(By Victor Skinner, The Center Square) North Carolina Congressman Dan Bishop wants “full transparency and accountability” at the Department of Homeland Security, and he’s leading a hearing on Thursday to demand it.
Bishop, the Republican chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Accountability, wants to examine possible government overreach in a Department of Homeland Security program that could be used to monitor disinformation posted online by American citizens.
The hearing follows fierce backlash against DHS’ now disbanded Disinformation Governance Board, which was created last year with the stated function of protecting national security by disseminating guidance on misinformation online.
“Time and time again, (President) Biden and (Secretary Alejandro) Mayorkas’ DHS has chosen censorship and suppression over free speech and put partisan games ahead of our national security,” Bishop said.
“The dystopian ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ wasn’t an aberration – it was the tip of the iceberg of their censorship laundering schemes,” he said. “This subcommittee is demanding that DHS upholds its duty to secure America’s critical infrastructure and defend the homeland while safeguarding Americans’ constitutional rights. We won’t rest until we get full transparency and accountability.”
The hearing, titled “Censorship Laundering: How the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Enables the Silencing of Dissent,” will be livestreamed on YouTube at 2 p.m.
Bishop was among 170 Republicans who sent a letter to Mayorkas last year following his testimony before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, where Mayorkas revealed the existence of the board.
DHS formed the board months prior following research that recommended a group to “review questions of privacy and civil liberty for online content,” officials said.
Lawmakers raised concerns the board “could be utilized as a political tool under the guise of security” with the potential “to severely undermine the American people’s confidence in the Department.”
Bishop and his colleagues also questioned whether the work would distract from the domestically focused department’s other efforts, such as securing the southern border.
Other concerns centered on the appointment of Nina Jankowicz to head the board. Jankowicz, critics noted, supported Christopher Steele, author of the discredited Steele Dossier attacking President Trump, and attempted to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop story, which was later substantiated.
Those criticisms as well as issues raised by progressives and civil Libertarians led to Jankowicz’s resignation last May, and ultimately the dissolution of the board last August.
The decision to disband came after a Homeland Security Advisory Council subcommittee assessed the same day that there was “no need for a separate Disinformation Governance Board,” though the council stressed “DHS must be able to address the disinformation threat streams that can undermine the security of our homeland.”
“With the HSAC recommendations as a guide, the department will continue to address threat streams that undermine the security of our country consistent with the law, while upholding the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of the American people and promoting transparency in our work,” DHS said in its Aug. 24 announcement.