Homeland Security official being reassigned for collecting data on journalists

Lower level officials carried out Brian Murphy's order to gather and share information.

Department of Homeland Security in Washington D.C. (Google Maps Street View Image)

Brian Murphy oversaw the intelligence division as the undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. He will be reassigned to an unknown position after collecting information on two reporters.

The two reporters in question are Mike Baker, a New York Times reporter and Benjamin Wittes, the editor-in-chief of the blog Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. 

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Wittes is responsible for publishing leaks regarding the unrest in Portland, Oregon. The relevant documents were not classified by the government.

Lower level officials carried out Murphy’s order to gather and share information on the journalists. Many on social media say that this is used as a scare tactic to silence critics and journalists.

Wittes, who is vocal about his dislike for President Donald Trump, says that the practice of collecting information infringes on Freedom of Speech.

Last Friday, Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf announced that Murphy would be moving another position.

“In no way does the Acting Secretary condone this practice, and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement earlier this week, CNN reported.

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“[The department] will no longer identify US members of the media in our intelligence products…[there will be an] immediate review of the circumstances surrounding the collection and dissemination of intelligence on US members of the press,” said a statement obtained by CNN.

Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said that he has been “conducting rigorous oversight.”

“In light of recent public reports, we are concerned that Murphy may have provided incomplete and potentially misleading information to Committee staff during our recent oversight engagement,” said Schiff.

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