“We just set up an election integrity partnership at the request of DHS/CISA,” wrote Graham Brookie of the Atlantic Council on July 31, 2020, according to a devastating new House report:
So much for “CISA did not found, fund, or otherwise control the EIP.” That’s what the public was told in March, after Michael Shellenberger and I testified to Jim Jordan’s Weaponization of Government Committee about the ubiquitous presence in the Twitter Files of the the Election Integrity Partnership, a cross-platform content-flagging operation set up ahead of the 2020 Trump-Biden election.
Nominally run by Stanford University, the EIP is really government censorship in a ski mask, a creature of the Department of Homeland Security and its sub-agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Despite media protestations to the contrary, this has never really been in doubt. Stanford Internet Observatory Director Alex Stamos told the world EIP was formed because CISA “lacked both kinda the funding and the legal authorizations” to do its “necessary” work:
Now, after a damaging new report packed with subpoenaed documents just released by the House Weaponization of Government Committee, a thorough exposé by Michael Shellenberger and Alexandra Gutentag at Public, and new documents in this space from both the Twitter Files and the Missouri v. Biden case, the public hopefully will have enough information to shut the door on one of the more infuriating and shameless ass-covering campaigns in recent memory:
After Shellenberger and I testified in March, some partners in the EIP — which included the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public (CIP), Graphika, and the “Center for Internet Security” (CIS) — denied they were part of a censorship operation, claiming to be victims of “false statements” and mischaracterizations.
The denials triggered a furious campaign of counter-accusation leveled through national media, which was of course more interested in Jordan, Michael and me than in efforts by an intelligence service to build a domestic censorship operation. EIP members worked with everyone from Mehdi Hasan at MSNBC to PBS Frontline to the Washington Post, New York Times, and the New Yorker, unironically depicting congressional subpoenas and Freedom of Information requests as “tools of harassment.” Stanford’s Renée DiResta even told The New Yorker, “Matt Taibbi says something on a Twitter thread, and then members of Congress get to read my e-mails!”
Of course, congress gets to read such emails because voters chose to give politicians who wanted to read them subpoena power. Or: Freedom of Information laws allow anyone curious about the destination of public funds to see correspondence involving anyone working on public projects. That EIP “researchers” believe subpoeanas or FOIA rules to be unfair impositions says a lot about how much say they feel the public should have in publicly-funded programs.
The Twitter Files confirm information in the Weaponization Committee report, containing multiple references to DHS plans in 2020 to build an election content-reviewing program. Here for instance lawyer Stacia Cardille says, “DHS want to establish a centralized portal for reporting disinformation”:
Shortly after, in May 2020, a different Twitter official noted “CISA received a grant to build a web portal for state and local election officials to report incidents of election-related misinformation,” and “This tool has been built in beta form”:
The Committee report noted Twitter was “briefed on the portal” by DHS in May, 2020. In a June a Twitter exec noted in an email, “We have already done a demo with DHS/CISA,” and, “Twitter has already received a demo on this product.”
Along with the Brookie email about the EIP set up “at the request” of DHS/CISA, plus the EIP’s own bragging about filling the “critical gap” for a government agency that “lacked both kinda the funding and the legal authorizations” to do this work, it was already comical to claim “CISA did not found, fund, or otherwise control the EIP.”