The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly suspended the Biden administration’s infamous Disinformation Governance Board indefinitely.
Nina Jankowicz, the 33-year-old researcher and government official the Biden administration appointed to chair the board, has resigned, CNN reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The board is being “paused,” three weeks after the Biden administration announced its existence, sources told The Washington Post.
The agency decided Monday to shut down the board. The following day, Jankowicz drafted her resignation letter, according to the newspaper.
According to the sources, the DHS has also suspended focus groups tasked with working on mis-, dis-, and mal-information, pending review by the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Internet users, free-speech advocates and journalists hailed news of the board’s dissolution.
“And that’s how you defeat oppression with free speech,” Foundation for Economic Education Brand Ambassador Hannah Cox wrote in a Wednesday tweet celebrating the board disbanding.
“Man, I love when the good guys win one,” Cox wrote.
AND THAT’S HOW YOU DEFEAT OPPRESSION WITH FREE SPEECH.
Man, I love when the good guys win one.https://t.co/yz3tGKdBw5
— Hannah Cox (@HannahDCox) May 18, 2022
Journalist Glenn Greenwald described the shutting down of the board as a “cause of momentary celebration.”
“It’s a cause of momentary celebration that the Department of Homeland Security was forced by popular anger to ‘pause’ its Disinformation Board and the absurd Resistance cartoon they hired to run it,” Greenwald wrote in a Wednesday post on Twitter.
It’s a cause of momentary celebration that the Department of Homeland Security was forced by popular anger to “pause” its Disinformation Board and the absurd #Resistance cartoon they hired to run it, but read this to see how angry WPost and @TaylorLorenz are that this happened: https://t.co/dCY3VKuEua
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 18, 2022
Greenwald, however, pointed to the tone of The Washington Post report on the story, written by journalist Taylor Lorenz.
Lorenz is the journalist who recently doxxed and harassed the person behind the conservative Twitter handle @LibsofTiktok and their relatives.
Her article portrayed the suspension of the Disinformation Governance Board as the work of a targeted campaign by the “right-wing Internet.”
Lorenz reported that, while the Biden administration as a whole received flak for the board and its eerie name, Jankowicz “was on the receiving end of the harshest attacks.”
The Washington Post columnist wrote that Jankowicz’s role in the ominously named board was “mischaracterized” and that she “became a primary target on the right-wing Internet.”
As a result of becoming a “primary target,” Lorenz wrote, Jankowicz faced “an unrelenting barrage of harassment and abuse while unchecked misrepresentations of her work continue to go viral.”
“Nina Jankowicz has been subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement to the Washington Post.
“In congressional hearings and in media interviews, the Secretary has repeatedly defended her as eminently qualified and underscored the importance of the Department’s disinformation work, and he will continue to do so,” the spokesman said.
“Investigating and criticizing a Homeland Security official is now ‘harassment’ and bullying, according to the Washington Post and Taylor Lorenz,” Greenwald wrote in another Twitter post.
“Only ordinary citizens can be investigated — not high-level US Security State operatives,” Greenwald said, taking a shot at Lorenz’s doxxing of the person behind @LibsofTiktok.
Investigating and criticizing a Homeland Security official is now “harassment” and bullying, according to the WashPost and @TaylorLorenz.
Only ordinary citizens can be investigated — not high-level US Security State operatives. Them’s the rules:https://t.co/rtHpupbeMw
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 18, 2022
The DHS revealed the existence of the Disinformation Governance Board in April when DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas discussed it in a House appropriations subcommittee hearing.
Lacking a clear charter on its functions and being announced just two days after Elon Musk announced that he reached a deal to purchase Twitter, news of the board drew outrage from those who feared it could be used to censor alternative viewpoints.
“Given the complete lack of information about this new initiative and the potential serious consequences of a government entity identifying and responding to ‘disinformation,’ we have serious concerns about the activities of this new Board, particularly under Ms. Jankowicz’s leadership,” Republican leaders of the House Committee on Homeland Security Mike Turner and John Katko wrote in a letter to Mayorkas late April, according to ABC News.
The attorneys general of 20 Republican states threatened to sue the DHS earlier in May over the board, saying it was “un-American,” Fox News reported.