Protect Democracy files administrative appeal in government misinformation case

  • September 13, 2018

As reported by the Washington Post, today, Protect Democracy – along with the Brennan Center for Justice, Michael F. Crowley, and Benjamin Wittes – again asked DOJ and DHS to retract or correct a report they issued in January that portrays immigrants as the primary perpetrators of terrorism. (They aren’t.) Today’s letter is an administrative appeal of a petition that we submitted to DOJ and DHS in February under the Information Quality Act (IQA), which requires the government to provide accurate and unbiased information. As we explained in our original petition and in today’s appeal, the report fails to live up to this obligation, and thus violates the IQA and the agencies’ own guidelines. We had to sue the government just to get a response, and when the agencies finally did provide substantive responses they were woefully inadequate, as they failed to address many of the flaws that we identified in the report.

In a democracy, it is the obligation of the government to provide accurate information so that the people can engage in an informed public debate and hold their leaders accountable. As explained by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University: “Authoritarian regimes often obfuscate truth by publishing false information under a veneer of objectivity — what the Trump Administration has called ‘alternative facts.’ Democracy requires an informed, engaged public, and government disinformation threatens our democracy. Government disinformation misleads the public — and the electorate — and skews the public debate over critical policy issues, making it harder for the public to hold the government accountable. I’ve studied authoritarian regimes around the world — false and misleading reports like the one at issue here are something to be very worried about in America too.”
Rather than provide the public with accurate information, the Trump Administration has instead issued an inaccurate and biased report to advance its own anti-immigrant policy preferences, ignoring reliable data that did not fit the Administration’s narrative. This government misinformation is not only a threat to democracy, but also undermines our national security, as explained in a letter filed in support of our petition on behalf of former national security and intelligence officials, including Former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers and Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Protect Democracy will continue to hold the government accountable to facts.

See our tweet thread below:

The administrative appeal is here:

2018 09 13 Protect Democracy Et Al IQA Administrative Appeal Public (Text)