The Department of Homeland Security has officially disbanded its controversial disinformation board, months after it was put on pause amid intense Republican-led backlash.
In May, the department’s “Disinformation Governance Board” initiative was halted after weeks of attacks, including those aimed at the disinformation expert appointed to lead the effort.
The board was intended to coordinate department activities related to disinformation aimed at the US population and infrastructure. On Wednesday, it was formally terminated.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “has terminated the Disinformation Governance Board and rescinded its charter effective today, August 24, 2022,” DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa said in a statement.
Earlier Wednesday, a Homeland Security Advisory Council subcommittee issued a set of recommendations to the secretary, including its assessment that there is “no need for a separate Disinformation Governance Board.”
However, the council, which provides guidance and recommendations to the DHS secretary, noted that the “underlying work of Department components on this issue is critical.”
“DHS must be able to address the disinformation threat streams that can undermine the security of our homeland,” the advisory report said.
Espinosa said the department will use the council’s recommendations as a guide to “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.”
Nina Jankowicz, the disinformation expert with experience working on Ukraine and Russia issues, resigned in May after the department paused the board.
Her appointment had quickly drawn condemnation from GOP lawmakers and right-wing media, who pointed to her past tweets and statements regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop and Christopher Steele, the author of the so-called Steele Dossier.
At the time, Jankowicz told CNN that she resigned because the board’s future was uncertain.
“I had hoped we would be more transparent about how the board was going to operate and what it was going to do,” she said, acknowledging that the new initiative should have been rolled out differently. “For whatever reason, that didn’t happen, and that information vacuum only grew. And I think the information vacuum kind of directed a lot of the attacks and digging around in my personal life.”
DHS and the White House previously defended the board but eventually decided to pause the initiative and call for a review.
Mayorkas asked former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and former US Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to lead the review of the board through the advisory council.