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The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) denied a report that it “colluded” with Big Tech and “disinformation” partners to censor Americans.
An interim staff report of the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on Monday said the CISA, an upstart agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has facilitated the censorship of Americans directly and through third-party intermediaries.
CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales denied the allegations on Tuesday night.
“CISA does not and has never censored speech or facilitated censorship; any such claims are patently false,” Wales said in a CISA email to Newsmax’s Logan Ratick.
“Every day, the men and women of CISA execute the agency’s mission of reducing risk to U.S. critical infrastructure in a way that protects Americans’ freedom of speech, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy.”
The House report included that shortly after CISA became its own agency, then-DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen created the “Countering Foreign Influence Task Force (CFITF)” within CISA “to focus on election infrastructure disinformation.”
Following the unfounded claims by Democrats that foreign — particularly Russian — influence changed the outcome of the 2016 election, CISA expanded its “cybersecurity” role to include countering foreign malign influence operations.
“In response to concerns from election officials of all parties regarding foreign influence operations and disinformation that may impact the security of election infrastructure,” Wales said, “CISA mitigates the risk of disinformation by sharing information on election literacy and election security with the public and by amplifying the trusted voices of election officials across the nation.”
According to the CISA email, there is significant demand from state and local election officials for the agency’s continued support to their efforts to address foreign influence operations and disinformation, and the 2023 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community highlights the continued threat of foreign influence operations.
“Moscow views U.S. elections as opportunities for malign influence as part of its larger foreign policy strategy,” the threat assessment read. “Moscow has conducted influence operations against U.S. elections for decades, including as recently as the U.S. midterm elections in 2022.”
CISA also said:
- The Cybersecurity Advisory Committee (CSAC) and its subcommittees are comprised of non-federal experts who convene to consider, deliberate on, and ultimately deliver non-binding advice and recommendations to Agency leadership.
- DHS’ approved scope of work for the cooperative agreement with the Center for Internet Security (CIS) never funded CIS to perform any disinformation-related work.
- CISA’s work during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles to connect election stakeholders to social media platforms has always been non-partisan.
- The genesis of CISA’s disinformation-related work began with bipartisan support and oversight during the Trump administration, was coordinated broadly with the interagency, and was briefed extensively to Congress and the White House.
- CISA has conducted its work in plain view, operating with the highest degree of transparency.
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