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The uproar over Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board

The Department of Homeland Security created a Disinformation Governance Board this week. Republicans have suggested that the board amounts to policing speech. The board's executive director has in the past supported Democrats. But there are few details on what the board will actually do, including how it might monitor disinformation from “our own citizens” and whether what it would do would amount to “policing” Republicans didn’t press DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in much detail at hearings Wednesday and Thursday. But the board has a history of tackling disinformation, including during the Trump administration, and it has a long-standing history of dealing with misinformation from Russia and other foreign actors, including from the Obama administration. The National Review’s Jim Geraghty

Republicans have argued with gusto that the story was overzealously dismissed as potential Russian disinformation. A thorough Post investigation recently validated thousands of emails from the laptop as apparently authentic. But the presence of verified data doesn’t rule out other data being disinformation. The episode carries echoes of late last year, when Republicans cast a Justice Department memo on combating threats against school board members as targeting parents who had participated in peaceful protests. There is no real evidence that DHS plans to crack down on ordinary citizens spreading misinformation online, for instance, with the two specific examples cited thus far involve human smugglers and Russians. And today, there is no evidence that Homeland Security will enforce free speech, privacy, civil rights, or civil liberties.

The name “Disinformation Governance Board” does sound a bit ominous; it sounds less like an effort to combat disinformation rather than to govern it. The name plays into efforts to cast the initiative as something more than what