US government defends 'Ministry of Truth'
The newly unveiled ‘Disinformation Governance Board’, operating within the US Department of Homeland Security, has triggered a massive pushback, forcing DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas to make several appearances on national TV in an attempt to clarify how the unit will operate.
Many critics, including top Republicans, have blasted the initiative as a crackdown on free speech, akin to a ‘Ministry of Truth’ taken from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Mayorkas dismissed the criticism by claiming that thought policing is “precisely the opposite of what this small working group within the Department of Homeland Security will do.”
“What it will do is gather together best practices in addressing the threat of disinformation from foreign state adversaries from the cartels and disseminate those best practices to the operators that have been executing in addressing this threat for years,” he explained, after CNN’s Dana Bash said it was still not clear “how this governance board will act.”
The DHS chief also repeatedly reassured Americans that the unit has absolutely no intention, “operational authority,” or “capability” to spy on US citizens.
The new body is headed by Nina Jankowicz, whose resume includes working with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and overseeing the Russia and Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute lobby group. Detractors also scrutinized her for dismissing the New York Post’s suppressed Hunter Biden laptop story as a fake “Russian influence op,” only for it to be later verified by major media outlets.
In a separate appearance on Fox News Sunday, Mayorkas defended the qualifications and objectivity of Jankowicz, calling her “eminently qualified” and a “renowned expert in the field of disinformation.”
I don’t question her objectivity. There are people in the department who have a diverse range of views and they’re incredibly dedicated to mission. We’re not the opinion police.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also attempted to play down the ‘anti-disinformation’ initiative as an alleged “continuation of work that began at the Department of Homeland Security in 2020, under former President Trump.”
The Biden Administration’s creation of a “disinformation” bureau within DHS is effectively a Ministry of Truth that is alien to our constitutional tradition. Florida rejects Biden’s attempt to enforce regime-approved narratives and to stifle dissent. pic.twitter.com/fSnU2gk97x— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 29, 2022
The new censorship push was announced on Wednesday, just two days after billionaire Elon Musk reached an agreement to buy Twitter for $44 billion and vowed to restore freedom of speech on the platform.
Responding to news of Musk’s Twitter takeover, Jankowicz said, “I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities, which are already shouldering disproportionate amounts of this abuse.”