Reviews | Biden’s Hopeless Disinformation Police

The press highlighted the DHS board’s goal of challenging Russian-crafted misinformation as well as general misinformation (undeclared perpetrators) that had misled immigrants from Haiti and other places where the southern border of the United States was open. Republicans like Sen. Josh Haley of Missouri and conservative media like the washington time collapsed at the announcement, dusting off their Orwells and combing out their creepy wigs to warn of an impending DHS crackdown on not just free speech, but free thought. “It’s dangerous and un-American,” Hawley said in a statement. “The council must be dissolved immediately.”

The idea that the Biden administration would screw up the First Amendment and institute authoritarian rule through its operatives at DHS is immediately dismissable if only because it is one of the most inefficient departments in the president’s office. If Biden had assigned the task to Agriculture or Commerce or some other department with a better governance GPA, we should be scared. But the DHS couldn’t eradicate misinformation or erect an American Reich if we reallocated to it all the weapons we currently ship to Ukraine. It is populated by a confederation of dunces and shoddy artists, unable to carry out its current mission. For example, DHS ignored the harbingers of January 6, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. This failed to share information about the wave of Haitian immigrants crossing the border in 2021. (Based on his track record, DHS content reviewers will surely miss any treacherous misinformation the Russkies send us.) run by other federal agencies , Dara Lind argued in Voicethat it be abolished, a point of view shared by many. In 2020, former Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) wrote an op-ed regretting having him midwife with his vote in the Senate.

But never mind the DHS. Who among us thinks the government should add to their to-do list the task of determining what is true and what is disinformation? And who thinks the government is capable of telling the truth? Our government produces lies and disinformation on an industrial scale and always has. This overclassifies vital information to prevent its own citizens from becoming wiser. He pays thousands of press aides to play hide the salami with facts.

It is the government that lied about winning the war in vietnamwho declared the Watergate affair a “third-order burglary”, who fought a secret war in nicaraguawho lied about clandestine love story in the White House, which used misinformation to force a war in the middle east. Even President Barack Obama bypassed the truth. Of 600 statements by Obama PolitiFact checked during his administration, a quarter of them fell into the “red zone” of being fake, mostly fake, or “pants on fire” fake. Not too long ago, 50 intelligence officials — each of them smarter and better informed than any DHS mastermind — assured the nation that Hunter Biden’s laptop story carried “all the classic features of a Russian information operation”. How did it work? The idea that Covid could have come from a Chinese lab has also been dismissed as misinformation; now it’s seen as a legitimate possibility by the Biden administration. In the meantime, we have documented proof of Washington Post that even Joe Biden can’t handle the simple truths! (We don’t need to reassess Donald Trump’s presidency here, do we?)

Making the federal government the official custodian of truth would be like giving a safe cracker the job of driving an armored car. On top of that, who is going to accept DHS decisions? Not the journalists, who are used to government lies. Not the man in the street. Certainly not the so-called uninformed voters the government would like to put in an escape-proof park. By creating the Disinformation Governance Council, the Biden administration will give itself the power of an arbiter to declare certain things completely off limits. Without stepping out on the slippery slope, it would empower Biden people to find certain things dangerous or objectionable. After you label something as misinformation, it’s just a short slide to delete the disputed information or replace it with what Kellyanne Conway fancifully called “alternative facts.”

If Russian disinformation is a problem, it has been for almost a century. Like Straight reported in 2017, the Russians began sending fake defectors in the 1930s to spread disinformation in the West. After World War II, the Soviets shifted their focus to the United States. Two years after the surrender of Nazi Germany, Soviet leaders sought to influence public opinion by covertly fund newspapers and radio stations around the world and establish fronts to feed communism. He falsified documents and attempted to hide them in credible publications. In a disinformation campaign, he promulgated the tall tale that AIDS was the product of American experimentation with biological weapons. Etc.

Somehow, we survived the Soviet onslaught without a disinformation governance council to guide us. Not all disinformation particles can be blocked. Anyone who is good at making up lies can produce misinformation faster than anyone who can shoot down misinformation. (Look at this RAND report on Russian ‘fire hose’ of lies.) Instead of installing a Truth Politburo at DHS, the government should leave the job of controlling misinformation to competitive news outlets, which compete “for the earliest and most correct intelligence available at the time, and instantly, by disclosing them to make them the common good of the nation”, as London time editor J.T. Delane place it in 1852.

If the DHS needs a red tape project so badly, it can solve a problem closer to home: creating an office to study and eradicate US government misinformation.

*******

Thanks to Nick Gillespie to broaden my awareness on this one. Earlier this week, David C. Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker responded to news from the Disinformation Governance Board by Tweeter a poll: “Okay, you’re a punk rocker in 1982 and the Department of Homeland Security under President Reagan sets up a Disinformation Governance Council to combat disinformation. Your reaction: it’s punk rock; It’s not punk rock. Send government disinformation to [email protected]. You cannot subscribe to my email alerts because the list is full. My Twitter feed liked Cracker more than CVB. My RSS feed does not believe anything.