By Tom Ozimek
House Republicans want to investigate allegations of collusion between federal agencies and private companies, and, to that end, they’re looking to establish a subcommittee on the “weaponization” federal government.
Republicans have put forward a House rules package (pdf), which among its numerous indications includes a proposal to create a House Judiciary select subcommittee on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government.”
The proposal for the subcommittee comes after Republicans recently signaled that they want a top-to-bottom investigation of the FBI after the so-called “Twitter Files” disclosed that the agency pressured Twitter to censor Americans’ free speech.
Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has suggested that the FBI needs to be investigated in the same way as the Church Committee, which in the 1970s investigated abuses by the CIA, FBI, Internal Revenue Service, and the National Security Agency.
The committee, led by then-Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), revealed the now-infamous CIA MKULTRA program, which involved the drugging and torture of American citizens in experimentation on mind control.
“We’ve been looking at a Church-style committee to look at this,” Jordan told Just the News last week.
This proposed agenda comes after a series of unnerving Twitter Files disclosures, which showed that not only did Twitter employees work hand-in-glove with the FBI but also received content-related flags and action requests from a tangled web of state agencies, private contractors, and government-affiliated nongovernmental organizations.
The FBI has denied any wrongdoing, and in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times, a spokesperson said the agency regularly notifies private sector entities about “foreign malign influence,” but that any actions are taken independently by companies.
In one of the Twitter Files drops that have been endorsed by Twitter CEO Elon Musk, independent journalist and author Michael Shellenberger posted files related to the Hunter Biden laptop story and shared messages showing the FBI working to discredit the report and prevent it from being spread on Twitter in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
“What I quickly put together is a pattern where it appears that FBI agents, along with former FBI agents within the company, were engaged in a disinformation campaign aimed at top Twitter and Facebook executives, as well as at top news organization executives to basically prepare them, prime them, get them set up to dismiss Hunter Biden information when it would be released,” Shellenberger wrote.
Other internal Twitter communications posted by Shellenberger seem to show FBI officials flagging specific accounts for staff of the social media platform to take action against.
The FBI told Fox News in a statement that the “correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries.”
“As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers,” the agency added.
But Republicans believe there’s more to all this than meets the eye and have been reluctant to accept the FBI’s position on the matter at face value.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), for example, said in a recent interview on Fox News that when the GOP takes control of the House on Jan. 3, they’re going to dig deeper into the FBI’s engagement with social media companies.
“We’re going to do more than just subpoena them. We’re going to change the course of where the FBI is today,” McCarthy said.
‘Draining the Swamp’
Before the New York Post broke the Hunter Biden laptop story in the weeks ahead of the 2020 election, the FBI warned Twitter that the platform could expect “hack-and-leak operations” by foreign actors involving Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
As the story began to circulate on social media, Twitter moved to block it, while a group of dozens of former intelligence agents penned a letter downplaying the Hunter Biden laptop story as possible Russian disinformation, which was later shown to be untrue.
“What about the 51 intel individuals like Clapper, Brennan, and Hayden, former CIA directors, that put their name on a letter saying that Hunter Biden’s laptop was false, that it was Russia? Who asked them to sign this letter?” McCarthy said in the Fox News interview.
“We’re going to subpoena them as well,” he added.
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.) told Newsmax on Jan. 2 that a probe of federal agencies is needed to hold people accountable.
“The arrogance coming out of the Department of Justice, the FBI, those agencies, that’s one of the things we’ve got to hold people accountable for in those agencies,” Moore said.
“When we talk about draining the swamp … that’s where we need to pull the plug and start looking,” he added.
In its statement to Fox News, the FBI said its staff work hard every day “to protect the American public” and that it’s “unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”
The FBI didn’t specify who it considers “conspiracy theorists,” but the response came in context of the Twitter Files, internal company communications that Musk released to several independent journalists, including Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Lee Fang.
Musk, for his part, said in a recent interview on the “All-In” podcast that almost every conspiracy theory about Twitter has turned out to be accurate.
“To be totally frank, almost every conspiracy theory that people had about Twitter turned out to be true,” Musk said. “Is there a conspiracy theory about Twitter that didn’t turn out to be true? So far, they’ve all turned out to be true. If not more true than people thought.”
Asked whether there was any particular part of the Twitter Files that shocked him, Musk said that the “FBI stuff is pretty intense.”
Twitter did not reply for a request for comment, but prior to Musk’s takeover, executives at the company for years insisted that no censorship or shadow banning of conservatives took place on the social media platform, a claim that the Twitter Files disclosures has upended.
In one of the Twitter Files episodes, Taibbi shared messages that described how the FBI asked Twitter to censor posts on the platform, while others showed Twitter complying in a dynamic Taibbi described as a “master-canine” relationship.
Taibbi described the FBI–Twitter communications as “constant and pervasive,” with the law enforcement agency playing a dominant role and Twitter acting “as if it were a subsidiary.”
Previous Twitter Files disclosures shed light on Twitter’s blacklisting of some conservative accounts, internal deliberations on banning former President Donald Trump’s account, and the FBI’s alleged role in the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.