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‘Right to be Concerned’: Trump-Era DHS Leaders Sound the Alarm Over Biden’s Disinformation Board

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Three former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leaders who served under former President Donald Trump expressed concern over the Biden administration’s new Disinformation Governance Board, refuting claims that the same “work” was being done under Trump.

“Americans are right to be concerned” and the board is “unneeded and politicizes the Department’s mission,” Chad Wolf, former acting secretary of the DHS, told the Daily Caller.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have defended the establishment of the board, saying that disinformation work “began under the former administration.”

“The Disinformation Governance Board is an internal working group that was established with the explicit goal of ensuring … Americans’ freedom of speech, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy,” a DHS spokesperson told the Daily Caller, noting that Psaki has said the DHS has worked to address disinformation “for years and throughout multiple administrations.”

Acting Deputy Chief of Staff for the DHS under Trump, Lora Ries, told the Daily Caller that she doesn’t think Trump would have started such a board, and that the Biden administration will not “operate it well.”

Wolf said some elements were ongoing under Trump, but that the establishment of the board is “politicization.”

“DHS routinely battles disinformation from foreign adversaries, either through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Intelligence & Analysis (I&A) Directorate, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or Customs and Border Protection (CBP),” he said.

“The creation of the ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ in the Secretary’s office is unneeded and politicizes the Department’s mission. There is no operational reason to take this responsibility from largely non-political operating components and move this mission to the Secretary’s office filled with political appointees, including a politically charged individual with no government experience. The move represents a further politicization of the Department under this administration,” he said.

Mayorkas said the board, which he first mentioned April 27 in a Senate hearing, wants to “develop guidelines, standards, guardrails to ensure that the work that has been ongoing for nearly 10 years does not infringe on people’s free speech rights, rights of privacy, civil rights and civil liberties.”

Former Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli told the Daily Caller that the board “is an entirely new creation of their own making,” calling it the “Ministry of Truth.”

The newly appointed leader of the board, Nina Jankowicz, has also received criticism for pushing disinformation about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Mayorkas and Psaki have defended Jankowicz, calling her an “expert” in disinformation.

“The Department needs to provide the American people transparency as to what the Board is and was planning to do, and why the Department chose to put on an overtly partisan individual in charge who could easily be accused of spreading disinformation herself prior to her government service,” Wolf added.

Wolf said the DHS has a “severe credibility problem” with “disinformation” and there was a “reason” as to why the Biden administration kept the board so quiet for months before announcing it.

House Republicans introduced legislation Tuesday that would defund the disinformation governance board. Several Republican senators have also questioned Mayorkas, exposing that he did not know about Jankowicz’s TikTok videos, nor her claims about Hunter Biden’s laptop before she was appointed.

Ries said Democrats have already demonstrated that the board will not be operated well, given that they’ve “fumbled the roll out.”

“More important, we have lived through 2020 during which the left regularly censored truthful content, labeling it ‘misinformation,’ and the left’s disinformation effort in 2016 and onward to push the Trump dossier Russia hoax. The left has lost America’s trust,” she added.

Cuccinelli agreed that there is “no way” the board will be handled “well” by Democrats.

“No way. And No Way, assuming ‘well’ would have any or some objective connection to truth rather than preferred partisan narratives, see, e.g., Steele dossier, Russian collusion, Hunter Biden laptop, etc., etc., etc…,” he said.

The board should “absolutely” alarm Americans, Ries continued, mentioning that the CDC tracked over 20 million phones during the COVID-19 pandemic and that Biden called MAGA “the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history.”

“When Sec. Mayorkas continues to prioritize domestic extremists as the number one security threat to the homeland, Americans should trust their gut instinct that this governance board will infringe on free speech and will focus on political opponents,” she concluded.

Wolf called on the DHS to “immediately release the Governance Board’s charter, membership, and legal authority behind its creation,” saying “failure to do so will continue to undermine the mission of DHS.”

“It is one of the most philosophically alarming things produced by this administration, and that is really saying something, given how they seem determined to violate every standard and trample one constitutional boundary after another,” Cuccinelli concluded.

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