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Garland and Wray Launch “Election Threats Task Force,” Sparking Censorship Concerns for 2024

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US Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray have spoken about their departments’ plans regarding what they refer to as election threats.

The plans were laid out during a meeting of a Department of Justice (DoJ) outfit called Election Threats Task Force, which was set up in 2021, shortly after the previous presidential election.

Critics of the Biden White House – particularly the way it handles opponents and their right to free speech, often “in collaboration” with Big Tech – are suspicious about the timing of the announced measures.

This has to do with both the fact that the next election is less than six months away and that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Intelligence Experts Group has just been disbanded as a result of a lawsuit brought by America First Legal non-profit and Ambassador Richard Grenell.

Executive Director of the Foundation For Freedom Online Mike Benz has explained whatever is branded as a misinformation narrative is also considered to be the result of a campaign – and so “any US civilian who clicks the retweet button to amplify said narrative is deemed to be participating in said ‘campaign’.”

Benz also identified the period ahead of the 2020 presidential ballot as the time when the US for the first time set up “a permanent domestic censorship office parked at CISA” – the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a part of the DHS.

He also accused the DHS of teaming up with the FBI ahead of those elections, to create “a series of cutouts in the private sector and the academic worlds to serve as the attack dogs for DHS content, for social media content DHS wanted taken down.”

It doesn’t serve to reassure the current administration’s political opponents that Garland has made a name for himself in the past by going after former President Donald Trump, who will square off with Biden in November.

When Garland and Wray talk about countering election threats, they frame it as an effort aimed solely at dealing with foreign “malign influence” and “cyber campaigns”; however, these declarative targets have often in the past provided a smokescreen for agencies like the FBI to flag (and get censored) “disfavored” online speech of Americans.

Congressman Dan Bishop, a Republican, was one of those who noticed the “convenient timing” of the announcements about the Election Threats Task Force and its upcoming activities, considering that it came on the heels of the demise of the DHS Intelligence Experts Group.

“Always the same cast of characters in this game of whack-a-mole,” Bishop wrote on X. “We’ll root them out wherever they appear.”

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