Homeland Security Reassigns Official Whose Office Compiled Intelligence on Journalists

  • Politics
  • Homeland Security Reassigns Official Whose Office Compiled Intelligence on Journalists

“In light of recent public reports, we are concerned that Murphy may have provided incomplete and potentially misleading information to Committee staff during our recent oversight engagement,” Mr. Schiff continued, adding that the committee would “be expanding our oversight even further in the coming days.”

The Department of Homeland Security has already faced widespread backlash for the aggressive behavior of the tactical teams in Portland, as well as investigations by the inspectors general for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Mr. Murphy, formerly with the F.B.I., led an office with the Homeland Security Department charged with sharing information about potential national security threats with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Such a coordinating effort was one of the motivations in creating the department after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In 2015, Mr. Murphy joined F.B.I. headquarters to work on an effort known as Countering Violent Extremism, or C.V.E., after serving as an assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Chicago. Mr. Murphy was known as an ambitious investigator who was once profiled in a self-aggrandizing article about a terrorism case he had worked on. But some former agents and Justice Department officials familiar with Mr. Murphy’s work at the time, who requested anonymity to discuss internal discussions at the agencies, expressed concern about some C.V.E. proposals, his tendency to ignore the rules and failure to coordinate his activities.

One agent at the time raised an alarm that Mr. Murphy wanted to prepare materials for Chicago public schools without disclosing the F.B.I.’s participation, according to an internal bureau document provided to The New York Times. That would have violated F.B.I. policy requiring such outreach to be public or overt.

Other former officials said that Mr. Murphy wanted to tap coaches, therapists, social workers and religious leaders in several cities to help steer people under the sway of Islamic extremism away from a potentially violent future. That was not a bad idea, the former officials said, but Mr. Murphy pushed internally to make those community leaders sign memorandums of understanding with the F.B.I.

By doing so, Mr. Murphy would then have been able to track whether those people in the program were headed down the wrong path again. That would have essentially deputized community leaders to be arms of the bureau, former F.B.I. and Justice Department officials said, a move that would have only stoked existing concerns in the Muslim community that the bureau was using outreach to spy on people. Officials eventually scrapped Mr. Murphy’s plan, calling it ill-conceived and legally problematic.

One former official said that Mr. Murphy “didn’t have a good sense of what the blowback would be.”

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