Bennet, Intelligence Committee Colleagues Urge DHS to Review Problems at its Intelligence Arm

Senators Urge DHS Secretary to Review Report about the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A)

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Democratic committee members in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas drawing attention to a recent report identifying significant problems within the intelligence arm of DHS and its involvement in responding to protests in Portland, Oregon in June and July of last year.

“We write to draw your attention to the ‘Report on DHS Administrative Review into I&A Open Source Collection and Dissemination Activities During Civil Unrest; Portland, Oregon, June through July 2020,’ produced on January 6, 2021, by the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The report raises serious concerns about the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) which require a response from Department leadership,” wrote Bennet and the senators. “The report details a series of problems related to the legality of I&A operations, I&A’s relationships with other federal as well as state and local authorities, the allocation of resources and personnel, management and the internal climate at I&A, and accountability.  We request that the Department provide the Congress an explanation of how it will address each of these issues, the extent to which the Department accepts and intends to implement the recommendations included in the report, and any additional reforms the Department may support.”

Bennet and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee have previously raised concerns about problems at the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and its role in responding to the Portland protests.

In addition to Bennet, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.

Dear Secretary Mayorkas,

We write to draw your attention to the “Report on DHS Administrative Review into I&A Open Source Collection and Dissemination Activities During Civil Unrest; Portland, Oregon, June through July 2020,” produced on January 6, 2021, by the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The report raises serious concerns about the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) which require a response from Department leadership.

The report details a series of problems related to the legality of I&A operations, I&A’s relationships with other federal as well as state and local authorities, the allocation of resources and personnel, management and the internal climate at I&A, and accountability.  We request that the Department provide the Congress an explanation of how it will address each of these issues, the extent to which the Department accepts and intends to implement the recommendations included in the report, and any additional reforms the Department may support.  We further request that the Department prepare a version of the report suitable for public release.

We recognize that the administration has not yet nominated an Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis.  We further recognize that related reviews, in particular that of the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, are not completed.  The Department’s response to the report is nonetheless urgent.  The Department’s views are necessary to inform the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as it exercises its responsibilities with regard to the codification of I&A’s responsibilities and the authorization of its budget.  The Committee and the Congress are also confronting the current threat of terrorism and extremism while defending the constitutional rights of Americans, ongoing deliberations that will determine the roles and authorities of the Department and other federal agencies. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,