Work on the Biden administration’s controversial Disinformation Governance Board was paused about three weeks after it was announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amid concerns that the board would be weaponized by the administration against dissenting voices.
Nina Jankowicz, who was tapped by the White House to be in charge of the newly created board, told news outlets on May 18 that she’s submitted her resignation. In that statement, Jankowicz also confirmed that the board’s “work [is] paused” and “its future uncertain.”
After it was learned that the board would be led by Jankowicz—who the administration claimed was an expert in online disinformation—a number of users found posts she’d made on Twitter that claimed the Hunter Biden laptop was part of a Russian disinformation campaign. She also made posts touting the discredited “Steele dossier,” which was used to smear former President Donald Trump. The dossier was later discredited while the laptop and messages about Biden’s overseas business deals were authenticated.
“After six years dedicated to the study of disinformation and best practices in responding to it, I joined the Department of Homeland Security to be the executive director of the Disinformation Governance Board with the intention of supporting the department’s important work addressing disinformation that affects the homeland,” Jankowicz said in a statement to news outlets.
Later, DHS issued a statement confirming that the board “will not convene and its work will be paused,” although officials will carry out “critical work across several administrations to address disinformation that threatens the security of our country” in the meantime.
A spokesperson for DHS told The Washington Post that Jankowicz was allegedly “subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats,” without elaborating. The Epoch Times has contacted the agency for comment.
“In congressional hearings and in media interviews, the secretary has repeatedly defended her as eminently qualified and underscored the importance of the department’s disinformation work, and he will continue to do so,” the spokesperson said, referring to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Meanwhile, White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said that Jankowicz was “smeared by bad-faith, right-wing actors against a deeply qualified expert and against efforts to better combat human smuggling and domestic terrorism.”
“Neither Nina Jankowicz nor the board have anything to do with censorship or with removing content from anywhere. Their role is to ensure that national security officials are updated on how misinformation is affecting the threat environment. She has strong credentials and a history of calling out misinformation from both the left and the right,” Bates told the Washington Examiner.
Neither the DHS spokesperson nor Bates addressed concerns that the Disinformation Governance Board would monitor U.S. citizens. Republicans and other critics described it as the “Ministry of Truth,” as referenced in George Orwell’s novel “1984,” and expressed fears that the panel would attempt to further stifle conservative viewpoints and individuals with views outside the mainstream. On May 9, one senator said its creation was likely illegal under the provisions of the Antideficiency Act.
Mayorkas previously said that the panel wouldn’t be used to surveil Americans, telling CNN that the “board does not have any operational authority or capability.” And in its Wednesday statement, DHS said that the board was “grossly and intentionally mischaracterized,” although Mayorkas and other administration officials have so far offered few details about what the panel will actually do.
The creation of the panel happened just days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Twitter’s board announced he would purchase the influential social media platform for $44 billion. In response to a post from commentator Steven Crowder earlier this month, Musk wrote on Twitter that the panel’s creation was “discomforting.”