Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024

Freedom of Speech Lawsuit Scores Historic Win

 

In a major win for freedom of speech, a Louisiana federal judge issued a preliminary injunction banning 10 federal agencies including the FBI, Justice Department, CDC, CISA, DHS and senior White House staff, from contacting social media companies with the aim of restricting speech protected by the First Amendment.

An extensive list of 50 officials named in the injunction include White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

The injunction forbids Biden Administration officials “to encourage, pressure or induce in any manner the removal, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech posted on social media platforms.”

The judge’s order came after two Republican attorneys general, Jeff Landry of Louisiana and Eric Schmitt of Missouri, alleged that federal officials “coordinated and colluded” with social media platforms to target “disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content.”

The result, they said, was a “vast censorship enterprise” coordinated by many branches of the Biden Administration and dozens of officials, to use the Covid pandemic and the threat of alleged misinformation as an excuse to target views that went outside the mainstream narrative.

Judge Doughty’s 155-page opinion contains 86 pages of background facts showing email threads, meetings, phone calls and “public pressure campaigns” from the White House and other federal agencies, arm-twisting social media companies to suppress content that opposed government narratives.

Administration officials threatened social media companies with antitrust legal actions or even eliminating Section 230, the law that protects platforms from liability for users’ comments, the judge wrote.

The Biden administration denied the allegations, arguing that the lawsuit is a “far-ranging conspiracy theory” — and that accusations of threats and coercion are unsupported by evidence.

The judge, a Donald Trump appointee, disagreed, ruling that although the case is only at a preliminary phase, the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits.

“Alleged disinformation” is still free speech, the judge wrote. The administration’s efforts to coerce social media companies to collude in widespread censorship of conservative views amounted to censorship-by-proxy, he said.

“American citizens have the right to engage in free debate about the significant issues affecting the country,” the judge wrote. He added that “the evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario”—a situation ruled by injustice and tyranny.

The judge also found that the evidence presented even at this preliminary phase “goes far beyond mere generalizations or conjecture.

“If the allegations made by plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history,” the opinion said.

Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth’

Judge Doughty made the point that the Covid-19 pandemic was “a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty” about the origins of the virus and what remedies it called for.

Taking advantage of the confusion, “the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth,’” Judge Terry Doughty wrote.

In George Orwell’s famous novel about a totalitarian society, the Ministry of Truth is responsible for circulating propaganda, suppressing dissent and rewriting history.

Doughty declared that his final ruling would likely find First Amendment violations by the White House, Surgeon General, FBI, State Department and the CDC for suppression of opinions that ran counter to government narratives. Drawing on 20,000 pages of evidence in the lawsuit, he listed some of the many issues over which government pressured social media to exercise censorship:

“Opposition to Covid-19 vaccines; to masking and lockdowns; to the lab-leak theory or Covid-19’s origin; opposition to the validity of the 2020 election; to President Biden’s policies; to statements that the Hunter Biden laptop story was true,” the district judge enumerated. “All were suppressed.”

The fact that all the categories of suppressed speech were conservative in nature, “is telling,” the ruling said. “This targeted suppression of conservative ideas is a perfect example of viewpoint discrimination of political speech,” which is unlawful.

Quoting from the lawsuit by AGs Landry and Schmitt, Judge Doughty pointed to examples as far back as January of 2020, when newly elected Joe Biden, in an interview with the NY Times editorial board, disclosed his views on having social media companies censor speech.

In that interview, President Biden asserted that Section 230 (which generally provides immunity for website platforms) should be revoked because social-media companies weren’t doing enough to censor controversial speech.

The president also “suggested that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should be subject to civil liability and even criminal prosecution for not censoring enough political speech,” the brief alleged.

Echoing the president, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared in press briefings that Facebook and social media platforms should be doing more to combat health “misinformation.”

“We’re saying we expect more from our technology companies,” Murthy reportedly stressed. “We’re asking them to monitor misinformation more closely.

President Biden Accused Social Media Companies of ‘Killing People’

To placate the White House, Facebook began to suppress some posts that might cause “vaccine hesitancy” even though they were not untruthful. But these efforts fell far short of what White House Digital Strategy chief Rob Flaherty expected.

Flaherty slammed Facebook officials in a July 15, 2021 email for not censoring unfavorable content more rigorously. “I want an answer on what happened and I want it today!” he raged in a foul-mouthed email.

The following day, President Biden accused social-media companies of “killing people” by failing to suppress all criticism of Covid vaccines.

Then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeated this fantastic allegation, describing people “dying around the country because they are getting misinformation” about Covid vaccines, and calling this situation “our biggest concern.”

Ironically, Psaki’s statement itself stands out as an example of egregious “misinformation.” No studies have ever shown that people died because they refused a Covid vaccine, attests world-renowned cardiologist and renal specialist Dr. Peter McCullough. If anything, the evidence shows the opposite.

A study entitled A Systematic Review of Autopsy Findings in Deaths After Covid-19 Vaccination, published as pre-print in the prestigious Lancet in July 2023, shows that vaccines have been found to be the leading cause in 73.9% of deaths that happened in close proximity to the injection, the cardiologist said. 

These results are strongly consistent with the March 2023 Schwab paper, Autopsy-based Histopathological Characterization of Myocarditis after Covid-19 Vaccination, where 71% of the deaths after vaccine injection appeared to be linked to the vaccine.

Facebook Wrestled with Concerns Over Covid Vaccines For Children

Judge Doughty’s 155-page long ruling offers a fascinating insider view, drawn from the lawsuit, of communications between the White House and social media companies as the CDC was gearing up to vaccinate children under 5.

The injunction describes how Facebook wrestled with concerns about whether the vaccine was harmful to children. On Nov. 2, 2021, a Facebook official reached out to the CDC to obtain clarity on this issue.

The CDC responded that most of Facebook’s concerns were “false,” insisting the vaccines do not weaken the immune system; do not cause auto-immune diseases, antibody-dependent enhancement, immunodeficiency or inflammatory syndrome in children, as some doctors and scientists were beginning to fear. Nor do they affect breastmilk adversely, the CDC assured Facebook.

At that time, the FDA and CDC had almost no safety data on Covid vaccines for infants and toddlers. There was no way public health officials could have had empirical knowledge about whether they were safe or not, whether they affected breastmilk or caused other harmful side effects. Yet they issued sweeping assurances that there was no cause for concern.

In the face of mounting indications of adverse vaccine side effects, Facebook again voiced its worries on Feb. 3, 2022, asking if vaccines could cause Huntington’s and Parkinson’s Disease, bleeding, clots, heart attacks, deaths, autism, birth defects, and many other medical issues.

On June 13, 2022, Flaherty demanded Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram) issue periodic reports to the government of how it was tracking Covid “misinformation.” Flaherty was especially concerned about criticism causing vaccine hesitancy “as we start to ramp up vaccines for children under the age of 5.”

Meta agreed to give the White House the reports.

Ruling Made Exceptions for National Security and Election Integrity

While many hailed Judge Doughty’s injunction shutting down contact between the federal government and social media companies, “there is reason to doubt that the decision will meaningfully constrain federal officials,” wrote political analyst Edward Boehm in Reason magazine.

“That’s because Doughty drew up a list of actions that are “not prohibited by this preliminary injunction,” and this list could reasonably be read to permit government censorship,” the article pointed out.

The top half of the injunction reads like a complete shutdown of government communication with social media platforms, but the bottom half includes exceptions loose enough to include many of the most heavy-handed government actions, the author noted.

Doughty’s terms, for instance, allowed exceptions for “threats to national security, criminal efforts to suppress voting, foreign attempts to influence elections,” and communications that intend “to detect and prevent malicious cyber activity.”

In scenarios of this sort, the injunction banning government communication with social media platforms would be suspended.

The catch here is that prior to the pandemic, “many of the communications between the feds and the platforms used this very language—“foreign influence,” “election interference,” and “malicious activity”—the article pointed out.

For example, when national intelligence officials cautioned social media companies to scrub stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop, they cited the threat of “Russian disinformation” and “foreign election interference.”

We now know that the FBI knew immediately the laptop was authentic and simply used the right buzz words to disguise their true intent in censoring all mention of it.

Justice Dept Petitions Court for Stay of Injunction

Late last week, the Justice Department requested a stay of the injunction and filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

The motion for a stay called the judge’s order “ambiguous,” and declared that the government’s interactions with social media companies are necessary as they “prevent grave harm to the American people and our democratic processes.”

The plaintiffs in turn filed a petition opposing a stay of the injunction.

Early this week, Judge Doughty issued his response, saying “This injunction is not as broad as it appears. It only prohibits something the defendants have no legal right to do—contacting social media companies for the purpose of urging, pressuring or inducing the removal or suppression of content containing protected free speech. It also contains numerous exceptions.

“Therefore, for the reasons set forth, Defendants motion to stay is denied.”

*****

Journalists Outraged at Federal Injunction

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who with co-counsel Eric Schmitt filed the censorship lawsuit, called Judge Doughty’s ruling a “historic injunction” which prevents the Biden administration “from censoring political speech of ordinary Americans on social media.”

Mainstream journalists attacked the judge, however, as “arrogant, aggressive” and even “dangerous” for “disrupting the government’s public health efforts.”

A New York Times article disparagingly referenced Judge Doughty’s ruling in an earlier case, where he overturned a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, calling it “government overreach.”

The judge fell in line with “debunked claims from vaccine skeptics,” the Times article scoffed, noting that “Judge Doughty accepted as fact the claim that ‘Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent transmission of the disease.’

This hit piece is extraordinary in view of the fact that the NY Times itself had admitted in a July 2021 article that the vaccines did not prevent infection and transmission. The article stated that “CDC officials were persuaded by new scientific evidence showing that even vaccinated people may become infected, and may carry the virus in great amounts, perhaps even similar to those in unvaccinated people (emphasis added).

Someone was evidently counting on Times readers having short memories or poor reading comprehension. So much for journalistic integrity.

*****

Dr. Gal Luft, Whistleblower

With the IRS whistleblowers’ explosive claims forcing mainstream news outlets to cover the story, and fresh allegations surfacing about the Bidens’ multi-million bribery deals with Chinese officials, there is a sense of sordid events building slowly toward an ominous climax.

The new revelations come from 57-year-old Israeli Professor Dr. Gal Luft, who has become a key figure in corruption investigations of President Biden, reports House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer.

Luft, who is being sought by the United States after jumping bail following his arrest in Cyprus, has reappeared in an extraordinary video obtained by the New York Post.

The 14 minute video featured Luft laying out a chilling saga in which he made a “fatal choice” to become a whistleblower in 2019—disclosing to federal authorities what he knew about then Vice President Biden’s influence-peddling with Chinese officials.

“What’s very interesting about Dr. Luft is he’s an energy expert, was head of a [Washington-based] think tank, and consulted with people like CIA Director James Woolsey. He was consulting at the time for CEFC, the same Chinese company connected to the Communist Party that was paying the Bidens millions of dollars,” Sen. Ron Johnson said in an appearance on Fox News.

“When he heard that Joe Biden was going to be running for president, that alarmed him, because he knew how compromised Joe Biden would be,” Sen. Johnson recounted. “So he met with two prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and four FBI agents in Brussels for two days in March of 2019.”

“He’s credible and has a wealth of information,” Johnson said. “But authorities never followed up on that meeting. Instead, they arrested him in Cyprus to silence him.”

DOJ Cover-up?

“Over an intensive two-day meeting, I shared my information with the U.S. government about the Biden family’s financial transactions with CEFC, including specific dollar figures,” Luft said in the video.

He said he discovered the Justice Department had a “mole” who gave over classified information to the Bidens and their Chinese benefactors from CEFC, and that he identified the mole to the American officials.

“I, who volunteered to inform the U.S. government about a potential security breach and about compromising information about a man vying to be the next president, am now being hunted by the very same people who I informed — and may have to live on the run for the rest of my life…” Luft said in the video.

“I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I have no political motive or agenda … I did it out of deep concern that if the Bidens were to come to power, the country would be facing the same traumatic Russia collusion scandal — only this time with China,” Luft went on. “Sadly, because of the DOJ’s cover-up, this is exactly what happened.”

“I warned the U.S. government about potential risk to the integrity of the 2020 elections… and for that I became enemy number one,” Luft said. Officials arrested him for being an unregistered foreign agent and other fabricated charges, he said.

He said he knew he would not get a fair trial in New York and therefore had no choice but to run.

Dr. Luft posed a series of questions as he concluded the video. “Why won’t the DOH unseal their indictment against me, make it public? Why did they not want to extradite me from Israel? Were they afraid of what I might tell authorities in my defense?”

“They could have gone to Israel [to arrest him]. He resides there. We have extradition treaties,” noted Sen. Johnson. “But they instead arrest him in Cyprus. He’s literally fleeing for his life right now. He’s on the run. He’s an important witness. He needs to be granted immunity to be able to testify and tell his story.”

“I mean, this is powerful. What better evidence are we going to have to produce before the mainstream media actually pays attention to the corruption of the Bidens?”

*****

White House Cocaine Scandal

The news of the preliminary injunction against the Biden Administration came as the White House was rocked with yet another scandal—the discovery in the West Wing of a suspicious bag of white powder which turned out to be cocaine, an illicit drug.

Although it is not (yet) known who left it there, the fact that the cocaine got past tight security raises eyebrows.

Surveillance cameras throughout the White House in addition to fingerprints and other forensics should enable the Secret Service to get to the bottom of the mystery. Yet, as the White House changed its story several times on where the cocaine was found—first it was in the library, then the West Wing, and finally in a storage facility where White House staff and guests store their cell phones—suspicions were raised of a cover-up.

“We’re in contact with the Secret Service. We’re getting no response whatsoever from them in terms of what investigatory steps they’re taking,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told Newsmax.

It would not surprise him if there’s “a cover-up going on,” he said “We’ve seen that with Hunter Biden.”

Johnson noted that U.S. Attorney David Weiss who led the Hunter Biden investigation and worked out the terms of Hunter’s plea deal, has failed to meet a congressional deadline to turn over relevant evidence concerning testimony from IRS whistleblowers.

According to the whistleblowers’ sworn account, Weiss, who led the Hunter Biden investigation, had confided to a six-member team that he was prevented by his superiors from charging Hunter with felonies or serious offenses. Whistleblower Gary Shapley also said that Hunter was given special treatment by the DOH throughout the investigation.

Weiss later contradicted all these claims in a letter to Congress, declaring he had sole authority in the case as he was promised by Attorney General Merrick Garland, and that no one had interfered with the investigation, prosecution or plea deal.

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