Sen. Maggie Hassan may sit on the Homeland Security Committee, but she had nothing to say about the controversial “Disinformation Governing Board” launched by the department she helps oversee.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas mentioned the creation of the new board during his testimony before Congress earlier this week. “The spread of disinformation can affect border security, Americans’ safety during disasters, and public trust in our democratic institutions,” DHS said in a statement.
But when asked what the board will actually do, details this week were thin.
Jen Psaki told reporters that “it sounds like the objective of the board is to prevent disinformation and misinformation from traveling around the country in a range of communities. I’m not sure who opposes that effort?”
According to the Associated Press, “the new board also will monitor and prepare for Russian disinformation threats as this year’s midterm elections near and the Kremlin continues an aggressive disinformation campaign around the war in Ukraine.” But “monitoring” and “preventing” aren’t the same thing.
Civil libertarians are concerned.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who, like Hassan sits on the Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to Secretary Mayorkas denouncing the new board.
“I confess, I at first thought this announcement was satire,” Hawley wrote. “Surely, no American administration would ever use the power of government to sit in judgment on the First Amendment speech of its own citizens.
“Sadly, I was mistaken. Rather than protecting our border or the American homeland, you have chosen to make policing Americans’ speech your priority. This new board is most certainly unconstitutional and should be dissolved immediately.”
And potential 2024 presidential candidate Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) added via Twitter:
“The Federal Government has no business creating a Ministry of Truth. The Department of Homeland Security’s “Disinformation Board” is unconstitutional and unamerican, and I’ll be introducing a bill to defund it.”
The case for the board wasn’t helped when a video went viral of its chief, Nina Jankowicz, singing a parody of the Mary Poppins tune “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” with lyrics about fake news. Jankowicz also spread her own “disinformation,’ claiming incorrectly that the Hunter Biden laptop story was a fraud.
Jankowicz’s resume is that of a partisan Democrat which, critics say, makes her particularly unfit for the job of determining what speech is acceptable information.
Asked about the new board, Sen. Hassan declined to comment. She also declined to respond to questions about whether she would support Senate efforts to defund it. And she has no mention of it on her social media or Senate website.
“Of course Senator Hassan won’t vote to defund such an egregious use of taxpayer money, because she’s beholden to the far-left of her party,” tweeted GOP U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Smith. “#MaggieHasnt represented us on the Homeland Security Committee for the past five years, so why start now?”