Homeland Security head says they 'could have done a better job' explaining the 'disinformation' board

·2 min read
Alejandro Mayorkas
Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks speaks at a White House press briefing on March 1, 2021.AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
  • The Department of Homeland Security announced a "disinformation" board last week, prompting criticism.

  • Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said the board will not monitor US citizens.

  • He said it's a continuation of work DHS has been doing since before the Biden administration.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday the agency could have done a better job communicating its newly announced Disinformation Governance Board.

The board was announced on Wednesday and is intended to counter misinformation that poses a national security concern, such as Russian disinformation or misinformation spread to migrants by smugglers.

"The spread of disinformation can affect border security, Americans' safety during disasters, and public trust in our democratic institutions," DHS said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The disinformation board drew swift criticism from conservatives, sparking concerns over policing speech. Some drew comparisons to the "Ministry of Truth" from George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984."

Mayorkas addressed some of those concerns in an interview on Sunday with NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We could have done a better job of communicating what it is and what it isn't," Mayorkas said of the board, adding that "it's a working group" that will look at best practices to address "disinformation that presents a threat to the security of our country" in way that doesn't "infringe on free speech" or "on civil liberties."

Those best practices will then be shared with US officials who have operational authority to combat such threats. He said the board itself will not have any "operational authority."

Host Chuck Todd asked about the controversial decision to have Nina Jankowicz lead the board. Jankowicz, a disinformation expert, has been accused of having a political bias.

Mayorkas said she was an "eminently qualified individual" and a "recognized expert on battling the threat of disinformation that presents a threat to the security of our homeland from Russia, from China, from Iran, from the cartels."

Mayorkas also appeared on CNN to address concerns about the board and said it would not monitor American citizens, adding that it's a continuation of work Homeland Security has been doing since before the Biden administration.

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