This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
When the Department of Homeland Security shut down its Disinformation Governance Board amid a backlash led by critics describing it as Orwellian, the White House promised the effort to censor speech that conflicts with its narrative would go on.
It has, confirms an investigative report by The Intercept that found DHS is “quietly broadening its efforts to curb speech it considers dangerous.”
Citing meeting minutes and other records appended to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, the libertarian news site reports DHS plans – in partnership with Big Tech – to target what the government regards as inaccurate information. The subjects include “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”
In addition, DHS is working to counter any information deemed to be undermining trust in financial systems and courts.
Significantly, the Intercept found, the FBI agent whose communication with Facebook and other social media platforms led to the suppression of the Hunter Biden “laptop story” prior to the October 2020 election still has a role in DHS policy discussions.
The agent, Laura Dehmlow, told Facebook’s top leadership that the story, based on evidence from the laptop that has been confirmed as authentic by many sources, amounted to Russian disinformation. Twitter locked the New York Post’s account after it reported on Oct. 15, 2020, that emails on the laptop indicated Joe Biden not only knew about his son’s influence-peddling business, he profited from it. This year, Dehmlow met with Twitter and DHS officials to emphasize that “we need a media infrastructure that is held accountable.”
The documents reported by The Intercept show the government’s policing of speech is spearheaded by a DHS sub-agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is in charge of protecting critical national infrastructure.
DHS, the FBI, and several media entities were having biweekly meetings as recently as August. And Facebook has created a special portal for DHS and government partners to report “disinformation” directly.
Twitter locked the New York Post’s account for several days after the outlet broke a story on Oct. 15, 2020, about emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop regarding a meeting between then-Vice President Joe Biden and a Ukrainian gas executive; the platform also blocked users from sharing links to the article.
‘The work doesn’t stop’
In May, after “pausing” its plan to establish a Disinformation Governance Board, the Biden administration declared it would continue to combat “disinformation.”
Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the time that the board was put on hold because it was “mischaracterized” by critics, but the work will go on.
“We are going to pause it … but the work doesn’t stop,” she said. “We’re still going to continue the work. The DHS is still going to continue the work.”
The Washington Post reported at the time that the board was paused not because it resembled the totalitarian Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s “1984,” but because of a right-wing “disinformation” smear campaign. Ironically, according to the paper, it was disinformation that sank the administration’s initiative to combat disinformation. The widespread criticism of the board, however, centered on the fundamental problem of creating a government entity with the task of censoring speech and equipping it with the power to define what kind of speech constitutes a “threat” to the homeland.
In September, emails showed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fed Facebook false information regarding the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines for children in the social media platform’s crusade against “misinformation.”
Later that month, a consortium of four private groups worked with DHS and the State Department to censor social media posts regarded as “misinformation” during the 2020 election campaign, Just the News reported.
In March, Biden’s surgeon general demanded that the major social media companies submit detailed information about the COVID-19 “misinformation” on their platforms.
In February, as WND reported, DHS issued a bulletin naming “proliferation of false or misleading narratives” regarding COVID-19 and the 2020 election as among the top terror threats.