House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan has subpoenaed officials from three federal agencies for documents and information related to the committee’s investigation into how the government coordinated with private companies and other third-party groups to censor speech.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) were subpoenaed by Mr. Jordan’s committee.
“The First Amendment prohibits government officials from imposing viewpoint-based censorship restrictions,” Mr. Jordan said in a statement. “State action doctrine stands for the proposition that government officials may not circumvent constitutional strictures by using private actors — whether through coercion, encouragement, entwinement, or joint participation — to accomplish what the government cannot directly.”
Mr. Jordan notified each official that “numerous documents” that have become public reflected the “federal government’s power to censor speech online directly and by proxy” and that it is necessary to determine the extent to which each agency “coerced, pressured, worked with, or relied upon social media and other tech companies in order to censor speech.”
The Judiciary Committee wrote to these agency officials on March 22 seeking voluntary cooperation with their oversight, but to date, none produced any documents responsive to the committee’s requests.
A Homeland Security spokesperson said DHS “does not censor speech and does not request that content be taken down by social media companies.”
“Instead of working with the Department, as numerous committees have done this Congress, the House Judiciary Committee has unnecessarily escalated to a subpoena,” the spokesperson said. “DHS will continue cooperating appropriately with Congressional oversight requests, all while faithfully working to protect our nation from terrorism and targeted violence, secure our borders, respond to natural disasters, defend against cyberattacks, and more.”
The investigation was launched after tech billionaire Elon Musk purchased Twitter and released a slew of documents from the former Twitter management through independent journalists on the platform.
The information, revealed through the Twitter accounts of journalists Matt Taibi, Michael Shellenberger, and Bari Weiss, showed how government agencies suppressed information about the 2020 election, Hunter Biden’s laptop, COVID-19 vaccinations, and mask mandates, among other issues.
Mr. Taibbi reported last month that the State Department contracted with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), which sent suggested blacklists to Twitter.
DFRLab disputed Mr. Taibbi’s report and said it does not make content moderation decisions.
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