Saturday, May 25, 2024

Rep. Dan Bishop Investigating Secretive DHS Domestic Intelligence Program

'Some employees worried so much about the legality of their activities that they wanted the DHS to cover legal liability insurance...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USARep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., announced Monday that he and two other members of Congress are investigating the Department of Homeland Security’s “Overt Human Intelligence Collection Program,” a secretive domestic operation that has raised internal concerns among DHS workers.

The DHS’s overt human intelligence collection program was largely unknown until Politico published an expose on it earlier this month, reporting from a trove of internal documents from the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

According to Politico, the DHS program allows officials to seek interviews with “just about anyone in the United States,” including people held in immigrant detention centers, local jails and federal prison.

“DHS’s intelligence professionals have to say they’re conducting intelligence interviews, and they have to tell the people they seek to interview that their participation is voluntary,” Politico reported. “But the fact that they’re allowed to go directly to incarcerated people—circumventing their lawyers—raises important civil liberties concerns, according to legal experts.”

One unnamed employee called the DHS program “shady” and said it “runs like a corrupt government,” Politico reported. Another document reportedly said some employees worried so much about the legality of their activities that they wanted the DHS to cover legal liability insurance.

“I don’t know any counsel in their right mind that would sign off on that, and any member of Congress that would say, ‘That’s OK,’” said a former DHS official interviewed by Politico. “If these people are out there interviewing folks that still have constitutional privileges, without their lawyer present, that’s immoral.”

Bishop, along with Reps. Mark Green, R-Tenn., and August Pfluger, R-Texas, demanded answers about the reports. They said the allegations are even more troubling when taken in context with other recent DHS programs, such as its now-scuttled disinformation governance board.

“There appears a patern of mission creep and overreach by the department emerging at the expense of Americans more than foreign actors who threaten the homeland,” Bishop, Green and Pfluger wrote.

The members of Congress seek numerous DHS documents about its program, including internal assessments of the legality of the program.

“This shady program violates Americans’ fundamental civil liberties and is flatly unacceptable,” said Bishop.

The DHS reportedly issued a statement in response to prior reporting, but Politico noted that the department did not address anything about its domestic intelligence program.

“The true measure of a government organization is its ability to persevere through challenging times, openly acknowledge and learn from those challenges, and move forward in service of the American people,” said DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Kenneth Wainstein. “The Office of Intelligence and Analysis has done just that over the past few years.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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