President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that “I’m not going to change anything” after the midterm elections even with the possible loss of one or both houses of Congress. One thing that did not change is Biden’s continued suggestion that his political opponents are fascists or national security threats. Biden is now supporting an investigation into whether Elon Musk’s taking over of Twitter is a national security threat. Biden’s statement comes just a couple days after Musk’s call for supporters to vote for Republican control of Congress and the President attacking him for his plan to restore free speech protections on Twitter.
During a press conference at the White House, a reporter asked Biden if he thought Musk was a national security threat because of his business ties to Saudi Arabia. Biden responded:
“I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation, and/or technical relationships with other countries, uh, is worthy of being looked at. Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting that … it’s worth being looked at.”
This followed Biden’s tirade against Twitter for moving toward less censorship. The President seriously asked “how do people know the truth” if social media companies did not control what they could read or hear on these platforms.
Biden could have simply demurred and said that he would leave such matters to the responsible agencies to consider. Instead, he added his call to those of Democratic politicians and pundits to initiate a national security review.
The call to unleash a national security review on Musk’s takeover is being pushed by various liberal legal experts and pundits without any sense of concern over the use of such powers for political ends. Among those calling for an investigation is Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who asked the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review the deal.
Of course, many of these Democratic leaders and pundits supported Twitter silencing those with opposing views for years. In previous hearings, Democratic senators demanded greater censorship from Twitter in areas ranging from Covid to climate change. However, according to Murphy, they are now worried about “the potential influence of the Government of Saudi Arabia” and “[a]ny potential that Twitter’s foreign ownership will result in increased censorship, misinformation, or political violence is a grave national security concern.”
The call for a national security review lacks critical facts that would justify any serious action on the part of CFIUS.
CFIUS is a multi-agency committee headed by the Treasury Department and has the authority to block foreign ownership in critical U.S. industries for national security reasons. CFIUS was created to focus on vital national security industries. In 2018, it was given the mandate to examine foreign ownership of companies that collect and hold data on more than 1 million Americans. However, there is no indication that the Saudis hold a significant share or level of control in the company.
Even if CFIUS were to find sufficient ownership or control of Twitter, it would likely result in an agreement to protect data or limit such control. It would not likely present a substantial barrier for Musk. However, the point of these calls is to harass Musk at every turn in retaliation for his defense of free speech values on social media.
Notably, the calls for national security reviews are occurring at the same time that liberal groups are pressuring companies to withdraw from advertising on the platform. General Motors led the way, even though it had objections when Twitter was silencing opposing views. GM also has no difficulty in giving money to TikTok despite its connections with China. After all, American law professors have proclaimed that “China was right” all along in pushing for censorship on the Internet.
These groups know that Twitter represents a massive threat to the control over political speech on social media. Many customers never wanted the censorship being sold by companies like Facebook and Twitter, but they lacked any alternative. Twitter can now be that alternative. At the same time, Musk’s takeover led to a surge in use on the site. If the public flocks to Twitter as a free speech alternative, the establishment loses its control over what is read or heard by voters on these sites.
The threat is so great that political leaders such as Hillary Clinton have called upon foreign governments to impose censorship rules on Twitter — a call answered by European Union, British, and German officials. So, as Democratic leaders are raising the alarm of possible influence of foreign investors at Twitter, they are actively seeking direct censorship from foreign governments.
These campaigns only add support to Musk’s push for alternative revenue sources, including verification fees. As I previously wrote, we can show that there is a market for free speech by supporting Twitter in trying to reduce the dependence on corporate sponsors. If Musk remains faithful to free speech, many customers are likely to join his platform and support his effort to reduce censorship on social media.