DHS Plays Lucy with the Football on Censorship Records

DHS Plays Lucy with the Football on Censorship Records

  • January 11, 2023
Agency at center of censorship scandal attempts to re-direct document request to Washington state partner

Today, federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust highlighted its ongoing effort to pry loose censorship records involving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its various non-federal partners. The request seeks the “tickets” submitted by DHS to its censorship partners. Those tickets reportedly identified social media posts, often those of American citizens, proposed for suppression or removal from public view. Analysis of accounts with the most posts removed from the 2020 Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) showed a dramatic bias in favor of censoring right-leaning views.

DHS’s diversionary response comes on the heels of three lawsuits PPT has filed against the State of Washington for withholding records related to Kate Starbird, a top censorship official at the University of Washington. The requests at the center of the lawsuits seek to understand what role Dr. Starbird played in suppressing the free speech of law-abiding Americans discussing the 2020 and 2022 elections, COVID-19 policies, and the Biden Administration’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal.

Beyond providing the funding source for the burgeoning ‘disinformation’ industry, recent revelations by the Twitter Files and others appear to show a much deeper involvement by federal officials than simply shelling out taxpayer funds. DHS officials may have submitted requests to censor social media posts by Americans that did not appear to violate any laws. As federal partners submitted “tickets” targeting Americans’ social media posts on a range of hot button political topics for censorship, these entities also subsequently highlighted their work and ‘successes’ in summary reports that were apparently used to obtain additional funding. These tickets are the records that were sought by PPT and seemingly deflected by DHS.

“It is unusual for a federal agency to respond to a proper FOIA request with a referral to state and non-governmental entities acting as agents on its behalf,” Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust stated. “Unfortunately, it does seem consistent with the growing perspective among the American public that the government is vigorously shielding any efforts at exposing the rapidly expanding censorship industry that is funded and outsourced by the federal government. Once these tickets are released, we expect even more insight into how the agency charged with protecting the homeland is instead ensuring only government-approved messages make their way into people’s social media feeds.”