This comes from documents and communications obtained by the Intercept through leaks, Freedom of Information Act requests, public reports and ongoing lawsuits. The leak comes just months after the DHS shuttered its Disinformation Governance Board before it could even fully launch.
But despite the disinformation board being shut down, the leaks show that the department’s underlying work to combat so-called disinformation is ongoing. This includes the revelation that there is a Facebook portal that the DHS and other federal government agencies can use to flag content. The DHS has also been busy flagging content on Twitter. (Related: Homeland Security offering biometric data of American citizens to potential foreign partners.)
The rate at which the DHS was reporting content to Facebook became so immense that the social media platform had to create the portal just so the company can streamline complaints from the department and other government agencies regarding content on Facebook and Instagram that they believe needs to be throttled or suppressed.
The Intercept also obtained a draft copy of “Quadrennial Homeland Security Review,” a document that outlines the department’s plans to target so-called “inaccurate information” regarding a variety of topics, including the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the nature of the country’s support for Ukraine.
The investigation further warns that other government agencies, including Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service, have expanded their scope to include dealing with disinformation.
DHS is being politicized, Republicans warn
Advocates for freedom of speech have blasted the federal government’s attempts to censor what it claims to be disinformation, including left-wing entities like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Former ACLU President Nadine Strossen pointed out that if any of the DHS’s recent actions were done by a foreign authoritarian government, “there is no doubt we would call it censorship.”
In Congress, leading Republican members of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees have blasted the DHS for further “politicizing” itself in the name of dealing with so-called disinformation.
“Reports of DHS’s involvement in efforts to be the arbiter of truth on wide-ranging topics are extremely concerning,” said Rep. John Katko of New York. “The American people do not approve of the department engaging in unclear, unaccountable and opaque efforts led by the Biden administration’s ever-changing definition of ‘truth.'”
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said in a statement that he has been monitoring the Biden administration’s activities to counter so-called disinformation. Portman added that he will press DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on this issue “as well as the many other threats facing our country.”
Katko echoed Portman’s statement by pointing out how the United States has more pressing issues it needs to focus on than so-called disinformation.
“When the border crisis is reaching record-breaking levels daily, cyberattacks from adversaries are threatening to cripple our critical infrastructure, the rise in violent crime is putting Americans across the country in danger and disrupted supply chains are having devastating impacts on Americans, DHS cannot seem to let go of the desire to police Americans’ free speech,” he said.
Watch this clip from Steve Bannon’s “War Room” as co-host Natalie Winters talks about the DHS leaked documents.
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