ROOKE: Congress Mindlessly Opens The Gates For Deep State ‘Trojan Horse’ By Passing TikTok Bill

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday called the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act.” The bill aims to curtail the influence that China and other hostile nations have in the U.S. Still, with the broad language and unilateral power given to the executive branch, the reality could allow for sinister interpretations by a politically motivated president.

Banning TikTok has quickly become the most polarizing topic in America, creating strange bedfellows such as Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former President Donald Trump, who have aligned themselves against it. While the bill’s proponents say H.R. 7521 bans TikTok and cracks down on the Chinese Communist Party’s influence on impressionable Americans, critics worry the language allows the federal government more power than it deserves.

First and foremost, banning China’s influence in America is a good thing. No pundit or elected official has successfully argued against this bill by claiming that having CCP-controlled digital systems in the U.S. is good for Americans. It’s just not. The federal government should force any application, internet hosting service or other corresponding digital service company to be independent of U.S. foreign adversaries.

However, this bill has issues, and to deny that betrays a naïve view of how the federal government exercises the power it receives (or doesn’t) from Congress. (ROOKE: Even In Border State, Republicans Fail To Protect Elections From Illegal Immigrants)

The main issue with H.R. 7521 is the broad language in some key areas and the lack of checks and balances required to prevent the president from abusing the power granted in the bill.

Screenshot H.R. 7521 Bill Summary

If H.R. 7521 becomes a law, the president alone has the power to determine if an app is controlled by a foreign adversary within the bill’s definition of that term.

The bill currently considers four nations foreign adversaries of the U.S.:

  • The People’s Republic of China, including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (China)
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran)
  • The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)
  • The Russian Federation (Russia)

There is a small caveat: If the president makes that determination, he is required to make a public announcement of the White House’s intention to pursue a foreign adversary distinction against a digital company. He must also send a written report to Congress detailing the evidence justifying the distinction.

It is incorrect to compare this to the Patriot Act, as some pundits have done. The bill does not target everyday Americans in the same way the Patriot Act was weaponized here at home. Unlike the Patriot Act, which allowed the federal government to secretly spy on Americans, this is aimed at companies, not individuals, and the evidence must be made public.

Still, the Congressional briefing sent by the president would include a “classified annex,” presumably made up of information from U.S. intel agencies that would need to be kept hidden from the public for safety purposes. That is, of course, the most gracious view of the reasoning to keep this information private.

But that’s where Congress’s power to curtail the president ends. What, if anything, can Congress do if it disagrees with the president’s determination?

The short answer is nothing. The executive branch’s obligation for transparency ends when Congress receives the paperwork. If the American people are lucky, a posturing hearing about political weaponization might be scheduled. Still, the reality is that H.R.7521 does not give Congress the power to prevent the president from abusing his authority. (ROOKE: Rich MSNBC Liberals Are Laughing Their Way To Their Worst Nightmare)

If Congress, or anyone else, takes issue with the president’s decision to go after an internet company supposedly controlled by foreign adversaries, only the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) can investigate. If the DOJ is politically motivated to align with the president (as many Americans feel the current system is), then what assurances do the people have that the DOJ will find the president violated the law?

Not to mention that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has exclusive jurisdiction over any challenge to the bill. Essentially, the federal government is asking Americans to trust that it won’t abuse its power. The same entity that was recently reprimanded for overcharging Jan. 6 political prisoners to ensure they pay the highest penalties possible now wants unilateral control over which apps Americans can have on their phones.

Americans have become accustomed to Congress abdicating its responsibility to protect U.S. citizens from federal government overreach (e.g., the Patriot Act, FISA warrant extensions, deploying U.S. troops without a vote, etc.). Now, to be sure, this bill is another extension of the feckless security Congress extends.

Still, the lack of checks and balances is only one issue plaguing H.R. 7521. The bill’s language regarding “qualified divestiture” and who determines the new owner of a relevant company shows there is more cause for concern.

Screenshot H.R. 7521 Qualified Divestiture

As mentioned, requiring apps to be independent of foreign adversaries is good and smart, not just for domestic safety but also to prevent the leftwing capture of American children. However, H.R. 7521 does not stipulate that anyone with money free of foreign adversarial connections can buy TikTok once the federal government can force the sale to an American entity or person.

Through an interagency process, the president would have discretion to approve the buyer of TikTok. This is a lot of power, given that The New York Times reported that TikTok is the most commonly used app for Americans under the age of 30 to receive their news, and the coverage of President Biden’s economy on there is terrible. (ROOKE: Biden’s Spy Agency Goes After Conservative Journalist. The America You Grew Up In No Longer Exists)

“Despite low unemployment and falling inflation, TikTok is full of viral videos bemoaning the U.S. economy. One popular group of posts uses the term ‘Silent Depression,'” the piece states.

The Biden campaign is very active on TikTok and frequently uses the app’s biggest influencers to help push messages coming straight out of the White House. This would mean that Biden would seemingly have the power to choose his favorite donors to purchase an app favorited by Gen Z and use it as an extension of his campaign.

This is not a ban in the true sense that the app that enforces leftwing ideology capturing America’s children will be going away. Instead, it will be placed in the hands of people who will undoubtedly use it to ensure this trend continues.