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Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

OUTRAGEOUS Facebook Ban Targets Trump

NEW: Iowa Gov’t Officials Coordinated with Big Tech to Censor Judicial Watch Election Posts
Judicial Watch Sues over Abuse of Children Tied to Biden Border Crisis
Facebook’s Brazen Ban of President Trump Should Concern Every American
Judicial Watch Reveals CENSORED History of 2020 Election
Judicial Watch Sues for Records of Biden Dogs after Biting Incidents

NEW: Iowa Gov’t Officials Coordinated with Big Tech to Censor Judicial Watch Election Posts

Last week we released records from the Secretary of State of California revealing how state officials pressured social media companies (Twitter, Facebook, Google (YouTube)) to censor election posts. Included were “misinformation briefing” emails compiled by communications firm SKDK, which lists Biden for President as its top client of 2020. 

The state agency successfully pressured YouTube to censor a Judicial Watch video concerning vote by mail and a Judicial Watch lawsuit settlement about California voter roll clean up.

It turns out that California wasn’t the only state acting in seeming violation of the First Amendment. The new information from Iowa revealed below exposes the dirty details of the expanding conspiracy against free expression.

We received 624 pages of records from the Secretary of State of Iowa showing how state officials pressured social media companies Twitter and Facebook to censor posts about the 2020 election. 

Included in these records were emails from Iowa state officials to representatives of Big Tech pressuring these companies to remove some of Judicial Watch’s posts. The emails show how the state agency successfully pressured Facebook to censor our post about Iowa’s management of its voter rolls.

We received the records as a result of a June 2020 Iowa Open Records lawsuit filed after the Iowa Secretary of State failed to comply with our February 2020 request for records and communications about a Judicial Watch report regarding the accuracy of the state’s voter registration rolls (Judicial Watch v. Iowa Secretary of State (No. 05771 EQCE085973)). We were represented by Iowa lawyer Alan R. Ostergren of Des Moines, Iowa.

The records show that officials in the Secretary of State’s office on multiple occasions contacted officials from Facebook and Twitter to try to have these companies remove Judicial Watch posts that raised concerns about Iowa’s failure to maintain accurate election rolls.

On February 3, 2020, at 5:19 p.m., Kevin Hall, the communications director for the Iowa Secretary of State, wrote in a February 3, 2020, email to Facebook official Rachel Holland:

Rachel,

We’ve been playing whack-a-mole with this false story all day. Is there anything you can do to help: [likely https://www.facebook.com/JudicialWatch/posts/10157583458431943]

We’ve told them is fake. They have it PINNED to the top of their page.

Here’s our rebuttal: https://sos.iowa.gov/news/2020_02_02.html

Holland responded at 6:11p.m., writing:

Hi Kevin,

Circling back with an update regarding the content posted by Judicial Watch. Our third-party fact checkers have rated this content false, and we have applied a filter over the content warning users before they click to see it that the content has been rated false by independent fact checkers.

Please continue to report violating content to us by emailing [email protected], and copying me ([email protected]), as I will be on an airplane for the next couple hours. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any other matters.

A couple of hours later, Hall followed up, “Thank you! They have new posts up, doubling down on the false claims.”

And Holland responded, “Thanks for flagging- we’ve got a full team with eyes on this now and are applying the false filter to similar articles as well. I’ll send you an additional update shortly!”

That same day, Hall and Maria Benson, the director of communications at the National Association of Secretaries of State, both tried to convince Twitter to censor Judicial Watch’s posts but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Hall filed a report with Twitter, and Benson escalated it by looping in Kevin Kane from Twitter. On February 3, 2020, Benson wrote, “Iowa Secretary of State has reported the below election misinformation, but Twitter has declined to take it down. As you can see from the facts the tweets are clearly wrong. I wanted to bring this to your attention to hopefully remedy the situation. I’ve cc’d Kevin Hall, their Communicators Director.”

Kane responded rejecting the request saying, “Thanks Maria – This was reviewed by our team and is not in violation of our election integrity policy as it does not suppress voter turnout or mislead people about when. where. or how to vote. I understand this is not the outcome you are seeking and appreciate you continuing to report Tweets to our team.”

In an email the next day, Hall wrote to Kane saying, “Facebook, thankfully, was helpful. I would suggest perhaps reviewing your policies at Twitter and putting them more in line with what Facebook is doing to counter election misinformation.”

After being rejected by Twitter, Benson emailed Brian Scully, an official at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, writing on February 3, 2020:

Hey Brian,

Can you report this as well? Hannity is now retweeting and Twitter isn’t playing ball with us. I’ve cc’d Kevin Hall who you met Saturday. He’s IA SOS’s Communications Director. He’s been reporting and playing wack a mole by trying to reply to misleading tweets.

Scully responded promising to contact Twitter. “Sorry … been out of pocket a bit. Will reach out to Twitter. Let me know if you get something.”

These records are yet another example of state officials conspiring with Big Tech to deny Americans their First Amendment rights. These records further show that Big Tech censorship is a government scandal: Iowa government officials worked with Facebook to remove posts they did not like, and Facebook bowed to this political pressure immediately. It should be disturbing to all Americans that government officials are working to censor speech they disagree with and that these behemoth companies often seem willing to roll over and censor free speech.

Judicial Watch Sues over Abuse of Children Tied to Biden Border Crisis

Little children are in trouble on the border. Texas welfare officials received three reports of abuse and neglect at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, where more than 1,300 migrant children reportedly had been held. The site is one of several set up to handle the recent surge. This came on the heels of claims that multiple facilities where children are being held are unsafe.

To dig into this, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against the Department of Health and Human Services for records about assaults on and abuse of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in HHS custody (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-01190)).

We sued after the HHS denied our February 26, 2021, FOIA request for:

  1. All summaries from individual case files of reports of physical and/or sexual abuse or assault of Unaccompanied Alien Children under the care of HHS, its sub-agencies, and or volunteer agencies, contractors, grantees, and sub-grantees, to include all segregable, non-exempt information.
  2. Records reflecting aggregated data of physical and/or sexual abuse and assault of UACs under the care of HHS, its sub-agencies, and or volunteer agencies, contractors, grantees, and sub-grantees.

We are concerned that the surge of migrants seeking to take advantage of the Biden administration’s lax immigration policies has resulted in the foreseeable abuse of children, as overwhelmed federal authorities are ill-equipped to handle the huge number of children crossing the border. The unprecedented secrecy and censorship surrounding these sites compounds the problem and limits accountability. Our lawsuit aims to expose the full truth about this particularly troubling consequence of the Biden administration’s lawlessness on immigration.

This is not a new problem. We uncovered HHS records in July 2018 revealing that in multiple cases, unaccompanied alien children (UACs) processed during the Obama administration were assaulted by government employees.

We began investigating this matter in 2014 when a wave of UACs swamped the southwest border. Since that time, we have been investigating incidents of violence, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and other criminal activities, as well as whether migrant children were being abused while in U.S. shelters.

Facebook’s Brazen Ban of President Trump Should Concern Every American

The Facebook Oversight Board’s decision upholding President Trump’s Facebook ban undermines the First Amendment and free speech. The brazen ban of President Trump is already chilling the speech of other Facebook users and Internet users generally, who fairly worry about Facebook and Big Tech censoring and deplatforming them.

I have been personally locked out of Twitter for four months over a tweet previously found not to be in violation of Twitter’s rules.

Judicial Watch previously argued that Facebook’s Oversight Board should have reversed the president’s ban because the ban is an affront to First Amendment protections of free speech, peaceable assembly, and the right to petition the government. There is no credible evidence that President Trump either morally or legally incited violence. He was resoundingly acquitted by the United States Senate after the impeachment “prosecutors” failed to produce credible evidence he incited violence. For Facebook and its Oversight Board to suggest President Trump incited violence and that complaints about the administration of an election could incite violence is a political position aligned with the Left and political opponents of President Trump and his supporters.

 

Judicial Watch Reveals CENSORED History of 2020 Election

We continue to investigate the serious questions concerning the 2020 election. Our chief investigative reporter, Micah Morrison, summarizes our efforts in his Investigative Bulletin:

Judicial Watch has uncovered critical new details in the secret history of the 2020 election: how state government officials—at times interfacing with the Biden presidential campaign—colluded with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to censor freedom of speech.

The new information raises enormous constitutional and legal questions. It challenges the conventional wisdom that the companies are operating solely as private actors and can remove or ban users of their services as they see fit, with no violation of First Amendment rights.

The new documents “suggest a conspiracy against the First Amendment rights of Americans,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These documents blow up the big lie that Big Tech censorship is ‘private’—as the documents show collusion between a whole group of government officials in multiple states to suppress speech about election controversies.”

In California, we obtained more than 500 pages of documents showing how a state agency, the Office of Election Cybersecurity, tracked social media commentary and pushed Big Tech to take down posts. Included in the documents were so-called

“Misinformation Daily Briefings” from the communications firm SKDK. The firm also was deeply involved in the Biden presidential campaign, developing its mail-in voting program for four key electoral states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona.

For Big Tech and state officials, questioning the wisdom of mail-in voting was not allowed. On September 11, 2020, when JW’s Tom Fitton made the common-sense observation on Twitter that “mailing 51 million ballots to those who haven’t asked for increases risk of voter fraud and intimidation,” SKDK put him in its “misinformation brief” to California election security officials.

(In January, Twitter suspended Tom for tweeting another common-sense observation—“hydroxychloroquine is a safe drug”—a comment he had several times earlier made on Twitter and which the tech giant earlier had found not to be in violation of its rules. Read more on the incident here.)

California officials went after Tom again on September 24, falsely stating that he claimed in a YouTube video that Democrats would benefit from incorrect voter rolls and ballot collection. In the video, in fact, Tom was updating viewers about Judicial Watch’s highly successful, non-partisan lawsuit settlement with Los Angeles County to clean up voter rolls. Judicial Watch is a national leader in a non-partisan effort to clean up voter rolls.

California officials directly contacted YouTube complaining about the Judicial Watch video. Three days later, the video was deleted from YouTube.

In Iowa, Judicial Watch obtained 624 pages of records revealing how state officials pressured Twitter and Facebook to censor posts about the 2020 election. Included in the records were emails pressing the companies to remove Judicial Watch posts.

The emails show how the state agency successfully worked with Facebook to censor a Judicial Watch post about Iowa’s management of its voter rolls:

An Iowa state official emailed Facebook official Rachel Holland complaining that a Judicial Watch story on Iowa’s management of voter rolls was “false.” (It wasn’t.) The time stamp on the email is 5:19 p.m.

By 6:11 p.m., Facebook hit back. Facebook factcheckers “have rated this content false,” Holland wrote the Iowa official, “and we have applied a filter over this content warning users.”

Read more on Judicial Watch’s Iowa case here.

Read more on the California case here.

Of course it’s not just Judicial Watch in the crosshairs of companies like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. On Wednesday, Facebook moved to continue its ban on Donald Trump, now a private citizen. Judicial Watch has argued that the ban is an affront to First Amendment protections of free speech, peaceable assembly, and the right to petition the government.

It’s also an ominous sign that Big Tech censorship is growing—and growing bolder. “If they can ban President Trump,” warned House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, “all conservative voices could be next.”

 


Judicial Watch Sues for Records of Biden Dogs after Biting Incidents

 

On March 9, 2021, the White House confirmed that President Biden’s dog Major, an adopted German Shepherd, “did in fact bite someone at the White House, causing a “minor injury.” Press secretary Jen Psaki said the dogs, “are still getting acclimated and accustomed to their new surroundings and new people.”

On March 30, 2021, the White House reported that, “President Biden’s dog Major on Monday afternoon bit another employee, who then required medical attention.” The encounter reportedly took place on the White House South Lawn Monday, March 29.

Americans are understandably curious, and we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against the Department of Homeland Security for communication between Secret Service officials assigned to the White House regarding the Biden family dogs (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:21-cv-01194)).

We sued after the Secret Service failed to process records in a timely manner in response to a March 10, 2021, FOIA request seeking:

All records of communications between USSS officials responsible for protection at the White House regarding the Biden family dogs, named Champ and Major.

On April 12, 2021, the Secret Service replied to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request saying that they had identified responsive records which were being processed but have yet to produce them.

The public has a right to know the details about any incident in which Secret Service personnel were injured by President Biden’s dog. We have no doubt that Major and Champ are good dogs but politicians and bureaucrats can’t be trusted to tell us everything.

Until next week …


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