Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Monday, March 15, 2010

Senators Accuse Homeland Security Spies of Cribbing From ‘Questionable’ Right-Wing Sources

Mark Hosenball Mar 11, 2010 03:51 PM
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and other prominent Senate Democrats have accused spies at the Homeland Security Department of basing official intelligence reports on dubious open-source material. Inquiries by Declassified indicate that at least some of the data that Feinstein and her colleagues deemed “questionable” came from a Web site set up by outspoken conservative activist David Horowitz to catalog negative information about the political left.

In an official report accompanying an intelligence authorization bill last year, Feinstein’s committee alleged that Homeland’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis had been issuing papers that “inappropriately analyze the legitimate activities of U.S. persons”—papers that “often used certain questionable open source information as a basis of their conclusions.” And in a little-noticed floor speech in February, Feinstein spoke of “numerous problems” at the intelligence office, including poor planning and budgeting and excessive reliance on contractors. She went on to allege that on a number of occasions, Homeland’s spies had “produced and disseminated finished intelligence that has been based on non-credible, open source materials or focused intelligence resources on the first amendment-protected activities of American citizens.” She said the need for a new spy boss at Homeland was urgent, and successfully urged the Senate to confirm Caryn Wagner, a veteran intelligence executive, as Homeland Security’s new chief of intelligence and analysis.

Congressional officials say the Homeland intelligence report that particularly angered Feinstein and other committee members is still classified. Nevertheless, three current and former intelligence officials, requesting anonymity when discussing sensitive information, say the report in question is a profile of an unnamed but prominent American Islamic leader and was produced by Homeland Security’s intelligence office during the latter years of the Bush administration. The report was requested by the Department’s civil-rights office, whose officials were preparing to meet with the Islamic leader. But instead of sending the civil-rights office a quick bio of the individual in question, Homeland’s intelligence office issued a “finished” intel report that was circulated to other intelligence agencies and, eventually, to congressional oversight committees.

The report’s contents were sufficiently shocking to provoke a July 2008 letter of complaint to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Charles Allen, then Homeland’s intelligence chief, from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, then Senate Intelligence committee chair, and committee member Russ Feingold. In the letter, which has been only partially declassified, the senators allege that the Homeland intelligence report included a “clearly inappropriate” assessment of “derogatory” information about the unnamed Islamic leader, even though the paper’s overall conclusion that the person in question was not an “extremist." According to the letter, the Homeland report specifically went on to conclude that the Islamic leader in question was a “mainstream voice” and that information on him “points to politically controversial statements but not to extremism”—conclusions that Rockefeller and Feingold declared to be “political assessments that are outside of the bounds of the authorities granted U.S. law enforcement and intelligence entities.” More


Post a Comment

<< Home

free hit counter