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Jordan Subpoenas Big Tech CEOs in House ‘Weaponization’ Probe, Scrutiny & Justice to Intensify
Jordan Subpoenas Big Tech CEOs in House ‘Weaponization’ Probe
By: Joseph Lord
February 15, 2023 (Updated): House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) says he has subpoenaed the CEOs of top U.S. Big Tech firms as part of Republicans’ ongoing investigation into the weaponization of the federal government.
In November, House Republicans unveiled a 1,050-page report detailing whistleblower findings from FBI agents.
Since then, the House majority authorized the creation of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which held its inaugural hearing on Feb. 9.
Now, Jordan has sent subpoena requests to several major tech executives asking for documents and testimony.
“Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan subpoenaed the chief executive officers of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft for documents and communications relating to the federal government’s reported collusion with Big Tech to suppress free speech,” Jordan’s office said in a statement emailed to the Epoch Times.
“The House Judiciary Committee has repeatedly attempted to engage with the five companies since last December,” the release continues. “Unfortunately, the companies have not adequately complied with our requests.”
Jordan was referencing a series of Dec. 14, 2022, letters his office sent to various tech executives.
The CEOs—Alphabet’s (Google) Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s Andy Jassy, Apple’s Tim Cook, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella—have until March 23 to provide any communications between them and the federal government’s executive branch on the subject.
“Big Tech is out to get conservatives, and is increasingly willing to undermine First Amendment values by complying with the Biden Administration’s directives that suppress freedom of speech online,” Jordan wrote, in excerpts from the letter to the executives posted to his website.
“This approach undermines fundamental American principles and allows powerful government actors to silence political opponents and stifle opposing viewpoints,” he continued. “Publicly available information suggests that your companies’ treatment of certain speakers and content may stem from government directives or guidance designed to suppress dissenting views.
“Big Tech’s role in shaping national and international public discourse today is well-known. In some cases, Big Tech’s ‘heavy-handed censorship’ has been ‘use[d] to silence prominent voices’ and to ‘stifle views that disagree with the prevailing progressive consensus.’
“Because of Big Tech’s wide reach, it can serve as a powerful and effective partisan arm of the ‘woke speech police.’ Although the full extent of Big Tech’s collusion with the Biden Administration is unknown, there are prominent examples and strong indications of Big Tech censorship following directives or pressure from executive branch entities.
“These examples raise serious concerns about how and why tech companies suppress, silence, or reduce the reach of certain political speech and speakers. The collusion of Big Tech and Big Government to advance censorship undeniably undermines liberty and jeopardizes our country’s First Amendment values and protections.”
Jordan cited long-held concerns among conservatives that their viewpoints are disproportionately stifled on social media platforms through outright bans, removal of certain posts, and “shadow banning,” which dramatically reduce a person’s reach on most social media platforms.
President Donald Trump considered the issue a concern as early as 2019, and attempted at the end of his presidency to gut the legal liability protections currently enjoyed by Big Tech platforms.
With Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and the release of documents from the platform’s previous management, it’s become clear that these concerns were well-founded, and have been proven that the firms were engaging in censorship of certain viewpoints.
Image Above: Tesla CEO Elon Musk smiles as he addresses guests at the Offshore Northern Seas 2022 (ONS) meeting in Stavanger, Norway, on Aug. 29, 2022. (Carina Johansen/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)
“Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are investigating Big Tech’s commitment to freedom of speech online and the Biden Administration’s collusion with Big Tech to censor, silence, or reduce the reach of certain information and viewpoints,” Jordan said. “Congress has an important interest in protecting and advancing fundamental free speech principles, including by examining how private actors coordinate with the government to suppress First Amendment-protected speech.”
In the statement that announced the subpoenas, Jordan called them “the first step in holding Big Tech accountable.”
“Congress has an important role in protecting and advancing fundamental free speech principles, including by examining how private actors coordinate with the government to suppress First Amendment-protected speech,” the statement says.
Republicans say that their letters to Big Tech executives were answered inadequately.
Big Tech–Government Collusion
Concerns over Big Tech–government collusion were front and center at the first Weaponization Committee hearing.
In his opening remarks at that hearing, Jordan relayed testimony that found that the FBI accepts personal data on users from Facebook “without the user’s consent.”
Whistleblower testimony indicates, among other findings, that the FBI had colluded with Big Tech platforms to suppress ideas and stories that went outside of the official narrative.
This collusion was most prominent during the fallout of the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop, which appeared to show the younger Biden committing a litany of crimes, including possession of crack cocaine, and a photo of him standing beside a girl who appeared underage dressed in prostitute-like attire. Whistleblower findings revealed that the FBI played a role in the suppression of the story.
The story was discovered by the New York Post, a conservative-leaning media outlet that was founded by Alexander Hamilton. After posting the story to its Twitter page, the New York Post’s account was suspended by the platform pending the removal of the story. Similar suppression followed with other media outlets that reported on the contents of the laptop.
Some of that, Republicans’ investigations show, may not have been organic behavior by social media platforms.
The Judiciary Republicans noted that, during an August appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook had suppressed the story at the FBI’s urging.
Image Above: Facebook co-founder, Chairman, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 10, 2018. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Moreover, just before the 2020 election, 51 former intelligence officials claimed the laptop story to be Russian disinformation—a claim that was later proven to be false.
In his testimony to the panel, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) contended that the effect of this false claim “was an information operation that interfered with and impacted the 2020 presidential election to a far greater extent than anything Russia ever could have hoped to achieve.”
Image Above: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) questions Neera Tanden, nominee for director of the Office and Management and Budget (OMB) before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee in Washington on Feb. 9, 2021. (TING SHEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Signatories of the letter have repeatedly rebuffed media requests for content.
Under U.S. law, the majority party in the House of Representatives has the power to subpoena individuals for documents and data. Failure to comply with a congressional subpoena could mean prison time for offenders.
Republicans are taking full advantage of their power now that they are back in the House majority.
The party plans to continue its investigations into incidents of the federal government being “weaponized” against citizens.
Jordan’s investigation is running simultaneously with several other investigations Republicans have begun and are planning to begin, including investigations of the Bidens’ business dealings, a probe into Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s handling of the southern border, and still others into the treatment of defendants charged in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.
It is unclear whether the tech executives will seek to fight the subpoena.
Source: The Epoch Times
Colin Wright @ExtremelyAmerican.com on GETTR