US gathered intel on Portland, Oregon protesters, report shows

The US Department of Homeland Security has kept numerous intelligence files on people who were arrested, even for misdemeanors, during the 2020 protests in Portland.

PORTLAND, Ore – U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials in the Trump administration have gathered extensive intelligence records on people arrested, even for misdemeanors, during the Black Lives Matter protests in Oregon .

Early drafts of the profile even included the subject’s friends and interests, but these were later removed and replaced with the note that they would be made available upon request. demand, according to an internal assessment by the Department of Homeland Security.

According to the 76-page report, the files, known as baseball cards by agents, were previously typically made on non-US citizens or solely on Americans with “terrorist relationships” Proven”. It was previously released last year but there are new revelations based on extensive deals that were scrapped by the Biden administration.

RELATED: ‘Their Concerns Are Well-founded’: Audit Finds Portland Police Wrongly Collected Surveillance Data on Protesters in 2020

Ben Wizner, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s free speech, privacy and technology project, said the report indicates that the leaders of the Department of Homeland Security wanted to exaggerate the risks posed by those Protests in Portland caused. The city became the focus of sometimes violent protests following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. But many protesters, including women from the “Wall of Mothers” special group and military veterans, were peaceful.

“We have a dark history of intelligence agencies collecting records on protesters,” Wizner said by phone from New York, referring to domestic espionage in the 1960s and 1970 against civil rights activists, Vietnam War opponents, and others.

“We need to be especially careful if agencies tasked with intelligence gathering are going to step in to look at protest activity and where Americans are exercising First Amendment rights,” Wizner said. their.

Protesters who break the law are not investigated, Wizner said, but intelligence agencies should be careful not to create “a chilling environment” for Americans to exercise their right to dissent. legal.

The report reveals actions taken by the DHS Office of Analysis and Intelligence in June and July 2020, when militarized federal agents were deployed to Portland.

As the records, formally known as the Operations Facility Report, were being compiled, some DHS analysts expressed concern about the legality of gathering intelligence “on people.” protesters were arrested for trivial offenses that had little or no connection to domestic terrorism,” the report said. Some employees even refused to participate.

US Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, received the report with most of the transactions deleted and made it available to reporters on Thursday. Wyden, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized DHS leaders in the Trump administration for the actions disclosed in the document.

“DHS political officials tracked down Oregonians for exercising their First Amendment right to protest and justified it with baseless conspiracy theories,” Wyden said. speak.

RELATED: Federal agents in Portland are untrained and unsolicited, report finds

Brian Murphy, who was then acting deputy secretary of the DHS intelligence unit, insisted on calling the violent protesters “Inspired by Violent Opponents,” despite the “information overwhelming reports about the motives or connections of the violent protesters does not exist,” according to the report.

Top DHS leaders even wanted the Department’s Office of Analysis and Intelligence to document the Portland protesters, but Murphy advised that the unit could only look at people who had been arrested. start.

Surveillance is widely used in other cities as well during the 2020 protests, with federal agencies sending drones and military aircraft to aid local law enforcement. But it’s unclear exactly how that surveillance is used: the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against several government agencies seeking that information late last year, but the case is still underway in the United States. Southern District of New York.

However, some agencies have acknowledged that monitoring is problematic. An Air Force Department Inspector General investigation, completed in August 2020, found that National Air Force aircraft were used to monitor protests in Minnesota, Arizona, California. and Washington, DC without the explicit approval of military leaders.

The surveillance in Phoenix, Arizona was “particularly concerning,” the Inspector General’s investigation found, because the flight-related documentation showed it was used to allow law enforcement to Laws quickly deployed to sites they hoped would prevent protests or looting.

“There is no acceptable or permissible scenario in which DoD (Department of Defense) assets are used to prevent demonstrations and demonstrations, assuming they remain legal,” the report said.

DHS’s internal review of Portland also found baseball cards – usually a one-page summary – that included any past criminal history, travel history, “derogatory information from DHS or other assets of the Intelligence Community,” and publicly available social media. The draft profile includes friends and family of those who oppose it.

Wyden credited current Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Kenneth Wainstein for reviewing the Trump administration’s “unnecessary transactions” and releasing the unanswered report. US gathered intel on Portland, Oregon protesters, report shows

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