US gathered intel on Oregon protesters, report shows

Oct 28, 2022, 12:03 PM | Updated: Oct 29, 2022, 4:16 am
FILE - A demonstrator is pepper sprayed shortly before being arrested during a Black Lives Matter p...

FILE - A demonstrator is pepper sprayed shortly before being arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 29, 2020, in Portland, Ore. U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials under then-President Donald Trump sought to compile intelligence dossiers on everyone attending Black Lives Matter protests, according to a newly unredacted report. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who obtained the report, said in an email to reporters that surveillance of Portland protesters in 2020 "included lists of friends, family and social media associates for people who posed no threat to homeland security." (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials in the Trump administration compiled extensive intelligence dossiers on people who were arrested, even for minor offenses, during Black Lives Matter protests in Oregon.

Initial drafts of the dossiers even included friends of the subjects as well as their interests, but those were later removed and replaced with a note that they would be made available upon request, according to an internal review by the Department of Homeland Security.

The dossiers, known by agents as baseball cards, were previously normally compiled on non-U.S. citizens or only on Americans with “a demonstrated terrorism nexus,” according to the 76-page report. It was previously released last year but contains new revelations based on extensive redactions that were removed by the Biden administration.

Ben Wizner, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s free speech, privacy and technology project, said the report indicates leaders of the Department of Homeland Security wanted to inflate the risk caused by protesters in Portland. The city became an epicenter of sometimes violent demonstrations in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. But many protesters, including women belonging to a “Wall of Moms” ad hoc group and military veterans, were peaceful.

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

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

Protesters who break the law aren’t immune from being investigated, Wizner said, but intelligence agencies should be careful not to create “a chilling environment” for Americans to legally exercise their right to dissent.

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

When the dossiers, officially known as Operational Background Reports, were being compiled, some DHS analysts voiced concerns over the legality of collecting intelligence “on protestors arrested for trivial criminal infractions having little to no connection to domestic terrorism,” the report said. Some of the employees even refused to participate.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, obtained the report with most redactions removed and provided it to reporters Thursday. Wyden, a member of the Senate select committee on intelligence, criticized DHS leaders in the Trump administration for actions revealed in the document.

“Political DHS officials spied on Oregonians for exercising their First Amendment right to protest and justified it with baseless conspiracy theories,” Wyden said.

Brian Murphy, who was then the acting undersecretary of DHS’ intelligence unit, insisted on calling violent protesters “Violent Antifa Anarchists Inspired,” even though “overwhelming intelligence regarding the motivations or affiliations of the violent protesters did not exist,” according to the report.

Top DHS leaders even wanted the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis to create dossiers on everyone participating in the Portland protests, but Murphy advised that the unit could only look at people who were arrested.

Surveillance was broadly used in other cities as well during the 2020 protests, with federal agencies sending unmanned drones and military aircraft to assist local law enforcement. But it’s not clear exactly how that surveillance was 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 Southern District of New York.

Still, some agencies have acknowledged the surveillance was problematic. An investigation by the Inspector General Department of the Air Force, completed in August 2020, found that Air National Guard aircraft was used to monitor protests in Minnesota, Arizona, California and Washington, D.C. without clear approval from military leaders.

The surveillance in Phoenix, Arizona was “particularly concerning,” the Inspector General’s investigation found, because documentation associated with the flight suggested it was being used to allow law enforcement agencies to rapidly deploy to locations where they hoped to deter protest or looting.

“There is no scenario in which it is acceptable or permissible to use DoD (Department of Defense) assets to deter demonstrations and protests, assuming they remain lawful,” the report said.

The DHS’ internal review on Portland also shows the baseball cards — which were usually one-page summaries — included any past criminal history, travel history, “derogatory information from DHS or Intelligence Community holdings,” and publicly available social media. Draft dossiers included friends and family of protesters as well.

Wyden credited current Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Kenneth Wainstein for reviewing the Trump administration’s “unnecessary redactions” and releasing the unredacted report.

___

Associated Press reporter Rebecca Boone contributed to this report from Boise, Idaho.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - Federal agents arrest a demonstrator during a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, Ore., on July 29, 2020. U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials under then-President Donald Trump sought to compile intelligence dossiers on everyone attending Black Lives Matter protests, according to a newly unredacted report. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who obtained the report, said in an email to reporters that surveillance of Portland protesters in 2020 "included lists of friends, family and social media associates for people who posed no threat to homeland security." (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
            
              FILE - A demonstrator is pepper sprayed shortly before being arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 29, 2020, in Portland, Ore. U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials under then-President Donald Trump sought to compile intelligence dossiers on everyone attending Black Lives Matter protests, according to a newly unredacted report. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who obtained the report, said in an email to reporters that surveillance of Portland protesters in 2020 "included lists of friends, family and social media associates for people who posed no threat to homeland security." (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
            FILE - A bloodied demonstrator is arrested by federal police during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 27, 2020, in Portland, Ore. U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials under then-President Donald Trump sought to compile intelligence dossiers on everyone attending Black Lives Matter protests, according to a newly unredacted report. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who obtained the report, said in an email to reporters that surveillance of Portland protesters in 2020 "included lists of friends, family and social media associates for people who posed no threat to homeland security." (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

AP

A woman tries to warm next to a fire, in Adiyaman, southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. Wi...
Associated Press

Live Updates I Aid, rescues in quake-hit Turkey, Syria

Rescuers pulled more survivors from beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings Thursday, but hopes were starting to fade of finding many more people alive more than three days after a catastrophic earthquake and series of aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria, killing more than 17,000. The earthquake that razed thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Samuel Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. The ...
Associated Press

FTX founder keeps talking, ignoring typical legal strategy

NEW YORK (AP) — For federal prosecutors, Sam Bankman-Fried could be the gift that keeps on giving. After the November collapse of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019, Bankman-Fried unexpectedly gave a series of interviews intended to present his version of events. He was indicted in December and charged with perpetrating one of […]
6 hours ago
FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, lawmaker of the extreme far-right Golden Dawn par...
Associated Press

Far-right party banned from upcoming election in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s parliament has banned a far-right political party led by a jailed former lawmaker from participating in the general election later this year. Parliament published the text of a legislative amendment Thursday that will disqualify the Greek National Party on the grounds that its leader has been convicted of a serious […]
6 hours ago
Bottles of Pepsi are displayed in a grocery store, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. PepsiCo reports t...
Associated Press

Pepsi price hikes fuel 10% jump in the fourth quarter sales

PepsiCo reported better-than-expected sales in the fourth quarter after hiking prices for its drinks and snacks. Revenue rose more than 10% to $28 billion. That was better than the $26.8 billion Wall Street had forecast, according to analysts polled by FactSet. Pepsi raised prices in a number of markets as it continued to battle double-digit […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Maryland Gov. Wes Moore gives his first state of the state address, two weeks after being sw...
Associated Press

Maryland governor, officials supporting abortion protections

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and state lawmakers are scheduled to announce support Thursday for measures protecting abortion rights, including a state constitutional amendment that would enshrine it. House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, who are both Democrats, will join the governor at a news conference to show their […]
6 hours ago
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, centre, gestures as European Parliament's President Robert...
Associated Press

Zelenskyy wraps up European tour with visit to EU summit

BRUSSELS (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was wrapping up a whirlwind tour of his major European backers on Thursday, seeking assurances that Ukraine could one day become part of the European Union. Zelenskky will already head home with heaps of goodwill and commitments of more military aid. He arrived to the European Parliament to […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
US gathered intel on Oregon protesters, report shows