Rand Paul names ‘greatest propagator of disinformation’
The US government has no right to tell its citizens what the truth is, the senator says
Due to its long track record of disinformation, the US government has no right to tell the American people what the truth is, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has stated.
During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Paul grilled Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas over the ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ his agency is setting up to help social media platforms filter out ‘fake news.’
“Here’s the problem: we can’t even agree what disinformation is,” the Republican Senator pointed out. “You can’t even agree if it was disinformation that the Russians fed information to the Steele dossier.”
He was referring to the controversial and largely dismissed report that relied on info from anonymous sources to allege collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Moscow ahead of the 2016 presidential election in the US.
“If you can’t agree to that, how are we ever going to come to an agreement on what is disinformation, so that you can police it on social media?” Paul wondered.
“Do you know who the greatest propagator of disinformation in the history of the world is? The US government!” he insisted.
In order to back his claim, the Senator mentioned several examples of false information being deliberately spread by Washington over the past decades.
Among them were the so-called Pentagon Papers, which revealed that the US government had been misinforming the public about the scale of its military operations during the Vietnam War. The documents were officially declassified in 2011, but the media had been reporting on them since 1971.
Paul also mentioned “George W. Bush and the weapons of mass destruction,” referring to American claims that Saddam Hussein’s regime had been in possession of WMD, claims that were used by the US to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but were never confirmed by findings on the grounds.
His other example was the Iran–Contra affair, which saw top US officials secretly organizing the sale of weapons to Iran in violation of an arms embargo between 1981 and 1986 in order to obtain money to fund the Contras insurgent group in Nicaragua.
“I mean, think over 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,” the Senator said.
“I want you to have nothing to do with speech… You think the American people are so stupid they need you to tell them what the truth is?” Paul added.
The creation of the Disinformation Governance Board was announced in late April. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the new body would help counter disinformation, which is being spread by “foreign states such as Russia, China and Iran,” and by human traffickers operating on the US-Mexico border, among others.
The DHS gave assurances that it won’t be targeting US citizens. But critics were quick to nickname the board ‘The Ministry of Truth,’ after a fictional organization from George Orwell’s iconic dystopian novel ‘1984’.