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Sunday, February 5, 2023

US Stalinist Committee for “disinformation management”

By: Peter Marko Tase

Several US senators and concerned citizens across America are following with great concern the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to establish a new disinformation management committee.

When I read about this initiative, at first, I thought this announcement was a satire. Certainly, no US administration would ever use government powers to judge the speech of its own citizens governed by the First Amendment. Instead of protecting the southern US border with Mexico or the US homeland, the Biden administration decided to make American speech control a priority. This new committee is almost certainly unconstitutional and must be dissolved immediately.

For more than a year now, the Ministry of Homeland Security (DHS) has been consistently treating competing political positions as disinformation that need to be monitored or investigated. However, political debates on issues such as immigration, pandemic blockades and foreign policy are undoubtedly the “fundamental political discourse” protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court even went so far as to say that “according to the First Amendment, there is nothing like a wrong idea”. The apparently broad mandate of this new government entity to “coordinate the fight against disinformation” in America undermines the argument that this entity can even exist under the Constitution.

Of particular concern is President Biden’s choice for the head of the new committee, Nina Jankowicz, an alleged “expert” with a long history of party attacks.

According to US Senator Josh Hawley: “In 2020, Jankowicz described Trump’s use of the National Guard as a ‘sentence I expect from leaders of authoritarian states, not from the president of the United States’.”

In 2021, she praised an article in which it was written that “domestic fascism already existed before President Donald Trump”. Jankowicz also argued that America is systemically racist.

In response to revelations about Hunter Biden’s laptop, she tweeted that “50 former national security officials and 5 former CIA leaders believe it is a Russian influence operation. Trump says ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’.”

Jankowicz said the new Homeland Security Committee would “maintain the ministry’s commitment to protecting freedom of speech”. This is particularly ironic given her extensive critique of freedom of speech and the First Amendment. Jankowicz argued that the ‘freedom of speech against censorship’ framework is a false dichotomy. When Elon Musk announced the takeover of Twitter, she said: “I am appalled to think that if the absolutists of freedom of speech took over more platforms, what it would look like for marginalised communities… who already carry on their shoulders… a disproportionate amount of this abuse.” Jankowicz even described opponents of “codes of expression” on social media as “fanatics of the First Amendment”. These statements, which call into question the value of freedom of speech, clearly disqualify her for such a role.

While Democrats have controlled public space for years through their allies from technology giants, Musk’s takeover of Twitter has shown how weak that control is. We can only assume that the sole purpose of this new disinformation management committee will be to gather the power of the federal government to censor conservative and dissenting speech. According to Senator Josh Hawley, this is dangerous and un-American, so the committee should be dissolved immediately.

To this day, we do not know how Joe Biden’s disinformation committee will work. It is even more unclear how the Disinformation Committee will act in accordance with the First Amendment, as the details of its specific mission are unclear and sparse.

DHS announced the establishment of this committee immediately after Musk took over Twitter. In the United States, only about 2 in 10 adults say the US is heading in the right direction or the economy is doing well, a significant drop from a month ago when three out of ten Americans thought positively about the two issues. The Ministry of Homeland Security must also clarify who appointed Ms. Jankowicz as the head of the committee, as she only embarrassed herself in the previous positions.

Peter Marko Tase is the author and editor of twelve books on Paraguayan history and foreign policy.

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