The Pentagon’s top spokesman issued a full-throated denial of a story by The Intercept, which reported the Defense Department wants to monitor troops’ social media accounts for evidence of ties to extremism.
“There’s no effort inside this extremist working group to somehow spy on every individual in the military or spend hours and hours just gleaning through social media activity just for the sake of doing it,” John Kirby said at a Pentagon news conference. “This isn’t about some sort of surveillance program of our own people.”
Ken Klippenstein first reported on Monday that the military’s Countering Extremism Working Group is developing a program to constantly monitor what service members say on social media for certain keywords indicating extremism. The working group is led by Bishop Garrison, who is the senior advisor to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on human capital, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In order to circumvent service members’ First Amendment protections, the pilot program would award a contract to a private firm to conduct the warrantless surveillance of service members, according to The Intercept, which cited internal Defense Department documents and an unnamed official with direct knowledge of the program.
But on Tuesday, Kirby described The Intercept’s story, which has been picked up by The New York Post and other media outlets, as “misreporting.”
“There’s no pilot program being run by Mr. Garrison or the extremist working group to examine social media,” Kirby told reporters.
The working group is trying to determine how many extremists are in the ranks and come up with recommendations for Austin about how to solve the problem, Kirby said. Garrison’s mandate does not include rewriting Defense Department policies.
Kirby said the extremist working group has not awarded a contract to a private surveillance firm to monitor service members on social media.
He also said that the military services already look at potential recruits’ social media activities as part of the enlistment process, despite a Defense Department report to Congress last year finding several issues in online vetting, including the ease with which people can use aliases to post content on social media.
……Austin issued a memo on April 9 that appeared to address that issue by directing the Defense Department to look into obtaining “cost-effective capabilities to screen publically [sic.] available information in accessions and continuous vetting for national security positions.”
……A spokesman for The Intercept cited this memo when Task & Purpose asked about Kirby’s comments denying their story.
“That the Pentagon has considered ‘incorporating algorithms and additional processing into social media screening platforms’ to monitor for extremism is a matter of public record and was referenced in an April 9 memo signed by the Defense Secretary,” said Rodrigo Brandao. “We stand by our reporting that the Pentagon is developing just such a program.”
The Pentagon is lying through its teeth. You know goddamned well especially in the current “woke” environment of the military hierarchy, that vetting troops for security positions isn’t the sole purpose of the surveillance. There’s a blatant double standard on free speech in the military. Only the sanctioned protected classes can voice their opinions. Hint: It ain’t Christians, Jews, Caucasians, or people that support the enforcement of immigration laws.
During Obama’s regime, Janet Napolitano developed an Enemies List (AKA: Homeland Security Department document entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Environment Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”) which contained a section titled, “Disgruntled Military Veterans”. She also added a DHS study that outlined “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States”, that did not include the muslim terrorist threat in the country. It did, however, name the following people as threats:
– Americans who believe their “way of life” is under attack;
– Americans who are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”;
– People who consider themselves “anti-global” (presumably those who are wary of the loss of American sovereignty);
– Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”;
– Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty”;
In other words, people who are legitimately concerned about government corruption, abuse of power, and violation of civil liberties.
They want to keep an eye on personnel that have opinions, principles, beliefs, and values that run contrary to the socialist, critical race theory, and gender/race identity indoctrination of the military.