DHS Made 'Incredibly Dumb' Move on Protest Journalists

'Intelligence reports' were shared with law enforcement agencies
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2020 8:43 AM CDT
Feds Made 'Intelligence Reports' on Protest Journalists
In this July 29, 2020 photo, federal agents arrest a demonstrator during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

In what former Department of Homeland Security general counsel John Sandweg calls an "incredibly dumb" move, the department compiled "intelligence reports" on journalists covering the Portland protests—and shared them with state and local law enforcement agencies. The reports, which usually deal with security threats, noted that the journalists had published leaked, unclassified information about DHS activities during the Portland protests, reports the Washington Post. The reports on New York Times journalist Mike Baker and Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes included images of their tweets and the number of times they had been liked. "This has no operational value whatsoever," Sandweg says.

Wittes says that while he isn't concerned by DHS sharing his tweets of leaked memos, it's "the construction of it as an intelligence report on a US person that’s disturbing." A DHS rep says acting secretary Chad Wolf has "directed the DHS Intelligence & Analysis Directorate to immediately discontinue collecting information involving members of the press. In no way does the Acting Secretary condone this practice and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter." In Portland, meanwhile, Oregon state troopers arrived at the federal courthouse Thursday to provide security in place of federal agents. The Oregonian reports that protests took place in the area, but they remained "overwhelmingly calm" and troopers did not leave the courthouse. (More Department of Homeland Security stories.)

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