Republican Rep. Rich McCormick of Georgia sponsored an amendment to the defense spending bill that bars the Pentagon from contracting with censorship organizations, the Daily Caller reported. The measure sailed through the committee on Thursday.
President Joe Biden and his administration have made it a point to combat so-called "disinformation" and "misinformation." However, the practice is problematic due to the nebulous terms and biased organizations charged with the task.
That issue led to McCormick's amendment, which was added to the House Armed Services Committee’s 2024 National Defense Authorization Act of 2024. In it, specific organizations like NewsGuard Technologies, Graphika, and the Global Disinformation Index were singled out as problematic.
The Department of Defense used NewsGuard Technologies to the tune of $749,387 for its "Misinformation Fingerprints" tool in 2021. U.S. Cyber Command, which is part of the Defense Department, teamed up with the State Department and NewsGuard to track "COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation" using artificial intelligence.
The goal was to not only find problematic content but also to "offer solutions to hoaxes related to the COVID-19 pandemic." A spokesperson for NewsGuard said the company "provided the Department of Defense with alerts and analysis about new false narratives being spread by hostile foreign governments, including China, Russia, and Iran, targeting Americans and our allies with false claims."
The spokesperson added that NewsGuard was instrumental in identifying a Chinese website making false claims about the U.S. making and using bioweapons against the communist nation. "We operate in an objective manner, including how we identify provably false claims and how we rate news sources by using fully transparent and apolitical criteria," the spokesperson said.
The State Department also previously used GDI, which is based in the U.K., in its crusade to de-platform and demonetize conservative voices on social media and other web-based platforms. In addition to the specifically named companies, the Institution for Strategic Dialogue was also paid $80,000 vaguely for "prevention services" in 2023.
The non-profit was formed to combat so-called extremism, online hate, and disinformation. To perform this function, the ISD teams up with social media companies to eradicate such language from the platforms.
The ISD is currently under contract with the State Department to "advance the development of promising and innovative technologies against disinformation and propaganda." Unfortunately, it often considers conservative positions on abortion, gender confusion, climate change, and Critical Race Theory to be extreme.
The problematic nature of these collaborations and demonstrable bias is what led McCormick to oppose using such organizations. Now the Department of Defense will not be allowed to contract with the ones mentioned or any others that scrape the internet for a specific speech, thanks to the Georgia Republican's amendment.
"Proud to pass my amendment that prohibits the Department of Defense from contracting with any one of a number of 'misinformation' or 'disinformation' monitors that rate news and information sources," McCormick tweeted Wednesday. "While these media monitors claim to be nonpartisan, the reality is they are not," he added.
The amendment also stipulated that any marketing or advertising agencies used to recruit new Department of Defense partners would have to publicize that they do not use the prohibited agencies. McCormick's amendment received hearty support from his colleague Rep. Mark Alford (R-MO).
"We MUST prevent taxpayer dollars from going to contracts with entities that advise the censorship of news sources based on political biases under the guise of 'fact checking," Alford tweeted. "I'm proud to support this @RepMcCormick amendment!"
The federal government shouldn't be policing the speech of American citizens to begin with, let alone paying contractors to do it for them. McCormick's amendment is an important step toward safeguarding the First Amendment and pushing back against Biden's efforts to our freedoms.