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“Indo-American and the daughter of immigrants.” This is how the Biden Administration introduces Vanita Gupta, “the first woman of color to serve as Deputy Attorney General,” according to the profile on the then President-elect’s website.
She is a woman who has been the talk of the town for her activism, which is quite close to American Progressivism. She has not had major controversies throughout her career and, beyond her political positions, there are conservatives who have highlighted her for being a professional who seeks common ground even in dissent. Although her trajectory is marked by defending the progressive agenda in the legal area in terms of police, detentions, immigration and civil rights reforms.
But beyond Gupta’s impeccable record, and after TIME magazine’s report entitled “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election,” more than one person has been concerned about how Joe Biden’s Deputy Attorney General met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg in the run-up to the presidential election as part of the conspiracy “to save democracy from Donald Trump.”
The attitude taken by Big Tech against what they considered “electoral disinformation,” including the censorship of conservative voices, including that of former President Trump himself and of media outlets such as the New York Post -after revealing an exclusive about the Ukrainian business dealings of Hunter Biden, son of the now President- have been a reason enough to criticize the big technology platforms for restricting freedom of expression in favor of their own political-economic benefits.
But who is Vanita Gupta? Is it so worrying that she met with the tech giants? And what is her background?
A successful legal career
Gupta is a woman with a good legal career, a lawyer who specializes mainly in the field of civil rights. Her first case as a lawyer -one that in a way opened several doors for her career because of the relevance it gained- was in 2003, when she worked directly for the Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF), in a case involving 40 people of color and 6 whites or Latinos who were partners of African-Americans in Texas. All were convicted on drug trafficking charges, but most only by the testimony of an undercover agent named Tom Coleman.
Vanita Gupta proved that Agent Coleman did not use wiretaps and the records showed that his reports were flawed. Biden’s brand-new prosecutor got these people out of jail after being incarcerated for four years, Governor Rick Perry saw the case and pardoned the defendants. He also secured a $6,000,000 settlement for them.
Years later, at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Vanita Gupta led a lawsuit against a Texas immigration detention center that led to sweeping detention policy reform. The attorney is credited with pioneering the ACLU’s National Campaign to End Mass Incarceration.
Vanita Gupta, a rather Progressive lawyer and Obama-era official
Gupta is strongly supported by the American left, especially the most Progressive; she openly campaigned for the Biden-Harris formula and in her career she has focused on working for the rights of the black, LGBTI and immigrants communities.
Her first steps as a White House official were during the Barack Obama Administration. Gupta is, then, part of that huge “recycling” of former Obama Administration officials/employees who have now obtained positions in the Joe Biden Administration,
Gupta served in the Obama Administration as Acting Assistant Attorney General and was also head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
During her tenure at the Justice Department, the Civil Rights Division worked to advance criminal justice and constitutional policing reform, including research and work to reform police departments in Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; Baltimore; and Chicago, among other cities.
In addition, Gupta oversaw many other law enforcement efforts for the Division. Her work included prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking, promoting the rights of the disabled, protecting the rights of LGBT people, and combating discrimination in education, employment, housing, lending, and voting.
Despite all of the above, Gupta is not considered a radical legal activist, beyond her marked positions and tendencies. In fact, Obama chose her for the position of Deputy Attorney General as a second choice because his first candidate, Debo Adegbile, was rejected by Congress for the division he generated after representing death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of the murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Vanita Gupta was far more palatable than Adegbile.
Concerns about the TIME report
TIME magazine recently published a story referencing a mega-conspiracy between Liberal-Progressives and some leading Conservative voices to, as the conspirators claim, “save American democracy from former President Donald Trump.”
Various Liberal-Progressive actors waged a giant campaign and massive effort to change state election laws, combat what they called “election disinformation,” promote their narratives in the media, use tech giants to their advantage and, ultimately, defeat Trump.
“Quinn’s investigation gave ammunition to advocates pushing social media platforms to take a harder line. In November 2019, Mark Zuckerberg invited nine civil rights leaders to dinner at his home, where they warned him of the danger of election-related falsehoods that were already spreading unchecked,” reads TIME‘s report.
“It took pushing, urging, conversation, brainstorming, all of that to get to a place where we ended up with more stringent rules and enforcement,” Vanita Gupta told TIME, she attended the dinner and also met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
“It was a struggle, but we got to the point where they understood the problem. Was it enough? Probably not. Was it later than we wanted it to be? Yes. But it was really important, given the level of official misinformation, that they had those rules in place and were flagging things and taking them down,” Vanita Gupta told TIME magazine.
While Gupta’s career has ultimately focused on civil rights, respect for free speech apparently did not enter into her conversations with the CEOs of the tech platforms that openly censored Conservative voices weeks before and after the election.
The situation regarding censorship has escalated so much that even the repeal of Section 230 which protects Big Tech from civil lawsuits has been called into question as before.
While Vanita Gupta has the credentials to be an Assistant Attorney General in an administration like Biden’s, with a rather Liberal-Progressive profile, the concern about the prosecutor having been in the meetings with Zuckerberg and Dorsey and subsequently stating for TIME, with pride, the agreements reached with the giant tech platforms to censor half the country, leaves a bad taste in the mouth by a senior official of the current Biden Administration who participated in the conspiracy against Trump.
In that sense, the latest editorial of El American is quite clear: “The stability of a democracy cannot depend on arbitrary, manipulative and petty maneuvers, with the sole purpose of favoring a political faction. We do not believe in that. That is not fair play.”
“Conspiring is not illegal, it is true. Neither is censoring, erasing the President of the United States from all social media platforms, lying, manipulating, altering rules and regulations, neutralizing information that disfavors a candidate, and hiding corruption from his son. But it is low minded. It is immoral and should not be legitimized by Americans who trust America’s institutions.”
To what extent can these meetings with Dorsey and Zuckerberg taint Vanita Gupta’s successful career? We will have to wait to see.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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