Federal Agencies Tapped Protesters' Phones in Portland - 2020-09-21
This summer, Portland looked like a war zone. Phalanxes of shadowy law enforcement personnel fired crowd-control munitions, as plumes of teargas billowed into the sky. Federal agents without clearly visible identification rounded up protesters and loaded them into unmarked cars, on American streets. When videos began to spread online, it was hard to tell what was going on, or how widely. Ad Policy
The public backlash was ferocious, spurring Congress to demand that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) disclose information about the operation. But the DHS never came clean to the public about the full extent of its intelligence operations in Portland, which consisted of clandestine activities including interceptions of protesters' phone calls conducted by a task force that included federal agencies besides the DHS, according to two former intelligence officers familiar with the matter.
"Unidentified stormtroopers. Unmarked cars. Kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti. These are not the actions of a democratic republic. [Department of Homeland Security's] actions in Portland undermine its mission," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted in mid-July. Later that month, The Washington Post reported that the DHS's intelligence division, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) had generated intelligence reports on several prominent journalists covering the Portland protests. Members of both the House and Senate intelligence committees promptly demanded to know what kinds of intelligence they had collected on both journalists and protesters. A letter from the Senate contained the suggestive admonition that the division "is obligated by statute to keep the congressional intelligence committees fully and currently informed of its operations."