Non-disclosure of information has become another intangible issue in Washington

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security’s top-level memorandum by September could not be more clear about its plans to set up a commission to monitor national security threats posed by malicious disclosures.

The department, it said, “should not try to be a true arbitrator in the public arena.”

But when Secretary of State Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the campaign in April, Republicans and Conservative lawmakers vehemently denounced it, calling it an Orwellian attempt to thwart dissenting views. Some critics from the left, who have questioned the power the office may have in the hands of future Republican administrations.

Within a few weeks, the new panel was officially dismantled – put on a “pause,” partially dismissed by the forces it intended to fight, including distorting the commission’s purpose and authority.

There is widespread agreement across the federal government to coordinate the dissemination of information that threatens to cause serious public health emergencies, cause racial and ethnic divisions and even destroy one’s own democracy. However, the panel’s fate emphasized that the issue had become deeply ingrained in Washington, making it almost impossible to consider a threat.

Disagreements in practice, according to experts, have opened the door for a new wave of misinformation ahead of mid-November elections – and even for violence such as the genocide at Buffalo Mall in May, fueled by baseless conspiracy theories. To “replace” white Americans with immigrants.

“I think we are in a very quiet situation in this country,” said Nina Jankowicz, who served as a briefing member of the executive council before resigning after the conflict.

Well-known author and researcher in the field of anonymity, who once advised the Ukrainian government, Jankowicz has become the focus of outrage, targeting online by misinformation or misrepresenting her role in what critics denounce as a Ministry of Truth.

“It’s hard to imagine how we came back from here,” she said in an interview. “When this is the way our elected representatives behave – when we can not agree, you know what the truth is,” she said in an interview.

Threats from today’s media releases related to recent issues may have crossed the line of opposition politics. Instead, the disorder is stuck in the country’s deep geographical divisions on issues such as abortion, guns and climate change.

Even during the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security recognized the threat. The agency, along with the director of the National Intelligence Agency, commissioned a 2019 study that concluded that misinformation could, among other things, “cause existing social divisions” and “cause panic in financial markets.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department and the Pentagon have repeatedly warned against threats from false sources. From abroad. The Federal Election Commission is holding a pre-election meeting in 2020 to address the issue as well.

By now, however, the opposition’s divisions on the issue have begun.

Its roots stem from Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election of Donald J. Trump, which he and his allies have repeatedly denied being counterfeit, despite evidence gathered by federal investigators about Russia’s turmoil.

False information continues to circulate around Covid-19 and the 2020 Biden presidential election – which Trump continues to assert, with all the evidence, is fraud – has led many Republicans to see the fight against the spread of false information as an attack on the opposition.

John Cohen, a former top intelligence official with the Department of Homeland Security, who attended a panel discussion on addressing national security threats posed by the Internet, said, “You can not use the term ‘inaccurate information’ today without it being politically sensitive. .

By all accounts, the department did not anticipate the outrage that the creation of an advisory board would cause – as well as the ease with which critics would place it with the many types of advertising it meant to follow.

Mr. Mayorkas announced the board, offhand, in considering the budget in April, followed by Twitter reply From Mrs. Jankowicz. By then, the commission had been in place for two months, though it had not yet met formally. Official.

In addition to the new director, its staff includes four officers with details from other parts of the department. It does not yet have a specific budget or enforcement authority. However, conservative commentators, including Jack Posobiec, were condemned by the authorities. Conservatives and Republicans.

The commission has quickly become a new foil in the descriptions of the old Republican campaign that overbearing Democrats want to intrude deep and deep into people’s personal beliefs – “abolishing” conservative values. Jankowicz’s prominence in the debate over Russia’s actions has made her a specific Republican target.

“The right to recognize that it is a way to hit people with rage,” Jankowicz said, “the problem is that there is a real national security issue here, and not being able to talk about it in an adult manner is a real blow to the country.”

Opposition does not just come from right, however.

Three rights organizations – Defending Democracy, the Knight First Amendment Institute at the University of Columbia and the Frontier Electronic Foundation – welcome the department’s recognition of the scale of the problem but citing the department’s history of “constitutional deception in a clear way” as sufficient reason to be. Be careful.

“In the wrong hands, the panel would be a potential tool for government censorship and retaliation,” they wrote in a letter to Mr Mayorkas, urging the department to reconsider the commission.

The damage was done, forcing the Mayorkas to divert the route. He has set aside the work of the commission, pending a review by the department’s advisory board, which is expected to Completed on August 1.

He called on the two former governors to review the issue of undisclosed fighting: Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department under President George W. Bush, and Jamie S. Gorelick, Deputy Secretary of Justice under President Bill Clinton. Few expect the Commission to be reconstituted in any form intended.

The rise of information inconsistencies – as well as many other issues – has hampered Seeking a solution by Parliament and the Biden administration.

Laws such as the Loyalty Advertising Act, which governs online political advertising the way it is on television or radio, have been discontinued for years. The United States has failed in its privacy or other matters to seize the power of social media giants, although Europe, for example, has moved to force them to disclose that their services expand fragmented content and stop targeting online advertising individually. Ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

In Washington, no agreement has been reached on the threat, with Republicans taking to the fight against misinformation in an effort to silence conservative voices.

According to internal documents of the Department of Internal Security that set up the commission, they include the crisis that was cut out of today’s headlines: the misinformation that led to a public health emergency. Traffickers spread false information to guide immigrants on dangerous journeys across the southern border. Conspiracy theories that cause violence against state and local election officials.

The document was released to the public by the two Republican senators who attacked it, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Josh Hawley of Missouri. They claim that their evidence is not a requirement to combat misinformation, but rather to the malicious intent of the Commission, although the entire memorandum emphasizes the primary need to protect freedom of speech. Among the documents, though, are the points Mayorkas made in meeting with the authorities. From Twitter to correct false information, which senators consider an attempt to “Block dissatisfied content.”

Grassley did not respond to a request for comment. Hawley’s spokeswoman Abigail Marone said President Biden was “determined to lead the administration for the first time in the history of the United States.”

“His idea of ​​’misinformation’ is that parents are talking about their children being taught critical racial theory or Americans are concerned asking the right questions about the Covid vaccine,” she added. “Biden’s aim is to use federal power to shut up the rhetoric.”

The Department of Homeland Security adds the threat of misinformation to the topic Introducing the first national terrorist attack in February. “The United States remains in an increasingly threatening environment by a number of factors, including an online environment full of false or misleading storytelling and conspiracy theories,” the warning said.

The statement added: “Foreign and domestic actors,” find ways to increase social unrest, to create conflict and undermine public trust in government institutions to promote unrest, which could lead to violence. ” At the time, Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, declared the department “police speaking, thoughts and opinions of American citizens.”

The department reiterated the warning in a statement last month.

“Basically, we at this point can not have a peaceful discussion on this issue,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of the University of New York’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. “And there are bizarre, circular, cyclic effects. The problem itself is that we can not talk about the problem. “

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