Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) demanded on Thursday that Joe Biden’s Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas dissolve the department’s newly instituted “Intelligence Experts Group.” Hawley and other Republicans argue that this group, announced on September 19, is an overt maneuver by the current administration to stifle differing opinions and control narratives, especially leading up to the 2024 presidential elections.
This group is specifically under scrutiny due to its intended leadership. John Brennan, James Clapper, and Paul Kolbe, all slated to head up the group, have previously dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as “Russian misinformation” in 2020, attempting, according to Hawley, to directly aid then-candidate Joe Biden.
The laptop story, first reported by the New York Post, was indeed factual, a point that amplifies the concerns surrounding the credibility of the leaders above on intelligence matters.
Hawley Demands DHS Terminate New 'Intelligence Experts Group'https://t.co/ExHlbmmA7a
— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) September 28, 2023
In his Thursday letter to Mayorkas, Hawley emphasized, “Enlisting the support of these discredited officials as the nation prepares for the 2024 presidential election appears to signal that DHS will continue its attempts to censor speech inconvenient to the current Administration.” He also illuminated the necessity for such a group to be non-partisan, objective, and free of tainted records or controversial reputations.
He was not alone in his concerns. A group of GOP lawmakers, including Hawley, have spotlighted their reservations about the impartiality and objectivity of the DHS through various letters and demands for records related to the group’s creation. They have questioned the alignment of the DHS’s priorities at a time when issues like the migrant surge at the southern border are pressing.
Mayorkas, however, has defended the formation of this group, emphasizing its crucial role during “a time of unprecedented challenge,” citing various threats ranging from foreign adversaries to domestic extremism. He thanked the members for their expertise, experience, and vision for the department’s mission.
Further investigation has unveiled a comprehensive spectrum within the group, consisting of former senior intelligence officials, journalists, and human rights advocates. They aim to discuss and provide input on diverse issues, including terrorism, emerging technology, and transborder issues, with meetings planned four times a year.
While the DHS maintains that this group is essential for national security and intelligence discussions, Republicans, including Representatives August Pfluger and Mark Green, have also called for legislation to defund this group and prevent the establishment of similar committees in the future.
Hawley, echoing the concerns of many of his colleagues, has requested the immediate termination of this group and urged Mayorkas to provide all related records to Congress, including communications between DHS and the White House regarding its formation. He has set October 15 as the deadline for DHS to hand over all records related to the group’s establishment.
Members of this group were expected to convene quarterly to deliberate on national security matters. However, the controversy surrounding the group has raised substantial doubt regarding the DHS’s impartiality and credibility in intelligence sharing and, by extension, its overall mission to secure the nation.