Ex-intelligence chief at US Department of Homeland Security files whistleblower claim

Kirstjen NielsenThe former head of intelligence at the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has filed a whistleblower complaint, alleging that he was pressured to manipulate his analyses for political reasons. The 24-page complaint was filed on Tuesday with the Office of the DHS Inspector General. The whistleblower is identified as Brian Murphy, who served as acting chief of intelligence for the DHS. The contents of the complaint have been made available online on the website of the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Murphy alleges that his superiors, including senior officials in the DHS, engaged in “attempted abuse of authority” and possibly violated federal law. In his whistleblower complaint, Murphy says his supervisors essentially fabricated intelligence products on pressing security matters, in order to make them agreeable to President Donald Trump. In doing so, claims Murphy, these officials tried to “censor and manipulate the intelligence information” produced by DHS analysts, in order to further President Trump’s agenda.

In his complaint, Murphy identifies acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, his predecessor, Kirstjen Nielsen (pictured), and Wolf’s deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, as individuals who pressured him to change his intelligence products. The pressures allegedly began with reference to Russian interference in the US presidential elections of 2016. According to Murphy, his supervisors instructed him to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States, [and] instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran”.

The pressures, according to Murphy, later expanded to include efforts to get him to downplay the domestic terrorist threat posed by far-right organizations, and to accentuate purported links between terrorism and immigration to the US coming from Latin America. In late 2018, the then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress that nearly 3,800 documented terrorists crossed the US border from Mexico. But Murphy alleges that the actual number was just three confirmed cases.

The complaint further alleges that Murphy was removed from his post in August of this year, and was “de facto demoted” after he confronted Wolf and Cuccinelli and refused to “manipulate intelligence for political reasons”. Murphy’s removal was one of a number of “retaliatory actions” against him for refusing to comply with his superiors’ pressures, according to the complaint.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 10 September 2020 | Permalink

Opinion: Deforming the US National Security Council

Steve BannonThere has been much consternation and confusion over the maneuverings engineered by United States President Donald Trump with the National Security Council (NSC). By now everyone knows the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have been essentially demoted down to Principals Committee meetings, with the no-doubt unsatisfying caveat that “when their specific expertise” is needed they will be asked to attend the main Principals meeting with the President. The irony, of course, is that both of these offices have always been oversight and unifying leadership positions: the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs oversees and coordinates discussion and debate between the heads of all the military branches while the ODNI was basically created to go do the thing the Department of Homelandq-quote Security was initially meant to do after 9/11 —coordinate and improve communication and cooperative transparency across the entire US Intelligence Community. It is therefore somewhat mystifying as to why two deeply experienced actors with comprehensive knowledge of military and intelligence affairs writ large would be inexplicably categorized as ‘knowledge specialists’, not required for the big general meeting. It is not like the ODNI came into the NSC meetings pre-Trump as the ‘Basque subject matter expert’ alone, or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs laid claim to being the world’s only ‘Gulf of Aden’ maritime security specialist. While it is still too early to know, it seems a logical bet that there is some personality conflict or discomfort between these two men and the incoming member(s) that Trump has designated. Safe money is on General Michael Flynn. But since that right now will remain unsubstantiated rumor and gossip, we are left with nothing but conjecture.

Which leads us appropriately into the appointment of Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon as a permanent sitting member of the National Security Council. Read more of this post