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Biden DHS creates new board to police ‘disinformation’

The Department of Homeland Security flag. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
April 27, 2022

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under President Joe Biden is starting a new office it says will focus on countering “misinformation” and “disinformation.”

On Wednesday, Politico first reported the DHS was establishing an office, called the Disinformation Governance Board. Politico reported the new board will focus specifically on misinformation and disinformation about “irregular migration and Russia.”

Nina Jankowicz, who was chosen to serve as the board’s inaugural executive director retweeted Politico’s reporting and confirmed the news.

“Cat’s out of the bag: here’s what I’ve been up to the past two months, and why I’ve been a bit quiet on here,” Jankowicz tweeted. “Honored to be serving in the Biden Administration @DHSgov and helping shape our counter-disinformation efforts.”

“Here’s my official portrait to grab your attention,” Jankowicz said in a subsequent tweet. “Now that I’ve got it: a HUGE focus of our work, and indeed, one of the key reasons the Board was established, is to maintain the Dept’s commitment to protecting free speech, privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties.”

“More to come as we dig into the big job ahead. For now, thanks for the support :),” she added.

Jankowicz previously worked as a disinformation fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on its communications strategy as part of the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship (previously known as the Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship). She also oversaw democracy outreach programs in Russia and Belarus while working at the National Democratic Institute.

Jankowicz also authored the 2020 book, “How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict” and “How to Be a Woman Online: Surviving Abuse and Harassment, and How to Fight Back,” out this month. In the prologue of “How to Lose the Information War,” Jankowicz wrote “Election meddling wasn’t the only reason Donald Trump won the [2016] election, but it was a significant contributing factor” and wrote that Trump used the term “fake news” to “describe any narrative they find politically inconvenient.”

Ahead of the 2020 U.S. election, Jankowicz authored an op-ed in The Atlantic titled “Trump’s Version of Poll Watching Sounds Like Thuggery.” In response to a November 2021 report about Trump allies endorsing supporters to fill local election board seats throughout the country, Jankowicz retweeted the op-ed with the caption, “Yep. Sadly I feared this would happen when the Trump campaign injected violence into election observation last year. Now, far from just sending observers, they’re infecting the process itself.”

In September 2020 amid weeks of riots in Portland, Oregon in which participants set fires in and around police buildings, Jankowicz tweeted, “Trump talking about how he would ‘put out that fire’ in Portland is the language of authoritarianism. It means the violent clearing of protestors, arrest without cause, abuse of human rights. That’s [not] law enforcement, that’s lawlessness.”

On Wednesday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations that DHS Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans Robert Silvers and DHS Principal Deputy General Counsel Jennifer Gaskell will also lead the agency’s “just recently constituted misinformation disinformation governance board.”