New Documents Reveal US Department Of Homeland Security Conspiracy To Violate First Amendment And Interfere In Elections
Emails released by the U.S. House of Representatives, when combined with the Twitter Files, reveal a sweeping and secretive effort by Stanford and DHS officials, two of whom are now business partners
The idea that the officials within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security worked with a Stanford think tank to censor ordinary Americans and thus interfere in the 2020 elections is a debunked conspiracy theory, say journalists in the mainstream news media. The Republicans spreading that conspiracy theory, say journalists with the New York Times, Washington Post, and New Yorker, are also waging a witch hunt against university researchers who study misinformation. It is for that reason that the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), which is home to those researchers, had long refused Republican requests for their emails and data.
But newly released documents suggest that SIO may have had a very different motivation for not sharing their files with Congressional investigators: they show that the idea for sweeping government censorship, in which the Stanford think tank played a central role, came from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Internet Security Agency (CISA). According to one of CISA’s censorship partners, the so-called “Election Integrity Partnership” (EIP), which was ostensibly separate from CISA, was created at its behest.
In an internal Atlantic Council email sent on July 21 2020, Graham Brookie, the senior director of the Council’s “Digital Forensic Research Lab,” (DRFLab), wrote to a colleague to say the following: “I know the Council has a number of efforts on broad policy around the elections, but we just set up an election integrity partnership at the request of DHS/CISA and are in weekly comms to debrief about disinfo, IO, etc.” (Emphasis added.)
Brookie’s acknowledgment contradicts the claim made by the EIP that the idea for the project “came from four students that the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) funded to complete volunteer internships at [CISA].” Brookie’s email also contradicts the testimony of the SIO’s Director, Alex Stamos, earlier this year, who told Congressional investigators that the idea for EIP was his.
There is evidence that DHS-CISA had started interfering in elections several months earlier. On April 15, 2020, the DHS-CISA chief of “Countering Foreign Influence Task Force,” Brian Scully, emailed Twitter executives about a “Government-Industry Meeting,” that was held the next day. The issues discussed included election information.
By November, Twitter executives, Scully, and at least one of the Stanford interns were on a Signal text messaging app group together.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, it is “axiomatic” that the US government “may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.” Whether it was Stamos or the Director of CISA at the time, Chris Krebs, it’s clear that the U.S. government was directly involved in the Stanford-linked effort to censor Americans.
The documents are revelatory in showing that CISA officials, Stanford officials, and social media executives worked together in secret in ways that not only violated the First Amendment but also interfered in the 2020 elections by attempting to censor protected political speech, particularly that of conservatives and Republicans.
Although we do not know the effects of EIP’s activities on the 2020 election results, and although some of these activities occurred after election day, it’s clear that SIO, EIP, and CISA engaged in viewpoint-based censorship that amounts to attempted interference leading up to the election.
There was virtually no separation between CISA and Stanford employees in 2020. On September 30, 2020, an EIP staffer said that Stamos and Krebs were texting each other “with some regularity.”
Since 2021, former CISA Director Krebs, and Stanford Internet Observatory Director Stamos have owned a consulting firm that works for private equity, aerospace, and satellite companies, among many others.
In 2020, CISA officials and personnel from EIP were often on emails together, and CISA’s personnel had access to EIP’s tickets through an internal messaging system, Jira, which EIP used to flag and report social media posts to Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.
The Biden administration and journalists have insisted that CISA did not violate the constitution because it was not coercive and merely engaged in “switchboarding” activities, acting as a middleman. But, the new documents reveal that CISA included a threatening disclaimer in its switchboarding communications, which stated that “information may also be shared with law enforcement or intelligence agencies.”