Some documents leaked from the Internal Affairs Department, which journalists posted and wrote about the shortcomings in the understanding of the nature of the protests in Portland, as well as the methods used by intelligence analysts. A letter from the department’s top spokesman, written by the editor of Lawfare, said staff relied on FINTEL, an acronym for financial intelligence, and prepared reconnaissance “baseball cards” of the arrested protesters to try to understand their motivations and plans. Historically, military and intelligence officials have used such cards for biographical files of suspected terrorists, including those aimed at killing deadly drones.
DHS intelligence reports, which are unclassified, are traditionally used to share the department̵7;s analysis with federal law enforcement, state and local officials, and some foreign governments. They are not intended to disseminate information about American citizens who are not involved in terrorists or other violent actors and who engage in actions protected by the First Amendment, current and former officials have said.
“It has no operational value,” said John Sandweg, a former general adviser to the department.
“It will simply damage the reputation of the intelligence agency,” Sandweg said, calling the decision to report on journalists “incredibly dumb.”
Officials who were familiar with the reports and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them openly said they were in line with the department’s aggressive tactics in Portland, including the work of the Intelligence and Analysis Service, which they are concerned about. the limits of his authority, trying to break the “antifa” of protesters to please President Trump. He and other senior administration officials used the “anti-fascist” label to describe people in Portland and other cities protesting police violence, as well as others who vandalized statues and memorials to Confederate officers they considered racist.
The agency noted that the reports are compiled according to established rules, which have been revised to ensure compliance with the law.
“Open source intelligence reports have been developed in accordance with pre-established requirements for classified intelligence reporting, which are developed as part of a rigorous process to include legal and supervisory oversight systems,” the DHS said in a statement.
The reports reflect the intelligence services’ concerns about the leak of inside information.
“Widespread intelligence reports, including numerous state and local law enforcement agencies, that the DHS leak to a reporter I find bizarre,” said Steve Bannell, who served as general counsel for the Obama administration for three years. If department officials were concerned about unauthorized disclosures, they should refer the matter to the inspector general or resolve it internally, he said.
Disseminating information about internal leaks of this nature through intelligence reports “has nothing to do with the original DHS mission,” Bunnell said.
The Bureau of Intelligence and Analysis has been joking for years with larger, more established agencies such as the CIA and the FBI that compare it to a team of junior athletes. DHS issues reports that are largely based on unclassified, often public, sources of information that current and former officials say have limited use.
During operations in Portland, the office sought to expand its business. Earlier this month, DHS personnel were authorized to collect information about protesters who threatened to damage or destroy public monuments and statues, whether or not they were federally owned, and a significant expansion of the powers historically used to protect landmarks from terrorist attacks. said former officials.
Intelligence reports on journalists state that they are “provided for intelligence and primary purposes” and “are considered necessary to enable the recipient to understand, evaluate or act on the information provided.”
One journalist, a Times reporter, Mike Baker, wrote an article on July 28 that found an internal DHS memo indicating that masked federal agents sent to delay the riots in Portland did not understand the nature of the protests with which they face. .
The DHS report described the conflict as linked to a long history of violence against government personnel and institutions in the Pacific Northwest by “anarchist extremists.” But he acknowledged that “we have low confidence in our assessment” when it comes to understanding the ongoing protests in Oregon’s largest city.
“We lack an understanding of the motives of the recent attacks,” the statement said.
Baker has included an image of that part of the memo in the Twitter thread, which is also linked to a Times article. A DHS intelligence report included the tweet, saying Baker had published a “leak of a domestic product from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”
A Times spokesman declined to comment.
Another journalist, Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and editor-in-chief of Lawfare, also posted various internal documents on his Twitter channel, including a July 24 report not to disclose information to journalists.
“The current leaks associated with our work in Portland are a major concern, as it distracts from our mission and creates opportunities for others to use this information for their own benefit,” the subscription said.
The report was written in response to reports in the Lawfare and The Washington Post days earlier about new guidelines for collecting information about people who threaten monuments and statues. The report defended the powers of the intelligence service and stated that its work “informed our analysis of a persistent threat environment [in Portland] and thwarted attempts at violent attacks. “
Wittes told The Post that he did not object to the agency’s concern about the leaks and that if officials sent a link to his tweet in a message to employees, he would not object.
“It’s not the anxiety of my tweet. It’s building it up as intelligence about an American man of concern, “Wittes said.
If the department was willing to document public statements in a way that would prevent DHS from “making a public dossier about me?” Wittes asked.
“I am considering my legal options and will talk more about it later,” he added.
In his next tweet, which was also the subject of intelligence intelligence, Witts posted an internal report from Brian Murphy, DHS’s deputy secretary of intelligence and analysis and former FBI agent, announcing that officials were changing the terminology used to attack federal agencies. . The decision, Murphy said, was based in part on an open source intelligence report that officials considered against the protesters.
“We can no longer say that this brutal situation is opportunistic,” Murphy wrote, adding that intelligence “mostly” led officials to believe that the perpetrators were running ideologies of “anarchism” and “violent antifa.”
Murphy’s findings contradict a previous DHS report reported by the Times, saying the agency did not have enough information to know whether Portland protesters were anti-government groups with a history of the region.
Nick Miroff contributed to this report.