- The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly compiled "intelligence reports" on journalists reporting on ongoing Portland protests, a practice traditionally reserved for collecting information about suspected terrorists and violent actors, the Washington Post said Thursday.
- The department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis distributed three open source intelligence reports, including tweets from Mike Baker, a reporter for the New York Times, and Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of the Lawfare blog.
- Reports received from The Post detailed the number of likes and retweets for each post, stating that both reporters had "leaked unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland," The Post reported.
- Former Department General Counsel said the creation of unclassified internal leak dossiers was "bizarre" because they described the decision as "incredibly stupid."
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly created and distributed "intelligence reports" about journalists reporting the protests against the Black Lives Matter in Portland, Oregon, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
According to the Post report, the practice is traditionally reserved for gathering information about suspected terrorists and violent actors.
The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis has compiled and distributed three open source intelligence reports, including tweets from Mike Baker, a reporter for the New York Times, and Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of the Lawfare blog.
Reports received from The Post also indicated the number of likes and retweets each post received, and it was stated that both reporters "published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland," The Post reported .
On July 26, Wittes tweeted a photo of one internal memo by the head of the department's intelligence and analysis bureau, citing the reason for the escalation of violence in Portland from Violent Opportunists (VO) to Antifa. "
– Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) July 26, 2020
Wittes also released screenshots of another internal memo condemning the department's information leaks to journalists.
"The persistent leaks associated with our work in Portland continue to be significant because they distract from our mission and give others the opportunity to use this information for their own benefit," the memo states for Wittes did not announce the author.
– Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) July 25, 2020
Baker, the other journalist, was co-author of one items Earlier this week it was reported that federal agents posted to Portland had a shaky understanding of why they were used, citing an internal DHS memo.
He tweeted a picture of the unclassified memo The department had "little confidence in our assessment" of the roots of the protests.
– Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) July 28, 2020
Wittes tweeted Thursday that "it doesn't bother him" that his tweets were shared internally because they were "harmless enough".
"What is worrying about this story is that I&A shared my tweets * as intelligence reporting *, which means that a government intelligence arm has submitted a report about a citizen who is at the heart of journalism: important information about the government to the public to reveal "Wittes wrote in a Follow-up post.
John Sandweg, formerly serving as Acting General Counsel at the DHS, said the creation of intelligence reports on journalists was "of no operational value at all" and called the decision "incredibly stupid."
"This will only damage the intelligence agency's reputation," Sandweg told the post.
Steve Bunnell, who served as General Counsel for the department under the Obama administration, repeated the assessment, noting that Secret Service reports of internal leaks "have nothing to do with the DHS's original mission."
"I find the widespread distribution of a intelligence report, including numerous state and local law enforcement agencies, about a DHS leak to a reporter bizarre," Bunnell told The Post.
The DHS said in a statement to the Post that the intelligence reports "were created under pre-defined reporting requirements for classified intelligence that were developed in a rigorous process that included guidelines for law and intelligence surveillance".