WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) released a sixth set of shocking documents obtained from AFL’s litigation against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These documents reveal that the Biden Administration used the National Security Council (NSC) to employ methods and tactics used by the Department of State abroad and imported them to domestic agencies as part of a campaign to censor free-speech in the United States.
This latest set of documents reveals extensive involvement by White House officials in coordinating a whole-of-government approach to censoring online speech–including using the NSC’s classified systems to coordinate inter-agency meetings on how to proactively stop speech by American citizens that the Biden Administration disagreed with before it even occurred.
MAY 2021 – Kaiser Family Foundation Reporting
On May 24, 2021, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) shared the eighth edition of its “State of Vaccine Confidence Insights Report.” You can read more about these reports, which KFF was regularly producing for the Biden Administration, in AFL’s November Report.
Elisabeth Wilhelm, a “Vaccine Confidence Specialist” with the CDC, sent the report to a number of her CDC colleagues and White House Officials. Among those officials were Mary Beth Polley and Maureen Bartee, who both worked with the NSC. The KFF report seems to have prompted some discussion about “CDC & Vaccine Mis/Disinformation” amongst the recipients, and a meeting was organized. (Pgs. 59-64).
JUNE 2021 – Interagency Call #1
The following week, on June 2, 2021, NSC hosted a call with the CDC and the Census Bureau so that they could talk to the “interagency” (i.e. all of the departments and agencies in the federal government) about their processes to “identify, counter and build resilience to disinformation” processes. (Pg. 113-115).
What was the Biden Administration discussing on this call? While they’ve redacted hidden most of that information, the documents show that the email invitation NSC sent was titled: “IIR [REDACTED] on Counter Disinformation: Lessons Learned from CDC and Census on countering dis/mis information in real time.” (Pg. 47). IIR, used in this context, most likely means “Intelligence Information Report.” They also show that there was a broad distribution list and “[a]ll departments and agencies [we]re encouraged to” attend. (Pg. 276-286).
Why would the Census Bureau present their experiences on “disinformation” to the interagency? The documents reveal that the Census Bureau began “combatting mis/disinformation” during the 2020 Census. And to assist it in doing so, it relied on the State Department’s Global Engagement Center:
The Global Engagement Center at State Department
What is the Global Engagement Center (GEC) and what does it do?
According to the State Department’s website, GEC’s mission is to “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.”
Essentially, GEC engages in strategic counter-messaging to advance U.S. interests abroad. The State Department uses it to shape the way the United States is viewed abroad. In short, it is the propaganda arm of the United States government.
But, importantly, because it is a part of the State Department, it is supposed to be used abroad, in foreign countries and not domestically. (You can read more about GEC abuses from documents AFL has obtained here).
Call #1 Follow-Up
The day after the first call, Elisabeth (CDC) sent a follow-up email shedding additional light on what was covered in the meeting and the CDC’s activities. In that email, she wrote, “We’re happy to speak with any agency about our process, what we’re doing domestically and globally” to “take action and behavioral interventions” to “pre-bunk misinformation.” (Pg. 113). Predictive technologies, behavioral modification, and global engagement are all indicators of heavy influence from the State Department’s GEC.
And, while the CDC was apparently “happy” to share this information with any other government agency, it has gone to great lengths to keep this information from the American people. In a separate follow up email, circulating written material, the CDC has fully withheld the 26 pages of attachments (pg. 222-248).
In short, 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.
In mid-June, the NSC put the State Department and the CDC directly on the same email chain. Although the content of the email is entirely redacted, we know that the Executive Office of the President affirmatively coordinated activity between CDC, USAID, and State on “Efforts to Counter COVID disinfo.” (pg. 195-196).
July Classified Call
Then, shockingly, the NSC organized a call, held on July 6, 2021, on classified servers run out of the White House Situation Room, and distributed a classified discussion paper in advance of the meeting to talk about “efforts to counter COVID disinfo” domestically. (Pg. 46).
This meeting was chaired by two Special Assistants to the President. It is unknown who else attended or what was precisely discussed.
AFL obtained several follow up emails:
- On July 8, Mary Beth sent a widely distributed email referring to a working group that was created as a result of the July 6 classified meeting. (Pg. 31-32). She also appeared to schedule a follow up meeting. (Pg. 249).
- On July 13, Mary Beth followed up with the State Department group from mid-June, with an email that is mostly redacted but asks for updates to pass to “leadership as soon as possible.” (Pg. 195).
- And finally, on July 14, Mary Beth sent an email asking for “confirmation by COB today” from the various departments and agencies on whether they would join a NITRD working group. (Pg. 50).
24 Hours Later
The VERY NEXT DAY (one day after setting up a working group and nine days after the classified call), Jen Psaki took to the podium in the White House press briefing room to tout the White House’s efforts of working with social media companies to remove “problematic” information from the internet.
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.
To understand just how problematic this is, look no further than the recent deposition testimony of FBI Agent Elvis Chan in another case led by the States of Missouri and Louisiana, who said that the State Department wouldn’t “have the same sorts of [First Amendment] concerns that I would working at the FBI.” Likewise, the Biden White House bullied social media companies into censoring speech with no regard for Americans’ right to free speech.
But these First Amendment concerns–which made even the FBI hesitate–did not stop the Biden Administration from empowering the CDC to use our intelligence and propaganda methodologies against Americans who dared to speak.
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 and has led to the censorship of an untold number of American Citizens.
- AFL’s first release of documents revealed the explicit collusion between the CDC and Big Tech to censor what the Biden Administration deemed “misinformation” and push covert COVID-19 propaganda.
- AFL’s second release built the evidentiary record showing that CDC specifically sent Facebook and Twitter-specific posts to take down, throttle, censor, or flag.
- AFL’s third release revealed that the CDC’s mask guidance policies for school children were driven by political polling by liberal dark money group, The Kaiser Family Foundation, rather than science.
- AFL’s fourth release revealed the government had secret access to a Twitter portal to censor dissenting views.
- AFL’s fifth release revealed how the Biden Administration wove its radical “equity” agenda into its COVID-19 vaccine promotion policies.
Statement from Gene Hamilton, America First Legal Vice-President and General Counsel:
“The more information that our litigation uncovers, the worse the picture becomes. The weaponization of the tools and tactics of the national security apparatus against the American people should concern everyone. If the Biden Administration is willing to weaponize the federal government against the American people to advance its preferred political narrative about the COVID shot, it is safe to assume that it will do so in other areas, too. America First Legal is committed to exposing the abuses of the Biden Administration and fighting for the American people,” said Gene Hamilton.
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