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Former DHS disinformation czar Nina Jankowicz registers as foreign agent, goes to work countering 'gendered disinfo' overseas
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Former DHS disinformation czar Nina Jankowicz registers as foreign agent, goes to work countering 'gendered disinfo' overseas

Nina Jankowicz was President Joe Biden's controversial pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security's Disinformation Governance Board for the entirety of its three-week existence. Undaunted in her desire to become a state-funded arbiter of truth, the 33-year-old self-described "Mary Poppins of disinformation" is now registered as a foreign agent so that she can combat undesirable speech abroad.

What are the disinformation-free details?

Jankowicz, who previously suggested the Hunter Biden laptop story was part of a Russian disinformation campaign, announced on Sept. 23 that she would be working with an organization allegedly "dedicated to protecting democracy, peace, and truth."

That organization, the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR), is a U.K.-based nonprofit founded by British citizen Adam Rutland and U.K.-U.S. national Ross Burley, which claims to focus on "countering disinformation & exposing human rights abuses."

The CIR is financed in part by grants from the U.K. government, including the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

According to foreign agent registration documents dated Nov. 17, in this new role Jankowicz "supervises research, executes business strategy, oversees the establishment of CIR's research, communicates with the media, and briefs individuals and officials on CIR's research."

The registration documents also indicated that Jankowicz will receive £450 for 12 months and be expected to act as an ambassador for the foreign organization "on the Hill, within the Federal Government, media, among tech companies / Silicon Valley, on "K Street", and among potential philanthropic organisations."

Managing disinformation overseas

The CIR suggested on Twitter that Jankowicz would lead the CIR's efforts in countering "hostile state efforts to distort the information space" and that she would be launching the Hypatia Project.

Citing claims that Vice President Kamala Harris "slept her way to the top" as an example of "online abuse and lies," Jankowicz's London-based Hypatia Project will target so-called gendered disinformation, defined as a "subset of online gendered abuse that uses false or misleading gender and sex-based narratives against women, often with some degree of coordination, aimed at deterring women from participating in the public sphere."

While various politicians and female leaders are referenced on the project's site as examples of female women who have faced swatting attacks, online abuse, or denigration by fellow politicians, not one American conservative or Republican is named.

The Hypatia Project will "advocate for private and public sector policy solutions to make the internet ... safer and more civil for everyone" and "document the relationship between gendered disinformation and coordinated hostile state activity online."

Managing disinformation at home

Jankowicz, an advocate for de-platforming former President Donald Trump, was previously executive director of the DHS' Disinformation Governance Board, which was announced on April 27. She did not last long in the role.

The board was "paused" three weeks later, culminating in its demise and with Jankowicz's resignation on May 18.

The board had been likened to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" and faced significant opposition.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted, "The Federal Government has no business creating a Ministry of Truth. The Department of Homeland Security's "Disinformation Board" is unconstitutional and unamerican, and I'll be introducing a bill to defund it."

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) called Jankowicz a "political hack" and tweeted that the board was "seriously dangerous and wholly unconstitutional."

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) similarly denounced the board, tweeting, "The Biden administration just took one more step towards Communism. DHS’ 'Ministry of Truth' is a crackdown on our Constitutional right to Free Speech."

An opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that in "a twist too implausible for fiction, the abbreviation [for the board] is DGB, one letter off from KGB. ... The incentives are clear. Truth experts at the DGB will proclaim grave threats around every turn even when any 'threats' are minor to nonexistent."

Taylor Lorenz, writing for the Washington Post, suggested that the widespread concern over the disinformation board's potential for abuse was itself a "textbook disinformation campaign."

Although arguing that the board was not intended to police speech, Lorenz quoted a Hill staffer who said, "Nina's role was to come up with strategies for the department to counter this type of campaign" — to counter criticism of the government.

Jankowicz, denied the opportunity to seek out such "threats" with the DGB, said in a statement obtained by Insider, "With the Board's work paused and its future uncertain, and [sic] I have decided to leave DHS to return to my work in the public sphere. ... It is deeply disappointing that mischaracterizations of the Board became a distraction from the Department's vital work."

Given Jankowicz's registration as a foreign agent and new role, it would appear "Marry Poppins" is back in London.

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