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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the federal government’s newly created “disinformation” board will operate in a “nonpartisan,” “apolitical” manner amid criticisms that the Biden administration is cracking down on free speech.
During her daily press briefing Monday, Psaki was asked to explain the duties of the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, which she said is continuing the work of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that was established within the DHS by former President Donald Trump in 2018. Trump fired the director of CISA following the 2020 election after the agency publicly disputed claims of widespread voter fraud.
“What this would do is continue [CISA’s] work, and it would help coordinate internal activities from the department related to disinformation that poses a threat to the homeland,” Psaki said. “The mandate is not to adjudicate what is true or false, online or otherwise. It will operate in a nonpartisan and apolitical manner. It’s basically meant to coordinate a lot of the ongoing work that is happening.”
“The focus is on disinformation that threatens the homeland, as I noted, like things that would incite violent extremism, human traffickers and other transnational criminal organizations, any efforts that [are] malign foreign influence, anything that would endanger individuals during emergencies,” she continued. “So, a lot of this work is really about work that people may not see every day that’s ongoing by the Department of Homeland Security.”
A reporter then asked Psaki, “Would there be something public facing [that people] would see or would all of this happen kind of behind closed doors?”
“Well, they certainly will consider putting out public products that represents the department’s view on disinformation-related manners,” Psaki responded. “But that’s their overarching objective, and I don’t have a determination of what that format is.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on “Fox News Sunday” that “there’s no question” he “could have done a better job in communicating” the purpose of the board when he first announced it during his testimony Wednesday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
Mayorkas explained Sunday that the board specifically addresses “disinformation that presents a security threat to the homeland.”
“Disinformation from Russia, from China, from Iran, from the cartels,” he said.
“This is a working group that takes best practices to make sure that, in addressing disinformation that presents a threat to the homeland, our work does not infringe on free speech, does not infringe on civil rights, civil liberties,” he continued. “It’s not about speech, it’s about the connectivity to violence. That is what we need to address. You know, an individual has the free speech right to spew anti-Semitic rhetoric. What they don’t have the right to do is take hostages in a synagogue, and that’s where we get involved.”