DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the rounds of the talking head shows on Sunday to do some damage control and address concerns that the Biden administration’s new Disinformation Governance Board within the Department of Homeland Security signifies an all-out war against the freedom of speech. Those concerns were only exacerbated by the revelation that the chief of Old Joe’s Thought Police, Nina Jankowicz, is an enthusiastic fascist who is so excited about censorship that she sings musical comedy numbers about it in an affected English accent. Mayorkas, however, is telling us now that there is really nothing, nothing whatsoever, to worry about. But his soothing claims show some signs of being yet more of that disinformation he claims he wants to fight.
We’ve already gotten disinformation about the Disinformation Governance Board. Jen Psaki claimed Friday that it wasn’t the sainted President Dementia at all, but the hated Trump, who set up the Board. There doesn’t appear to be a shred of truth to this, as even Mayorkas had announced the Board as “new,” and on Sunday, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Mayorkas, “Would you be okay if Donald Trump were president, if he created this Disinformation Governance Board or if it is in place in 2024, that he’s in charge of such a thing?” Mayorkas didn’t echo Psaki and answer that Trump had actually created the Board. Instead, he insisted “that we’re safeguarding the right of free speech, that we’re safeguarding civil liberties.” Sure they are.
Despite working for CNN, Bash actually acted like a real journalist, pursuing Mayorkas about some of the principal problems with the Board. “It’s still not clear to me,” she said, “how this governance board will act and what will it do.” Good point. It’s not clear to anyone. And all Mayorkas could offer in answering this all-important question was windy generalities: “So what it does is it works to ensure that the way in which we address threats, the connectivity between threats and acts of violence, are addressed without infringing on free speech, protecting civil rights and civil liberties, the right of privacy.”
Sure. It was reminiscent of how politicians always promise that the government will magically do all manner of wonderful things for us while simultaneously lowering our taxes. Mayorkas is a similar kind of magician: he’ll stamp out alleged disinformation while protecting the freedom of speech. A regular Houdini.
Bash then asked Mayorkas: “Will American citizens be monitored?” His answer was unequivocal and reassuring: “No. The board does not have any operational authority or capability. 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.”
Okay, so it’s all about “disinformation” from “foreign state adversaries” and “the cartels,” not from Americans at all. Yet when Politico revealed the existence of the Board last Wednesday, it said that the Board would “coordinate countering misinformation related to homeland security, focused specifically on irregular migration and Russia.” Mayorkas then added on Thursday that the Board was intended to “more effectively combat this threat not only to election security, but to our homeland security.” Jen Psaki then mused about some of the areas the Disinfo Board might tackle: “We know there has been a range of [disinformation] out there about a range of topics, I mean, including COVID for example, and also elections and eligibility.”
Both Mayorkas and Psaki mentioned elections. The Leftist establishment has shrilly insisted that any skepticism about the one-hundred-percent honesty and integrity of the 2020 presidential election was “disinformation.” But apparently the Disinformation Governance Board won’t be dealing with that at all, but only with supposed disinformation about elections in foreign countries. And likewise, while there has been immense domestic skepticism about the administration’s COVID claims (remember Biden’s winter of severe illness and death?), the jolly old Board will only swoop in if Vladimir Putin or a drug cartel leader starts saying that maybe the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan. Do I have this right, Mr. Mayorkas?
This is apparently what Mayorkas would have us believe. Fox’s Bret Baier said to him, “Americans are generally wary of anything that suggests censorship.” Mayorkas answered that his Board was just the remedy for that: “That is exactly why we set up this working group to make sure that our work to address a real threat to the homeland, the threat posed by Russian disinformation, the threat posed by Chinese disinformation, by Iranian disinformation, the work that we do does not infringe on people’s right of free speech. That’s why this working group was set up. And we will do a better job of communicating about that.” Yet from what he and others have said so far, it sounds as if Mayorkas’ claim that “the work that we do does not infringe on people’s right of free speech” will end up looking as fake as the claim that Trump colluded with Russia. Remember, you were a purveyor of “disinformation” if you doubted that one, too.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.