Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf ordered his department’s intelligence office to stop collecting information on journalists following a report from The Washington Post that detailed the practice.
Current and former officials told the Post that the compilation of
“intelligence reports” about the work of press covering protests in Portland involve a government system that is intended to share information about suspected terrorists and violent actors.
A DHS spokesman said in a statement to the Post that “upon hearing about the practice” Wolf had directed the department to “immediately discontinue collecting information involving members of the press.”
The statement sought to distance Wolf from the practice, adding, “in no way” did Wolf “condone this practice and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter. The Acting Secretary is committed to ensuring that all DHS personnel uphold the principles of professionalism, impartiality and respect for civil rights and civil liberties, particularly as it relates to the exercise of First Amendment rights.”
According to the Post’s report, the DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis had distributed three Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others, in the past week, summarizing tweets written by a reporter for the New York Times and the editor-in-chief of the blog Lawfare.
The reports, obtained by the Post, note that the journalists had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland and included images of tweets along with descriptions about the number of likes or retweets a particular post received.
The Post said that some of the leaked DHS documents the journalists posted and wrote about pointed at faults in the department’s understanding of the protests in Portland, as well as information about techniques used by intelligence analysts.