Among the many headlines recently about the leaked Supreme Court document and the continuing war in Ukraine, much attention has also focused on the US Department of Homeland Security’s newly-established “Disinformation Governance Board.”
The DHS Secretary is Alejandro Mayorkas. Regarding the panel, a DHS fact sheet claims it is targeting “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 organizations. Such malicious actors often spread disinformation to exploit vulnerable individuals and the American public, including during national emergencies.”
In contrast, detractors have dubbed the panel the “Ministry of Truth” by comparing it to the propaganda organization that played a significant role in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, where history was rewritten and news was manipulated or twisted.
In a May 5 Press Release, Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) published a letter co-signed by the attorneys general from 19 other states, calling on Mayorkas to “immediately disband” the panel or else they will sue the federal government.
The Press Release is as follows:
ATTORNEY GENERAL MIYARES LEADS MULTISTATE LETTER URGING BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO STOP THEIR ATTACK ON THE FIRST AMENDMENT
~Attorney General Miyares argues that the proposed Disinformation Governance Board will hurt Americans’ constitutional freedom to speak freely, debate, and disagree with the government~
Attorney General Miyares today submitted a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, joined by 19 other attorneys general, opposing the Biden Administration’s attack on the First Amendment. The creation of a “Disinformation Governance Board” violates the constitutional freedoms that state attorneys general are responsible for defending.
“Freedom of speech is the bedrock of democracy. Instead of protecting and fostering it, this administration wants to create an organization that would have federal bureaucrats monitoring citizens’ speech. This would undoubtedly lead to Americans self-censoring their ideas and debates. I am concerned about the spread of false information, but creating a federal agency to police speech is not the way to address it. As the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I cannot stand by as the rights of every Virginian are being threatened. The war on the First Amendment must stop,” said Attorney General Miyares.
The attorneys general argue that this government watchdog agency would abridge a citizen’s right to express their opinions and disagree with the government, furthering self-censorship rather than protecting freedom of speech. The board’s creation is also an example of federal overreach. There is no statutory authority to support its inception – particularly as the public’s elected representatives debate the issue of disinformation in Congress.
The letter states that “the Disinformation Governance Board, by its very existence, and almost certainly by design, threatens to “enforce silence” when Americans wish to express views disfavored by the Administration. It is therefore already chilling free speech and impeding the political process in Virginia and every other State. This is unconstitutional, illegal, and un-American. Unless you turn back now and disband this Orwellian Disinformation Governance Board immediately, the undersigned will have no choice but to consider judicial remedies to protect the rights of their citizens.”
Attorneys General from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia joined Attorney General Miyares’ letter.