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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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DHS ‘Disinformation’ Governance Board Paused

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Department of Homeland Security | Image by JHVEPhoto

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A mere three weeks after Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas testified that his agency was working to establish a “Disinformation” Governance Board, the entity has been put on “pause” by government officials, The Washington Post reported.

The DHS accepted the resignation of board leader Nina Jankowicz on Wednesday after critics expressed skepticism and concerns about the board potentially infringing on free speech rights.

The announcement of the board’s launch three weeks ago came just two days after Elon Musk said he would purchase Twitter and turn it into a forum for free speech.

Jankowicz told the Associated Press that the wave of attacks and threats she received after accepting the position would not stop her from continuing to fight against “disinformation.”

“We need to have a grownup conversation about how to deal with threats to our national security, and that’s not what happened here,” Jankowicz said. “I’m not going to be silenced.”

The White House sharply criticized opponents of the board and threats against Jankowicz, affirming that the board would be “non-partisan” and “apolitical.”

“These smears leveled by bad-faith, rightwing actors against a deeply qualified expert and against efforts to better combat human smuggling and domestic terrorism are disgusting, and the administration has forcefully spoken out against them repeatedly,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates told Fox News.

“Neither Nina Jankowicz nor the board have anything to do with censorship or with removing content from anywhere. Their role is to ensure that national security officials are updated on how misinformation is affecting the threat environment. She has strong credentials and a history of calling out misinformation from both the left and the right,” Bates continued.

After it was announced, the attorney generals of 20 Republican-led states had threatened legal action against DHS over the board, calling it “un-American.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares led the coalition of attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

“Your censorship will not drown out misinformation; it will suppress the lawful speech of well-meaning but unpopular speakers, and it will turn bad actors into martyrs with far more influence than if you simply allowed ‘more speech’ to combat their alleged misinformation,” the attorney generals warned.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would “not allow the Biden administration to continue to erode our democracy by silencing millions of people in defiance of our Constitution and First Amendment freedoms.”

“You cannot simply label as ‘disinformation’ all speech you disagree with or find politically damaging to your cause and expect the American people to tolerate the government telling them what they can think or say,” Paxton added.

The board could still be relaunched in the future as the “pause” does not mean it has been formally shuttered. Mayorkas said that DHS advisory council members would review the board and make their recommendations in 75 days.    

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