A judge has ordered Democrat President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release documents that will expose the identities of agents who “helped censor election misinformation.”
The court ruled in favor of a lawsuit against the Biden admin brought by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
Court documents show that the Louisiana judge ordered the DHS to release files that could reveal five agents’ alleged involvement in government efforts to suppress social media content deemed to contain “misinformation” about elections.
Bailey and Landry moved to release testimony from Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) employees after learning of their participation in the Biden administration’s efforts to counter so-called “disinformation,” court documents dated Jan. 19 show.
The CISA employees are identified as Chad Josiah, Rob Schaul, Alex Zaheer, John Stafford, and Pierce Lowary.
The judge’s motion Wednesday could shed light on a “switchboarding” tactic employed during the 2020 election, according to the order.
Defendants in the lawsuit include the named CISA employees as well as President Biden and top officials from a variety of federal agencies.
It alleges that they “colluded and/or coerced social media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social media platforms by labeling the content ‘dis-information,’ ‘mis-information,’ and ‘mal-formation.’”
Landry revealed that the judge has given CISA until February 9 to comply.
The five CISA employees allegedly served as a “switchboard” to route requests from federal agencies to censor disinformation to various social media companies, according to the documents.
Switchboard work employed “an audit official to identify something on social media they deemed to be disinformation aimed at their jurisdiction,” top CISA election security agent Brian Skully testified in a deposition released Thursday.
“They could forward that to CISA and CISA would share that with the appropriate social media companies.”
Skully’s deposition detailed the participation of the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security‘s intelligence branch, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in meetings with social media firm executives.
They met to discuss plans to tackle online “misinformation” during the 2022 election cycle.
Here, Twitter “actioned” (censored) accounts under their “civic integrity policies” after CISA flags them (7/10) pic.twitter.com/deTIwk1wmr
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) January 13, 2023
While the notices were intended to provide social media companies with situational awareness regarding attempts to spread disinformation on their platforms, “the idea was that they would make decisions on the content that was forwarded to them based on their policies,” Skully said.
According to the deposition, CISA also worked with the Center for Internet Security, a nonprofit aimed at protecting against cybersecurity threats that also plays a regulatory role in election infrastructure, and official election organizations, in “switchboarding.”
The deposition demonstrated that the Biden admin “weaponized” CISA “to suppress domestic free speech,” Missouri AG Bailey said in a statement after its release.
Congress originally created CISA in 2018 to combat cyber threats to critical digital and physical infrastructure.