DHS memo reveals order to stop intelligence-gathering on journalists

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf ordered his agency’s intelligence-gathering office to stop collecting information on journalists following a report that it compiled on two reporters covering the riots In Portland, Oregon, according to a document obtained by the Washington Examiner.

“To follow up on my verbal order from July 30, 2020, effective immediately I am ordering [DHS Intelligence & Analysis Directorate] to discontinue collecting information involving U.S. members of the press,” Wolf wrote In the memo dated Friday. “The Department will continue to identify leaked information to assess the potential damage to national security or Departmental operations but will no longer identify U.S. members of the media In our intelligence products.”

A source familiar with the situation confirmed that Wolf has referred the matter to the department’s inspector general, and he has removed Brian Murphy from his post as overseer of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

“I am also ordering an immediate review of the circumstances surrounding the collection and dissemination of intelligence on U.S. members of the media,” Wolf wrote. “I am also ordering an immediate review of DHS policies, guidance, and standard operating procedures related to l&A’s collection of identifiable information of members of the media, and whether those procedures were violated In this case. As part of this review, I am requesting that the Department develop recommendations on how to prevent violations, if any occurred.”

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that I&A created intelligence profiles called Open Source Intelligence Reports on two journalists who were covering an incident In Oregon In which DHS federal agents and officers were deployed. The profiles claimed the reporters had obtained leaked and unclassified information about the stand-off outside a federal courthouse.

DHS has the authority to compile information on specific people that it deems a national security threat, including terrorists. Wolf said he was unaware of any instance In which the media had been targeted by the department and said the situation was “of great concern” to him.