DHS has now disbanded the disinformation board just months after it was put on pause amid intense Republican-led backlash, the Department of Homeland Security has officially disbanded its controversial disinformation board. The department’s “Disinformation Governance Board” initiative was halted in May, after weeks of attacks, including those aimed at the disinformation expert appointed to lead the effort. It was intended by the board to coordinate department activities related to disinformation aimed at the US population and infrastructure, but it was formally terminated.
DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa said in a statement that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “has terminated the Disinformation Governance Board and rescinded its charter effective today, August 24, 2022.” A set of recommendations to the secretary was issued by a Homeland Security Advisory Council subcommittee, including its assessment that there is “no need for a separate Disinformation Governance Board.”
However, it was noted by the council, which provides guidance and recommendations to the DHS secretary, that the “underlying work of Department components on this issue is critical.” The advisory report said: “DHS must be able to address the disinformation threat streams that can undermine the security of our homeland.” The department will use the council’s recommendations as a guide to “continue to address threat streams that undermine the security of our country consistent with the law, while upholding the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of the American people and promoting transparency in our work,” Espinosa said.
The disinformation expert with experience working on Ukraine and Russia issues, Nina Jankowicz resigned in May after the department paused the board.
Quickly, condemnation was drawn from GOP lawmakers and right-wing media after her appointment, who pointed to her past tweets and statements regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop and Christopher Steele, the author of the so-called Steele Dossier. Jankowicz told CNN at the time that she resigned because the board’s future was uncertain.
Acknowledging that the new initiative should have been rolled out differently, she said: “I had hoped we would be more transparent about how the board was going to operate and what it was going to do. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen, and that information vacuum only grew. And I think the information vacuum kind of directed a lot of the attacks and digging around in my personal life.”
Previously, the board was defended by the DHS and the White House but eventually decided to pause the initiative and call for a review. Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and former US Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick were asked by Mayorkas to lead the review of the board through the advisory council.