Feds weaponized War on Terror's 'psychological manipulation' against Americans, Congress told

Feds went from targeting ISIS terrorism to people who are "wrong on the internet," Twitter Files author says, calling on Congress to pull funding for censorship activities.

Published: March 9, 2023 4:05pm

Updated: March 9, 2023 6:34pm

By pressuring tech platforms to remove purported misinformation and unapproved narratives, the federal government combined "established methods of psychological manipulation," developed by the U.S. military for the war on terror, with artificial intelligence, a writer given access to the Twitter Files told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Michael Shellenberger, known for his contrarian environmentalism and California gubernatorial run, recently dropped a new Twitter Files thread as did fellow witness Matt Taibbi, previously known for his Wall Street coverage for Rolling Stone. Both told lawmakers it was the most important work they had ever done.

President Eisenhower's warning about a "military-industrial complex" that dominates "the nation's scholars" through employment and project funding, making public policy "the captive of a scientific-technological elite," has been fully realized in the "censorship-industrial complex," Shellenberger testified.

The feds' target has moved from ISIS terrorists to ordinary Americans who are "wrong on the internet," he told lawmakers.

Journalism institutions have become subservient to power, Shellenberger said, observing when the Aspen Institute and Stanford's Cyber Policy Center urged journalists to reject the precedent set by the publishing of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 by ignoring leaked information in the name of squelching election disinformation in 2020.

"Establishment institutions "could easily censor criticism from any part of the status quo," he said. Congress should "immediately cut off funding to the censors and investigate their activities" and mandate "instant reporting" of conversations among government, social media and contractors.


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