President Joe Biden’s pick for the position of Attorney General, Merrick Garland, hinted he would support efforts by Congress to monitor and possibly restrict online speech.
During his confirmation hearing, Garland was asked by Democrat Senator Chris Coons of Delaware whether he would to fight “online misinformation” which he claimed was the cause of the US Capitol riots and described as “domestic terrorism.”
“I think that every opportunity the Justice department has to work with members of the Senate, think about how to solve problems and how to craft legislation is one we should take,” Garland answered.
Garland also vowed to investigate the riot, paying particular attention to white supremacists groups. He suggested surveilling the online activities.
“I don’t have particular legislation in mind in this area, I do think that an important part of the investigation of violent extremist groups is following their activities online and getting an idea of what kind of information or misinformation is being put out. I look forward to talking more about this with you,” the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the DOJ’s Criminal Division during Bill Clinton’s administration said.
Such sentiments from someone who is soon going to become the highest-ranking law enforcement official are frightening for people who value privacy. Who is to say the government will not conduct online surveillance on everybody in the guise of finding the perpetrators of the January 6 riot?
Garland, whose nomination was supported by some Republicans, said decisions by his office would not be politically motivated. “I am not the president’s lawyer,” he said, adding that Biden had promised to allow the Justice Department to operate independently.
“No investigation will get started for political purposes,” added Garland, who is currently a federal courts judge in DC.