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During a public hearing on Wednesday, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul confronted Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas about the so-called “Disinformation Governance Board” that Joe Biden’s administration intends to create to control the flow of information prior to the elections.
While questioning Mayorkas, Paul stated that it is impossible to “agree” on a concept of disinformation and, therefore, an office dedicated to combat it makes no sense.
One example used by the senator in this regard was CNN’s years of spreading the so-called Steele Dossier, which sought to link former President Donald Trump to alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and which was disproved by the FBI.
“The difference, I guess, between your opinion and mine is that, as despicable as it is that CNN propagated this disinformation, I wouldn’t shut them down, I wouldn’t lecture them, I wouldn’t put it on a government website that CNN is wrong for propagating disinformation,” Paul told Mayorkas.
“We can’t even have an agreement on what the FBI said was disinformation. How do you propose that you’re going to have an office of desinformation governance if you see the problem in even determining what is disinformation?”
Paul insists: How will the “Ministry of Truth” act?
Mayorkas attempted to explain that the so-called “Ministry of Truth” will focus on intervening when there is a “connectivity between disinformation and threats to the security of our homeland,” but Senator Paul quickly interrupted to question what shape that intervention would take, what the government would do to punish disinformation.
“Let’s just say there’s an imaginary desinformation, you discover tomorrow Russian disinformation that’s going to hurt our national security and CNN is broadcasting it. What are you going to do? Are you going to tell Putin he shouldn’t do this?” questioned Paul.
Mayorkas used the example of Mexican cartels allegedly using social media to spread disinformation regarding Title 42 and southern border regulations, and explained that, in response, his department also takes to social media to publicly disavow the cartels.
“What are you going to do if there’s Russian disinformation?” insisted Paul. “Are you going to broadcast something on social media?”
The Secretary of Homeland Security went on to try to explain that the “working group” against disinformation should “ensure that there are guardrails, definitions, standards to make sure that free speech rights, civil rights, civil liberties and privacy rights of individuals are not impeded.”
The senator, insistent on trying to extract from Mayorkas a definition of what the government would consider disinformation, reminded the official that the U.S. government has spread “disinformation” in the past, citing instances such as the alleged weapons of mass destruction that George W. Bush used as an excuse to invade Iraq.
“Do you think the American people are so stupid they need you to tell them what the truth is? You can’t even admit what the truth is with the Steele Dossier,” Paul continued. “I don’t trust government to figure out what the truth is. Government is largely disseminating disinformation.”
Mayorkas announced on April 27 that the Biden administration is creating a “Disinformation Governance Board” with the aim to “protect freedom of speech,” to be headed by Nina Jankowicz, who previously served as part of the disinformation team at the Wilson Center.
The government’s decision came days after the announcement of the total buyout of Twitter by Elon Musk, who, concerned about its role in the public debate, intends to make the social network a “bastion of free speech.”