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Washington Post: DHS collected secret reports on 2 journalists covering the Portland protests



Three open-source intelligence reports sent to federal law enforcement agencies and taken from 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 the note that both had published documents issued by DHS.

Some of these documents, the newspaper reported, revealed the techniques of intelligence analysts and posed naked questions of DHS confusion about the nature of the protests in Portland.

The department told the Post in a statement that the reports “were produced according to predefined classified intelligence reporting requirements, which are developed through a rigorous process to include legal guidance and intelligence oversight”

;.

Asked for comment, DHS condemned the actions of its intelligence division, saying Acting Secretary Adad Wolf had instructed the office to “immediately stop” gathering information involving journalists. The wolf also ordered an investigation, according to a spokesman.

“In no way does the Acting Practice allow this practice and he immediately ordered an investigation into the matter,” the DHS spokesman said in a statement.

A collection of current and former officials told the newspaper they were alarmed about the involvement of reporters in a government system set up to disseminate information about suspected terrorists.

John Sandweg, who previously served as acting general counsel for the department, told the Post, “This has no operational value whatsoever.”

“It will just damage the reputation of the intelligence office,” he said.

This message was echoed by Steve Bunnell, who served as the department’s general adviser for years under President Barack Obama.

“Spreading an intelligence report, including numerous 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 responding to the Post’s history, “I will have more to say about this history after considering my legal options.”

“It does not bother me that DHS officials shared my tweets internally. This is certainly appropriate given that the tweets contain information disclosures by DHS I&A. The content of these intelligence reports is quite innocent,” he said. .

“What is disturbing about this story is that A and I shared my tweets * as intelligence reporting, * that is, a government intelligence wing presented a report on a citizen about the activity at the heart of journalism: disclosing information valid for the government to the public. “

CNN national security analyst Susan Hennessey, a Wittes’ colleague in Lawfare and a former lawyer at 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 officers prepare to leave Portland, according to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

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

“I think we have had enough political grandeur from DC,” Brown said on Twitter on Thursday.

“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 free speech and the right to protest peacefully.”

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

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




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