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Washington Post: DHS collects intelligence reports on 2 journalists covering Portland protests



Three Open Source Intelligence reports sent to federal law enforcement agencies and obtained by the Post summarize the tweets sent by two journalists – New York Times reporter Mike Baker and Benjamin Wittes, the editor at the head of the Lawfare blog – and a note that both had published the leaked DHS documents.

Some of those documents, the newspaper reported, revealed the techniques of intelligence analysts and presented empty confusing questions DHS about the nature of the protests in Portland.

The department told the Post in a statement that the reports “were produced under pre-established classified intelligence reporting requirements that are developed through a rigorous process that includes legal oversight and Intelligence guidelines.”

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Asked for comment, DHS condemned the actions of its intelligence division and said acting Secretary Chad Wolf had ordered the office to “immediately stop” gathering information involving journalists. Wolf also ordered an inquiry, according to a spokesman.

“The Acting Secretary in no way discredits this practice, and he immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter,” the DHS spokesman said in a statement.

A collection of present and former officials told the newspaper that they were alarmed about the inclusion of reporters in a system of government designed to disseminate information about suspected terrorists.

John Sandweg, who previously served as the department’s attorney general, told the Post, “This has no operational value.”

“This will only damage the reputation of the intelligence office,” he said.

That message was given by Steve Bunnell, who has served as the department’s attorney general for many years under President Barack Obama.

“To widely disseminate an intelligence report, including to several state and local law enforcement agencies, about a DHS leak to a reporter strikes me as strange,” he told the Post.

Wittes said, in a series of tweets that responded to the Post’s story, “I’ll have more to say about this story after considering my legal options.”

“Don’t worry that DHS officials shared my tweets internally. It’s certainly appropriate because the tweets were disclosed information by DHS I&A. The content of these intelligence reports is harmless enough,” he said. .

“What’s troubling about this story is that I&A shared my tweets * as intelligence reporting, * that is, a government intelligence branch filed a report on a citizen for an activity at the heart of journalism: revealing information reliable report on government to the public “

CNN national security analyst Susan Hennessey, a Wittes ’colleague at Lawfare and a former attorney with the National Security Agency, blew up the department. “The DHS officials responsible for this are fundamentally unworthy of the trust of their fellow citizens,” she tweeted.
News of the intelligence reports comes as federal officials are preparing to leave Portland, according to Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon

The presence of federal agents, who arrived earlier this month, has escalated tensions in the city, which has seen protracted and sometimes violent protests over the past two months over demands for racial justice and the responsibility of -police.

“I think we’ve had enough political beauty from DC,” Brown tweeted Thursday morning.

“The president’s plan to ‘dominate’ the streets of American cities has failed. And today, federal troops are preparing to leave downtown Portland. We look at free speech and the right to protest peacefully. . “

This story was updated with comments from the Department of Homeland Security.

Theresa Waldrop, Geneva Sands and Gregory Lemos of CNN contributed to this report.




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