Biden Officials LIED When They Said Disinformation Board Wouldn’t Target Americans
Who is going to make sure Mayorkas respects the First Amendment?
The Biden administration’s notorious Ministry of Truth, the Disinformation Governance Board, is “paused,” not dead. It’s likely that as soon as the foes of the regime are distracted over something else, it will be back. But now, Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have obtained whistleblower documents that reveal that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, in whose department the Board was slated to operate, and former Board chief Nina Jankowicz lied to the American people about the Board’s purpose and scope. Despite repeated denials, it was designed from the beginning to monitor and restrict the free speech of American citizens.
On May 1, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Mayorkas, “Will American citizens be monitored?” Mayorkas’ answer was as unequivocal as it was reassuring: “No. The board does not have any operational authority or capability. What it will do is gather together best practices in addressing the threat of disinformation from foreign state adversaries from the cartels and disseminate those best practices to the operators that have been executing in addressing this threat for years.”
And in late May, Jankowicz sparked controversy when she tweeted that “the spread and effects of disinformation on American society have only worsened and become entrenched in domestic politics” and added: “This is the type of work I had hoped to do at DHS, and the type of work the USG sorely needs to invest in. This is the type of work that I have built my career on—not a few contextless tweets. And this is the type of work I will continue in the public sphere.” When she was reminded of the denials that the Board would get involved in domestic politics, Jankowicz insisted that all she was talking about “raising awareness of the falsities coming out of the Kremlin” and there was “no ‘combating’ domestic sources anywhere in the mix.”
Now, however, according to Hawley’s office, “the whistleblower documents show that The Disinformation Governance Board was originally conceived in part to monitor domestic speech regarding ‘conspiracy theories about the validity and security of elections’ and ‘disinformation related to the origins and effects of COVID-19 vaccines or the efficacy of masks.’” Even worse, “DHS planned for a partnership with Twitter to suppress disfavored content and planned a meeting with Twitter executives exploring the concept.”
That’s not all that Mayorkas has been lying about, either. Hawley’s office notes that “on May 4, 2022, Secretary Mayorkas testified under oath to Senator Hawley that the Disinformation Governance Board ‘had not yet begun its work.’” Mayorkas knew when he said this that it was false, as “the Disinformation Governance Board charter was drafted in January 2022 and personally signed by Secretary Mayorkas on February 24, 2022. The document states that the charter goes into effect immediately upon the Secretary’s signing of the document.” And “despite the Secretary’s assertion that the Board had not yet begun its work, a planned meeting with social media executives appears to have been staffed by Nina Jankowicz.” So they haven’t been honest with us, even while purporting to combat “disinformation.” What a surprise.
Most ominously of all, “DHS officials appear to have prepared legislation to codify a ‘Rumor Control Program of the Department of Homeland Security to Counter Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation,’ including a public-facing website known as ‘Rumor Control.’”
Rumor Control. No First Amendment problems there, oh no.
Hawley and Grassley have now written a letter to Mayorkas, asking him to “clarify why he did not fully explain the Disinformation Governance Board’s role in his testimony before Congress,” and stating: “The First Amendment of the Constitution was designed precisely so that the government could not censor opposing viewpoints – even if those viewpoints were false. DHS should not in any way seek to enlist the private sector to curb or silence opposing viewpoints. It is therefore imperative for DHS to provide additional clarity regarding its policies and procedures for identifying and addressing ‘MDM,’ as well as its efforts to ‘operationalize’ public-private partnerships and the steps it is taking to ensure that it does not infringe on the constitutional rights of American citizens.” That is all true, but what are the chances that Mayorkas will brush off this letter with a perfunctory and disingenuous reply, if he deigns to reply at all? About 100%.
The unpleasant truth is that Mayorkas doesn’t have anything to worry about. Biden’s Justice Department is as politicized and corrupt as DHS itself is. Who is going to hold Mayorkas to account and make sure he respects the First Amendment? Not Merrick Garland. Not Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer. No one.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.