DHS Has a Rogue Domestic Surveillance Program No One Knows About
Home of News, Politics & Opinion
The Department of Homeland Security )DHS0 has a secret program gathering domestic intelligence, a revelation found in internal documents reviewed by Politico. The program, I&A, is dangerously close to a domestic surveillance program that could easily be politicized and misused. It can potentially turn us into a police state with an East German-style STASI (The Ministry for State Security).
Significant numbers of employees have raised concerns that it is illegal.
DHS’s time would be better spent securing the borders. Terrorists and criminals from around the world are pouring through.
The I&A DHS can interview anyone, even those in prison or detention centers, circumventing their lawyers. It was in place for years but halted last year to review employee concerns about its legality. It’s allegedly used to investigate trafficking and organized crime.
“The inner workings of the program — called the “Overt Human Intelligence Collection Program” — are described in the large tranche of internal documents POLITICO reviewed from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Those documents and additional interviews revealed widespread internal concerns about legally questionable tactics and political pressure. The documents also show that people working there fear punishment if they speak out about mismanagement and abuses.
“One unnamed employee — quoted in an April 2021 document — said leadership of I&A’s Office of Regional Intelligence “is ‘shady’ and ‘runs like a corrupt government.’” Another document said some employees worried so much about the legality of their activities that they wanted their employer to cover legal liability insurance.”
“Carrie Bachner, formerly the career senior legislative adviser to the DHS under secretary for intelligence, said the fact that the agency is directly questioning Americans as part of a domestic-intelligence program is deeply concerning, given the history of scandals related to past domestic-intelligence programs by the FBI.
There were concerns over how the law applies to I&A’s interactions with American citizens. Why isn’t Congress aware of this and providing oversight? We have a lot of rogue governments in these intelligence agencies. Until Donald Trump was put under surveillance during the Russiagate hoax, no one knew there were 17 intelligence agencies.
On November 12, 2020, right after the election, Robin Taylor, then the director of I&A’s Field Operations Division, emailed multiple officials.
This was included:
“Many taskings seem to be law enforcement matters and not for an intelligence organization,” read one portion, referring to assignments. “How is any of this related to our Title 50 authorities? Even if we are technically allowed to do this, should we? What was the intent of Congress when they created us? ‘Departmental Support’ seems like a loophole that we exploit to conduct questionable activities.”
Later in that document came a line that was even bleaker: “Showing where we provide value is very challenging.”
There were numerous comments about a fear of retaliation and directors who skirt the line not being held to account.
“One individual said that FOD [Field Operations Division] leadership is ‘shady’ and ‘runs like a corrupt government,’” the document said, later suggesting that people who raise concerns could be punished with contentious assignments. “If you speak out, you’ll find yourself on the SW border or in Portland, recalled by FOD HQ, or moved,” it said. “If HQ finds out that you’ve spoken to others outside the Division (e.g. OCG, Ombuds), you’ll get in trouble.”
Another major concern is political pressure. They claim they saw it during the Trump administration, which may or may not be true. Politico is politicized.
A document said, “a number of respondents expressed concerns/challenges with the quality and effectiveness of I&A senior leadership,” including “inability to resist political pressure.”
The mistrust is pervasive, the document says.
Chad Wolf, who headed the Department of Homeland Security during the last year of the Trump administration, told POLITICO via email that I&A’s challenges have “largely stemmed from lack of proper leadership and a clearly defined mission.”
Some problems with I&A continued under Biden.
Politico’s concerns center around collecting information on left-wing protesters and illegal aliens in detention centers. However, DHS shouldn’t run a secret division gathering information on American citizens without cause. This is a serious problem.