House Republican lawmakers have launched a probe into the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), accusing the agency of censoring conservative voices. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the GOP members of the Foreign Affairs Committee requested more information on the GEC’s activities and funding.
The letter was led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and co-signed by several Republican Representatives. They highlighted that the House Foreign Affairs Committee had previously postponed reauthorizing the GEC due to unresolved issues related to staffing, organizational structure, and policy priorities.
🤨 Will they truly comply?
‼️ “House Foreign Affairs Republicans sent a letter on Tuesday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding more information about the department’s #funding of groups that censor conservatives and free speech.”#censorshiphttps://t.co/nhEnfeDUB8
— Dr. James Reichenbach (@DocReichenbach) May 4, 2023
According to the Republicans, Congress initially authorized the GEC in 2016 to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and its allies. However, they believe the agency’s mission has strayed, providing social media companies access to tech applications that detect and combat “malign-foreign-influence activity.” According to the FBI, these applications might accidentally collect information from American citizens.
Despite these concerns, Democrats maintain that the GEC is necessary to combat Russian misinformation and propaganda efforts by the Chinese Communist Party. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut believes the GEC should play a primary role in countering global misinformation, as it has a better understanding of effective messaging than the Department of Defense.
As part of their investigation, GOP lawmakers have requested documents and communications between the GEC and various organizations, including the Atlantic Council, Google Jigsaw, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. They also seek correspondence related to content moderation decisions made by social media platforms concerning Covid-19 policies and practices.
This probe comes on the heels of accusations by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who claim that Secretary Blinken lied to Congress about his knowledge of Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian gas company. They have requested all records referring or relating to Hunter Biden, who is currently under congressional investigation for his foreign business deals.
These latest developments signal a growing distrust among House Republicans towards the State Department, specifically regarding its alleged censorship of conservative voices and the purported dishonesty of its top official. As the investigation continues, it remains to be seen what impact it will have on the GEC’s operations and the larger political landscape.