DHS “Disinformation” Board Raises Censorship Alarm Bells

April 29, 2022

Washington, DC – The Center to Advance Security in America (CASA) expressed serious alarm about the shocking and Orwellian development announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of the establishment of a DHS “Disinformation Governance Board.” The move stands in stark contrast to the developments surrounding Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, purportedly to tamp down its blatant censorship of well-established and notable conservative public figures.

The announcement of the “Disinformation” board came up during yesterday’s testimony of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas before the House Appropriations DHS Subcommittee. Secretary Mayorkas announced the two co-chairs, Undersecretary for Policy Rob Silvers and Jennifer Gaskell, Principal Deputy General Counsel, and Executive Director Nina Jankowicz who appears to be one of the newest Biden Administration political appointees. In a second hearing yesterday before House Judiciary Secretary Mayorkas again faced questions about the board’s mission and intended use of taxpayer resources to censor disinformation. Under questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Sec. Mayorkas attempted to downplay the board’s scope. When confronted with examples of statements from government officials, mainly related to the pandemic, that were later proven false, he declared, “The disinformation board addresses disinformation that imperils the safety and security of our homeland. One of the primary areas we are focused on is the disinformation and its connectivity to violence.” The NTAB released by DHS earlier this year directly connects “false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19” and grievances associated with those themes to “violent extremist attacks during 2021.”

The establishment of the Disinformation Governance Board comes at a contentious time in the national discourse on free speech and social media censorship, and as several high-profile stories previously labeled by mainstream media and tech outlets as misinformation or conspiracy theories have turned out to be true. The most notable example is Hunter Biden’s laptop, which was widely dismissed in 2020 as Russian disinformation by major media outlets and Democratic pundits, including the new Executive Director, Ms. Jankowicz. This places DHS and the Biden Administration’s new Disinformation Czar in an awkward situation as any action against American citizens may trigger allegations of government censorship and infringement on Free Speech rights.

The new Board is certain to add fuel to the fire involving a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin issued by DHS in February that listed “the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions” as one of three factors contributing to domestic security threats facing Americans. CASA has since submitted at least ten FOIA requests seeking information regarding the basis for this report, the officials responsible, and the outside entities likely working with DHS to censor free speech.

“Here DHS and Secretary Mayorkas go again with their Orwellian plans to stamp out dissenting opinions on issues they find harmful to their worldview,” Adam Turner, Director of the Center to Advance Security in America, said. “Whether the ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ turns out to be a modern-day version of Joe McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee will be interesting – and possibly terrifying – to watch. We will continue to press hard for transparency into the decision-making around the creation of this Censorship Board and inquire whether Ms. Jankowizc will attempt to lead it with the same zest she has shown for suppressing true stories such as the Hunter laptop story.”

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