Finally some good news – maybe! The Department of Homeland Security’s recently launched Disinformation Governance Board has gone into what has been described as the “pause” mode and its controversial Director Nina Jankowicz has resigned, citing “vile personal attacks and physical threats.” Its status will reportedly be reviewed over the next 75 days and it will likely be rolled out more quietly next time around and under a different name.
The Board was developed to counter what was held to be unfair criticism of policies being promoted by the government. Ironically, however, it has recently become clear that the White House itself has been doing much of the lying. It uses the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other government agencies to spread false information, referred to as disinformation, to dupe the public into believing that there is something good and noble about America becoming heavily involved in the war in Ukraine, with all that entails. And, of course, since the evildoers must be excoriated as that drama is playing out, good old Russia fits in admirably, particularly as the Democrats still like to pretend that it was Moscow’s interference that defeated Hillary in 2016.
A lie is a lie, but it is the ultimate irony when a government that is caught lying on a regular basis sets up an inquisition that seeks to identify and take action against ordinary citizens who are accused of spreading “disinformation.” Of course, critics on the right immediately discerned that the disinformation will consist of anything that challenges the official government line on various issues, up to including pandemics, white supremacist domestic terrorism, aborting unwanted babies, and even the march to war. Although the inept President Joe Biden Administration can rightly be accused of elevating deceit to a steady diet of malapropisms, one can trace the rise of egregious lying by heads of state to the Gulf of Tonkin incident and, more recently, to the criminal deceptions carried out by the George W. Bush Administration. Those lies led to the invasion of Iraq, which cost trillions of dollars, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans, and which is still producing unrest in the region.
So now we were to be confronted by the Disinformation Governance Board, so designated under the august authority of the Department of Homeland Security to root out disinformation and those who are seeking to disseminate falsehoods about what our noble elected officials are doing to us in Washington. Followers of George Orwell inevitably, and almost immediately, dubbed the new creation the Ministry of Truth.
The official launch documents in late April claimed that the DGB would be “protecting free speech, privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties” against the “threat of disinformation.” Its focus would be on “homeland security, focused specifically on irregular migration and Russia,” meaning that it would be discrediting any source that complains about the flood of aliens crossing the US southern border or casting doubts on the necessity of supporting America’s Ukraine “allies.” In a follow-up briefing DHS elaborated that it would monitor threat “disinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia, China and Iran, or other adversaries such as transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling organizations.”
And the board was to be headed by one Nina Jankowicz, a weird, highly politicized concoction who sang about her mission in a tweet entitled “You can just call me the Mary Poppins of disinformation” while confirming that she would be the first executive director of the DGB. She has also written a book entitled “How To Be A Woman Online.” She has worked for the National Democratic Institute, the Democratic Party affiliate of the National Endowment for Democracy that promotes democracy worldwide. She has also been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
In an NPR interview responding to a question concerning Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, Jankowicz ridiculously opined that “I shudder to think about, if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would be like for the marginalized communities around the world…” Glenn Greenwald further describedthe new Disinformation Czar as having “herself ratified and helped spread virtually every disinformation campaign concocted by the union of the Democratic Party and corporate media over the last five years. Indeed, the only valid basis for calling her a ‘disinformation expert’ is that she has spread disinformation with such gusto. The most notorious of those was the pre-election lie that the authentic Hunter Biden laptop was ‘disinformation.’ She also decreed falsely that the origins of COVID were definitively proven to be zoonotic and could not have come from a lab leak, was a frequent and vocal advocate of the fraudulent Steele Dossier, and repeatedly pronounced as true all sorts of Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy theories which Robert Mueller, after conducting an intense 18-month investigation, rejected as lacking evidence to establish their truth.”
Jankowicz’s boss Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas nevertheless claimed that she was “eminently qualified,” a “renowned expert,” and politically “neutral.” But to put that in context, her rather thin actual work history, heavy on being a Democratic Party apparatchik tied to the Clintons, oddly includes a stint as a Fulbright-Clinton fellow in 2017 serving as an adviser on disinformation to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. She sports the US and Ukrainian flags next to her picture on her twitter page.
Attempts by governments to shape their message by discrediting alternative viewpoints are not exactly new. Here in the US, suppressing contrary views is nearly as old as the republic. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 gave the president power to deport potentially “dangerous” foreigners and made it a crime to print “any false, scandalous, and malicious writing” about the government. President John Adams supported these laws because he wanted to prevent a war with France, quite the reverse of what the Biden regime is seeking to do as it mobilizes against Russia. Vice President Thomas Jefferson was openly disgusted by the unconstitutional acts, which probably contributed to his election as president in 1800.
The Acts were subsequently allowed to expire and were never reviewed by the Supreme Court, but there is also the later example of the Committee for Public Information which was used by the government to support the war party line in World War One. There followed the Espionage Act of 1918, which is still in effect, that was used liberally by President Woodrow Wilson to silence critics of American entry into the war. The definition of what constitutes “espionage” was deliberately made infinitely elastic and the Act is still in use against whistleblowers and presumably also Julian Assange.
Given the language connected with the launch of the Disinformation Government Board, it might reasonably be assumed that it would have surely sought to suppress “malicious writing” and speech relating to the Biden sponsored wave of illegal immigration along the country’s southern border that has driven America’s foreign-born population to a record 46.6 million people. And, in addition to an increase in arriving Afghans, which was actually written into the bill proposing $33 billion more for Ukraine, there will surely be more Ukrainian migrants. Jewish organizations in the US, Europe and Israel are already actively bringing in co-religionists. Given political realities, displaced Ukrainian Jews will likely be quietly given refugee status granting them full benefits to include housing and welfare payments.
Not surprisingly, the surging wave of immigration is highly unpopular among working people who are already established, even among many Democrats, and the Biden response will be to compel the bad vibes go away, literally, by openly labeling critics as liars peddling disinformation. Whether there will be actual criminal or civil penalties attached to the process remains to be seen when the board is most likely resurrected under another name.
And, of course, the likes of Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Tom Massie, journalist Tucker Carlson and former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard would have their views on the developing catastrophe in Ukraine challenged and denigrated, to include possibly arranging for their banning from social media sites, which is already being done to some critics. The fact is that we do not know at this point exactly what the new Board will eventually be empowered to do, but one can count on the results being bad, destructive both of the First Amendment and of honest journalism in the United States.
The ability of the government to collude with corporate America to diminish personal liberty of the citizenry cannot be understated. We have already seen corporations that operate on the internet proactively terminating accounts that it considers politically unacceptable. Consortium News, a perfectly respectable site of long standing that has a splendid record of investigative journalism, was recently delisted by PayPal, which took the further step of confiscating its nearly $10,000 of funds with the threat that the money might be retained by PayPal as an additional punishment.
The reality is that the government can unleash its thousands of lawyers to make a case against nearly every citizen who is politically active. Which is why the Biden Administration has already been criminalizing and/or sanctioning any foreign organization that has “interfered in or undermined public confidence in United States elections,” as if the two major parties are not already doing that quite effectively all by themselves. If that is truly a crime why aren’t Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell being sanctioned?
In my own experience, I have dealt with threatened punishment regarding my contributing to and participating in the activities of an Iranian NGO and a Russian information site. Neither organization can plausibly regarded as a threat to the United States, though they both were highly critical of US government policies, as am I. In one case, American participants in a conference overseas organized by the Iranians were warned that they would be arrested upon return, which currently appears to be “due process” in the US. In the case of the Russian site, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) advised that any American writing for the site could be fined as much as $311,562!
The unfortunate reality is that the real damage is being done through the employment of government driven restrictions punishing ordinary citizens who are exercising their right of free speech and free association. It is easy to claim that a foreign news service or NGO is “undermining confidence in US elections” as it is a charge that one need not have to prove. Indeed, it is unprovable and it is a weapon that can be used to manage dissent and to narrow the bounds of acceptable discourse. The question becomes whether and to what extent the successor to the now paused Disinformation Governance Board will attempt to apply similar standards to Americans. One might suggest that the barring of dissident US journalists and political figures from social media sites and from funding mechanisms like PayPal is the first shot to be fired in a long struggle over what is “truth” that will play out over the next two years.
Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.