Free Speech Concerns Fuel Lawsuit Against Biden Administration
After a wave of intense backlash from critics across the political spectrum, the Biden administration was forced to shut down its newly created Disinformation Governance Board (DGB), which critics compared to the “Ministry of Truth” in George Orwell’s famous novel 1984 about a totalitarian society.
The sense of the government’s creeping control and the stifling of free speech incited a barrage of protests from Republicans, libertarians and even some liberal groups such as the ACLU. The sustained uproar succeeded in having the board dismantled in less than three weeks—a striking defeat for the Biden Administration.
The board’s official purpose, as proclaimed by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, was to combat false information from Russia and China, and from cartels seeking to lure immigrants across the US border.
But the DGB was widely suspected of having a much broader mandate to monitor and suppress unpopular political speech. Critics speculated that the panel would bolster White House directives to social media companies to ramp up their efforts to combat “false information.”
These directives became the subject of a lawsuit filed this month against the Biden Administration by Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeff Landry of Louisiana. The Disinformation Board is alleged in the lawsuit to be a tool to inhibit non-establishment opinions about controversial issues.
The DGB was only one facet of a much broader censorship campaign that has been operating at the highest levels of government, the plaintiffs alleged.
‘Defund The DBG!’
Given the suppression of conservative thought in mainstream media, many were quick to voice suspicion that the new board would target such discourse on social media platforms and elsewhere, reported the NY Post.
House Republicans immediately introduced a bill to defund the DGB. Led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the bill prohibits funds from flowing to activities to carry out the Disinformation Governance Board or any “substantially similar” entity.
“The President’s Ministry of Truth is an un-American abuse of power, which is a scheme conjured up by Washington Democrats to grant themselves the authority to control free speech,” McCarthy said in a press conference.
Co-sponsors of the bill included Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.), House GOP Conference Vice Chairman Mike Johnson (La.), August Pfluger (Texas), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), House GOP Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Homeland Security Committee ranking member John Katko (N.Y.).
Boebert dismissed the rationale that the DGB is needed to thwart smugglers distributing false information about the border, according to the Post article
“This board needs to be defunded and dismantled because this is not a tool to go after the cartels. We have plenty of tools that we can use for that,” Boebert said. “It seems like the Board was created to terrorize the American people rather than to prevent terrorists from engaging in our country. So I would not give any credence to this Disinformation Governance Board, this department of propaganda.”
170 Lawmakers Sign Letter Denouncing DGB
Republicans took other actions to move against the panel. Led by Representative James Comer, the senior Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, 170 House Republicans signed a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas probing the reasons behind the formation of the Board.
The letter, in part, said, “The creation of the Disinformation Governance Board appears to double down on this Administration’s continued abuse of taxpayer dollars…and its powers to attack Americans who disagree with its policies, smearing them as extremists and perpetrators of ‘mis- dis- and mal-information.’”
Mayorkas scrambled to defend the DGB with a publicized fact sheet. “The Department is deeply committed to doing all of its work in a way that protects Americans’ freedom of speech, civil liberties and privacy,” the fact sheet said. It also stressed that the DGB “does not have any operational authority,” meaning that it will not operate as a law enforcement agency.
Mayorkas also appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee, declaring that the department does not combat speech. “The department is involved in protecting the homeland and we only become involved (with speech) when there is a connectivity to violence.”
Mindful of recent instances in which parents protesting at school boards were referred to by DHS officials as “domestic terrorists,” freedom of speech advocates remained suspicious of the true scope of the Disinformation Board.
“I think Homeland Security has itself to blame for the hostile reaction,” an ACLU spokesman said. “They announced something that is somewhat creepy sounding, that we have a kind of government “truth board” operating out of the Homeland Security. We’re skeptical of the government arbitrating truth and falsity.”
DGB Director Resigns
The criticism of the DGB escalated after it was revealed that its director, Nina Jankowicz, had helped launch the Mueller probe in 2016 into then President Trump’s campaign. The investigation had pushed the debunked claim that Trump had ties to a Russian bank.
Jankowicz had vocally supported the now-disgraced Christopher Steele, author of the discredited dossier that implicated Trump. This fraudulent allegation now stands at the center of the ongoing trial of Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman.
Jankowicz, the so-called “disinformation expert,” also tried to spread doubt about the NY Post’s scoop on Hunter Biden’s laptop that revealed sordid details about Biden family members’ campaign financial deals with the Chinese.
As mentioned above, the NY Post’s report was later verified by the New York Times, the Washington Post and other liberal news outlets.
As the blistering criticism of the DGB and its director showed no sign of abating, DHS officials broke the news that the panel had been put “on pause.” A few days later, the Washington Post carried the scoop that Jankowicz had resigned, hammering in the final nail on the “truth board” initiative.
Critics hailed news of its dismantling, with GOP Reps. Jim Jordan and Mike Kelly of Ohio calling it a “huge win for free speech!”
“The suspension of the DHS Disinformation Governance Board is by far the best decision that’s been made when it comes to this Orwellian entity,” Republican Reps. John Katko, R-NY, and Mike Turner, R-OH, said in a statement to Fox News.
“The dystopian Disinformation Board had no place being created in the first place,” Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., tweeted. “This ‘pause’ should be forever.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., echoing his colleague, declared, “Don’t ‘pause’ the Disinformation Board. End it. Forever.”
Hard-Hitting ‘Free Speech’ Lawsuit
Earlier this month, as the battle raged over the Disinformation Board, two Attorneys General in Louisiana and Missouri were putting the finishing touches on a hard-hitting lawsuit against the Biden Administration for violating Americans’ right to free speech.
Filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, the lawsuit accuses top-ranking officials in the Biden Administration of conspiring to suppress free speech with social media giants Meta, Twitter and YouTube, “under the guise of combating misinformation,” Fox News reported.
The lawsuit charges President Biden and top administration officials with “pressuring and colluding with” social media giants to heighten censorship of non-mainstream views of Covid-19 mask mandates; the Wuhan Lab-leak theory; the Hunter Biden laptop scandal; and allegations of mail in ballot fraud in the 2020 election.
These are all views that have been admitted at a later date to be truthful or at least credible, the lawsuit states.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Nina Jankowicz (since resigned as head of the Disinformation Governance Board) were among the other top officials and federal agencies named as defendants in the suit.
The 86-page suit, authored by Missouri AG Eric Schmitt and Louisiana AG Jeff Landry, accuses the federal government of violating free speech rights by threatening big tech companies into silencing conservative viewpoints.
“Having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left, senior officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social media companies to suppress disfavored speakers and content on social-media platforms. This is being done under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called disinformation,’ ‘misinformation,’ and ‘mal-information,’” the filing claims.
“In direct contravention to the First Amendment and freedom of speech,” the filing alleges, “the Biden Administration has been engaged in a pernicious campaign to both pressure social media giants to censor and suppress speech, and to work directly with those platforms to achieve that censorship.”
The two attorneys general alleged that NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci “was orchestrating a campaign to falsely discredit the lab-leak theory” with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook complied by censoring all posts that mentioned that the virus may have originated from a lab in Wuhan, China (as opposed to the politically correct narrative that it originated in a wet market hundreds of miles from Wuhan.)
The censorship stopped “only after a large number of major media outlets confirmed that the lab-leak theory was indeed possible,” the suit said.
Debate Over Masks
The lawsuit singles out the “efficacy of masks” as one of the most censored topics on social media platforms. The subject merited a “Covid-19 misleading information policy” announcement by Twitter in December 2021; it stated that Twitter would remove all speech claiming that “face masks … do not work to reduce transmission or to protect against Covid-19.”
You Tube and other platforms employed similar policies. Both Senator Rand Paul and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis were censored by You Tube for questioning the efficacy of masks. The lawsuits cites a NY Post report that “When Scott Atlas, a member of the Trump White House’s coronavirus task force, questioned the efficacy of masks last year, Twitter removed his tweet.”
Ironically, as acknowledged by the CDC, a growing body of science has now established that masks, especially cloth masks, are ineffective at stopping the spread of Covid-19, and can impose negative impacts on children.
Other studies have confirmed this finding, with a recent study by German physician Zacharias Foegen, published by the journal, Medicine, concluding that “contrary to the accepted thought that fewer people are dying because infection rates are reduced by masks, the opposite was found to be true.” [See Sidebar]
Hunter Biden Scandal
The lawsuit describes how “social media platforms aggressively censored an October 14, 2020 New York Post expose about the contents of the laptop of Hunter Biden, which had been abandoned in a Delaware repair shop and contained compromising photos and emails about corrupt foreign business deals.”
According to the filing, after the bombshell report on Hunter Biden was published, Twitter locked the NY Post out of its account for more than two weeks over unfounded charges that the exposé used hacked information.
Twitter also blocked users from sharing the link to The Post article, and Facebook said it would limit the spread of The Post’s story on its own platform.
“Just last month — 17-months after The Post’s report was published — The Washington Post and New York Times both quietly confirmed the existence of Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails,” attested The Post.
“There is a common theme to all these examples of wrong-headed censorship: Each involved censoring truthful or reliable information that contradicted left-wing political narratives,” the suit states. This includes threats made by candidate Biden on the campaign trail, and now as president, arm-twisting executives and employees of big tech companies.
“For example, on January 17, 2020, then-candidate Biden stated, in an interview with the New York Times editorial board, that Section 230 of the CDA should be ‘revoked’ because social-media companies like Facebook did not do enough to censor supposedly false information,” the lawsuit states.
“Candidate Biden also suggested that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should be subject to civil liability and even criminal prosecution for not censoring enough political speech.”
The complaint cites a July 2021 press briefing, in which then Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy both argued that Facebook and other social media platforms should do more to combat health “misinformation.”
‘We Expect Better[Censorship] From Our Technology Companies’
The lawsuit goes on to quote Psaki saying that “Surgeon General Murthy also stated that ‘we’re saying we expect better from our technology companies’… We’re asking them to monitor misinformation more closely. We’re asking them to consistently take action against misinformation super-spreaders on their platforms.’”
“At the same press briefing, Psaki stated: ‘We are in regular touch with these social media platforms, given that this is a big issue of misinformation.’ She added, ‘We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.’”
In response, Facebook stated that it was working with government officials to tackle “misinformation.” According to the lawsuit, “A Facebook spokesperson said the company has partnered with government experts, health authorities and researchers to take ‘aggressive action against misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines to protect public health.’”
In a February 2022 press conference six months later, Psaki kept up the drumbeat calling for increased censorship, saying: “We want every platform to continue doing more to call out mis- and disinformation while also uplifting accurate information.”
The attorneys asked the court to rule that the defendants violated the First Amendment and had exceeded their statutory authority in treating social media companies as their private fiefdom.
They’ve also asked the court to order the officials to desist from “engag[ing] in unlawful conduct” to suppress free speech.
Study: Mask Mandates Increase Mortality Rates
As scientific studies proliferate about the value of mask mandates, startling information has emerged from a study in Germany that challenges the accepted view of masks being protective for the wearer.
Comparing data between counties in Kansas, the study, reported on by WND and The Jewish Voice, found that those that mandated masks for Covid-19 had a higher rate of death than those that did not.
The author, German physician Zacharias Foegen, chose Kansas “because that state allowed each of its 105 counties to decide whether or not to require masks,” the article noted. A total of 81 counties decided not to implement the measure.
Published by the journal, Medicine, “The Foegen Effect: A Mechanism by Which Facemasks Contribute to the Covid-19 Case Fatality Rate,” concluded that “contrary to the accepted thought that fewer people are dying because infection rates are reduced by masks, this was not the case,” National File reported.
“Results from this study strongly suggest that mask mandates actually caused about 1.5 times the number of deaths or 50% more deaths compared to no mask mandates.”
The study suggested a scientific rationale for the increased risk ratio. Virions – the infectious form of the virus outside the cell – “that enter or those coughed out in droplets are retained in the facemask tissue, and after quick evaporation of the droplets, hyper-condensed droplets are re-inhaled from a very short distance during inspiration.”
The author’s theory, dubbed the ‘Foegen effect,’ is that the masks make the Covid -19 virions smaller, allowing them to spread deeper into the respiratory tract, the article reported.
“They bypass the bronchi and are inhaled deep into the alveoli, where they can cause pneumonia instead of bronchitis, which would be typical of a virus infection.”
“These findings suggest that mask-use might pose a yet unknown threat to the user instead of protecting them, making mask mandates a debatable intervention,” Foegen concluded.
The Science on Masks Before Fauci Reversed Course
His findings will likely be labeled “misinformation” and scrubbed from social media platforms.
But taking a look at emails sent by none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci to then HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a February 2020 email, we find Fauci statements that support Foegen’s findings.
Fauci wrote that masks “are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected, rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection.”
“The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you,” wrote the director of NIAID, as quoted in the WND article.
“I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location,” Fauci concluded.
The same corona virus expert spoke out against universal masking amid a pandemic in a “60 Minutes” interview a month later, the article documented. “He warned of “unintended consequences,” saying there’s “no reason to be walking around with a mask” in “the middle of an outbreak.”
In today’s bizarre world, Fauci has reversed the “science,” and anyone in the medical community espousing his former position is either ignored, or mocked and canceled.
Recent findings such as the Foegen Study that show no benefit of cloth masks to prevent infection and still succeed in getting published in a reputable medical journal, are thus all the more illuminating and important.
Turning ‘Incorrect Opinions’ Into National Security Threats
“I don’t know about you,” author Bernard Goldberg wrote in a caustic op-ed in The Hill about the short-lived Disinformation Governance Board, “but I get the impression that DHS Secretary Mayorkas either never read George Orwell’s “1984” or, if he did, he didn’t get the message. Maybe he thought Orwell was saying that when the government establishes a Big Brother “Ministry of Truth” that’s a good idea.
“Are we supposed to really believe that something called the Disinformation Governance Board won’t make all sorts of pronouncements on supposed “threats to national security” not just with regard to Russia or China, but right here in the United States,” the article asked.
“How long will it be before “incorrect opinions” and “unapproved ideas” expressed here at home are deemed to be ‘national security threats’?
“Do we really want the federal government, which is doing such a bang-up job controlling inflation and crime and chaos at our southern border — do we really want that gang that can’t seem to shoot straight — to be the arbiters of what’s true and what isn’t?”