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Louisiana attorney general says FBI has 'cancer' that led to censorship push

Jeff Landry, who is running for governor next year, is suing federal government for pressing Big Tech to muffle dissent in a "sprawling federal Censorship Enterprise" that plaintiffs hold culpable for "some of the most egregious First Amendment violations in American history."

Published: March 8, 2023 12:28pm

Updated: March 9, 2023 11:25pm

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is warning that the FBI is being consumed by a cultural "cancer" that is disrupting the work of honest agents and has led to the censorship of Americans' voices on digital platforms.

Landry, joined by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and a group of censored COVID-19 dissenters, is suing the Biden administration for pressuring social media companies to muffle dissenting views on subjects like COVID-19 and election integrity in a "sprawling federal Censorship Enterprise" the plaintiffs hold culpable for "some of the most egregious First Amendment violations in American history."

The case has already produced thousands of internal federal documents, taken depositions of key players like Dr. Anthony Fauci and documented 1,432 instances in which White House or federal agency officials worked with social and search companies to chill or limit speech. 

"I think this is the most important First Amendment case we've had, certainly this century," Landry told Just The News in an interview this week. 

Earlier this week, the plaintiffs moved for a sweeping preliminary injunction to block the federal government from continuing to work through and with a host of private social media platforms and information-monitoring nonprofits to curb online speech in violation of citizens' First Amendment rights.

"And if we're successful," said Landry, "I think that it certainly is going to be eye-opening and give us an opportunity to conduct more discovery." He expressed optimism that the judge assigned to the case will rule impartially.

Landry's core legal argument is that if companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter acted in coordination with the government in any way, then they were functioning as "state actors" and their censorship activities violated the First Amendment's speech protections.

The Big Tech companies "certainly can't raise their hand and say, 'Oh, well, it was the government that made us do it,'" he explained. "Especially when some of the information we have shows that they did it very willfully." 

While some are calling for eliminating or defunding the FBI over its censorship work, Landry, who is running for Louisiana governor next year as a Republican, has a different take. 

"I don't think sunsetting or eliminating the FBI is a good idea," he said. "I know a lot of FBI agents who are out there doing the right thing, trying to do the right thing.

"There seems to have been a cancer in the FBI that should never have been allowed to occur. My question is, whether or not the U.S. Department of Justice didn't have a heavier hand in metastasizing that cancer or promoting it.

"But I do think that we certainly need a cleaning out, a repositioning, a re-missioning of those agencies and [have them go] back to doing the core things that they were designed to do." 

When asked if he thought bad actors would have to go to prison to set an example, Landry said it may still come to that. 

"I don't think somebody should go to jail if they're innocent," he stressed. "But certainly if there are criminal laws that are implicated, and the actions that these people took were criminal, then absolutely, they should go to jail."

While declining to meddle in criminal charging questions that fall within the province of the Justice Department, Landry suggested that Congress enact penalties that would strip employment, civil service protections and retirement benefits from any official found to have violated citizens' constitutional rights.

Landry is also calling for Congress to investigate the pharmaceutical industry's sway over decision-making within the federal public health establishment. 

"It seems to me Big Pharma has a bigger influence over the CDC, the NIH and NIAID than does Congress or anyone else, based upon the deposition I heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci himself," he said.

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.

The FBI's national press office sent Just the News a statement denying that it compels social media platforms to censor user content and stressing that its information-sharing with social media platforms is focused on foreign disinformation threats.

"The FBI does not instruct or direct any social media company to censor an account or remove information from their platform," said the FBI. "In carrying out its law enforcement mission, the FBI receives voluntarily provided information from these companies, when the company believes there is a serious risk of death or serious physical injury. 

"In addition, the FBI also shares identified malign foreign influence information with these companies. The information we provide in these circumstances is specific to foreign actors — such as Russia, China, and Iran and their activities, we do not provide information based on content or narratives without attribution to a foreign actor.

"We may also alert social media companies about intentional attempts to post disinformation about voting times, places, or dates, which may be a federal crime. Private sector entities independently make decisions about what, if any, action they take on their platforms and for their customers in response to information we share."

Landry offered some parting advice for Americans interested in the free speech battles taking place in political and courtroom settings across the country. 

"I would tell them to pay attention to this case," he said. "Because some of the government institutions and actors who many people put a tremendous amount of trust in should not be trusted."

You can follow Nick on Twitter @NGivasDC

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