Regular readers of this newsletter are familiar with a State Department-funded think tank called the Global Engagement Center because we’ve covered it in detail. One reason for this: they provided funding to a group that created a “disinformation blacklist” to provide to advertisers and then proceeded to put us on it.
There’s news on two fronts about the GEC, though it was generally ignored late Thursday because all anyone in the news wanted to talk about was the guilty verdict in the Alex Murdaugh trial. But let’s talk about something else, something very important: the (yes) conspiracy to spoon-feed “information” to us.
Before getting into the finer points of how the federal dollars flowed from one group to another and another, I want to say that the U.S. government has no business being involved in policing “disinformation” aimed at Americans AT ALL. They’ve already shown themselves to be the biggest spreaders of it. The Russia Hoax, Hunter Biden’s laptop, the origins of COVID...we don’t need to go back over all the examples now; you know what they are. Who needs Russia to spread disinformation when you’ve got the U.S. intel community? They’ve lost all credibility. If there’s any “policing” to be done, it should be our policing of THEM, and that’s what we have the Oversight Committees for.
With that said, let me outline for you what the House Oversight Committee is investigating and what they have found. On February 23, chairman James Comer of Kentucky sent a letter to the State Department, raising concerns that “federal funds administered by the Department of State were used to suppress lawful speech and defund disfavored news outlets under the guise of combatting disinformation. The Committee is disturbed by recent reporting that taxpayer money ended up in the hands of a foreign organization running an advertiser blacklist of organizations accused of hosting disinformation on their websites, including some conservative-leaning news organizations.”
The GEC, described as “an inter-agency organization housed within the State Department,” had passed $100,000 to an investment group called Park Advisors, who in turn passed it to the Global Disinformation Index in Britain, for a government-sponsored program called the U.S.-Paris Tech Challenge. The goal of this was “to advance the development of promising and innovative technologies against disinformation and propaganda,” according to their records.
Well, that sounds potentially evil. When I read the stated description of their goal, why am I reminded of gain-of-function research? That’s supposed to protect us, too. What could go wrong?
The news outlets they identified as the Top 10 “riskiest” all skew to the right and include THE FEDERALIST, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, OANN (One America News Network), THE BLAZE, DAILY WIRE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS, REASON, the NEW YORK POST, and THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR. Some of our very favorites! Though we were on their “blacklist,” I have to say we were disappointed not to make it into their Top 10 and are determined to try harder.
Anyway, according to the WASHINGTON EXAMINER (which sadly didn’t make the Top 10, either), Republican and Democrat staffers for the House Oversight Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee received a classified briefing Thursday in connection with the GEC and its bankrolling of the group that created this blacklist. (The Foreign Affairs Committee was involved because the Global Disinformation Index is British and the purported use of this $100,000 was to root out “foreign” disinformation.) According to sources, “roughly seven” State Department officials were there.
The $100,000 was given in 2021, and the GEC is silent on whether it will commit to stopping future funding. They defend it as legitimate because THAT MONEY is not used for U.S. matters. (Never mind that the news outlets that ended up on the blacklist were American.) That reasoning seems on par with saying the Biden Penn Center isn’t funded by the Chinese because THAT MONEY goes to the University of Delaware.
Rep. Comer told the WASHINGTON EXAMINER, “It’s alarming that the State Department passed U.S. taxpayer dollars to a foreign organization that attempted to censor conservative American news outlets. The State Department’s classified briefing provided to committee staff indicates that there may need to be stronger mechanisms in place to prevent domestic censorship.” MAY need to be?
Comer anticipates receiving more records from the State Department documenting their activities in this realm. We shall see.
Jim Jordan, House Judiciary chair, and Mike Turner, House Intel chair, are also working on getting information from 29 CIA officials concerning their efforts to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop. They’ve sent letters, but what do you bet they’re gonna need subpoenas?
Two weeks ago, the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees were briefed by the National Endowment for Democracy on their funding to GDI, which totaled over $545,000 between 2020-21. Important details are here…
The Global Disinformation Index also is funded by George Soros’ laughably-misnamed Open Society Foundations.
Here’s something we found from 2016, showing that even then, the National Endowment for Democracy was on India’s “watch list” --- they keep their eye on Soros --- but that doesn’t keep American leftists in our State Department from working to funnel money to organizations associated with him. It seems the world is just infested with groups like this.
On the other front, a new “Twitter File” from Matt Taibbi has dropped, this one about internal communications at Twitter regarding...the Global Engagement Center!
Our own GEC also funds the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), which says it doesn’t track Americans. That doesn’t fly with Americans who are on its “list.”
Taibbi describes how the GEC was created during Obama’s last year as an interagency group “within” the State Department, with initial partners including the FBI, DHS, NSA, CIA, DARPA, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and others. As Taibbi reports, “GEC funded a secret list of subcontractors and helped pioneer a new form of blacklisting that created an alarmist report and sent it to the slower animals in journalism’s herd, creating flawed or flat-out wrong news stories.”
“GEC’s funding is up for a vote this year,” he writes, “and the TwitterFiles expose the need to stop paying to blacklist Americans.”
And here’s a perfectly-timed new column about censorship from Margot Cleveland at THE FEDERALIST. In it, she talks about what she has dubbed the Censorship Complex: “a cabal of government agencies, politicians, academia, nonprofits, the corrupt press, and Big Tech.”
Remember when Chuck Schumer said the intel community has “six ways from Sunday” to get you? Well, Cleveland says this cabal really does have six ways to censor your speech. Big Tech (as in Twitter, but they all did it) censored speech it didn’t like. It coordinated with intel agencies. It followed requests from “disinfo” groups such as nonprofits (like the GDI, as described above). It caved to pressure by concerted --- and false --- PR campaigns. It heeded censorship requests by past and present government officials.
And...last but not least...it used blacklisting to “starve” its targets of advertising dollars. That’s just what the Global Disinformation Index was doing --- what it was trying to do to us.
Given all this, Cleveland says Americans are “no better off than citizens of authoritarian countries with state-controlled media.”