The Department of Homeland Security was ripped by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., over its creation of a so-called “disinformation board” that he says will be policing free speech instead of the border.
Hawley voiced “deep concern” in a letter addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, over the department’s decision to create a new “Disinformation Governance Board.”
“I confess, I at first thought this announcement was satire. Surely, no American administration would ever use the power of government to sit in judgment on the First Amendment speech of its own citizens. Sadly, I was mistaken. Rather than protecting our border or the American homeland, you have chosen to make policing Americans’ speech your priority. This new board is most certainly unconstitutional and should be dissolved immediately,” wrote Hawley, per report.
While Democrats for years have “controlled the public square through Big Tech allies,” Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter “has shown just how tenuous that control is,” Hawley argued. It can be assumed the sole purpose of the disinformation board “will be to marshal the power of the federal government to censor conservative and dissenting speech,” said the senator.
“This is dangerous and un-American. The board should be immediately dissolved,” he wrote.
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“Disinformation Governance Board” had recently been created and will be led by Undersecretary for Policy Rob Silvers and principal deputy general counsel Jennifer Gaskill, Mayorkas said in a testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss the fiscal 2023 budget for the Department of Homeland Security. He said the goal of the board was to focus on the apparent spread of misinformation online targeting minority communities, especially before the midterms.
A few hours later, Politico first reported that Nina Jankowicz, a former global disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, would head the board as executive director.
“This is particularly ironic given Jankowicz’s extensive criticism of free speech and the First Amendment. Jankowicz has claimed that the ‘free speech vs. censorship’ framing is a false dichotomy. And when Elon Musk announced his acquisition of Twitter, she said, ‘I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities… which are already shouldering… disproportionate amounts of this abuse,’” Hawley wrote.
Given her “long history of partisan attacks,” Hawley said the choice of Jankowicz to lead the board as a supposed expert was particularly troubling.