DHS officials used anti-terrorism system to gather 'intelligence reports' on journalists covering civil rights protests: report
Department of Homeland Security agents in Portland (DHS photo via Twitter)

On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that officials at the Department of Homeland Security used a system designed to collect intelligence on terrorists, to surveil journalists covering the civil rights protests and subsequent clashes with federal law enforcement in Portland, Oregon.

"Over the past week, the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has disseminated three Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others, summarizing tweets written by two journalists — a reporter for The New York Times and the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare — and noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland," reported Shane Harris. "The intelligence reports, obtained by The Washington Post, include written descriptions and images of the tweets and the number of times they had been liked or retweeted by others."

"Some of the leaked DHS documents the journalists posted and wrote about revealed shortcomings in the department’s understanding of the nature of the protests in Portland, as well as techniques that intelligence analysts have used," continued the report. "A memo by the department’s top intelligence official, which was tweeted by the editor of Lawfare, says personnel relied on 'FINTEL,' an acronym for financial intelligence, as well as finished intelligence 'Baseball cards' of arrested protesters to try to understand their motivations and plans. Historically, military and intelligence officials have used such cards for biographical dossiers of suspected terrorists, including those targeted in lethal drone strikes."

The federal agents' arrival in Portland stirred nationwide controversy, as some protesters were arrested and put in unmarked vans. A recent report suggested DHS is working to train these officers to avoid violating protesters' First Amendment rights.

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