Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves a Department of Homeland Security official being reaasigned another position within th agency.
A Department of Homeland Security official was reassigned to another position due to the compiled “intelligence reports” about journalists and protesters in Portland, Oregon.
Brian Murphy is the name of the acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis. He was reassigned to a new position in the department’s management directorate, an administrative support office; according to The Washington Post;
Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf made the decision on Friday.
The removal follows revelations in The Washington Post that the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at DHS compiled Open Source Intelligence Reports about the work of two journalists who had published leaked department documents. In a separate intelligence report, the office also analyzed the communications of protesters in Portland.
Members of Congress this week cited Intelligence & Analysis collection of information about journalists and protesters as an alarming encroachment of government authority into activities protected by the First Amendment.
Wolf ordered the Intelligence & Analysis to stop collecting information on journalists and ordered an investigation but this was literally after The Washington Post Post reported the practice on Thursday. Murphy will work as an “adviser” in the management office while that investigation proceeds, a senior department official said.
Members of the department’s advisory council, which includes numerous retired high ranking government officials and former lawmakers, were “Angry” to learn that the department was compiling information about journalists in reports normally used to share information about suspected terrorists and violent extremists, according to two people with knowledge of the advisers reactions.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Ca) the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Saturday that he was concerned Murphy “may have provided incomplete and potentially misleading information to Committee staff” during a recent briefing about the office’s activities in Portland. Following news reports, including in The Post, that DHS had expanded some of its authorities to monitor protesters, the committee had demanded a broad range of documents and information.
Murphy previously told staff on the House and Senate intelligence committees that his office did not collect, analyze or exploit information on the electronic devices or accounts of protesters. On Friday, Democratic senators sent Murphy a letter asking him to confirm that was true.
Murphy spoke with staff of the House and Senate intelligence committees on July 23 and was asked about Intelligence & Analysis activities in Portland as well as what legal authorities the office was using to justify a new mission, collecting and disseminating information on protesters who threatened to damage or destroy public memorials and statues including those not on federal property, according to officials familiar with the briefing.
Brian Murphy is a former FBI agent who worked on the bureau’s efforts to combat radicalization. Current and former colleagues have described him as hard charging and driven and said he has a history of defying managers and bosses to pursue the course of action he deems appropriate.
In 2007, he was the subject of a magazine profile that extolled his investigative skills and compared his relentlessness to the T-1000 “killer robot” from the movie “Terminator 2.”
Murphy has earned a reputation at DHS for aggressively trying to expand the operations of the intelligence office. Although it is technically an element of the broader intelligence community, I & A publishes reports largely based on unclassified or public sources and is not designed to engage in clandestine investigations or operations like the FBI or the CIA. According to the Washington Post;
Murphy tried to fashion the office into more of an operational player, to be like the larger agencies, and drew scrutiny and criticism internally over his efforts, some officials said. One noted that I & A’s collection of information involving journalists was effectively the last straw and led to his ouster.