EIR LEAD EDITORIAL FOR TUESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2021
If the President Is Silenced, When Do the Billionaire IT Barons Get to You?
Jan. 11 , 2021 (EIRNS)—Immediately led on Jan. 7-8 by Edward Snowden, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and Michael Gorbachev, more leading figures in political life and journalism have attacked the attempt at total censorship of President Donald Trump by the IT billionaires of Silicon Valley, who are trying to impose total control over political speech in the United States—to start.
Today German Chancellor Angela Merkel “blasted” (in Reuters description) Facebook and Twitter censorship of Trump. “The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance,” Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s chief spokesman, told reporters in Berlin on Monday, according to Reuters. “Given that, the Chancellor considers it problematic that the President’s accounts have been permanently suspended.” The First Amendment “can be interfered with,” Merkel’s spokesman said, “but by law and within the framework defined by the legislature—not according to a corporate decision.” Bruno Le Maire, the French Economy Minister, called “the digital oligarchy” the threat to democracy; French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune expressed “shock” at the Facebook and Twitter power grab and said, “This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO,”
The British liberal Guardian showed considerable disdain in reporting Australian Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack’s statement denouncing the censorship of Trump—but that was Snowden’s warning: Those who think they like to see Trump silenced, will learn that this is a “turning point” and that if the IT giants can silence a U.S. President, they will try to use that power to silence anyone. Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook pointed in that direction today in a statement implying no further discussion of the Nov. 3 election allowed by anyone—not just by Donald Trump. “We are now removing content containing the phrase ‘stop the steal’ under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram. We removed the original Stop the Steal group in November and have continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate any of our policies.”
Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who helped Snowden blow the whistle on the surveillance state, made the same point in a series of tweets today: “Tech monopolies—FB, Google, Apple, Amazon—have more concentrated wealth & power than any in history. They have used brute force 3 times in 3 months to manipulate US politics: censoring NY Post, banning Trump, destroying Parler. And liberals are overwhelmingly supportive.” Most recently, he declared: “these Silicon Valley monopolies are grave menaces to political freedom & economic well-being.” And prefaced the series: “Authoritarians never believe they’re authoritarians, no matter how much censorship, surveillance, jingoism, & imprisonment they demand. They tell themselves their enemies are so uniquely evil and dangerous—terrorists—that anything done in the name of fighting them is noble.”
This stripping of free speech is now targeting Trump and his most vocal and active supporters. As Ed Snowden observed—echoing Martin Niemöller about the Nazis—you may say, “I’m no active Trump supporter, this is OK with me.” Is this for Biden? It was Joe Biden who, by his own boasting, wrote the Patriot Act in 1994—the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. It wasn’t passed, but in 2002 when Attorney General John Ashcroft wrote the Patriot Act itself, he called Biden, recounts Caitlin Johnstone, and said “I’m introducing your bill from 1994.”
Thus if the surveillance state has become the unconstitutional reality of life since 9/11—including making an unholy partnership between the military-intelligence complex and the IT billionaires of Silicon Valley—Joe Biden had already planned that future for America after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
And Biden opposes any tampering now with Section 230 of the Federal Communications Act which allows these tech giants to masquerade as “neutral platforms” while giving them unprecedented censorship power. Experts are suddenly seeing what Trump meant about Section 230. The dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School, for example, Bhaskar Chakravorti, on Jan. 10: “Jan. 6 ought to shape the future of tech as we know it. The only way in which social media doesn’t continue to be weaponized to undermine democracy, is by rethinking this critical piece [Section 230] that gave rise to the web as it is today and is the root of many of its evils.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has appeared to forget that during the Presidential campaign she promised an anti-trust law to break the digital oligarchs’ companies up—“Glass-Steagall for tech.” They must be broken up. The President must not be silenced. At stake is American constitutional self-government.