OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
The United States Department of Homeland Security announced on the morning of April 27 the creation of the first Disinformation Governance Board. The board’s stated goal is to “coordinate countering misinformation related to homeland security.” The Biden administration appointed Nina Jankowicz as the board’s executive director.
Jankowicz, 33, was tapped by the administration to run the newly created disinformation board because the administration saw her as an expert in the field. Her work is apparently well respected within the small community of researchers who study disinformation.
But, recent attention has been focused on Jankowicz for her history of spreading misinformation, such as a story denying the existence of the Hunter Biden laptop.
According to critics, DHS’ new board resembles George Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ from 1984 and is designed to silence conservative voices. It is clear from the novel that the ministry was used to spread information – and that it was able to rewrite the history of a fictional world in order to change the facts.
After just a few weeks, the DHS shut down the board, and its head, Nina Jankowicz, resigned Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.
Jankowicz was scrutinized for disinformation she spread about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the discredited Steele Dossier, which former CIA officer Daniel Hoffman said was part of a disinformation campaign by Russia. She also called Republicans who criticized critical race theory (CRT) “disinformers.”
During its “pause,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appointed the co-author of the PATRIOT Act, one of the most draconian restrictions on civil liberties in the modern era, and a former official from President Bill Clinton’s administration to lead the Disinformation Governance Board.
In a statement on Wednesday, the department announced former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and former U.S. Deputy Secretary General Jamie Gorelick under Clinton “will lead a thorough review and assessment” of the DGB and stated that it was “grossly and intentionally mischaracterized.”
The Free Beacon reports that Chertoff spread misinformation about Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, claiming Russians were behind the e-mails located inside. In his capacity as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chertoff investigated the 9/11 attacks and drafted the Patriot Act, which gave the government the authority to tap phones to look for terrorism and conduct searches without a warrant.
In addition to his work for the Clinton administration, Gorelick was a member of the 9/11 Commission. Her name was reportedly mentioned as Hillary Clinton’s top choice for attorney general. She has also represented a wide range of clients, such as Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, BP following its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Duke University following false rape accusations against three lacrosse players.
It will be determined in the review of the Disinformation Governance Board how the board can regulate disinformation while “protecting free speech, civil rights, civil liberties and privacy”. It will also be determined how the board can increase “transparency” with the public. The process will be handled by the “bipartisan Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).”
GOP members in the House introduced a bill earlier this month to eliminate the ‘un-American’ new Disinformation Governance Board, which conservatives have compared to Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth.’
Mike Johnson, a Republican Representative from Louisiana, is pushing legislation that would defund the new censorship entity within DHS.
‘Today I led 50 @HouseGOP Members in introducing a bill to defund Biden’s ‘Ministry of Truth.’ The government has no role in determining what constitutes truth or acceptable speech, and this dystopian, unconstitutional board must be dissolved,’ Johnson posted on Twitter yesterday.
‘If Biden won’t do it, then we will.’
Today I led 50 @HouseGOP Members in introducing a bill to defund Biden’s “Ministry of Truth.”
The government has no role in determining what constitutes truth or acceptable speech, and this dystopian, unconstitutional board must be dissolved.
If Biden won't do it, then we will. pic.twitter.com/WmCtleXIBq
— Rep. Mike Johnson (@RepMikeJohnson) May 3, 2022
Numerous lawmakers have joined in the proposal to dissolve the board, including Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik and Republican Reps. Andy Biggs and Lauren Boebert, among others.
Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee called for the board to be disbanded as well.
She wrote an open letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claiming that the new board violates Americans’ First Amendment rights and argued that having Democrats control the board will silence conservative speech.
According to critics, Mayorkas’ new board resembles George Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ from 1984 and is designed to silence conservative voices. It is clear from the novel that the ministry was used to spread information – and that it was able to rewrite the history of a fictional world in order to change the facts.
Several slogans adorned the outside of the Ministry of Truth in the book: ‘WAR IS PEACE,’ ‘FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,’ and a liberal favorite, ‘IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.’
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene declared that the DHS Disinformation Governance Board is ‘communism.’
‘They don’t want you to have it because they don’t want you to be able to say what you think and feel or sort out the truth yourself,’ she said while campaigning in her district this month.
Democrats, such as Secretary Mayorkas, reject Republican charges that the board is corrupt. Their argument is that the agency is intended to coordinate DHS’s online surveillance.
Conservative and Republican voices are unconvinced as they claim they are already being silenced online.