Senator Rand Paul had an interesting exchange with Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, about the proposed Disinformation Governance Board.
It was a few months ago, though, and I somehow missed it at the time. But it is by no means out of date. The challenges we face have not disappeared over the past few months.
Here’s what ensued:
Paul: Do you think the Steele dossier included Russian disinformation?
Mayorkas: Senator, that’s not a question that I’m equipped to answer.
Paul: It was in the public news. You may have heard of it, the Mueller investigation. It was a $32 million investigation that went over a couple of years. Horowitz was an investigator general, and he looked at the FBI’s activity in the beginning of this. And what the FBI concluded was that there were FBI agents throughout this period of time who concluded that, yes, the dossier was full of Russian disinformation. So let’s say it is Russian disinformation. You say your new disinformation governance board is going to help the public with disinformation. You claim it’s not going to be about domestic, it’s going to be about foreigners and those evil Russians.
So here’s my question. The FBI concludes that the Steele dossier was full of Russian disinformation. CNN propagated this disinformation gladly for years and years. The difference, I guess, between your opinion and our opinion is that as despicable as it is that CNN propagated this disinformation, I wouldn’t shut them down. I wouldn’t lecture them. I wouldn’t put it on a government website that CNN’s wrong for propagating disinformation.
The problem you have is, you’re not even willing to admit — I mean, we can’t even have an agreement on what the FBI said was disinformation. How do you propose that you’re going to have an office of disinformation governance, if you see the problem in even determining what is disinformation?
Mayorkas: Oh, Senator, because our work is not focused on disinformation writ large. Where we, the Department of Homeland Security, become involved is when there’s a connectivity between disinformation and threats to the security of the homeland.
Paul: Well, the Russians might be considered that. You mentioned the Russians the other day when you tried to pivot away from this being about censorship. But let’s say it is the Russians. I know you’re not going to ever agree that the Steele dossier, which you all spent so much money on, was disinformation. But it was. And the FBI concluded that. But let’s just say there’s an imaginary disinformation. You’ve discovered tomorrow Russian disinformation that’s going to hurt our national security, and CNN’s broadcasting it. What are you going to do? Are you going to tell Putin: you shouldn’t do this? What are you going to do?
Mayorkas: Let me explain what we do in the Department of Homeland Security with respect to disinformation and frankly, what we’ve been doing for nearly ten years across different administrations. The cartels propagate disinformation that Title 42 does not apply to a particular community of migrants, migrants from a particular country.
Paul: How are they propagating this?
Mayorkas: If I may, through social media. And what we do through US Customs and Border Protection is actually communicate via social media and other channels, that that is false, that we do apply Title 42.
Paul: So let’s say there’s Russian disinformation as well. Are you going to take to social media and broadcast that people are broadcasting something incorrect about what you think is Russian disinformation?
Mayorkas: Senator, let me emphasize what —
Paul: You said the other day, Russians and now you’re saying not so much the Russians, you’re saying the cartels.
Mayorkas: No, I’m not. No, I’m not. Senator, you’re mischaracterizing my statement.
Paul: Then what are you going to do if there’s Russian disinformation? You’re going to broadcast something on social media?
Mayorkas: Allow me to share. When we become involved in the Department of Homeland Security, we become involved when disinformation poses a threat to the security of our country. It is when there’s a connectivity to a threat to our country. It could be a threat, connectivity to violence. And what this what this working group does. What this working group does is precisely what I would think you would want it to do, which is to take a look at the work, the disinformation work that our department has done and ask the following questions. Do we have policies? Do we have guardrails? Do we have standards to ensure —
Paul: Here’s the problem. We can’t even agree what disinformation is. You can’t even agree that it was disinformation that the Russians fed information to the Steele dossier. If you can’t agree to that, how are we ever going to come to an agreement on what is disinformation so you can police it on social media?
Mayorkas: Senator, I have two points, if I may finish. Number one. What this working group does is ensure that there are guardrails, definitions, standards to make sure that the free speech rights, the civil rights, civil liberties and privacy rights of individuals are not infringed —
Paul: So do you think COVID disinformation threatens our national security?
Mayorkas: And number two, if I may, Senator. And number two, is it your proposition that when the cartels spread disinformation with respect to our immigration policies to try to lure vulnerable migrants to our border illegally that we —
Paul: I think you’ve got no idea what disinformation is, and I don’t think the government is capable of [knowing]. Do you know who the greatest propagator of disinformation in the history of the world is? The U.S. government. Are you familiar with McNamara, the Pentagon Papers? Are you familiar with George W. Bush and the weapons of mass destruction? Are you familiar with Iran-Contra? I mean, think of all the debates and disputes we’ve had over the last 50 years in our country. We work them out by debating them. We don’t work them out by the government being the arbiter.
I don’t want you [having] “guardrails.” I want you to have nothing to do with speech. You think we can’t determine that speech by traffickers is disinformation? You think the American people are so stupid, they need you to tell them what the truth is. You can’t even admit what the truth is with the Steele dossier. I don’t trust government to figure out what the truth is. The government is largely disseminating disinformation.
So I do have a question, and here’s the question. So the Russians, maybe the Russians, maybe some cartels. What about COVID disinformation? Is that in your bailiwick for your disinformation governance board?
Mayorkas: Senator, you would have to give me the details with —
Paul: Okay, here: I have said a million times that cloth masks don’t work. YouTube takes me down. They’re a private company. I can have that beef with them. What about you? You’re going to look at that? I often say that natural immunity from having had the infection is equal to the vaccine, or better. You’re going to take that down?
Mayorkas: Well, first of all.
Paul: Those are very specific.
Mayorkas: Senator, first of all, it’s not for us to take it down. And second of all, are —
Paul: You going to put information out there saying that I’m spreading disinformation?
Mayorkas: Senator, we are not the public health experts to make those determinations.
Paul: So public health won’t be part of the disinformation governance board. No COVID disinformation. Yes or no. Is public health going to be part of your censorship group?
Mayorkas: Allow me, because you’re presenting hypotheticals that are vague.
Paul: And I just gave you a very specific one on cloth masks. I gave you a very specific one on immunity from previous infections.
Mayorkas: Let me let me answer the the last question that you posed. Do not under any circumstances accept a vaccine at a FEMA-overseen vaccination center because they are actually peddling fentanyl. Now, should I sit back and take that? Or should I actually disseminate accurate information? That’s what we’re doing. What we would do, should FEMA issue accurate information that the vaccinations that we are administering in the sites that we oversee actually are the COVID-19 vaccines?
Paul: I have a greater respect for the American people than you do. I think the American people can figure out the truth. And if you think the American people need to be told there’s not fentanyl in the vaccination, feel free to say it. But the thing is, if you are going to go around saying that you are the arbiter of information and of disinformation, I think you have no clue. We don’t have the perspective of history knowing that the largest progenitor of disinformation in our history has probably been the US government.
Back to Woods now.
Some of you may think Senator Paul is nitpicking. But he isn’t. You have got to force these people to answer specific questions. Anything they even remotely appear to be evading is something they don’t want you to know about.
As Senator Paul indicated, the real disinformation we need to be on guard about comes from the U.S. government (and its media lackeys) itself. And if you want relief from that, well, you’re not going to get it from Secretary Mayorkas or anyone else in Washington.
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This article was originally published in Tom Woods’ newsletter. Subscribe and receive his free Ebook at NationalDivorce.com. Republished with permission.