Leaked documents from a whistleblower inside the Dept. of Homeland Security reveal that the so-called “Disinformation Governance Board” was actually put together to combat “conspiracy theories about the validity and security of elections” and “disinformation related to the origins and effects of COVID-19 vaccines or the efficacy of masks”.
Furthermore, they reveal that the board was being put together last year, despite under-oath Congressional testimony from the Department Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that by May 4th of 2022, the board had not yet been formed.
The documents included the charter for the Disinformation Governance Board, drafted in January 31st 2022 and personally signed by Secretary Mayorkas on February 24th, 2022.
It was in May that DHS announced it would be putting together such a review board with the purpose of combating disinformation online. After reporters quickly began comparing it with the Ministry of Truth, from George Orwell’s novel 1984, DHS released a fact sheet stating it was to focus on foreign entities, transnational criminal gangs, and human smugglers spreading false information about the southern border.
In reality, we know that the words “Disinformation Governance Board” were used to describe a method to combat disinformation related to COVID-19 vaccines and masks, information pertaining to the January 6th riot at the Capitol building, and the 2020 Presidential Elections.
Furthermore, the “governance board model” would involve its members deciding whether or not to recruit or involve the “private sector” i.e. social media and search engines, as a means to procure “counter-disinformation services”, and places them in charge of prioritizing which disinformation threats to focus on, as well as evaluating new “emerging disinformation threats”.
The memos are peppered with references to free speech rights, the 1st Amendment, and Privacy Act compliance, yet certain wordings suggest a big grey area between what the average American would consider 1st Amendment rights, and what the DHS would.
For example, at the top of the docs the first bullet point reads “conspiracy theories about the validity and security of elections,” while bullet point two reads “disinformation related to the origins… of COVID-19”.
Both conspiracy theories and the theory that COVID-19 came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, have been extensively propagated through human speech, both in person and on social media platforms.
The charge against the “Ministry of Truth” has been led by many, including some on the Committee on Homeland Security, but the documents were obtained by Senators Josh Hawley (R – MO) and Chuck Grassley (R – IA).