WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) recently slammed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over the Biden Administration’s plans to create a “Disinformation Governance Board” which would be tasked with policing the internet for false information regarding the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, among other subjects.
Paul criticized the Disinformation Governance Board – whose existence was announced shortly after Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter in April – which the DHS is tasked with running, telling Mayorkas at a hearing this week that the American people don’t need the government telling them what is and is not true.
“I don’t want guardrails. I want you to have nothing to do with speech. You think we can’t determine, you know, speech by traffickers in disinformation,” Pual said. “Do 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. Government is largely disseminating disinformation.”
Paul noted that he has been accused of spreading COVID-19 disinformation in the past, and asked Mayorkas if his Disinformation Governance Board – the concept of which has received criticism from both sides of the political aisle as being “Orwellian” – would essentially step on his rights to free speech.
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“I’ve 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 him. What about you? You’re going to look at that?” he asked. “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? Are you going to put information out there saying that I’m spreading disinformation?”
Mayorkas replied that DHS staff “are not the public’s health experts to make those determinations,” and said that they would only go after blatantly false information in regards to COVID-19, such as claims that vaccines contain fentanyl.
Nonetheless, Paul expressed opposition to a governmental body regulating speech on the internet in any way, saying that the public is intelligent enough to discern truth from falsehood on their own.
“I have a greater respect for the American people than you do. I think the American people can figure out the truth,” Paul said. “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, is if you are going to go around saying that you’re the arbiter of information and of disinformation, I think you have no clue. And you don’t have the perspective of history knowing that disinformation, the largest progenitor of disinformation in our history, has probably been the U.S. government.”