Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Charles Grassley of Iowa released a series of documents on Wednesday showing that the Biden administration’s Disinformation Governance Board was intended to have a domestic focus, despite promises from administration officials.
Top Biden administration officials, most notably Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, repeatedly claimed that the board would focus on disinformation pushed by foreign actors. However, the documents released by Hawley and Grassley reveal that the board intended to target alleged disinformation by topic, not by national origin. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “paused” the board in May before it began operations, although it has the option to bring it back.
The leaked documents show that the Biden administration expressed particular concern about “conspiracy theories about the validity and security of elections,” “disinformation related to the origins and effects of COVID-19 vaccines or the efficacy of masks,” and “falsehoods surrounding U.S. government immigration policy.” Notably, the document listing the topics of concern does not stress the sources of the alleged disinformation, only that the issues “must not be politicized.”
Another document reveals that DHS hoped to create a public-private partnership with Twitter to target disinformation on the site. The document, a scheduling memo, shows that DHS viewed Mayorkas’ meeting with two top social media executives as an opportunity for Twitter to “become involved in Disinformation Governance Board Analytic Exchanges.” Mayorkas was also instructed to offer data to Twitter that would better allow the company to target content for removal.
In public statements, Mayorkas claimed that the Board would only focus on international sources of disinformation. (RELATED: Sen. Capito Asks Whether Mayorkas Has Spread ‘Disinformation’ About Border Crisis)
“We address disinformation that presents a security threat to the homeland,” he told Fox News in early May. “Disinformation from Russia, from China, from Iran, from the cartels.
The secretary echoed a similar line in a letter to Hawley that was included in the document release.
Senator Hawley discusses new whistleblower documents that expose shocking new details about the Dept. of Homeland Security’s plans to use the DHS Disinformation Governance Board to monitor Americans’ speech. pic.twitter.com/HahKB3abXf
— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) June 9, 2022
“The Department is focused on disinformation that threatens the security of the American people, including disinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia, China, and Iran, or other adversaries such as transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling operations,” Mayorkas wrote.
Notably, Mayorkas did not write that the Board’s activities would be limited to disinformation spread by foreign actors. In an example of the Board’s potential work, he noted correcting “false information” about drinking water and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shelters in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. However, he did not detail a foreign connection.
A DHS spokesperson did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment on whether or not Mayorkas would revise his public statements in light of the document release.
“This administration wanted you to be monitored. This Disinformation Board was set up to go after you. That’s what the documents say,” Hawley said during a Wednesday appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
“This idea, that the government is going to stand up an institution that’s going to monitor Americans’ speech, that’s going to treat Americans’ political speech, Tucker, core political speech, as something that needs to be monitored, that needs to be countered. This was going to be a state propaganda machine. This board was supposed to push out counter-information to Americans,” the senator continued.