US Advisory Panel Says No Need for Disinformation Governance Board

US Advisory Panel Says No Need for Disinformation Governance Board
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in Los Angeles on June 10, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

A U.S. advisory panel said on July 18 that it’s recommending that the government’s disinformation board isn’t necessary.

“At this point, we have concluded that there is no need for a Disinformation Governance Board,” the panel said in a statement.

No further details were given.

Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security during the George W. Bush administration, and Jamie Gorelick, a deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, co-chair the panel, called the Disinformation Best Practices and Safeguards Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

The panel’s members were chosen by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a Biden appointee who—whistleblower documents show—offered disinformation about the origins of the Disinformation Governance Board.

“Secretary Mayorkas will meet with the Chairs of this HSAC subcommittee to discuss their recommendation and looks forward to their more comprehensive final report and recommendations regarding the work overall, which are expected to be delivered in August,” a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The subcommittee stated that its conclusion that the board isn’t necessary came after briefings “on the relevant disinformation-related activities of the” department. It said it plans to issue a draft report to the council in early August.

‘False Attacks’

DHS claimed in March that the board was “never about censorship or policing speech in any manner,” decrying “false attacks” against it.

Instead, the board was aimed at ensuring that the agency’s work on disinformation “protects free speech, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy,” DHS said at the time.

It named combating false and misleading information from human traffickers, foreign adversaries, and transnational criminal organizations among its targets.

However, critics said the efforts appeared designed to suppress free speech. They also alleged that the formation of the board was likely illegal.
Mayorkas, who worked in the Obama administration, first announced the board during a congressional hearing on April 27. That same day, Nina Jankowicz, a onetime disinformation fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, said she was tapped to lead the board and had been working on it for two months.

While Alejandro told lawmakers under oath that the board “had not yet begun its work,” documents sent to lawmakers by a whistleblower show that work by senior DHS officials, including the secretary himself, began at least as early as September 2021.

One document indicated that government officials met with Twitter executives on countering disinformation. It states that there has been a “proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions.” And it outlined concerns about “mis-, dis-, and mal- information,” or MDM.

“Collectively, whistleblower allegations and the documents we’ve reviewed raise concerns that DHS could be seeking an active role in coordinating the censorship of viewpoints that it determines, according to an unknown standard, to be ‘MDM’ by enlisting the help of social media companies and big tech,” Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who obtained the documents, wrote to Mayorkas.

Mark Tapscott contributed to this report.