(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.)
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the federal government created a new Cabinet-level department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), tasked with the mission of “With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.”
One would assume that among the values DHS would safeguard would be Americans’ fundamental right to freedom of speech, seeing as how it is integral to the American experiment.
Yet, almost 20 years after its creation, it seems as if the Department of Homeland Security is not as concerned with safeguarding the American people and our values as it is with censoring the American people and running roughshod over our values via the creation of the Orwellian Disinformation Governance Board.
On May 2, DHS released a Fact Sheet titled “DHS Internal Working Group Protects Free Speech and Other Fundamental Rights When Addressing Disinformation That Threatens the Security of the United States.”
Per the Fact Sheet:
“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is charged with safeguarding the United States against threats to its security, including threats exacerbated by disinformation … Disinformation, which is false information that is deliberately spread with the intent to deceive or mislead, can take many forms … The Department is deeply committed to doing all of its work in a way that protects Americans’ freedom of speech, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy. In fact, the Disinformation Governance Board is an internal working group that was established with the explicit goal of ensuring these protections are appropriately incorporated across DHS’s disinformation-related work and that rigorous safeguards are in place. The working group also seeks to coordinate the Department’s engagements on this subject with other federal agencies and a diverse range of external stakeholders.”
Pardon me, but I think that statement should be taken with a giant grain of salt.
First, the DHS has a very sketchy record of “safeguarding” Americans’ privacy. As the American Civil Liberties Union has documented, “DHS intelligence analysts have unfairly targeted non-violent protest groups from all sides of the political spectrum for scrutiny over the last several years with inappropriate and factually flawed intelligence products.”
Second, “disinformation” is totally subjective and should not be regulated by the government whatsoever, let alone by the Department of Homeland Security, which already has its hands full given that terrorists, who present an actual threat to the homeland, are traversing our wide-open Southern border willy-nilly.
Third, the person in charge of running DHS’ Disinformation Governance Board, Nina Jankowicz, has quite the sordid history of disseminating disinformation herself. For example, Jankowicz was certain that the Hunter Biden laptop story was “Russian disinformation.” However, we now know that is not the case.
Moreover, Jankowicz is on record as opposing free speech on social media platforms, especially after Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter. According to Jankowicz, “I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities.” In a nutshell, that would look like the First Amendment in action.
Surely, there are many more reasons to be wary of DHS’ Disinformation Governance Board, especially since almost every government department eventually experiences some degree of mission creep. Instead of censoring Americans under the banner of “disinformation,” DHS should stick to its original mission of preventing terrorist attacks on the homeland and other calamities.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.
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