EPISODE 229: “You May Not Be Interested in CISA, But CISA is Certainly Interested in You” with Ben Weingarten and Frank Gaffney
“Overwhelming evidence suggests that federal agencies – led by among others, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), buoyed by senior executive branch officials and lawmakers, colluding with Big Tech, and a coterie of often government-coordinated and government-funded “counter-disinformation” organizations, have imposed nothing less than a mass public-private censorship regime on the American people.”
Ben Weingarten, one of America’s leading investigative journalists, at a recent Homeland Security Oversight hearing.
As you’ll learn in this episode, the evidence is overwhelming.
Ben Weingarten is editor-at-large for RealClearInvestigations, contributor to the Federalist, Newsweek, New York Post, Epoch Times and author of the alarming book American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party.
Joining me as co-host is Frank Gaffney, host of “Securing America with Frank Gaffney” on Real America’s Voice and the founder of the Center for Security Policy.
“CISA is a microcosm of a federal government censorship regime, and by proxy through social media platforms, that runs from merely shadow banning or flagging tweets and Facebook messages, all the way up to de-platforming and debunking people and even more alarming, actually throwing dissenters in jail for their views,” explains Ben.
“It’s rooted in an ideology which says that speech that the authorities don’t like constitutes a “threat” to our democracy that is then used as a justification to engage in a slew of acts that I think most Americans would say violate their most essential civil liberties.”
Some of what we talk about in this episode:
- The mission creep within our national security agencies which are increasingly turning from targeting foreign jihadists and instead to “domestic wrong thinkers” as America’s preeminent threat.
- How Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson expanded its mandate to protect America’s infrastructure to include “election infrastructure” as critical infrastructure which then became part of CISA’s charge when it was established in 2018.
- Current CISA director Jen Easterly has now declared that the American mind is a “cognitive infrastructure”which means they’re now targeting not only what we say but what we think. “CISA’s tasks are to defend our most critical infrastructures and our most critical infrastructure is cognitive infrastructure … the American mind,” she asserts.
- CISA’s convening and coordinating meetings between national security and law enforcement agencies, and technology companies including Facebook, Meta, Google, Twitter, Reddit, Microsoft, Verizon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Wikimedia Foundation, etc
- CISA’s “Switchboarding” reports of purported misinformation and disinformation from state and local authorities and then forwarding reports of offending content to social media platforms for censorship.
- How the rosters of the censorship “trust and safety integrity” teams at Meta, Twitter and others are filled with former CIA officials, FBI officials, DOD officials, etc
- DHS targeted list of “inaccurate information” includes “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”
- CISA’s previous Director Christopher Krebs claimed the 2020 election was the most above board cleanest election, most secure election in American history. But at the same time worked to censor “wrong think” about mail-in balloting and changes to election rules and policies, sometimes while they were still being debated.
The CISA agenda is aimed at not only what people say, but what they will refrain from saying in public, or in private.
“How much speech will never be out there for people to grapple with and consider because no one wants to go through the ordeal of potentially being broken by expressing wrong things,” worries Ben. “The entire basis of our system rests on free inquiry, free speech, free thought, freedom to listen. Otherwise, you have tyranny.”
This is a heart-of-the-matter issue for America and there’s a lot packed into this episode about our alarming “security state.” Definitely worth your time to listen and learn.
EPISODE 229 TRANSCRIPT
Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to The Bill Walton Show, featuring conversations with leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, and thinkers, fresh perspectives on money, culture, politics and human flourishing. Interesting people, interesting things.
Bill Walton (00:24):
Welcome to The Bill Walton Show. I’m Bill Walton. Well, I’m here today with my good friend Frank Gaffney, who as you know is host of Securing America with Frank Gaffney on Real America’s Voice and is also the founder of the Center for Security Policy and a great patriot and great friend to Americans and our freedom. I’ve asked him to join because we have a very, very interesting guest joining us, Ben Weingarten, who as you may know, is editor-at-large for RealClearInvestigations, contributes to the Federalist, Newsweek, New York Post, Epoch Times, incredibly prolific. He is also author of alarming book called American Ingrate.
Frank Gaffney (01:13):
Bill Walton (01:14):
Also terrific, but upsetting about Omar… What’s her last name?
Frank Gaffney (01:22):
Bill Walton (01:22):
Ilhan Omar. But what we want to talk about today is just a couple weeks ago, he gave a testimony before Congress called censorship laundering, how the US Department of Homeland Security enables the silencing of dissent, and specifically he gets on the agency of Homeland Security called CISA. Well, you may never heard of CISA, but CISA’s heard of you.
It turns out the kind of surveillance they’ve been doing about all Americans on topics that they think are national security matters is just a stunning revelation about how out of control our governments come with the surveillance state. Anyway, it was May 11th testimony. I encourage you all to go on the internet and take a look at the testimony online, but maybe you won’t have to, because we’re going to cover all the good stuff today. Ben, welcome.
Ben Weingarten (02:20):
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Bill Walton (02:22):
Glad to have you here. So, give us a quick overview of CISA and what’s at stake here and then we’ll get into the unseemly details about what they’re doing.
Ben Weingarten (02:36):
Well, CISA is a microcosm or CISA’s operations with respect to censorship directly and by proxy via social media platforms is really a microcosm of a much broader theme that I think the American people have become well aware of, which is that there’s been a mass public-private censorship regime foisted upon us that runs from merely shadow banning or flagging tweets and Facebook messages all the way up to deplatforming and perhaps even debunking people and then even more alarming to actually throwing people dissenters in jail for their views rooted in an ideology which says that speech that the authorities don’t like constitutes a “threat” to our democracy and then using that as a justification to engage in a slew of acts that I think most Americans would say violate their core most civil liberties.
You have to ask the question, how is it that a sub-agency of the Department of Homeland Security that most Americans, as you know it, have probably never heard of, came to play a role as what’s been described in court filings as a nerve center of these mass public-private censorship regime activities? I laid that out in my testimony, but the top level notes are that the cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency has stretched its mandate, its mission to essentially say that anything Americans say that’s disfavored by authorities might constitute a threat to our critical infrastructure, which CISA is tasked with coordinating the defenses around.
So, consequently, your tweets about matters ranging from election integrity and mail-in balloting and the outcomes of elections to virtually anything and everything around the Chinese coronavirus and now potentially a whole slew of other highly contentious and subjective issues constitute essentially many digital terrorist attacks to be neutralized accordingly. I think that’s the framing by which we ought to see it. This reflects broader mission creep within our national security apparatus where you have an entity like DHS Broadway who was originally created in the wake of September 11th to target foreign jihadists, now training its sites and its awesome powers on domestic wrong thinkers as the preeminent threat.
We can get into the various ways that CISA has played an integral role in censoring American’s speech via the social media platforms, both directly in stark detail as well as indirectly, which takes on a potentially more insidious form.
Bill Walton (05:41):
Well, the CISA is a piece of Homeland Security. How big is CISA? It has thousands of employees all over the country.
Ben Weingarten (05:51):
By the standards of the federal government, you could say that this is a relatively small entity. I think in their last budget requests under the Biden administration, they’re asking for $3+ billion, which represents actually a pretty significant increase from where it started out when CISA was originally established back in 2018, but its power is way outsize relative to the personnel there or the dollar figures associated with it. I’ll explain how in a few separate ways with respect to-
Bill Walton (06:24):
You’re going to describe that. A lot of this came out as a results of a lawsuit, Missouri v. Biden, which gave us information which we never had before. Homeland Security is supposed to protect us from foreign bad guys, terrorists, people wanting to hurt us from outside the country. But now you hear Mark Milley, who’s our head of the chief of staff, talk about the biggest threat to America are White supremacists. It seems like CISA has taken the same point of view and now they’ve trained their guns at so-called domestic threats, among whom are about 150 million people who may have voted or may have been supporting Donald Trump. So, they’ve aimed their weapons that at us, right?
Frank Gaffney (07:12):
We’ve met the enemy. It is us. Ben, I think one place that it would be very helpful for you to illuminate because it seems as though this is where CISA first broke into the public consciousness was in connection with election integrity, specifically the election of 2020 and comments that were made at the time by the guy who was responsible for the organization concerning, well, the abundant evidence that there were real problems with election integrity in that cycle. Remind us what we learned in that course and most especially what they were doing in the runup to the election in CISA.
Ben Weingarten (07:57):
Yeah. Well, as you allude to, the only knowledge that most Americans probably have of CISA is that they might recall CISA’s Director Christopher Krebs, now former director, who said that essentially the 2020 election was the most above board cleanest election, most secure election in American history. In order to provide that security so-called, CISA through three different means tried to censor wrong think about mail-in balloting, questions about changes to election rules and policies, sometimes in real time while they were still being debated and grappled with at the state legislative level and then within state executive branches as well.
They sought to tamp down any questions first about essentially rules and regulations and procedures and then around the outcomes, which obviously, to every American when you look at an election night, well, first of all, when you have the first mass mail-in election in American history where the rules and regs are being changed sometimes by executives, not by legislative branches in real time and then in the most hard fought states where you have simultaneously the stopping of the counting of the votes, and we can run through the whole litany of things that would make anyone question what’s going on here relative to a normal election.
Well, at the very same time, we found out that as Bill noted, largely through discovery in this undercover but hugely significant case, Missouri v. Biden, that CISA was engaged in three activities to essentially regulate speech that we never voted for and gave them authority for by the way to regulate speech around the election. Those were first of all convening these mass meetings between the likes of CISA officials, the FBI, other governmental administrations, we suspect potentially the CIA and other three letter agencies as well.
Not just the big tech companies, but also telecommunications companies broadly convening these industry meetings where they talked about the imperative to combat “mis, dis, and malinformation,” and in fact, asked the companies to talk about their terms of service, i.e., what constitutes offending speech that ought to be potentially ripe for censorship. We know now that officials during these meetings essentially groomed the social media companies to be on the lookout for “hack and leaks”.
You can draw a direct line from these meetings and the conversations that officials were having with these companies regarding hack and leaks and changes in terms of service to the fact that these companies did in fact change their terms of service to suppress content communications around “hack and leaks”, which led to the suppression of their Hunter Biden laptop story. That’s one of the gravest instances of domestic election interference in the runup to the 2020 election.
Bill Walton (11:03):
Well, let’s talk about how they got there. I mean, Christopher Krebs began to redefine their mission. They’re supposed to protect American infrastructure. That was the mandate. I guess when the Homeland Security started, we were thinking about bridges and tunnels and the World Trade Center. They’ve redefined that to basically infrastructure means anything they want it to mean, which includes every institution including elections. But the current director, Jen Easterly, who not surprisingly worked in the Obama administration, has argued down… This is the most stunning thing in your testimony, I thought. … that the American mind is our cognitive infrastructure, and therefore, it’s not only what we do-
Frank Gaffney (11:52):
Also, within CISA’s purview.
Bill Walton (11:55):
The American mind is the key infrastructure which they’re targeted at, which means not only what we say but what we think. Ben?
Ben Weingarten (12:06):
Yeah, it’s stunning. It’s a microphone drop moment and maybe even more stunning is that this is the view that pervades the entirety of our current national security and law enforcement apparatus. So, to your point, Jen Easterly, the current director of CISA, she says that “CISA’s tasks with defending our most critical infrastructure and our most critical infrastructure is cognitive infrastructure.” She said this in context of her remarks talking about beefing up CISA’s counter mis, dis, and malformation capacity. So, to your point, there were two major switches that occurred in at least the private thinking, and then ultimately, it manifested itself in the public acts of CISA and I think more broadly across the national security and law enforcement apparatus.
Go back to January 6th, 2017 and the outgoing DHS Secretary during the Obama administration, Jeh Johnson designated election infrastructure as a critical infrastructure sub-sector. So, that put election infrastructure under the purview of what would ultimately become CISA when it was established in 2018. Now, let’s note that if you go back to the statements that Jeh Johnson made at the time when they defined election infrastructure, it had nothing to do with your tweets and Facebook posts about mail-in ballots. Of course, it was presented as hard infrastructure like voting machines for example and systems and processes. There was another switch as well that occurred.
Originally, this moral panic around mis, dis, and malformation, which alarmed the national security and law enforcement apparatus and of course the media as well, was rooted in the idea that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election. Of course, that Russian interference could be tied to Trump-Russia collusion. Thus this posed a dire threat to the homeland and our election integrity. Quickly, they shifted between 2016 and 2020 moving from foreign interference to the various foreign interference task forces or foreign influence task forces that were set up, including within CISA, including at the FBI to targeting domestic wrong think or at least not looking at the origins of their purported wrong thing being put out on social media.
So, basically, they took their mandate to defend infrastructure, to encompass virtually everything up to the words that people might say about elections as if they are threats to election infrastructure. Then they also shifted from foreign to domestic. Now, as you note, it’s expanded under this view that cognitive infrastructure is our most integral infrastructure and thus it’s a national security imperative for the deep state essentially to police our thoughts.
Bill Walton (14:55):
Well, this is The Bill Walton Show. I’m here today’s show with my co-host, Frank Gaffney. We’re talking about Ben Weingarten who’s given a very riveting and powerful testimony to Congress about CISA and the abuses that they’re heaping on the American people and our privacy and now our thoughts. But you mentioned three terms here and I think it’s worth fleshing them out. CISA has three words that it seizes as its mandate, misinformation, disinformation, and malformation. The way they define these, they can get anything they want out of it.
Misinformation is false but not meant to cause harm. Disinformation is deliberately created to mislead harm or manipulate, but then the third one, malformation is that which is based on fact but which is used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate. So, this is an interstate highway they can drive every truck through they want to nail Americans. Frank, you go.
Frank Gaffney (16:00):
No, this is very much at the core of what Ben’s talking about here is they’ve got a comprehensive approach that gives them a pretext to control thought as well as actions in a whole variety of ways that I think were not contemplated by the law, are completely at odds with our constitution.
Bill Walton (16:24):
How different is this from what the Chinese are doing?
Frank Gaffney (16:27):
Ben is a close student of the Chinese too. He might want to ask his opinion on this, but I think it’s one and the same.
Bill Walton (16:33):
Ben, I mean Frank and I just finished up talking about China and the threat there, but we’re all up in arms now about TikTok, but I’d rather worry about CISA than TikTok at this point.
Frank Gaffney (16:48):
I worry about both.
Ben Weingarten (16:51):
As Frank and I have spoken about before, our CCP captured elites are running a bootleg version of a social credit system with American characteristics. So, it may not be as brazen, it may not be as pervasive and chilling yet, but it’s well on the way to that point. The rhetoric of our leaders certainly echoes it. If you were to look at China’s national security law with respect to Hong Kong, you can see parallel as to what’s going on here in terms of policing our thoughts and worse under the guise of combating dangerous dis, mis, and malinformation. Let me just note the seminal document and CISA’s activities flow naturally from this, although they were occurring even before this document, codified this worldview.
But I continue to go back to, and I hope viewers and listeners will check this out, the Biden administration’s national strategy for countering domestic terrorism. That document weighs out in no uncertain terms that it is in terms of confronting the long-term contributors to domestic terrorism in this country, the administration says that they need to defend attacks on democracy so-called, which essentially includes wrong think, and they call on a public-private whole of society’s effort to combat wrong think, including on social media. It talks about the fact that the national security apparatus is already engaged in those conversations, et cetera, but it makes a war on wrong think a national security imperative.
Bill Walton (18:28):
Do they use the term wrong think?
Ben Weingarten (18:29):
CISA has clearly operated accordingly.
Bill Walton (18:31):
They use the term wrong think?
Ben Weingarten (18:35):
They don’t use the term wrong think. They’re much more euphemistic in it, but they say essentially attacks on democratic institutions, et cetera. I’m not quoting it verbatim, but that is the language that they use as a euphemism for rhetoric they don’t like about authorities. Of course, that can encompass virtually anything. We know there’s not only the limitless definition of mis, dis, and malformation, which as you know, it includes facts that lead people to have perspectives or pursue policies they don’t like.
But we know for example, that this is an administration that would characterize voter ID as a Jim Crow, Bull Connor type, those are the President Joe Biden’s words, racist assaults on our most fundamental institutions. So, if you define anything in opposition to your agenda as bigoted or dangerous or the stuff of Vladimir Putin, et cetera, obviously, it’s a pretext to clamp down on virtually any rhetoric you don’t like from your political opposition. We’ve seen it play out in real time accordingly.
Frank Gaffney (19:45):
Yeah, I was just going to say I think that wrong think is something that is of course an Orwellian term as I recall. You find people who are defenders of this approach, maybe not the officials in their own official rhetoric, parroting if not in quite those many words, the whole thrust of the idea that this is part of the control that has to be exercised over society to assure that there is not wrong thinking going on, especially thinking that is contrary to things.
Ben, I want to take a minute to talk, if we can, before we part about this healthcare effort that’s underway now in Geneva at the World Health Organization, which has an explicit wrong think agenda baked into it as well when they announced what they’re going to do from on high in the World Health Organization newly empowered as a result of efforts the Biden administration has been making to help transform it from an advisory body to one that has compulsory power. Anybody who dissents from the, well, dick tot is to be suppressed, is to be hounded through the various mechanisms. I think CISA will be one of them internal to the United States, but they’ve got QR codes that they want everybody to have, everybody in the world to have.
You will be right in the middle of that Chinese social credit system, no kidding, not a bootleg copy, but authentic, an improved variance on the theme I think used among other things to suppress freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and our other constitutional rights. What do you think, Ben?
Ben Weingarten (21:48):
Well, let’s note that we’ve already seen a preview of this and CISA was integrally involved in it. CISA among the ways that CISA indirectly led to censorship during the COVID-19 regime that was imposed upon us was to create a consortium or help organize, I should say, a consortium of outside research, punitively research and academic organizations into something originally called the Election Integrity Partnership, but which then would also mushroom to develop a group called the Virality Project.
The task of these organizations was to essentially mass surveil social media for wrong think again originally on elections and then later with respect to the coronavirus, including truth about the coronavirus under the malinformation banner and then to mass flag for platforms offending content which violated terms of service, which that outside consortia lobbied the social media platforms to create. So, in other words, they pushed the platforms to encompass in their terms of service, censoring wrong think on matters like the Chinese coronavirus. They mass surveilled those platforms for instances of wrong think and then flagged them to the platforms to get the platforms to mass censor.
Of course, this is a much more comprehensive effort than just this outside consortia, but you also had the Biden administration explicitly hounding companies to censor wrong thinkers on Chinese coronavirus. You had lawmakers talking about it. So, it was a concerted governmental effort that implicated lawmakers and the government agencies and of course the media as well. So, we’ve already seen a preview to this and maybe even more insidious is that you have medical schools, for example, who now have courses or starting to develop courses on medical mis, dis, and malformation. So, it’s incredibly pervasive. It cuts across sectors.
Basically, the core philosophy which manifests itself through the actions of the government agencies and virtually every other influential institution is that ideas that they don’t like are reconstituted as threats to national security, public health to our democratic institutions so-called and that therefore there’s a national security or public health or defending infrastructure basis to suspend your rights. So, my core argument ultimately during this hearing was that at a bare minimum, not one cent of our tax dollars should go towards silencing ourselves directly or by proxy.
That is the charge to the Republican House and then also the Congress writ large and then the President. Imagine if it was put to the President’s desk, do you want to veto a bill where Americans are saying, “We don’t want you silencing us”? I don’t think we’re going to get there, unfortunately, at least under this administration, but the question ought to be out there.
Bill Walton (24:57):
Well, as you point out in your testimony, this is a purely political operation and it’s in a list in their own reports, they want to target people who question the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the efficacy of vaccines, US withdrawal from Afghanistan. We’re not allowed to talk about that and the US support to Ukraine. We’re not allowed to question whether we should be doing that. On the other hand and as you point out, they don’t target anti-cop conversation, they defund the police. Anything pro-abortion, they’re all for. Environmentalism and climate change, anybody can say anything they want in support of that. But if you are against that, then you become a target for practicing, I love this term, MDM.
We all ought to learn that term, misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation. Then the thing that you also point out is that this is not just the agency. You touched on it earlier, but they’re getting all the tech companies involved in this and they convene meetings with Facebook, Meta, Google, Twitter, Reddit, Microsoft, Verizon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Wikimedia Foundation. They’re all in the room doing the bidding of CISA.
Ben Weingarten (26:25):
That’s right. Of course, when the federal government is talking to a punitively private entity, the federal government is doing so of course with the full force of federal powers up to and including of course hyper regulating these companies. At the same time, when you have those in Congress talking about issues like Section 230, a privilege that’s been afforded these companies and antitrust and a whole slew of issues that obviously impact their business model. So, it’s with an implicit threat that if you don’t go along with this, you might be crushed. Even though the companies, I think in many cases and the executives in these companies agree with what the government wants, although even in the Twitter files, we see some dissension on certain issues.
It’s also worth noting and it’s funny in a disturbing way, CISA also engaged in a practice called switch boarding at minimum in 2020, where they would receive reports of mis, dis, or malinformation about elections and actually forward these emails flagging specific tweets and accounts along to the social media companies. That to me is one of the most direct ways in which essentially they got people censored and they were treated as a privileged customer of the tech platforms because those platforms would immediately escalate those issues and then act upon them and respond to CISA about them and also talk to CISA whenever they made terms of service changes. But beyond that, in those emails, they had these massive disclaimers, which are almost hilarious.
What do they say? Essentially, CISA is not directing you to censor. CISA makes no comment about the veracity of the mis, dis, and malinformation, et cetera. It’s like they put in the disclaimer what they know they’re actually doing, which is leaning on these companies to censor your First Amendment core political speech, which is supposed to be protected. Let’s also note there’s an incestuous relationship here. You don’t have to scratch to see very quickly that within the “trust and safety integrity teams” within the likes of a Meta or Twitter or these other organizations that the rosters of the censorship teams are filled with former CIA officials, FBI officials, DOD officials, and the likes. So, there’s an incestuous revolving door here as well.
One of the most incestuous aspects, as I noted, is the creation to essentially launder these censorship activities of these third-party “academic and research organizations”. Four major ones of which came together to form the Election Integrity Partnership while the head of one of those organizations was the former chief security officer at Facebook, Alex Stamos. Stamos, that should be noted, serves on CISA’s Cybersecurity Advisory Committee. You can look up and down the rosters of the other three entities to find other officials who worked in CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee or specifically on its counter MDM subcommittee, which has since been reorganized as its operations have garnered scrutiny.
Many of these organizations, of course, also receive federal funding. So, it’s an incredibly incestuous and pervasive relationship. One of the things that I fear is that let’s say we got to my ideal scenario of not a single cent of US dollars going towards censorship within the federal government or with linked groups outside the federal government while these outside consortia and in the case of EIP, one that was explicitly created to get around the gap of the First Amendment issues that CISA would have in trying to censor our speech.
Well, it would exist even if CISA had not organized it and if CISA and other entities within the federal government did not fund it. That’s a scary thing. You can cut off the federal funding, but these outside entities still exist and would still continue to engage in this behavior. So, it’s a massively complex and pervasive problem, and this is the explicit policy of our entire national security apparatus and really federal government at this point.
Frank Gaffney (30:31):
Ben, I think the term that’s often banded about to describe all of this is a public-private partnership. That seems to me to describe fascism pretty much. Would you call what you’re talking about here… I mean I guess you can brand it as other ideologies as well, totalitarianism at the core, whether it’s communism or fascism or Marxism or something else, but that’s where we are, is it not? If you would, in responding to that as well, just tease out one piece of this in particular, which I think is in need of further discussion, and that is the self-censorship that begins to kick in as the state’s power is manifested through these partnerships and outside arrangements.
Ben Weingarten (31:24):
Yeah, I think it’s a critical point. The chilling effect here, which is a second or third order I guess effect when you have people’s views being censored and then when you go to actually censorship or rather offending content being criminalized or offending views being criminalized, it’s obviously one thing to find yourself suppressed on social media and another thing to find yourself behind bars. Of course, we’ve just seen the completion of a case, which is obviously going to be appealed ultimately, but the completion of a case where an individual, an internet troll, was convicted of a crime that could potentially lead him to 10 years behind bars.
That crime was tweeting a satirical tweet about how Hillary Clinton supporters could text their vote to a certain number. The DOJ essentially classified that as depriving people’s fundamental right to vote by tricking them essentially based on a Ku Klux Klan focused statute. Now, essentially, we’re in a time where a satirical tweet about an election can lead you to be convicted of a very serious federal offense as if you’re a member of the…
We also have obviously the January 6th cases, which we can talk about the effort to add terrorism enhancement to essentially trumped up trespassing charges. In many instances, the fact that if you go into some of these cases, you have people held in pretrial detention and only let out of pre-trial detention on orders that they not watch Fox News or watch MSNBC. This gets into policing our thoughts. So, the chilling effect of this is how much speech will never be out there for people to grapple with and consider because no one wants to go through the ordeal of potentially being broken by expressing wrong things. Again, I go back to oddly in some ways the medical schools and medical research. There are whole areas that people are not going to research.
There wouldn’t be funding for you or you have your career racked if you pursued it. So, that’s why this is part and parcel, I think, of a much broader effort to squelch dissident speech disfavored by authorities on a whole slew of issues. It manifests itself in a number of ways. It’s not just on social media, but it’s in the real world. It could lead to you behind bars or your career wrecked or your family imperiled. That puts us in a very dangerous position because the entire basis of our system rests on free inquiry, free speech, free thought, freedom to listen. Otherwise, you have tyranny.
If there is only one established party line and everything else is cast as a national security threat that can be ameliorated through locking people up, to your point, this puts us in uncharted territory, certainly not as anything resembling a republic. It’s almost worse when it’s, as you know it, a public, public-private partnership. We expect governments to act in tyrannical ways, and we’ve created a system such that that would not happen here.
It gets even worse when it’s punitively private sector actors, sometimes of their own volition, but other times under government coercion, working hands in hand to ensure that you don’t need a law to act in tyrannical and dictatorial ways. You have people doing it of their own free will or if under coercion, dangerously so and disgustingly so. It’s incredibly perverse, pervasive, and it’s dangerous if we want to remain anything resembling a free republic.
Bill Walton (35:10):
Well, Cato polled Americans three, four years ago about what they thought they could say and 62% said they didn’t feel like they could say what they really thought either in public or in private. My guess is what they really thought. I guess I don’t know about anything, but my guess is that number’s a lot higher now. I wanted to make one point that we talk about Department of Homeland Security, which I think was a really bad idea from day one, but you think about that protecting us from foreign interference.
I think you cited one of the groups involved in the Virality Project that they said that they targeted less than 1% of the tickets that they issued were foreign interference and the other 99% plus were all domestic. So, this is the Homeland Security focused on us and not foreign enemies.
Ben Weingarten (36:14):
That’s right. Of course, it’s not worth re-litigating it here, but the root of this, the stated root of it was Russian interference in 2016. But as we’ve seen in studies done about what the effect was of the purported Russian campaign to interfere in our 2016 elections, and don’t get me wrong, Russia is obviously an adversary and Russia has perfected information operations over the last century as all communists and then ex-communist regimes who remain dictatorial do. But if you look at the sum total of their efforts, it was negligible. Now, obviously, Democrats argued otherwise, particularly on the Senate intel side during the Trump years.
Part of this was about an information operation I would argue to portray Trump as a traitor, a Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy, which itself was a conspiracy theory foisted on the country in which the Durham report has brought into stark relief was a fraud and a hoax with unbelievably almost incalculable damage done to our rights, our liberties, and the invalidation of tens of millions of votes essentially and beyond. But again, the root of this was mis, dis, and malinformation. I would argue that Russian interference was widespread and pervasive and it swung that election or it had a massive impact. The evidence just does not show that at all.
Many of the people who were invested in propagating and perpetuating that narrative were the very ones working within these outside consortia to hand in hand with government censor domestic wrong think. So, this foreign domestic switcheroo as Mike Bens, leader of one of the organizations who’s been on top of this and done some great reporting and research and work on, the foreign to domestic switcheroo is one of the most disturbing, but I think it parallel is what we’ve seen more broadly, which is this turning of the global war on terror from a foreign one to a domestic one with Americans as the preeminent domestic terror threat. Consequently, to ameliorate it, we need to go after the thoughts of the wrong thinkers who might engage in some violence at some point.
Bill Walton (38:31):
Okay, I think that’s a brilliant summary. Frank, a final point.
Frank Gaffney (38:35):
Well, I just want to say-
Bill Walton (38:36):
We want to get you back to keep talking about this. This problem’s not going away.
Frank Gaffney (38:42):
Just one further is many of those same perpetrators of this fraud were themselves working with the Russians. I mean, that’s the further despicable irony of it all. Ben, I would just say in closing that if you don’t like what’s happening internal to the United States and you’ve done a masterful job exposing it, watch this space.
Because as I said earlier, the idea that we’re now going to have international institutions granted the authority to be monitoring and surveilling and otherwise controlling what we say, what we think, what we do, perhaps contracting out some of it to local authorities, but perhaps using these other extra national techniques like digital IDs and social credit systems operating on the basis of them to control us in ways that we haven’t even comprehended yet, let alone experienced. That’s the coming, I think, danger that we’re facing. Your warnings are so important to help save it off. God bless you.
Bill Walton (39:49):
So Ben, thank you. Hope to have you back. We’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg here, but you’ve done tremendous work on this and a lot of other topics. So, we’re just really happy to be… Frank and I have been doing this together for a while. I’d like to have you part of the global-
Frank Gaffney (40:07):
Bill Walton (40:08):
… conspiracy team.
Frank Gaffney (40:10):
Bill Walton (40:12):
Anyway, so this has been The Bill Walton Show here with Ben Weingarten talking about his recent testimony to Congress about CISA. I highly recommend you look it up and take a look because it is chilling what’s happening. I think we covered that. Also, here with Frank Gaffney, founder of Center for Security Policy and host of a terrific show on Real America’s Voice.
Frank Gaffney (40:35):
Indeed, with Bill Walton frequently.
Bill Walton (40:37):
Occasionally with me. Anyways, you can find this show on all the major platforms, including Rumble, YouTube, Substack, and CPAC now on Monday nights. So, thanks for joining. As always, send us your comments either through the website or through a Substack about people and topics you’d like us to cover. There’s a lot going on and we need to stay on top of it. So, thanks for joining. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Want more? Click the subscribe button or head over to thebillwaltonshow.com to choose from over a hundred episodes.
You can also learn more about our guest on our Interesting People page and send us your comments. We read everyone and your thoughts help us guide the show. If it’s easier for you to listen, check out our podcast page and subscribe there. In return, we’ll keep you informed about what’s true, what’s right, and what’s next. Thanks for joining.
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