The Pentagon intends to screen social media content for extremist material in a pilot program said to be part of the Biden administration’s crackdown on domestic extremism, The Intercept reports.
According to internal Defense Department documents reviewed by the publication, as well as a source with direct knowledge of the plan, the program will “continuously” monitor military personnel for “concerning behaviors.”
In order to get around First Amendment restrictions on monitoring by the government, the program will reportedly rely on a private surveillance company.
A senior Pentagon official said the program will use keywords to help find potential extremists, but admitted that it has proven difficult to come up with the choice of words without violating protections for free speech.
Mike German, a retired FBI agent who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, criticized the idea.
“Using key words to monitor social media isn’t just an unnecessary privacy invasion, it is a flawed strategy that will ensure it is short-lived,” he told The Intercept. “It will undoubtedly produce a flood of false positives that will waste security resources and undermine morale, without identifying the real problem, which is the tolerance for those that openly engage in racist behavior and discrimination.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert also slammed the pilot program, the Daily Mail reported.
The Colorado Republican said that 'We should not be removing military members for lack of wokeness. Will the next step be pledging loyalty to the Democrat Party to fight for our country?”
The program is being headed by Bishop Garrison, a senior advisor to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has said in the past that former President Donald Trump and his backers are racist, the Daily Mail reported.
Garrison is also an advocate for Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project, which promotes the idea that the United States is an inherently racist country founded on slavery.
Although the Defense Department has not publicly released any details concerning the pilot program, it indicated a potential crackdown on extremist behavior in the military last month when it officially announced its new Countering Extremism Working Group.
That memo said, "The vast majority of those who serve in uniform and their civilian colleagues do so with great honor and integrity, but any extremist behavior in the force can have an outsized impact."
Austin has "ordered the services to work closer together and learn best practices from each other to ensure extremists do not get into the ranks," according to an article on the Pentagon website.
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