A Louisiana judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release files that could reveal five agents’ alleged involvement in government efforts to suppress social media content deemed to contain “misinformation” about elections, court documents show.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry moved to release testimony from Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) employees Chad Josiah, Rob Schaul, Alex Zaheer, John Stafford and Pierce Lowary, after learning of their participation in the Biden administration’s counter-“disinformation” efforts, court documents dated Jan. 19 show. The judge’s motion Wednesday could shed light on a “switchboarding” tactic employed during the 2020 election, according to the order.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants, which include the named individuals as well as President Joe Biden and top officials from a variety of federal agencies, “colluded and/or coerced social media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social media platforms by labeling the content “dis-information,” “mis-information,” and “mal-formation.”
UPDATE: The judge granted our motion to compel. CISA has 14 days to comply. https://t.co/2bhwQQJTG6
— AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) January 25, 2023
The five CISA employees allegedly served as a “switchboard” to route requests from federal agencies to censor disinformation to various social media companies, according to the documents.
Switchboard work employed “an audit official to identify something on social media they deemed to be disinformation aimed at their jurisdiction,” top CISA election security agent Brian Skully testified in a deposition released Thursday. “They could forward that to CISA and CISA would share that with the appropriate social media companies.”
Skully’s deposition detailed participation of the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security‘s intelligence branch and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in meetings with social media firm executives to tackle online “misinformation” during the 2022 election cycle.
Here, Twitter “actioned” (censored) accounts under their “civic integrity policies” after CISA flags them (7/10) pic.twitter.com/deTIwk1wmr
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) January 13, 2023
While the notices were intended to provide social media companies with situational awareness regarding attempts to spread disinformation on their platforms, “the idea was that they would make decision on the content that was forwarded to them based on their policies,” Skully said.
CISA also worked with the Center for Internet Security, a nonprofit aimed at protecting against cybersecurity threats that also plays a regulatory role election infrastructure, and official election organizations, in “switchboarding,” according to the deposition.
The deposition demonstrated that the Biden administration “weaponized” CISA “to suppress domestic free speech,” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said in a statement after its release. Congress originally created CISA in 2018 to combat cyber threats to critical digital and physical infrastructure.
The DHS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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