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DHS analyzed protester communications, raising questions about previous statements by senior department official

The Washington Post

“You stated that I & A [the intelligence and analysis office] had neither collected nor exploited or analyzed information obtained from the devices or accounts of protesters or detainees. Please confirm,” the senators wrote.

A DHS Open Source Intelligence Report dated six days before Murphy’s briefing to the committee shows that the I & A office analyzed messages that protesters exchanged on the Telegram messaging app. They discussed which routes to take during marches and how to avoid the police.

The report describes the messages as “likely Portland-based encrypted messaging app users discuss TTPs [tactics, techniques and procedures] to evade law enforcement when being pursued.” It also states that the information came from “a Telegram chat room,” which it described as “an instant messaging service.”

It’s not clear how DHS obtained the messages and whether an informant or undercover officer had access to the Telegram group. Some officials familiar with the report, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly describe it, questioned why I & A was tracking the communications of people engaged in protests that are protected by the First Amendment.

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