Recent reports have revealed that President Joe Biden trusts the military so little, that he’s prepared contracts with private surveillance firms to scan through service members social media accounts in an effort to cleanse the military of those who’s views the administration deems “concerning.”
A report from The Intercept says that the “extremism steering committee” is headed up by senior to the secretary of defense, Bishop Garrison. His task is to design a “social media screening pilot program” that will be used to “continuously” surveille individuals in the military for “concerning behaviors.” The purpose of using a private firm is to theoretically circumvent the First Amendment protection of the soldiers. While a vendor has not been selected yet, the best contender right now is Babel Street, a company that sells “powerful surveillance tools” which includes “social media monitoring software.”
A spokesperson for Representative Don Bacon (R-NE), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, claimed that the congressman had not heard of any such plan.
A spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee released a statement claiming that the Department of Defense is “exploring. . . social media screening” as “an additional means of vetting” military members who seek higher level security clearance. They claim that it’s not a tool for “ongoing surveillance,” however, they also say that Secretary Austin has made it a clear point on his agenda to identify “to what extent extremism exists” amongst the military and analyze “its effect on good order and discipline.”
The report claimed that the alleged pilot program is designed to identify certain keywords that are deemed by the administration as extremist, though legal experts have warned them that the method is not merely an invasion of privacy, but fundamentally flawed.
Retired FBI agent Mike German says that the program uses “a flawed strategy” which he believes will make the program “short-lived.” He says the problem with keyword flagging is that “it will produce. . . a flood of false positives” and warned that resources would be wasted following goose chases which will ultimately “undermine morale” amongst those investigated.
This isn’t the first time the Biden administration has sought to circumvent the First Amendment, it was reported earlier in the month by CNN that the administration was seeking the aid of private surveillance firms to track all Americans social media activity.
Author: Paula Martin