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Washington Post: DHS Collects Intelligence Reports on Two Journalists Covering Portland Protests



Three open source intelligence reports sent to federal law enforcement and received by the Post summarize tweets sent by two journalists – New York Times reporter Mike Baker and Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of the Lawfare blog – and note that both documents were published.

Some of these documents, the newspaper reported, revealed the methods of intelligence analysts and raised sharp questions about the confusion of DHS about the nature of the protests in Portland.

The agency said in a statement that the reports “were prepared in accordance with pre-established requirements for classified intelligence reporting, which are developed through a rigorous process to include legislative and supervisory surveillance.”

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Requesting a comment, DHS condemned the actions of its intelligence unit, saying that Acting Secretary Chad Wolf was in charge of the office to “immediately stop” the collection of information involving journalists. According to the spokesman, Wolf also ordered the request.

“In no case does the acting secretary agree with this practice, and he immediately ordered an investigation into the case,” a DHS spokesman said.

A collection of current and former officials told the newspaper that they were wary of including journalists in the government’s system for disseminating information about suspected terrorists.

John Sandweg, a former general adviser to the department, told the Post: “It has no operational value.”

“It will simply damage the intelligence agency’s reputation,” he said.

The report was echoed by Steve Bannell, who served as general counsel for President Barack Obama for years.

“The wide-ranging intelligence report, including numerous state and local law enforcement agencies, about how the DHS leak to the reporter finds me bizarre,” he told the Post.

In a series of serial tweets in response to the Post story, Wittes said: “I have to say more about this story after considering my legitimate options.”

“I’m not worried that DHS officials shared my tweets internally. This is definitely appropriate, given that the tweets contain information from I&A DHS. The content of these intelligence reports is quite harmless,” he said.

“What is worrying about this story is that I&A shared its tweets * as intelligence reports,” meaning that the government’s intelligence service reported a citizen on the basis of journalism: disclosing information about the government to the public. “

CNN national security analyst Susan Gennessey, a colleague of Wittes’ Lawfare and a former National Security Agency lawyer, blew up the agency. “DHS officials responsible for this are fundamentally unworthy of the trust of their fellow citizens,” she wrote.
According to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, federal officers are reportedly preparing to leave Portland

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

“I think we had enough political knowledge from the District of Columbia,” 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 will defend freedom of speech and the right to protest peacefully.”

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

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




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