National Security

EXCLUSIVE: Sens. Grassley And Hawley Call Out DHS For Allegedly Redacting Key Info About Disinformation Board

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Josh Hawley of Missouri wrote a letter Thursday calling out the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) alleged redaction of key information detailing its creation of the now-defunct Disinformation Governance Board (DGB).

The Biden administration announced in late April that the DGB would target misinformation and disinformation on the internet that impacts minority communities. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas later said the board would not monitor American systems.

Republicans expressed concern about the board’s creation, noting its potential for censorship and partisan comments from its head, Nina Jankowicz. Grassley and Hawley submitted a letter to DHS in June requesting documents about the board’s creation, how it defines misinformation and disinformation, and its interactions with social media companies. (RELATED: Disinformation Czar Resigns, Board On ‘Pause’ Following Criticism She Spread Disinformation)

However, DHS was not forthcoming with Grassley and Hawley, the two senators wrote in the new letter, obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller. The senators claimed the agency redacted key documents and did not address their questions.

Read the letter here:

Dec 15 Grassley Hawley DHS Letter by Michael Ginsberg on Scribd

Based on our review of this material, it appears that many of the redactions are applied to predecisional and deliberative process material. We remind you that the oversight letters we send to the Executive Branch are signed in our capacity as sitting members of Congress, a separate and coequal branch of government,” Hawley and Grassley wrote.

The two senators are renewing their written requests, including for un-redacted versions of the documents they say they received. In addition, they are asking for a description of DHS’s protocol for honoring congressional oversight requests.

Due to DHS’s refusal to answer our legitimate oversight questions, the heavy redactions applied to the records DHS has produced to our offices so far, and an overall extreme lack of transparency by DHS around this issue, it is impossible to know the full extent to which various DHS components and offices are engaged in DHS’s ‘burgeoning’ counterdisinformation efforts,” Grassley and Hawley wrote.

Republicans have expressed frustration throughout the 117th Congress with the Biden administration’s perceived lack of accountability, including its revocation of Trump-era transparency initiatives. Shortly after the November midterms, House GOP leaders submitted a series of letters to senior Biden administration officials, including Mayorkas, Chief of Staff Ron Klain and Attorney General Merrick Garland, outlining a wide range of topics about which they expected testimony.

House Republicans, including leader Kevin McCarthy, have threatened to impeach Mayorkas over his handling of illegal immigration.

Jankowicz resigned from the DGB in May, with DHS blaming disinformation and criticism from Republicans for her decision to leave the department. DHS later shut the board down, with the agency “conclud[ing] that there is no need for it.”

DHS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment on the matter.