In the June 7 letter, addressed to Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the director of DHS, the Senators asked for a closer explanation of the department’s plans to execute the directives and mission of the DGB. The senators exposed documents and information provided by whistleblowers tied to the board’s existence.
The Senators called out Mayorkas and the DHS, saying, “Documents show that contrary to your May 4, 2022, testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the DGB was established to serve as much more than a simple “working group” to “develop guidelines, standards, [and] guardrails” for protecting civil rights and civil liberties.”
The letter goes on to explain that documents revealed that the DGB was designed to “serve as the departmental forum for governance of DHS policies, plans, procedures, standards, and activities” pertaining to what the government refers to as “mis-, dis-, and mal- information,” or what it calls ‘MDM’”
The pair of Senators point out the failed attempt to install Nina Jankowicz, who they called “a known trafficker of foreign disinformation and liberal conspiracy theories.” They outlined her choice to support and share information about the now-debunked Steele Dossier, which she called “some great historical context about the evolution of disinfo.”
They also pointed out her refusal to acknowledge the Hunter Biden laptop scandal as truth, calling it disinformation at the time, something that has since been proven as wholly verified.
Most disturbing in the letter is the revelation that the DGB had made plans to meet with social media giant Twitter to discuss censorship and the controlled speech of opposing points of view.
The letter says that documents suggest “the Department has been working on plans to ‘operationalize’ its relationships with private social media companies to implement its public policy goals. 14 For example, we obtained draft briefing notes prepared for a scheduled April 28, 2022, meeting between Robert Silvers and Twitter executives Nick Pickles, Head of Policy, and Yoel Roth, Head of Site Integrity.”
According to the related documents, there was a briefing for the planned meeting stating that “the planned meeting between Silvers and the Twitter executives as an opportunity to discuss operationalizing public-private partnerships between DHS and Twitter, as well as [to] inform Twitter executives about DHS work on MDM, including the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board and its analytic exchange.”
According to the whistleblower, Jankowicz was hired simply because of her long-standing relationship with Twitter’s executives.
The letter states that the relationship between such “nongovernmental” partners would “empower” them to mitigate what they deemed as misinformation.
Grassley and Hawley express their concern that the DHS would be “enlisting the help of social media companies and big tech” to oversee the “censorship of viewpoints” it deems misinformation.
“The First Amendment of the Constitution was designed precisely so that the government could not censor opposing viewpoints – even if those viewpoints were false,” the senators wrote.
The senators concluded their letter to DHS by asking the agency to provide “all written and electronic communications, memoranda, and organizational documents, related to the DGB from the point that DHS first considered establishing a DGB until the present.” The objective of the request is to provide absolute transparency for the American people.
They further requested Mayorkas to explain the reason for his misleading testimony in the official hearing. And they asked the agency to define what DHS meant by the phrase “operationalizing public-private partnerships.”
Ultimately the pair asked the agency to outline and define what standards and practices it employs to determine if a news story, broadcast, social media post, or any other form of public communication is deemed misinformation.
As the government appears to garner more control over private citizens’ right to free speech, the government of the United States must be accountable for providing transparency and accurate information in all of its planned actions.