SALEM, Oregon (AP) — Officials at the Trump administration’s US Department of Homeland Security have compiled an extensive intelligence dossier regarding those arrested during the Black Lives Matter protests in Oregon.
According to an internal Department of Homeland Security investigation, the first draft of the document also included the subject’s friends and interests, but was later removed and replaced with a note that would be made available upon request. I was.
The 76-page report said the documents, known by agents as baseball cards, were previously typically redacted only for non-U.S. citizens or Americans with “documented ties to terrorism.” It was released last year but contains new revelations based on extensive edits removed by the Biden administration.
Ben Wisner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Freedom of Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said the report hopes Homeland Security leaders want to inflate the risks posed by protesters in Portland. said to indicate that The city has become the epicenter of sometimes violent demonstrations in the wake of the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police officers. However, many protesters, including women and veterans who belong to the “Wall of Moms” ad hoc group, were peaceful.
Wisner said by phone from New York, referring to domestic espionage against civil rights activists and Vietnam War protesters in the 1960s and 1970s.
“We need to be especially careful when agencies tasked with collecting intelligence intervene to investigate protests and where Americans are exercising their First Amendment rights,” Wisner said.
Wisner said law-breaking protesters are not immune to investigation, but intelligence agencies do not create a “chilling environment” for Americans to legally exercise their right to dissent. He said that he had to be careful.
The report reveals actions carried out by DHS’s Intelligence and Analysis Service in June and July 2020 when militarized federal agents were deployed to Portland.
When the dossier, formally known as the “operational background report,” was compiled, some DHS analysts said it “concerned protesters arrested for petty criminal acts with little or no connection to domestic terrorism.” ” raised concerns about the legality of collecting the information, the report said. Some employees refused to participate.
Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden obtained the report, which had most of the redactions removed, and provided it to reporters on Thursday. Wyden, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized DHS leaders in the Trump administration for the actions revealed in the document.
“DHS political officials spied on Oregonians for exercising their First Amendment right to protest and justified it with baseless conspiracy theories,” Wyden said.
According to the report, Brian Murphy, then deputy secretary of intelligence for the DHS, said that the violent protests had been carried out even though “no overwhelming information existed as to the motives or affiliations of the violent protesters.” claiming to call them “inspired by violent Antifa anarchists”. .
DHS officials wanted the agency’s Intelligence and Analysis Division to produce dossiers on everyone participating in the Portland protests, but Murphy said the agency would only look at those who were arrested. I advised you that you can.
Surveillance was also used extensively in other cities during the 2020 protests, with federal agencies dispatching unmanned drones and military aircraft to assist local law enforcement. But it’s not clear exactly how that surveillance was used: The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against several government agencies late last year seeking that information, but the lawsuit was filed in Southern New York. It’s still ongoing in the district.
Still, some agencies admit that surveillance is problematic. An investigation by the Air Force Inspector General, completed in August 2020, found that State Air Force aircraft were used to monitor protests in Minnesota, Arizona, California, and Washington, D.C., without explicit approval from military leaders. was found to have been used for
Surveillance in Phoenix, Arizona, was “particularly concerning,” an inspector general’s investigation found. Documents related to flights could be rapidly deployed to locations law enforcement hopes to deter protests and looting. It was suggested that it was used to
“Assuming demonstrations and protests are lawful, there is no scenario in which it is acceptable or permissible to use Department of Defense assets to deter demonstrations or protests,” the report said.
In an internal DHS review of Portland, a baseball card (usually a one-page summary) included prior criminal records, travel history, “derogatory information from DHS or the intelligence community’s possessions,” and publicly available information. It is also shown that the social media that people are using was included. The draft dossier also included friends and family members of the protesters.
Wyden credited current Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Kenneth Weinstein for reviewing the Trump administration’s “unnecessary redactions” and releasing the unredacted report.
Associated Press Rebecca Boone contributed to this report from Boise, Idaho.