FBI Criminalizes Free Speech

I have never been on Twitter and have no plans to join, so I’ve only followed all the sniping about Elon Musk purchasing the social media giant on and off and from a distance. Even still, I’m not dead, so it’s hard to avoid it entirely. What I have heard has been disturbing, to say the least. If what seems to be true is, indeed, true, then we have a case of government agencies colluding with private social media platforms to suppress information in order to manipulate the outcome of a presidential election. That’s not supposed to be the work of government agencies, who don’t work for one party or another, but for the American people. Government agencies, supported by everyone’s tax dollars, and not just those of members of one party or another, aren’t supposed to take sides. But what has come to be called the “Twitter Files” shows just that: the FBI and other government agencies taking sides and working to suppress information that could potentially harm one presidential candidate because it could potentially harm that candidate. Another, equally sinister side of the story is the lack of attention the mainstream media and “legacy” media are giving it.

There’s a lot of talk about “threats to democracy” in our culture wars right now. But it ought to go without saying that government agencies taking sides in presidential elections really do represent a threat to democracy because they hasten the day toward one-party rule. And if anyone thinks either of our dominant political parties don’t salivate regularly over the dream of one-party rule, they haven’t been paying attention the last few decades.

Not only do government agencies taking sides represent a threat to democracy, they also represent a threat to our civil liberties. Government agencies that feel the need to work for the control of one party over another will have no qualms about using their substantial powers and resources to step all over the freedoms of ordinary citizens to accomplish their goal. According to an article in “American Greatness” online news source by J. Michael Waller, the FBI did just that, collecting information on citizens who had committed no crimes but that may be used to justify criminal investigations and prosecutions. Regarding the revelation by Musk of communications between the FBI and Twitter supposedly confirming their colluding to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story, Waller writes: “The bureau did not question the authenticity of any of the correspondence between former Twitter officials and the FBI. Instead, it defended the contents as illustrating normal, standard procedure. That procedure, as described in the documents, includes warrantless collection of information against people agents indirectly acknowledged had committed no crime—but whose opinions and representations of facts, even if innocently inaccurate, could become grounds for criminal investigation and prosecution.” Why could such information become grounds for criminal investigation and prosecution? Because, Waller asserts, the FBI has expanded the definition of disinformation to include misinformation, if not officially, then practically.

The distinction is critical. Misinformation is simply being wrong about something, with no malintent suspected. It’s someone saying that John Adams wrote the Declaration of Independence rather than Thomas Jefferson. No. That’s incorrect. Jefferson wrote the Declaration. If someone thinks Adams did, he or she is wrong. Wrong? Yes. Criminal? No. In this country, your allowed to be wrong about something. But what if someone spreads the claim that Jefferson is a spy for the French intent on undoing the gains of the Adams administration for the purpose of gaining an upper hand in the 1800 election? That’s a bit more critical than simply being wrong about an essential fact. If there’s no evidence backing up such an assertion, that’s defamation and a planned attempt to undermine a presidential campaign. That’s disinformation, or willfully misrepresenting the truth for the purpose of maligning innocent persons in order to affect the outcome of an election.

Foreign governments hostile to the U.S. employ disinformation all time. We know this. The FBI knows this. It’s their job to track down these efforts and stop them before they can do much damage. It’s an entirely different thing, however, when the FBI is using the innocent misinformation American citizens share via social networks to accuse them of attempting to manipulate elections by disinformation. As such, Waller claims that the FBI is criminalizing free speech – speech shared by American citizens who have opinions on important matters but may be misinformed or simply wrong about facts. The FBI is aware of the distinction between misinformation and disinformation. The FBI knows that misinformation is Constitutionally protected free speech (again, you’re allowed to be wrong about something). But, Waller says, “the Twitter documents reveal that FBI headquarters and field offices from coast to coast have deliberately segregated inaccurate information (however the FBI judges inaccuracy), as a crime or foreign menace.”

Waller offers as “Exhibit A: An FBI National Election Command Post ‘Request for Coordination with Twitter,’ dated November 6, 2022, complained ‘tweets by certain accounts that may warrant additional action due to the accounts being used to spread misinformation about the upcoming election.'”

If the FBI, or any government agency, takes sides in a presidential election that represents a true threat to democracy. If the FBI, or any government agency, employs its power and resources in criminalizing Constitutionally protected freedoms shared by the American people, that is a trampling of our civil rights. That the FBI would consider doing either of these things represents a severe breakdown of purpose among the leadership of the FBI. Simply put, they’ve forgotten why they exist. The purpose of the FBI is to protect the American people from threats to their liberties, not represent a threat to their liberties by picking and choosing which candidate they want to win and employing their power and resources toward assisting that candidate in doing so, especially when innocent Americans are caught up in their web of corruption.

What will come of all this? I have no idea. But a shakeup is in order of an unprecedented magnitude. Suffice it to say that the Biden administration has no interest in addressing the matter effectively, since it was Biden the FBI was trying to protect in its colluding with Twitter. The Republicans in the House will likely begin an investigation that will drag on until all the essential parties are likely long out of office or even dead. So, my prediction is that nothing will be done and no one will be held accountable. The most we can hope for, and it is something, is that any innocent targeted by the FBI’s efforts to criminalize his or her free speech is protected from such by a formidable judicial system. But that, too, could take years, fortunes, and careers.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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