A public policy analyst contends First Amendment concerns will make it difficult for Joe Biden's Pentagon to implement a plan to monitor the social media conversations of members of the military.
As part of the Biden administration's plan to crack down on domestic extremism, the Pentagon intends to launch a pilot program to screen the social media content of members of the armed forces, with the goal of intercepting what it considers "extremist" material. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made it clear in early April he was taking immediate action to counter extremism in the military – and toward that end was establishing the Countering Extremism Working Group.
Abraham Hamilton III is general counsel and public policy analyst for American Family Association. During an appearance Wednesday on American Family Radio, he said the First Amendment still applies to military members.
"That's why we have so much litigation when the military tries to crack down on the religious freedom of some of our military members; [and] the same is true concerning the freedom of speech," the attorney explained. "And the military, the Pentagon in particular, is aware of this because they're considering using a private company to do the monitoring as opposed to them doing the monitoring themselves."
But according to Hamilton, it doesn't matter if a third party is contracted to do the monitoring in order to circumvent First Amendment concerns.
"The current law would view the hired company as an instrument of government illegal searching and seizing," he stated. "And so, this is literally the Biden administration using the government [and] turning it on military service members, to become the thought police. That's literally what's happening."
A report on Monday by The Intercept suggests that the Department of Defense "hinted" at such a surveillance program in Lloyd's April 9 press release, which stated that a working group will make recommendations on "incorporating machine learning and natural language processing into social media screening platforms."
Also, according to an Intercept report last week, the Pentagon's list of potential consultants to be employed as "extremism experts" includes such "anti-hate" groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as conservative groups like First Liberty Institute and the Middle East Media Research Institute.
While Hamilton concluded that even though the Biden administration is likely to have problems implementing the plan, "it doesn't mean that they don't want to implement it."
Bob Maginnis, a senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council, also expresses concerns about the plan. "It's very disconcerting, but understandable if you appreciate where they're coming from," he tells One News Now. "They're truly Marxists."
But that makes him curious about the criteria that might be used for identifying so-called extremists. "What are the labels? Are they religious in theory? Are they political in theory … or ideological in theory? We don't know," he admits.
"What we can surmise, given what the Biden administration has already done, [is that] it could go off the rails very, very quickly about what quote would be [deemed] 'extremism' and 'tolerable' by the leftists in the Biden administration. So, this is really a serious issue."
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates OneNewsNow.com.
Comments from Bob Maginnis were added after story was originally published.