[Source: axisoflogic.com]

Among the corrupting aspects of the Ukraine War has been the further erosion of democratic standards in the U.S.

On July 10, the House Committee on the Judiciary and Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government issued an interim staff report detailing how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) worked with the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) to try to censor social media accounts of Americans in violation of First Amendment rights to free speech.

The Americans who were targeted included journalists and, amazingly, the U.S. State Department, whose Russian-language account was flagged by the SBU for promoting pro-Russian disinformation.

In February, the House Committee on the Judiciary, chaired by Jim Jordan (R-OH), issued subpoenas to Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube.

Indian-origin techie accuses Meta of anti-Asian bias, files lawsuit
[Source: greatandhra.com]

The documents that they obtained revealed that the FBI requested on behalf of the SBU that the world’s largest social-media platforms censor Americans engaging in constitutionally protected speech online.

FBI Special Agent Aleksandr Kobzanets, the FBI’s Assistant Legal Attaché in Kyiv from 2020 to 2022, worked closely with the SBU, an organization heavily supported by the CIA, which monitored social media with the purpose of identifying suspected Russian “influence operations.”

The SBU passed information through Kobzanets to the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), which was established in 2017 by Director Christopher Wray to “identify and counteract malign foreign influence operations targeting the U.S.”

A person in a suit smiling

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Christopher Wray [Source: federaltimes.com]
A person in a suit and earrings

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Laura Dehmlow [Source: rantburg.com]

The head of the FITF, Laura Dehmlow, said in 2022 that “the U.S. government needs to early educate the populace” about “misinformation, disinformation and malevolent information” because “critical thinking seems to be a problem currently.”

This viewpoint was undercut by the admission of Ilia Vitiuk, head of the SBU’s Department of Cyber and Information Security, who told journalist Lee Fang in April 2023 that, “[w]hen people ask me, ‘How do you differentiate whether it is fake or true?’…I say ‘Everything that is against our country, consider it a fake, even if it’s not.’ Right now, for our victory, it is important to have that kind of understanding.”

A person sitting at a table with flags behind him

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Ilia Vitiuk [Source: pravda.com]

Vitiuk’s comments make clear that the alleged “misinformation” which Dehmlow and her associates are trying to “educate” the American population about is really any statement or argument that contradicts Ukrainian government propaganda.

The House Judiciary report concluded that censorship was being meted out by the FBI based on the viewpoint of the persons targeted, and was not fact-based—meaning that people who were being censored may have actually been providing good information and not misinformation.

Keystone Cops

The incompetence of the FBI was displayed in its lack of proper vetting of social-media posts that were targeted for censorship.

The House Judiciary report points not only to attempts to censor the State Department’s own Russian-language account, but also to censor Russian-speaking Americans who actually criticized Vladimir Putin and Russian policy in Ukraine.

One flagged account, for example, expressed skepticism that Ukraine was dominated by Nazis when its president was Jewish.

Another was by a Russian-speaking Ukrainian who said that he had never been prevented by the Ukrainian government from speaking Russian in eastern Ukraine and concluded with the hashtags “#stopputin” and “#freeukraine.”

Yet another denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin for what he was doing in “Russians’ name.”

The House Judiciary report concluded by emphasizing that there was no legal justification for the FBI collaborating with a foreign intelligence service to impose censorship on Americans, whose right to free speech is protected under the U.S. Constitution.

Historically, the U.S. involvement in foreign wars and quest for overseas empire has been a major impediment to democracy, and the Ukraine War—which has become increasingly Americanized—is clearly no exception.

Lower Level of Trust Than J. Edgar Hoover

After the release of the report, FBI Director Christopher Wray came under attack from the Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

Jim Jordan opened July 12 hearings by accusing the Bureau of allowing social media companies to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020, and of retaliating against alleged FBI whistleblowers and mishandling threats against school boards.

Rep. Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, speaks during a hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Jim Jordan [Source: cnn.com]

“Are you protecting the Bidens?” asked Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) after pressing Wray over allegations from a supposed IRS whistleblower related to the Hunter Biden investigation.

Matt Gaetz [Source: mediate.com]

“Absolutely not,” Wray responded. “The FBI does not, has no interest in protecting anyone politically.”

Gaetz and Wray engaged in a heated exchange after the Florida Republican alleged that the Bureau has “the lowest level of trust in the FBI’s history.”

“People trusted the FBI more when J. Edgar Hoover was running the place than when you are, and the reason is because you don’t give straight answers,” Gaetz opined.

Hoover of course was well known for his mendacity and criminal activities related to COINTELPRO and political assassinations. At the time, many trusted him only because of the heroic image that Hoover cultivated for the FBI through effective public relations, which Wray has not been able to replicate.

An NBC poll shows that only 37% of the public supports the FBI, and only 17% of Republicans.

A person sitting in a chair

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J. Edgar Hoover [Source: commons.wikimedia.org]

Wray looked particularly foolish when he claimed that he was not sure whether there were undercover agents at the scene of the January 6 riots, when former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund has asserted that the protest crowd was filled with federal agents, and when a whistleblower has come forward saying that top FBI brass passed down orders to conceal at least 25 confidential human sources [ie. informants] participating in the protest at the Capitol.

In his exchange with Gaetz, Wray defended the Bureau by claiming that FBI applications were way up in Gaetz’ home state of Florida, to which Gaetz responded: “we’re deeply proud of them, and they deserve better than you.”

As CAM has reported, someone who also deserves better is Omali Yeshitela, the 80-year-old leader of the African People’s Socialist Party; he had his home raided by the FBI in a military-style attack and, with three associates, is facing years in prison after being accused of being a Russian agent.

A group of people in uniform standing in front of a house

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Scene outside Yeshitela’s home in East St. Louis last July. [Source: theburningspear.com]

Yeshitela’s case is yet another reminder of the oppressive tactics adopted by the FBI reminiscent of the Cold War.

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  1. According to a recent Pew Research poll, despite the growing partisan divide regarding U.S. support for Ukraine, Democrats and Republicans hold similarly low shares of confidence in Putin (92% vs. 89%). Within parties, Americans are also relatively united in these assessments: Across all ideological stripes of both Republicans and Democrats, nearly seven-in-ten or more express no confidence at all in Putin.

  2. In reference to poll which showed 37 % support for the FBI, the same poll also measured the support for 10 other entities or people and the results were as follows. Tim Scott 18 % support, Department of Justice 35 % support, Nikki Haley 19 % support, Joe Biden 39 % support, Supreme Court 31 % support, Ron DeSantis 30 % support, Kamala Harris 32 % support, Donald Trump 34 % support, Chris Christie 13 % support, Mike Pence 20 % support.

    So although the support for the FBI.is very low, it is higher then most of the other entities or people.

  3. The article mentions that An NBC poll shows that only 37% of the public supports the FBI, and only 17% of Republicans. The article omitted to mention that 58 % of Democrats support the FBI.

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