DHS Halts Disinformation Committee

DHS will delay a controversial board to facilitate efforts to combat disinformation, saying “false breaches are a significant distraction.” Nina Jankowicz, its head, will also resign. 

The Disinformation Governance Board was created to facilitate the department’s disparate missions. Republican politicians and civil rights groups attacked it. 

While freedom of speech and civil rights groups said DHS wasn’t transparent enough about the board’s mission to assess it, the GOP called it the “Ministry of Truth” from George Orwell’s “1984.” 

Many specifically targeted Jankowicz, who was brought in to supervise the task of ensuring the DHS guarded civil rights and rights to free speech in disinformation attempts.

These have been ongoing for a decade and deal with topics like immigration and natural disasters. 

Hypocrisy of the Panel

The panel was created to safeguard against the very thing it’s accused of doing, a senior DHS official said. 

The new board never met. The Washington Post reported the step back. 

The board’s goal will be reviewed by the DHS’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, run by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, a Clinton staffer. 

They’ve been tasked with recommending ways to boost public trust in the department’s disinformation efforts. 

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asked the committee for a more comprehensive board evaluation in 75 days. Jankowicz said the board’s future is uncertain. 

“With the board’s work delayed and its future uncertain, I’ve opted to abandon DHS to return to public service.”

“Misrepresentations of the board have become a diversionary tactic from the department’s vital work; recent national and global events show why it’s needed,” she said. 

The board’s clumsy rollout, announced in the Politico Playbook, immediately backfired on DHS. A handful of people outside the agency were satisfied with defending the panel without any more information.

In contrast, Republicans sounded a civil liberties warning and pored over Jankowicz’s previous statements on a story that involved Hunter Biden’s laptop.

This echoed Homeland Security experts’ opinion that the laptop was a component of Russian influence activity. 

Another DHS executive said Wednesday that some people reacted strongly to the board’s creation. 

“The board’s work has been misrepresented. There have been vile personal attacks, which distracted the department’s important work of addressing lies and misinformation that threaten domestic security.”

Republicans Cheered the Delay

When pressured, the administration “folds like a house of cards,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said on Twitter. 

“The Disinformation Governance Panel is over. Nina should find a way to become famous. Beware!”

DHS authorities repeatedly noted “false attacks” against the board, but they did not address whether the board was misinformed. 

A senior DHS official said Nina had been the target of vicious and unfair attacks. Mayorkas addressed lawmakers’ concerns about the board’s work in multiple appearances. 

“It was unnerving that the disinformation work going on for years across independent leadership was not guided by guardrails,” Mayorkas told legislators earlier in the month.