DHS Sec. Lied to Congress About Disinformation Board
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas lied under oath regarding the functioning of the Disinformation Governance Board (DGB) that Republicans moved to terminate in mid-May (read my previous article here).
The DGB, led by a Russian-speaking American author who backed the since-debunked Steele dossier, was established within the DHS to lead the agency’s efforts to combat misinformation online.
Mayorkas told lawmakers in May that the board “had not yet begun its work” when Republicans moved to vote it out of existence; however, documents given to Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) by a DHS whistleblower suggest the board started to take action as early as September of 2021.
The documents show Mayorkas giving the board a green light in February of 2022 and outline the primary goals of the board, which are different than those Mayorkas described to Congress.
Mayorkas told lawmakers the board would focus on combating disinformation ‘from foreign state adversaries and cartels, but would not monitor American citizens.’
As stated in the documents provided by the anonymous whistleblower, the board was also responsible for monitoring Americans’ 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.”
The DHS had plans to effect a rumor control program within the agency to counter “mis-information, dis-information, and mal-information” and had even scheduled a meeting with Twitter to discuss a potential partnership to police online content. Though it is unclear if the meeting took place, documents show it was scheduled for April 28th, 2022.
As hinted at in a June 7th letter to Mayorkas from concerned GOP lawmakers, it appears the DGB was designed to censor political opinions not in line with the goals of the Biden Administration. Doing so would be a blatant violation of First Amendment rights comparable only to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
“Those criticisms are precisely the opposite of what this small working group within the DHS will do and I think we probably could have done a better job communicating what it does and doesn’t do,” Mayorkas told CNN. “The fact is, that disinformation that creates a threat to the security of the homeland is our responsibility to address and this department has been addressing it for years [and] throughout the years of the prior administration.”
When asked by a reporter whether the DGB would monitor American citizens, Mayorkas said “no” and claimed the board itself had no operational authority or capability.
“What [the board] 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 and addressing this threat for years.”