We beforehand mentioned the defunct Disinformation Governance Board and its controversial head Nina Jankowicz. After the outcry over this system, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas lastly relented and disbanded the board whereas insisting that it was by no means about censoring opposing views.
Jankowicz has sued over the portrayal of her views.
Now, Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) has exposed simply how broad the scope of the censorship efforts have been below the board in combatting “misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation (MDM).”
This range of authority in what the agency called the “MDM space,” included targeting views on racial justice and the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
New documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests show that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) argued that the agency could regulate speech related to “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine” as well as “irregular immigration.”
Those subjects stretch across much of the “space” used for political speech in the last few years.
Notably, within DHS, Jen Easterly, who heads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, extended her agency’s mandate over critical infrastructure to include “our cognitive infrastructure.” The resulting censorship efforts included combating “malinformation” – described as information “based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.” I testified earlier on this effort.
So DHS asserted the authority to target viewpoints on racial justice, Ukraine, and other political subjects, including views based on fact but viewed as misleading in context.
What is also troubling is the continued effort to conceal these censorship activities. Homeland redacted much of this information on a now defunct board under FOIA Exemption 7(E), which protects “techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations.” That claim is itself chilling.
After the demise of the board, National Public Radio ran an interview entitled “How DHS’s disinformation board fell victim to misinformation.”
As the title suggests, NPR just repeated the view of Jankowicz despite the objections of many of us in the free speech community. Jankowicz insisted “we weren’t going to be doing anything related to policing speech. It was an internal coordinating mechanism to make sure that we were doing that work efficiently.” Yet, what were the criminal investigations, prosecutions, and enforcement efforts now being claimed as connected to this work?
Recently, a court found that the Biden Administration’s censorship efforts constituted “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.” Those words by Chief U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty are part of a 155-page opinion granting a temporary injunction, requested by Louisiana and Missouri, to prevent White House officials from meeting with tech companies about social media censorship.
Yet, Democrats have gone all in on censorship, blacklisting, and even red-baiting efforts. The July 4 decision came six months after I testified before Congress that the Biden administration used social media companies for “censorship by surrogate.” Despite furious attacks by congressional Democrats in that and later hearings, a court found that the evidence overwhelmingly shows systematic violation of the First Amendment by the Biden administration.
Now we have a glimpse into the chilling scope of the Homeland Security’s efforts to target opposing viewpoints. From racial justice to Covid to Ukraine, these subjects involve core political speech. Yet, the Biden Administration felt that it had the right to monitor and combat opposing views in these areas.
In the first censorship hearing, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) criticized me for offering “legal opinions” without working at Twitter. I later famous that it was like saying a witness shouldn’t talk about the contents of the “Pentagon Papers” except she or he labored on the Pentagon. Wasserman Schultz tried to painting the Twitter Files allegations as mere opinions; she lower me off once I tried to elucidate that the Twitter Files contents — like these of the Pentagon Papers — are “facts,” whereas the implication of these info are opinions.
Now there are further info exhibiting the huge scope and energy concentrating on opposing viewpoints. Yet, Democratic members proceed to oppose additional investigation into these efforts. More importantly, the Biden Administration seems to be utilizing each means to hide the scope of its efforts. Why? The public ought to know the vary of topics and claimed authority of those authorities applications.
This controversy goes to the very core of our constitutional values in defending free speech. The effort to hide these efforts and claims displays the unease of the Biden Administration is telling the general public what it has been doing secretly in its title.