Sen. Hawley Raises Concern DHS’s New Disinformation Board Will Police Speech

Sen. Hawley Raises Concern DHS’s New Disinformation Board Will Police Speech
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) delivers remarks during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, on March 21, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, raising concerns about the new Disinformation Governance Board that he fears will police free speech.

Mayorkas announced the creation of the board on April 27, insisting that its goal is to prevent the spread of online misinformation among minority communities, especially during the upcoming midterm elections. Hawley expressed surprise that an American administration would consider using government power to “sit in judgment” on the First Amendment speech of its citizens.

“Rather than protecting our border or the American homeland, you have chosen to make policing Americans’ speech your priority. This new board is almost certainly unconstitutional,” the senator wrote in the April 28 letter (pdf).

“It can only be assumed that the sole purpose of this new Disinformation Governance Board will be to marshal the power of the federal government to censor conservative and dissenting speech. This is dangerous and un-American. The board should be immediately dissolved,” he wrote.

Hawley accused the Biden administration of treating “competing policy views” as disinformation that has to be investigated and monitored.

Debates on issues like pandemic lockdowns, immigration, and foreign policy are “core political speech” protected by the First Amendment. He cited the Supreme Court quote that “under the First Amendment, there is no such thing as a false idea.”

The Republican senator criticized the government’s decision of choosing Nina Jankowicz, who previously served as a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, to lead the new board.

Jankowicz had earlier called Donald Trump’s use of the National Guard during his presidency something she only expects from “leaders of authoritarian countries.” She called America a systematically racist nation, praised an article that called “homegrown fascism” as predating Trump, and attempted to portray the Hunter Biden laptop scandal as a Russian influence operation.

Hawley points out that Jankowicz has criticized free speech rights and First Amendment in the past, which would make her a suspect choice for heading the Disinformation Governance Board.

When Elon Musk announced his plans to take over Twitter, Jankowicz indicated that “free speech absolutists” taking over platforms would somehow harm “marginalized communities.” She has also called opponents of social media speech codes “first amendment zealots.”

The Republican senator asked the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide answers to some of his concerns about the board prior to Mayorkas’ testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 4 so that Congress can consider bringing in “remedial legislation.”

Musk, who recently bought Twitter, called Washington’s new speech regulating board “discomforting” in an April 28 tweet.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the government’s decision to establish the board at a press briefing on April 28. However, she failed to provide more details on the matter. “I really haven’t dug into this exactly. I mean, we, of course, support this effort, but let me see if I can get more specifics,” Psaki said.

From The Epoch Times

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