COMPASS: Congress continues to weaponize “misinformation”

May 23rd, 2022

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

Congressional Democrats are relentless in their quest to use the levers of government to enforce their own narrative and groupthink. After a short lived quest to set up a Disinformation Governance Board within the Department of Homeland Security, the House last week passed a bill to create domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, and tasked the FBI with monitoring and scrutinizing potential terror activity. The bill passed along a party line vote, with only Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) joining congressional Democrats in support.

The bill now goes to the Senate for a cloture vote this week. There has been substantial pushback from Republicans. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called the bill “like the disinformation board on steroids.” He went on, “Another way to look at it is the Patriot Act for American citizens.”

The bill was purportedly passed as the congressional response to the shooting in Buffalo, NY, which left 10 people dead and in which the 180-page rambling manifesto left by the shooter points to signs of mental illness. The alleged shooter, 18-year old Payton Gendron, was already known to law enforcement. Less than a year ago, he was evaluated by state police and mental health officials for making threatening statements. Gendron was in a mental health hospital for a day and a half before being released, and no further action was taken.

So it’s unclear, exactly, how new authorities within the federal government would have even prevented the Buffalo tragedy. Moreover, there is already ample evidence how these authorities would be weaponized. In the wake of the January 6th Capitol riot, the federal government has not been shy about throwing around terms like “domestic terrorism,” though most of the charges levied have been reduced to things like “illegally parading” after the FBI found no evidence of the riot being centrally organized.

Yet in a leaked unclassified memo from DHS’ intelligence arm, the same federal government took pains to point out that threats from the pro-abortion movement discussing “burning down or storming the U.S. Supreme Court and murdering Justices and their clerks, members of Congress, and lawful demonstrators,” are, of course, merely “strong rhetoric” and that even a “generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics” and “does not constitute domestic violent extremism or illegal activity and is constitutionally protected.” Oh, okay.

In other news, a federal judge has blocked the Biden administration from lifting Title 42 at the U.S. border, the pandemic-era restriction which allows for expedited deportation of illegal crossers. The Biden administration, just like it did when a federal district court judge lifted the mask mandate on airplanes, has said it plans to appeal the ruling.  

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One More Thing…

Late last year, Texas passed a law prohibiting social media companies from discriminating against users on the basis of viewpoint. Big Tech immediately sued to prevent the law from going into effect. They recently lost in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which lifted an injunction placed by a lower court judge, allowing the law to proceed. Big Tech, through its trade association and supported by a network of DC organizations it compensates, has made an emergency application to the Supreme Court – an appeal to the SCOTUS “shadow docket” usually reserved for stays of execution. I joined the Center for Renewing America’s Adam Candeub in authoring two different op-eds which explain why Big Tech is panicking and using its substantial resources to prevent the legal process from playing out. You can read them here and here.