Miyares at DHS: disband the Disinformation Governance Council

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The letter to the Biden administration was co-signed by 19 state attorneys general with an alarming warning about free speech.

Republican Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares wrote a four-page letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas regarding the existence and operations of the Disinformation Governance Board (DGB) – where Mayorkas testified yesterday before US House Appropriations outlining the scope and mission of this council. :

Every American knows that the Constitution prohibits the government from “reducing[e] freedom of speech “. const. To modify. I. As Judge Robert Jackson wrote nearly eighty years ago, “[i]If there is a fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or low, can prescribe what must be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion. West Virginia State Ed. Blvd. v. Barnette, 319 US 624, 642 (1943).

Your recent testimony before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, however, indicated that the Department of Homeland Security, under your direction, is doing just that: prescribing orthodoxy by slapping a government tag. federal “disinformation” or “misinformation” on speech that government bureaucrats, operating behind closed doors, deem inappropriate. This is an unacceptable and downright alarming encroachment on every citizen’s right to express their opinions, engage in political debate and disagree with the government.

The full text of the four-page letter with the signatories can be read HERE.

The Biden administration’s efforts to chill free speech have come under scrutiny this week from a variety of conservative outlets, particularly regarding their scope and the policy direction of the new DGB:

It would be bad enough if the DGB were a small, stand-alone panel at the National Endowment for the Arts. Instead, the DGB operates within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a massive law enforcement agency with plenty of firearms, ammunition, and well-trained federal agents whose firepower would tempt the average enemy of the state to shut up.

Of course, what’s remarkable about the announcement of the new DGB is the odd timing of it all, just as Elon Musk announced his intention to buy Twitter, much to the shock of progressives who immediately shifted gears to find out whether or not the social media giant was. neutral, betraying leftist leanings and the information operations he had waged against conservatives for much of the decade. Or as Miyares so carefully notes:

The timing of the creation of the Disinformation Governance Council is also highly suspect. For years, many have defended Twitter’s open censorship of voices hostile to the elite consensus, arguing that private companies enjoy the right to determine what is said on their platforms. This argument, however, only works if these private companies do not censor on behalf of the government.

Ouch.

Notably, the person chosen to take on the private role assumed by Twitter executives and now nationalized by the DHS is none other than Nina Jankowicz, a heavily partisan agent currently employed by the left-leaning Wilson Center. From ABC News:

Jankowicz was quoted by The Associated Press in 2020 refuting a story about the discovery of new emails that allegedly linked Hunter Biden and a Ukrainian energy executive to the president.

“We should consider it a product of the Trump campaign,” Jankowicz told the AP in October.

She then suggested on Twitter that the emails were “part of an influencer campaign”.

“Voters deserve this context, not a fairy tale about a laptop repair shop,” Jankowicz wrote.

The New York Times and Washington Post confirmed the authenticity of emails linked to Hunter Biden with the help of security experts in March.

What type of disinformation is Jankowicz particularly interested in? For starters, gender misinformation:

And if that doesn’t raise your eyebrows, then the following article on the rampart – not precisely a beehive of reactionary conservative thinking – should be enough to raise questions not only about the true role of this DGB but about its targets:

In fact, you really have to take a moment to pour yourself a cup of coffee and read Monika Richter’s excellent article on Janowicz’s qualifications – or lack thereof:

[T]he main problem with Jankowicz’s appointment, aside from concerns about the quality of her research summarized above, is that she is a political activist and her politics constantly color her judgment. This week, Republican lawmakers highlighted Jankowicz’s endorsement of the Steele dossier, his dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop story and his speculation that armed Trump supporters may be showing up at the polls to intimidate voters. . Each of them should disqualify her as a credible and impartial leader on an extremely sensitive and consequential issue for democratic stability in America. In an article co-authored in January 2022 for the Washington Post, for example, Jankowicz argues that the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) “has struggled under the politicization of the Trump administration” but “is becoming more nimble under Biden”.

This is a biased assessment. While the GEC had a rocky start under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, significant progress was made under his successor Mike Pompeo and after Trump appointed Lea Gabrielle as special envoy and coordinator. of the GEC in February 2019. second half of the Trump administration, the GEC has established an impressive reputation with international partners. I experienced this firsthand while serving in the East StratCom Task Force. The GEC (especially its Russian team) was our closest international partner and a strong supporter of our work. In truth, they have often been a better ally in pursuing our common goal of strengthening democratic security against authoritarian influence than our parent institution, the European External Action Service, which faltered under half-hearted leadership. The Trump administration has not hindered this program; on the contrary. Under Gabrielle’s leadership, the GEC authored and published in August 2020 a landmark report on Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem – the first-ever analysis of its kind by the US government – which has been widely endorsed by experts. in the field.

This is not a spoiler. It’s a aperitif.

Of course, the Biden administration never questions whether this DGB would be something it would ever want to put in the hands of the Trump administration. Or the Bush administration. Or the Reagan administration. Choose your poison.

Yet the broader threat of – and I quote – “imposing silence” rather than promoting free speech puts us in Victor Klemperer territory. Conservatives are already concerned about sharing their true thoughts in the public square for fear of undoing Twitter’s so-called mob culture – which is more bots and a handful of PR consultants with 500 fake accounts than anyone else. any real crowd – even to the point of lying to pollsters lest it just throw another data point at big tech companies that have more information about us than DHS could ever dream of.

Miyares concludes:

The Disinformation Governance Council, by its very existence, and almost certainly by design, threatens to “enforce silence” when Americans wish to express opinions that are disfavored by the administration. So it already chills free speech and hampers the political process in Virginia and every other state. It is unconstitutional, illegal and un-American.

That’s absolutely fine, something most curators feel in their bones (e.g. good luck voicing your opinion on the SCOTUS draft decision on Dobbs with the same vitriol that pro-abortion activists spent threatening and beating pro-lifers this week – with no consequences).

The best solution to bad speech and misinformation is not Well speech, but free speech.

As Thomas Jefferson is quick to remind us as Virginians, error can be tolerated as long as reason is free to fight it.

Once again, Miyares leads where others fear to tread.

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