By Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner
The Department of Homeland Security’s much-criticized disinformation governance board is being paused following concerns it would impede free speech and complaints about its executive director.
Less than a month after President Joe Biden’s administration touted the initiative, the DHS has suspended the board, pending a review from an advisory council, with its leader, Nina Jankowicz, still evaluating her future plans within the department.
“Nina Jankowicz has been subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats,” a DHS spokesperson told the Washington Post Wednesday . “In congressional hearings and in media interviews, the secretary has repeatedly defended her as eminently qualified and underscored the importance of the department’s disinformation work, and he will continue to do so,” the representative added, referring to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates described the “smears leveled by bad-faith, right-wing actors against a deeply qualified expert and against efforts to better combat human smuggling and domestic terrorism” as “disgusting.”
“The administration has forcefully spoken out against them repeatedly,” he told the Washington Examiner. “Neither Nina Jankowicz nor the board have anything to do with censorship or with removing content from anywhere. Their role is to ensure that national security officials are updated on how misinformation is affecting the threat environment. She has strong credentials and a history of calling out misinformation from both the Left and the Right.”
Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki had couched the board, mocked as the “Ministry of Truth,” as “a continuation of work that was done under the prior administration.” The board was formed to study best practices in combating disinformation but lacked the authority to compel public or private stakeholders to act, according to Psaki. She also addressed concerns about Jankowicz, who had called stories regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop Russian disinformation.
Earlier, Mayorkas conceded during an interview with NBC that he and his aides “could have done a better job of communicating” about the “internal working group.”