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Tipsheet

Whistleblower Documents Contradict DHS, White House Claims About Disinfo Board

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

New whistleblower documents obtained by Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Josh Hawley of Missouri directly contradict what Biden Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress about the status and mission of the federal government's new disinfo and speech-policing board earlier this year.

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As Senator Hawley's office noted, the official Biden administration messaging about the Disinformation Governance Board sought to tamp down concerns expressed by Americans and deny it was yet up and running.

Mayorkas testified on May 4 that his department's disinfo board "had not yet begun its work." During an interview a few days earlier on May 1, Mayorkas said his ministry of truth would look at disinformation "from foreign state adversaries" and "cartels" and not track the speech of Americans. Then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made similar claims on May 2 from the podium that the board would focus on "human traffickers and other transnational criminal organizations."

But the whistleblower documents —  DHS memos and the Disinformation Governance Board's charter — contradict what the Biden administration told Americans. That is, the people running a disinformation governance board were directly engaged in disinformation about their disinformation governance board. 

A September 13, 2021 memo for Mayorkas on "organizing DHS efforts to counter disinformation" — from Under Secretary Robert Silvers and Senior National Security Counselor Samantha Vinograd — reveals what "homeland security risks" the Biden administration thought disinformation posed. 

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The memo mentions "disinformation related to the origins and effects of COVID-19 vaccines or the efficacy of masks" and "conspiracy theories about the validity and security of elections" as such risks. It also warned about "falsehoods surrounding U.S. Government immigration policy."

Ironically, the memo also warned against exactly what the Disinfo Board's chief, Nina Jankowicz — who resigned in a firestorm of criticism — managed to do in her short time leading the board. Its mission, the memo explains, "must not be politicized and must be protected from perceptions of politicization." To say DHS and Jankowicz crashed-and-burned on that front would be a colossal understatement. 

Also, contradicting Psaki and Mayorkas' claims that the disinfo board would not monitor Americans, the memo outlines concern for staying within the bounds of the First Amendment as well as other domestic U.S. safeguards against government intrusion.

Another memo to Mayorkas turned over to Hawley and Grassley is dated January 31, 2022, and comes from Under Secretary Silvers and Acting Principal Deputy General Counsel Jennifer Daskal. Its purpose: obtaining Secretary Mayorkas' approval of the charter for the Disinformation Governance Board. The charter itself, which explains that it "will go into effect when signed by the Secretary of Homeland Security," is signed by Mayorkas and dated February 24 — meaning the board's initial duties and members were then tasked with working on the disinfo board's work — before Mayorkas told Congress under oath that it "had not yet begun it's work."

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In addition to the whistleblower documents' contradiction of Biden administration statements, there's more that shows how the Biden administration's ministry of truth was working on colluding with big tech to monitor speech. 

One briefer describes a meeting between DHS and Twitter executives "to discuss operationalizing public-private partnerships" and "inform Twitter executives" about DHS' new disinformation board. Specifically, the briefer instructs that DHS "propose that Twitter become involved in Disinformation Governance Board Analytic Exchanges on Domestic Violent Extremism (DVE) and Irregular Migration."

Again, Mayorkas testified before Congress in the first week of May that the Disinformation Governance Board had not "begun its work." But a briefer from April 28 showed that DHS was already working on getting big tech involved with the board and its work. 

All the documents turned over to Hawley and Grassley can be viewed here, and one thing's for sure — Mayorkas' next appearance at testimony before Grassley or Hawley is sure to be one worth popping some popcorn. For now, according to DHS, the Disinformation Governance Board has been "paused," but the Biden administration has already shown what it wants to use its power for and the lengths it will go to in order to conceal its efforts. 

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