Civics: US homeland security surveilling journalists covering Portland protests

Ed Pilkington:

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been surveilling the work of American journalists reporting on the unrest in Portland, Oregon, circulating “intelligence reports” on them to other federal agencies in a move that has been decried as a clear violation of the constitutional right to a free press.

The Washington Post obtained the intelligence reports which were compiled by the unit within DHS known as the “office of intelligence and analysis”. The newspaper said the reports were distributed in the past week to law enforcement and other agencies.

They referred specifically to two prominent US journalists whose reporting had revealed the disarray within the Trump administration’s contentious deployment of federal agents to quell protests in Portland.

One of the journalists, Mike Baker of the New York Times, had disclosed a leaked DHS memo that discussed the confusion prevalent among the federal agents sent to Portland. The memo showed that the camouflaged officers had little understanding of the nature of the demonstrations they were being asked to police.

The second journalist was Benjamin Wittes, who edits the national security blog Lawfare. He had also published leaked DHS documents, one of which was a memo warning the department’s officials not to disclose information to reporters.