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December 15, 2022

The FBI vs. the Bill of Rights?

The First and Second Amendments are in the crosshairs of political characters at the bureau.

Today is the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. These 10 Amendments differ from the ensuing 17 Amendments in that they are core to the Constitution as drafted by the Framers. The rights recognized and preserved are also fundamental, beginning with the first two — the rights of free speech (among others in the First Amendment) and to keep and bear arms.

So why is the FBI targeting both?

Earlier this year, Mark Alexander eviscerated the upper echelons of the FBI while defending the majority of the rank and file. “The FBI field agents I have known over the past 35 years have all been professional men and women of impeccable character, devoted to their oath ‘to support and defend’ our Constitution,” he wrote. “Every agent I know today fits that profile and is singularly devoted to the FBI motto: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.”

To the extent we can, when we discuss the FBI we’ll distinguish between decent rank-and-file agents and the bureau’s corrupt leadership and other politically compromised elements within it. As a whole, however, the FBI still operating out of headquarters named for the corrupt and power-abusing J. Edgar Hoover represents a serious threat to American Liberty.

Without rehashing all the ways the FBI’s deep state conspirators tipped the scales in the last two presidential elections while handicapping the entire presidency of Donald Trump, there are two news stories that bring us back to the Bill of Rights.

The First Amendment first. Twitter is a private company with the right to permit or censor speech as it sees fit, so long as it’s not enjoying the legal protections of a platform. The FBI, as the law enforcement arm of the federal government, is not a private company. Yet the FBI played a key role in the censorship that became rampant on Twitter.

What we know from the Twitter Files releases of recent days is that Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety, Yoel Roth, met weekly with the FBI, DHS, and the director of national intelligence about how to moderate censor disfavored information before the 2020 election. It was far more than COVID, as the White House has previously bragged about; it was about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the revelations of Joe Biden’s corruption.

Meanwhile, Jim Baker, Twitter’s former deputy general counsel, was a former general counsel for … the FBI. Twitter CEO Elon Musk fired Baker just last week after learning that Baker had filtered even the first Twitter Files release, among many other things, likely with a bent toward protecting the FBI.

Government collusion with a private company to censor speech is more than just outrageous. It’s arguably a violation of the First Amendment. It also wasn’t limited to Twitter, but also happened at Facebook.

“The First Amendment applies to the government and prohibits censorship by government agencies and entities, not private actors,” said Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky. “However, when a private company is censoring information based on direction, coordination, and cooperation with the government, then legally it may be considered to be acting as an agent for the government, and it may be found to be violating the First Amendment.”

George Mason University professor David Bernstein wasn’t quite willing to assert “which side of the line” FBI activity was on, but he did say, “There is obviously a line between properly sharing information and a government agency unduly pressuring an agency, especially if there is a threat of retaliation attached.”

Many Republican lawmakers aren’t hedging. “Committee Republicans continue to investigate whether U.S. government officials have participated in suppression and censorship of lawful speech in violation of the U.S. Constitution,” a group of them wrote Wednesday. “Reports continue to surface that social media companies acted on behest of government agencies and officials when removing, restricting, or disclaiming content.”

The Second Amendment has also taken some FBI fire.

Last week, we took on Democrats for proposed legislation that would create a voluntary government-maintained list to prevent certain people from purchasing firearms. The stated motivation is to reduce suicides, which are indeed a serious problem in America, but in reality, Democrats are always looking for new ways to limit gun ownership.

As it turns out, however, the FBI was already doing essentially what the legislation allows. In coordination with the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI has stripped at least 23 people of their gun rights. How? By pressuring them to “voluntarily” surrender those rights by declaring via the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System that they are a “danger” to themselves or others, or lack the “mental capacity” to continue in firearm ownership.

Twenty-three isn’t exactly a big number, and most Americans probably agree with something along the lines of how “red flag” laws protect people from others who are dangerous. The FBI has taken flack for missing clear signs of a threat regarding numerous mass murderers, so maybe this is a sign of corrective action. Yet we only know of 23, and we also don’t really trust the FBI to protect due process rights.

Neither does Republican Congressman Jim Jordan. “We may need to figure out who okayed this program,” he said. “Who, in fact, were the agents going out actually implementing this program? Because we may need to talk to them to figure out how this all got started.” Furthermore, “How did they decide which people to go after?”

We alluded to the connection between FBI actions and Democrat legislation, and GOP Representative Thomas Massie sees the same connection. As he put it, “What we’re looking at is evidence that the FBI went off on their own and wrote the bill and implemented the bill that you are trying to pass.”

Will the FBI investigate the FBI? Will a single person at the FBI lose his or her job for conspiring to deprive American citizens of their civil rights? To ask is to answer.

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