'That's not what I asked you': Rep. Eli Crane takes Biden Admin officials to task for government censorship

In a tense exchange with two Biden administration officials during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on December 13, Congressman Eli Crane (R-AZ) expressed his displeasure at the answers that Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Assistant Director, Mona Harrington, and Assistant Secretary for Cyber, Infrastructure, Risk, and Resilience at the Department of Homeland Security, Iranga Kahangama, gave him regarding censorship.

Crane first asked Kahangama, "Do you trust the government to censor American speech?" Kahangama rejected the premise of Crane's inquiry, responding, "The Department of Homeland Security does not censor content."

In response, Crane asked the Assistant Secretary if he heard the evidence given by journalist Michael Shellenberger "about how our government was using some of its institutions and organizations to censor the speech of Americans on social media." Though Kahangama stated he saw the first portion of the hearing, he said he was "not familiar" with what Crane was referencing. 

Crane then asked, "Do you think that it's censorship for the federal government to be reaching out to social media platforms and asking them to remove postings from American citizens?"

Kahangama replied, "Thank you Congressman. I would reiterate that the Department of Homeland Security does not engage in content moderation conversations with social media companies."

Crane sharply chided the Assistant Secretary, "Okay, that's not what I asked you."

In the subsequent back and forth between Crane and the two officials, Crane asked if they studied history. To which both answered, "generally."

The exchange went like this: 

Crane asked, "Okay typically what types of government censor their own people? Go ahead either of you, Authoritative dictators?"

Harrington answered,"Yeah, I would agree."

Crane continued, "Do totalitarian governments do that?" followed by, "Do communistic governments do that? Socialistic governments do that?"

The two responded in the affirmative to those questions.

"Do you think it's important that we try not to become like them?" Crane asked. 

Kahangama answered, " I believe this government is not like them. I believe we are respectful of our constitutional rights, we ensure that all the work that we are doing is protected by our civil liberties and civil rights offices and we do that with respect to all of our freedoms including—"

Crane cut him off, saying, "Well thank you but I would actually respectfully disagree with that point of view. As a matter of fact, if you were paying attention to some of the evidence produced in the last panel, you would know that. As somebody who's involved in law enforcement, that was evidence, sir.

"That's what any law enforcement officer would consider evidence those emails going from our government to social media platforms flagging and requesting the removal of posts and speech from American citizens. So you can sit there and you can give me all the little canned answers you want but when you actually open your mind and are willing to look at the evidence being presented it's obvious.

"Now this shouldn't be a partisan issue. We all know that on this panel. It shouldn't be a Democrat or Republican issue. It should be are we willing to become like other totalitarian governments communistic governments socialistic governments that censor the speech of our own people."

The congressman concluded, "And I hope you two take this very seriously because I'm sure that many of the people that have participated in some of these communistic totalitarian governments in history felt like they were doing the right thing. And so I hope that you guys take this very seriously, and I hope you take our constitution very seriously, and free speech, because I'll tell you this: It is most important to protect free speech not when you agree with people, but when you disagree with them."

When asked by Law Enforcement Today what actions he and the House are taking to prevent this sort of censorship from interfering, Crane replied, "Money talks, Some of us are attempting to use the power of the purse to hold several weaponized federal institutions accountable."
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Kudos to Congressman Eli Crane!! He delivered a very important history lesson .

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