The Department of Homeland Security has created a governance board to police “misinformation” and “disinformation,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas first revealed to Congress on Wednesday. The effort has been criticized as a government effort to police free speech.
During a House Appropriations Subcommittee on the DHS’s 2023 budget, Rep. Lauren Underwood asked Mayorkas about the department’s efforts to combat the alleged targeting of minority communities for misinformation campaigns ahead of elections, as well as misinformation from foreign actors like Russia.
Mayorkas revealed the “just recently constituted misinformation/disinformation governance board” whose goal is to “bring the resources of the department together to address this [misinformation] threat.” He said the board was one of the ways the department was working internally to address misinformation in the public.
Mayorkas said the board is being headed by Undersecretary for Policy Rob Silvers and principal deputy general counsel Jennifer Gaskill. It was later revealed that Nina Jankowicz, a misinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, was leading the board.
Jankowicz tweeted a snippet of a Politico report revealing her to be the executive director of the new board. “Honored to be serving in the Biden Administration [DHS] and helping shape our counter-disinformation efforts,” she said in the tweet, adding that a “HUGE focus” of the board is to “maintain the Dept’s commitment to protecting free speech, privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties.”
Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted on Thursday saying, “Meet [Nina Jankowicz] the new director of the first Federal Speech Police in American history. Instead of stopping drugs and illegal immigration [DHS] will be focused on stopping American citizens from sharing opinions or information this new bureau decides is misinformation.”
Rubio released a video criticizing the DHS’s new board, saying, “they’re focused on policing speech, on making sure people can’t share information and share things that they decide is misinformation.”
“If you don’t think these people aren’t coming after free speech, if you don’t think they’re not coming after our freedom, you better believe it now,” he said.
Jankowicz made headlines in 2020 when she cast doubts about the Hunter Biden laptop reporting by The New York Post and said it should be viewed as a product of President Donald Trump’s campaign. The reporting was suppressed by social media platforms and declared a Russian information operation at the time, but has since been authenticated.