America First Legal: Gov’t Agencies, White House Used Foreign Intel Methods to Censor Americans

January 27th, 2023 6:12 PM

Newly revealed documents show government agencies used foreign intelligence and propaganda methods to censor Americans’ speech. Some of those same agencies have been exposed for collaborating with Big Tech platforms to censor.

America First Legal (AFL) has obtained documentation through a lawsuit showing the Biden administration used the State Department’s foreign intelligence tools to censor Americans domestically. AFL said “these documents show a direct line from foreign intelligence tactics being used at the State Department, to the Census Bureau, and then to the CDC.” This new development is especially concerning given the release of the The Facebook Files detailing the CDC’s active censorship efforts and significant influence over Facebook’s and Instagram’s censorship of Americans.

AFL stated: “These documents prove that there was a coordinated effort through the Biden Administration to take intelligence tools and use them against Americans. This was directly coordinated by the Executive Office of the President and the National Security Council.” The CDC was also allowed to use propaganda and intelligence methodologies against Americans.

CDC Vaccine Confidence Specialist Elisabeth Wilhelm sent Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) “State of Vaccine Confidence Insights Report” in May 2021 to CDC colleagues and White House officials, including members of the National Security Council (NSC). Discussion of “CDC & Vaccine Mis/Disinformation” prompted a June 2 meeting about “interagency” efforts to “identify, counter and build resilience to disinformation,” involving the NSC, CDC and the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau’s 2020 anti-“disinformation” work with the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) was also discussed.

GEC’s website says its mission is “direct, lead, synchronize, integrate, and coordinate U.S. Federal Government efforts to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining or influencing the policies, security, or stability of the United States, its allies, and partner nations.” That is, GEC shapes views of America abroad—it is the US government’s “propaganda” arm. As part of the State Department, it’s supposed to be used abroad but not domestically.

CDC’s Wilhelm sent an email offering to tell any agency how it “take[s] action and behavioral interventions” both “domestically and globally” to “pre-bunk misinformation.” That includes behavioral modification tools and predictive technologies. The CDC redacted some documents, according to AFL. 

The NSC and Executive Office of the President then coordinated actions between USAID, the CDC and the State Department regarding “Efforts to Counter COVID disinfo.” NSC then organized a July 2021 call on the White House Situation Room’s classified servers, AFL wrote, chaired by two Special Assistants to the President, to discuss a classified paper on domestic “efforts to counter COVID disinfo.”

A widely distributed follow-up email after the call referred to a “working group” that came out of the classified meeting, AFL said. NSC’s Mary Beth Polley then asked for “confirmation” that various agencies and departments were joining a working group. The next day, then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki infamously boasted of White House efforts to flag online content for censorship.

“The National Security Council took the tools and processes used by the State Department to push, and counter, propaganda abroad, and co-opted and used them against Americans to shape the domestic political narrative,” AFL said.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that government agencies be held to account to uphold the First Amendment and provide transparency. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.