DHS compiled intelligence reports on journalists reporting on protests in Portland: report

Source: The Hill | July 30, 2020 | Marty Johnson

Amid the clashes between protestors and federal officers in downtown Portland, Ore., the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — which deployed the agents — created intelligence reports on a pair of journalists that it claims reported on leaked, unclassified information regarding the tense situation, according to The Washington Post.

The reports, which have been obtained by the Post, included images of tweets from the journalists and detailed information about the posts. 

Known as Open Source Intelligence Reports, the documents were created by DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

One of the leaked memos offered damning insight into the department’s struggle to grasp the reasons powering the protests. The memo said that DHS agents on the ground in Portland have relied on financial intelligence and “Baseball cards” of arrested protestors to better assess the situation. “Baseball cards” have historically been used by the U.S. intelligence community as background information on suspected terrorists.

In the same vein, officials told the Post that Open Source Intelligence Reports have not been traditionally been created to profile American citizens that don’t have connections to terrorists or other violent actors and are engaged in exercising their rights protected by the First Amendment. Reportedly, the reports are usually utilized to share the department’s analysis with federal law enforcement agencies and others.

“This has no operational value whatsoever,” John Sandweg, former acting general counsel for DHS, told the paper. “This will just damage the intelligence office’s reputation.”

DHS said in a statement that the reports were “produced under pre-established classified intelligence reporting requirements that are developed through a rigorous process to include legal and Intelligence oversight guidelines.”

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