‘No Statutory Authority Exists’ to Back DHS Disinformation Board, Republican AGs Say, Warning Legal Action

Rita Li
By Rita Li
May 6, 2022Politics
‘No Statutory Authority Exists’ to Back DHS Disinformation Board, Republican AGs Say, Warning Legal Action
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on May 4, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

A group of Republican attorneys general warned of legal action against the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new Disinformation Governance Board, stating that “no statutory authority” exists to back its creation.

In a letter (pdf) submitted on May 5 to DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas, Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares, joined by 19 other Republican attorneys general, asked him to “immediately” disband the board that would “police Americans’ protected speech.”

“No statutory authority exists to support your creation of a board of government censors,” reads the letter to Mayorkas.

“Although Congress has considered a variety of measures to address the perceived dangers of ‘disinformation’ in the United States, none has passed. Instead, while the people’s elected representatives continue to debate this issue, you have arrogated to yourself the power to address it without congressional authorization, despite the far-reaching effects of the Disinformation Governance Board on Americans and our political process.”

Mayorkas revealed the new initiative to lawmakers during a congressional hearing on April 27, claiming to protect civil liberties and free speech, as Russia, China, and other adversaries attempt to stoke division and spread conspiracy theories or falsehoods among Americans. White House asserted earlier this week that the recently convened board on misinformation will be “nonpartisan and apolitical.”

Yet the lack of details on how the working group will function and the potential consequences of a government entity identifying and responding to “disinformation,” have drawn widespread controversies.

Calling it “an unacceptable and downright alarming encroachment” on civil rights of free expression, the Republican attorneys general specified in the letter “a chilling effect” that it can bring about nationwide.

“Americans will hesitate before they voice their constitutionally protected opinions, knowing that the government’s censors may be watching, and some will decide it is safer to keep their opinions to themselves.”

Republican members of Congress have already called for the board to be disbanded, before attorneys general threatened legal action in their latest message.

“This is unconstitutional, illegal, and un-American,” the Thursday letter concludes. “Unless you turn back now and disband this Orwellian Disinformation Governance Board immediately, the undersigned will have no choice but to consider judicial remedies to protect the rights of their citizens,” the group said.

Attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia joined the letter.

A spokesman from the DHS didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.


The GOP attorneys general also went after what they called “highly suspect” timing of the DHS’s announcement of the board a week ago, following Elon Musk’s Twitter buyout with the stated purpose to pursue free speech.

The Biden administration has been “flagging problematic posts” on social media by its own admission and engaged with Big Techs and private sectors to prevent “disinformation,” the group noted in the letter.

However, Twitter announced on April 25 that it had reached a final agreement to be acquired by Musk for approximately $44 billion. The billionaire tech mogul unveiled days later that the takeover attempt is to reduce the “civilizational risk” to freedom and democracy from excessive and opaque restrictions on expression, although Twitter has repeatedly denied claims of political censorship.

“As [it] apparently loses a critical ally in its campaign to suppress speech it deems ‘problematic,’ you have created a new government body to continue that work within the federal government,” the attorneys general said.

“The contemporaneous occurrence of these two events is hard to explain away as mere coincidence. It instead raises troubling questions about the extent of the Biden Administration’s practice of coordinating with private-sector companies to suppress disfavored speech.”

The appointment of the executive director of the board, Nina Jankowicz, flagged a “clearer illustration,” according to the letter.

The former disinformation fellow at Washington-based think tank Wilson Center previously questioned the veracity of stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop and suggested the COVID-19 lab-leak theory was “politically” made up at the convenience of former President Donald Trump.

Jankowicz has come under fire for parodying a Christmas song to make it sexually explicit and adapting the Mary Poppins “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” song into a tune about fake news and disinformation.

From The Epoch Times

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