Journalists Spread Conspiracy Theory That DHS Document Contains Secret Nazi Code

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen / Getty Images
• June 29, 2018 4:22 pm


A number of liberal Twitter users and journalists spread a conspiracy theory Thursday insisting a Department of Homeland Security document contained a secret Nazi code.

In February, DHS put out a press release entitled "We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again," a fact-sheet making the case for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. "When it comes to stopping drugs and illegal aliens across our borders, border walls have proven to be extremely effective," it argued.

The press release went largely unnoticed until months later, when a tweet accusing the document of being a dog whistle for Nazis garnered nearly 7,000 retweets. The viral claim suggested the headline was a reference to "Fourteen Words," common white supremacist credos. The most widely known variation states, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

"This is an actual story on an official government website with a 14-word headline starting with ‘we must secure,'" Twitter user Lauie Voss noted. "This is not an accident. There are actual Nazis-who-call-themselves-Nazis at DHS."

Voss likewise pointed out that the press release also had 14 points and that it contained an unnecessary use of the number 88, often used as Nazi code for "Heil Hitler."

Voss's tweet quickly spread throughout the liberal Twittersphere, and was even tweeted out by journalists at BuzzFeed, HuffPost, The New York Times Magazine, the Daily Beast, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.

Officials at liberal PACs like American Bridge and EMILY's List also spread the conspiracy theory.

In actuality, the press release only has 13 bullet points. When called out on the inconsistency, Voss said she added an unbulleted paragraph to reach 14.

Despite Voss's claim there "was no good reason" to use the number 88, there's an easy explanation for why DHS used it when discussing immigrants who file credible fear asylum claims. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data indicates that "U.S. asylum officers accepted nearly 88 percent of the claims of credible fear," as reported by Reuters, and the press release clearly refers to that context.

As for the press release beginning "we must secure," that phrase was used by DHS dating back to the Obama administration in relation to its duties to protect the border. It was even one of the "five responsibilities" espoused by Obama's first DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"We must guard against terrorism; we must secure our borders; we must enforce our immigration laws; we must improve our readiness for, response to, and recovery from disasters; and we must unify the Department so that we can even more effectively carry out our mission," Napolitano said in a statement.

Published under: DHS, Twitter