Homeland Security Disinformation Board: The Disinformation Governance Board is a United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) board that was introduced on April 27, 2022, during a United States House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing for the fiscal year 2023.
Its mission is to safeguard national security by combating disinformation and misinformation. False information spread by human smugglers encouraging migrants at the Mexico–United States border, as well as Russian-state disinformation on election meddling, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and COVID-19 vaccines, are all highlighted in the board’s announcement.
Nina Jankowicz was named executive director once the board was announced. She previously worked as a Wilson Center fellow, advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry as part of a Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship, directed the National Democratic Institute’s Russia and Belarus programs, and co-authored the book How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict.
Republicans, particularly U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), have questioned Jankowicz’s appointment, citing her past support for the Democratic Party and her public doubts about the origins of Hunter Biden’s laptop. Rob Silvers and Jennifer Daskal will serve as board leaders, according to the announcement.
After the board’s announcement, Republican politicians and pundits slammed it, with some advocating for its disbandment. “Homeland Security has decided to make controlling Americans’ speech its top priority,” Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) said. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a former congresswoman, compared the board to the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) presented the “Protecting Free Speech Act” on April 29, 2022, which would abolish the Board and prevent any comparable institution from receiving funding from DHS.
The Department of Homeland Security stated in a statement that the board’s responsibilities include “protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.”
Why Homeland Security Disinformation Board is a Bad Idea According To Republican legislators?
The right has spent the last 24 hours railing against the Department of Homeland Security’s newly formed Disinformation Board, which the Biden administration thinks will combat misinformation produced by human traffickers and the Russian government. However, it was plainly another act of dictatorship by the Biden administration, according to Republican legislators and right-wing media commentators.
Josh Hawley tweeted, “Rather than policing our border, Homeland Security has decided to make regulating Americans’ speech its primary priority.”
Meanwhile, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson said that the Department of Homeland Security was “providing law enforcement authority to identify and punish people who say the incorrect things,” and predicted that the endgame would be “guys with guns” coming to your home to “tell you to shut talking.”
Elon Musk, who is becoming increasingly enraged by the day, responded to Steven Crowder’s tweet comparing the board to Nazi Germany by emphasizing that he found the board “discomforting.” As you could expect, Orwell was mentioned numerous times.
The fact that the right’s political movement is built on a firehose of lies and falsehoods naturally concerns the right about efforts to bring misinformation to the heel. For example, it portrays the new Disinformation Bureau as a type of canceled cultural tribunal, where ordinary folks will face a panel of humorless awakened drones to answer for their thought crimes.
All of this grossly exaggerates the authority of the Disinformation Board. There’s no reason to suppose it won’t generate records and media geared at promptly refuting falsehoods. But whether or not this endeavor will be successful—or even if it is really a good idea—is another story.
Right-wingers, for example, are unlikely to embrace a new set of fact sheets, even if they come from the Department of Homeland Security, which is perhaps the most right-wing agency in the federal government.
“We don’t do things like that here in America, and we never have,” Carlson remarked on his broadcast. “Or, to put it another way, we haven’t till now. But now that Joe Biden is president, everything has changed. As a result, the administration unveiled its own Ministry of Truth today, to mark the arrival of the new Soviet America. The Disinformation Governance Board will be established.”
Surprisingly, this is the clearest argument against the creation of such a board—though not in the way Carlson believes. The Biden administration’s creation of such an agency will almost certainly fail to achieve its goals by becoming a lightning rod for conservative culture warriors hunting for any proof that the federal government has gone “woke.”
Furthermore, it’s simple to see how a Republican administration could utilize such a board to spread its own misinformation—and in the process, attack immigrants and other vulnerable communities.
The fact that the White House alternates between the two parties is a reality of life that the current Democratic government should consider before putting in place the infrastructure for a QAnon Two Minutes Hate Machine.
Furthermore, any extension of the Department of Homeland Security or its authority should be vigorously resisted by leftists. As my colleague Matt Ford argued back in 2018, the department itself, which owes its existence to the authoritarian post-9/11 fear, should be dissolved.
DHS has been ill-equipped from the outset, taking on a wide range of responsibilities, including airport security and pandemic control. “Among its missions include leading counterterrorism initiatives, assisting Americans in the aftermath of natural disasters, protecting and regulating the US border, and defending the country against cyberattacks.”
DHS has been inept, inefficient, redundant, or abusive in all of these endeavors, and Congress is well aware of this,” Ford stated. This is not the agency to take on the role of responding to “disinformation” on behalf of the federal government.
The Department of Homeland Security was said to have assisted Trump’s savage lies about immigrants and crime during his presidency.
According to an NBC News report from September 2020, Brian Murphy, a former top DHS intelligence analyst, accused the agency of “blocking analysis of Russian election interference, watering down intelligence reports about corruption and violence fueling a refugee flow from Central America, and modifying assessments to ensure they matched up with public comments by President Trump on the subject of ANTIFA and “anarchist” groups.”
NBC News discovered that the allegations backed up with its own findings, “which indicated that the Trump administration was distorting the statistics on suspected terrorists crossing the southern border, claiming thousands when there were essentially none,” according to the site.