Tech

In Email/Dossier/Govt Corruption Investigations, Featured Timeline Entries by Katie Weddington

Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department Homeland Security (DHS) for records showing cooperation between the Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) and social media platforms to censor and suppress free speech (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:23-cv-00552)).

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (a component of DHS) failed to respond to a December 2022 request for:

Records and communications of Jen Easterly, Director, CISA; Christopher Krebs, Former Director, CISA; Matt Masterson, Former CISA Senior Cybersecurity Advisor; and Brian Scully, CISA Senior Cybersecurity Advisor, regarding:

  1. CISA facilitated or hosted USG-industry meetings with Meta (@meta.com); Facebook (@facebook.com); Twitter (@twitter.com); Wikimedia Foundation (@wikimedia.org); Pinterest (@pinterest.com); LinkedIn (@linkedin.com); concerning election security;
  2. Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council Meetings;
  3. Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council Joint MDM Working Group Meetings; and
  4. Preparatory meetings with any employees of the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Office of the Director of National Intelligence; National Security Agency; U.S. Secret Service; concerning any of the aforementioned USG-industry meetings and/or Coordinating Council Meetings.

On December 2, 2022, journalist Matt Taibbi used the social media platform Twitter to expose the “Twitter Files,” which include multiple mentions of the Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency’s censorship activities.

A December 16 tweet thread includes:

37.Reports also came from different agencies. Here, an employee recommends “bouncing” content based on evidence from “DHS etc

A supplemental tweet thread on December 18 reports:

2. In July of 2020, San Francisco FBI agent Elvis Chan tells Twitter executive Yoel Roth to expect written questions from the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), the inter-agency group that deals with cyber threats.

3. The questionnaire authors seem displeased with Twitter for implying, in a July 20th “DHS/ODNI/FBI/Industry briefing,” that “you indicated you had not observed much recent activity from official propaganda actors on your platform.”

9. He then sent another note internally, saying the premise of the questions was “flawed,” because “we’ve been clear that official state propaganda is definitely a thing on Twitter.” Note the italics for emphasis.

A March 9 tweet thread includes:

3. But Twitter was more like a partner to government. With other tech firms it held a regular “industry meeting” with FBI and DHS, and developed a formal system for receiving thousands of content reports from every corner of government: HHS, Treasury, NSA, even local police

4. Emails from the FBI, DHS and other agencies often came with spreadsheets of hundreds or thousands of account names for review. Often, these would be deleted soon after.

19. The same agencies (FBI, DHS/CISA, GEC) invite the same “experts” (Thomas Rid, Alex Stamos), funded by the same foundations (Newmark, Omidyar, Knight) trailed by the same reporters (Margaret Sullivan, Molly McKew, Brandy Zadrozny) seemingly to every conference, every panel.

Other “Twitter files” released by Elon Musk show that FBI pressure on “Russian disinformation” led to censorship:

San Francisco FBI agent Elvis Chan “[sent] 10 documents to Twitter’s then-Head of Site Integrity, Yoel Roth, through Teleporter, a one-way communications channel from the FBI to Twitter,” the evening before the release of the Post story.

The “Twitter files” show the FBI pushed Twitter to also censor countless Twitter users who tweeted concerns (and jokes) about election integrity just before the 2020 election.

In testimony before the “House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” Taibbi reported extensive collusion between Big Tech and government, at all levels – including the Biden White House, the Democratic National Committee, and federal, state and local law enforcement – all meant to stifle free speech and withhold information from the American people.

In May 2022, the States of Missouri and Louisiana sued President Biden and several federal employees in their official capacities for violation of the First Amendment.

In one of the depositions in the case, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Cyber Branch for San Francisco Division of the FBI, Elvis Chan, testified he and fellow officials had weekly meetings with major social media companies to warn against Russian disinformation attempts ahead of the 2020 election. The lawsuit also produced Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency meeting minutes that discuss its attempts to manage information being posted by social media contributors.

The Twitter Files also mention a report titled The Long Fuse: Misinformation and the 2020 Election, which was prepared by the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a left-leaning collective of organizations that worked with the Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency on its censorship of online information during the 2020 election.

“There is an unholy conspiracy in the Biden administration to censor Americans in collusion with Big Tech,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This new Judicial Watch lawsuit shows the censorship abuse is furthered by unlawful secrecy and cover-ups.

Judicial Watch is heavily involved in countering government and Big Tech censorship. Buried within the Twitter Files are references and descriptions of meetings and communications Judicial Watch has been investigating through FOIA requests and lawsuits. (Read more: Judicial Watch, 4/05/2023)  (Archive)