Counterterrorism Assets Deployed to Suppress Free Speech: Biden's Alarming Alliance with CCDH

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In a stunning revelation, emails obtained from the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department have shed light on the Biden Administration's disturbing efforts to support the Center for Countering Digital Hate's global censorship campaign by mobilizing the federal government's counterterrorism assets.

In a recent investigation, America First Legal (AFL), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the rule of law, has uncovered disturbing evidence of the Biden Administration actively supporting the efforts of a foreign entity, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), to censor the speech of American citizens online. Emails obtained from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State show how the administration mobilized federal counterterrorism assets to bolster the global censorship campaign led by CCDH, a UK-based nonprofit funded by at least nine dark money groups.1,4

CCDH, headed by leftist political operative Imran Ahmed, has been encouraging online censorship for years. The organization gained notoriety for its March 2021 report, "THE DISINFORMATION DOZEN," which branded 12 Americans, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greenmedinfo.com founder Sayer Ji, as "anti-vaxxers" and called for their deplatforming from social media.2,3 The Missouri v. Biden case revealed that White House officials quickly pressured social media companies to act on this report.1

The nine dark money groups funding CCDH include the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, Oak Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Laura Kinsella Foundation, Pears Foundation, Hopewell Foundation, and Unbound Philanthropy.4 These groups, mostly based in the UK, have provided substantial grants to CCDH, with some even receiving funding from the UK government.4 This raises serious questions about foreign influence in US domestic affairs and the role of taxpayer money in suppressing the free speech rights of American citizens.4

The Biden Administration's National Security Council published its first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism in June 2021, asserting that "Internet-based communications platforms" make Americans vulnerable to "domestic terrorist recruitment and other harmful content."1 This strategy effectively justified censorship and turned to the national security state and allied technology companies to silence political opponents.

Emails show that DHS Under Secretary Robert Silvers and CCDH's then-Head of Policy, Eva Hartshorn-Sanders, connected in March 2022 to discuss CCDH's research and the DHS's strategies and plans. By September 2022, CCDH was directly meeting with officials from the White House, the National Security Council, and the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism, updating them with their latest findings and submitting policy recommendations.1

The targeting of American citizens who exercised their Constitutionally protected right to free speech, as potential domestic terrorists by intelligence agencies working with a foreign, dark money-funded group raises serious moral, philosophical, and legal concerns. The First Amendment enshrines the right to free speech as a cornerstone of American democracy, and the government's involvement in suppressing dissenting voices threatens the very foundation of this principle.

AFL's probe into CCDH's activities comes amidst growing concerns about foreign influence operations colluding with the US government and social media companies to suppress the constitutionally protected speech of American citizens on matters of critical importance.2 AFL's investigation will focus on obtaining communications between CCDH and several US government agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of State, through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.1 The goal is to shed light on how this foreign actor has been influencing First Amendment rights in the US through what AFL describes as "illegal censorship activity."1

CCDH presents itself as a non-profit and non-governmental organization fighting online hate and disinformation.1 However, the group's activities and Ahmed's professional profile suggest a more targeted approach, focusing on individuals and groups that question or challenge official narratives on topics such as COVID-19 lockdowns and the safety and efficacy of the mRNA COVID vaccines.1,2 Notably, CCDH put Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a prominent vaccine safety advocate, and the so-called "disinformation dozen" in its crosshairs as deplatforming targets.1 The Biden White House and a dozen Democrat state attorneys general appeared to be quite ready to oblige, using phrases coined by CCDH, such as "the disinformation dozen," in emails sent to social media companies.1

This apparent collusion between a foreign entity, funded by dark money groups, and the US government to censor American citizens is particularly concerning given the recent DHS advisory on "counter narratives" being potential domestic terrorism threats.5 The advisory, issued in February 2022, warned of a heightened threat environment fueled by factors such as "false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories" that could inspire acts of violence.5 The convergence of violent extremist ideologies, false or misleading narratives, and conspiracy theories, according to the advisory, has and will continue to contribute to a heightened threat of violence in the United States.5

The DHS advisory specifically mentions the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions, as a key factor contributing to the current heightened threat environment.5 It cites the widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19 as examples, stating that grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021.5 The advisory also warns that malign foreign powers have and continue to amplify these false or misleading narratives in efforts to damage the United States.5

The targeting of individuals like Kennedy and others on the "disinformation dozen" list raises serious questions about the abuse of counterterrorism resources to stifle legitimate debate on matters of public concern.2 As AFL's VP and General Counsel Gene Hamilton stated, "Every American should be outraged at attempts by foreign nationals to pressure the United States Government and American tech companies to engage in censorship against protected speech."1

Moreover, the outsourcing of censorship to a foreign entity with opaque funding sources and motivations is deeply troubling. As Senator Josh Hawley pointed out, CCDH is a "foreign dark money group" that should be investigated for its role in this censorship campaign.3 The moral and legal implications of a foreign organization, dictating what Americans can and cannot say online are profound and undermine the sovereignty of the United States.

The Biden Administration's actions also raise questions about the abuse of counterterrorism resources to target political opponents and stifle legitimate debate on matters of public concern, such as vaccine safety and efficacy. The intellectual implications of this censorship campaign are chilling, as it seeks to silence experts and concerned citizens who raise valid questions and present evidence that challenges the official narrative.

In a recent development, Elon Musk, the CEO of Twitter, sent a warning letter to Imran Ahmed, CEO of CCDH, concerning their "False and Misleading Claims About Twitter," putting them on notice that his legal team is investigating their behavior.2 Musk's letter, drafted by his attorney Alex Spiro, goes into detail as to how egregiously non-rigorous CCDH's "research" was, stating that their claims are "false, misleading, or both, and they are not supported by anything that could credibly be called research."2

This development is reminiscent of the hatchet job CCDH did with the so-called "Disinformation Dozen" report in 2021, which was also based on their notoriously fraudulent "research."2 In that widely disseminated and referenced report, CCDH claimed that up to 65% of all "anti-vaccine" content online is produced by 12 individuals, and up to 73% of the "anti-vaccine" content on Facebook. However, Facebook released an official statement describing the report as a "faulty narrative," "without evidence," and said that only .05% of the content they investigated in relation to those 12 accounts related to vaccines at all, and it was not exclusively "anti-vaccine."2 The margin of error here is astronomical, indicating how extreme and hateful rhetoric, rather than rigorous research, is the modus operandi for CCDH.

In conclusion, the evidence uncovered by America First Legal paints a disturbing picture of the Biden Administration actively supporting a foreign entity's efforts to censor American speech, with the backing of at least nine dark money groups. The targeting of individuals and their platforms like Sayer Ji and others on the "disinformation dozen" list is a clear violation of their First Amendment rights and an affront to the principles of free speech and open debate that are essential to a functioning democracy. AFL's investigation into CCDH's influence on US censorship is a crucial step in exposing the extent of foreign influence operations and their impact on First Amendment rights. The apparent collaboration between the US government, social media companies, and a foreign entity funded by dark money to suppress dissenting voices is a clear threat to the principles of free speech and open debate that are essential to a functioning democracy. It is imperative that this issue be thoroughly investigated and that those responsible be held accountable for their actions.


References

1. America First Legal. "Government Documents Confirm the Biden Administration's Mobilization of U.S. Counterterrorism Assets to Support Imran Ahmed's Global Censorship Campaign." March 20, 2024. https://www.aflegal.org/news/government-documents-confirm-the-biden-administrations-mobilization-of-u-s-counterterrorism-assets-to-support-imran-ahmed-global-censorship-campaign

2. Ji, Sayer. "BREAKING: Elon Musk Threatens Suit Against 'Digital Hate Group' CCDH, Calls Out Their 'Research' as Baseless Propaganda." GreenMedInfo, August 1, 2023. https://greenmedinfo.com/blog/breaking-elon-musk-threatens-suit-against-digital-hate-group-ccdh-calls-out-thei

3. Robinson, Emerald. "Why's the Biden Regime Funding The CCDH?" The Right Way, March 20, 2024. https://emeralddb3.substack.com/p/whys-the-biden-regime-funding-the

4. Ji, Sayer. "9 'Dark Money' Sources Funding CCDH: A Foreign 'Digital Hate' Group Which Used the White House to Quash Free Speech." GreenMedInfo, July 31, 2023. https://greenmedinfo.com/blog/9-dark-money-sources-funding-ccdh-foreign-digital-hate-group-which-used-white-h

5. Department of Homeland Security. "Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland." National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin, February 7, 2022. https://www.dhs.gov/ntas/advisory/national-terrorism-advisory-system-bulletin-february-07-2022

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