DHS Obtained Protesters' Encrypted Messages, Used Them To Craft 'Intelligence' Reports
from the and-lied-to-oversight-about-them dept
The more the DHS inserts itself into the ongoing civil unrest, the more unrestful it gets. President Trump sent his federal forces to Portland, Oregon — the first of many “democrat” cities the president feels are too violent/unrestful — to protect federal buildings from violent graffiti outbursts or whatever. When the DHS arrived — represented by the CBP, ICE, US Marshals, and other federal law enforcement — it announced its arrival with secret police tactics straight out of the Gestapo playbook.
Since that wasn’t martial state enough, the federal officers turned things up, opening fire on journalists and legal observers. Literally. Local journalists were tear gassed, hit with pepper spray/pepper balls, and shot with “non-lethal” projectiles. The journalists and observers sued the federal government, securing a restraining order forbidding federal officers from continuing to violate the Constitution. Federal officers refused to stop (their) rioting and now may face sanctions for their actions. They will definitely be facing additional lawsuits since the restraining order made it clear willful violators would not be granted qualified immunity.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, news leaked out that DHS was compiling “intelligence reports” on local journalists, as well as journalists located elsewhere in the nation who had published leaked DHS documents. One day after breaking the news about the journalist-targeting “intelligence reports,” the Washington Post broke more news — again with the aid of a leaked DHS document. This one shows the DHS is (still) on the wrong side of the First Amendment. It also appears to show the agency lying to its oversight.
A senior Department of Homeland Security official told a Senate committee earlier this month that the department had not collected, exploited or analyzed information from the electronic devices or accounts of protesters in Portland, Ore.
But an internal DHS document obtained by The Washington Post shows the department did have access to protesters’ electronic messages and that their conversations were written up in an “intelligence report” that was disseminated to federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, as well as state and local governments.
This news broke on July 31. On July 23, acting DHS undersecretary Brian Murphy told the Senate Intelligence Committee the agency’s Intelligence and Analysis division had “neither collected nor exploited or analyzed information” obtained from “accounts” belonging to protesters or detainees.
Murphy had to have known his statements to the Intelligence Committee were false.
A DHS Open Source Intelligence Report dated six days before Murphy’s briefing to the committee shows that the I & A office analyzed messages that protesters exchanged on the Telegram messaging app. They discussed which routes to take during marches and how to avoid the police.
The messages quoted in the so-called “Open Source” report don’t detail any planned wrongdoing. (Also: Telegram’s encrypted messaging system cannot honestly be called “open source.” It’s not like viewing public accounts on social media, which is what “open source” usually means in this context.) Instead, the “analyzed” messages show protesters pointing out the obvious to each other. Walking towards or through residential neighborhoods draws less federal law enforcement attention. This makes sense because the feds are only there to defend the federal buildings located in downtown Portland. They’re not in Portland to conduct normal law enforcement work Here’s a representative quote:
“Seems they’re less inclined to go into residential neighborhoods which makes sense.”
And here’s how those communications — possibly obtained from an informant or undercover officer with access to the Telegram group — were portrayed by DHS I&A.
[d]iscussing […] TTPs [tactics, techniques and procedures] to evade law enforcement when being pursued…
The DHS has no business infiltrating groups participating in protected speech, just like it has no business compiling dossiers on journalists. Whatever pressure it may be feeling from an administration seemingly hellbent on portraying organic anti-police protests as organized antifa riots doesn’t excuse these actions. The DHS may want to please its boss by bringing him some evidence of paid protesting, but it can’t just ignore the Constitution until agents find what they’re looking for.