On Monday, Politico reported that the Department of Homeland Security has been running a covert domestic-intelligence gathering program.
Some of its employees have raised concerns about possibly being illegal. The program is known as the Overt Human Intelligence Collection Program and is operated out of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
It permits officials to seek intelligence interviews with individuals in local jails, federal prisons, and immigrant detention centres without involving lawyers.
While officials must inform interviewees that questioning is being conducted for intelligence gathering and that participation is voluntary, the program has sparked civil liberties concerns as the information divulged by inmates could be used against them in court.
Some DHS employees are worried that their activities might be unlawful and have asked the agency to provide legal liability insurance.
The leadership team of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis has been criticized by an anonymous employee as being “shady” and running “like a corrupt government.” Some staff are also concerned about possible retaliation for speaking out.
Additionally, documents suggest that the ability of DHS to remain impartial and not cave into political pressure is a significant concern.
An internal analysis conducted during the Trump administration revealed that a “significant number of respondents cited concerns with the politicization of analytic products and/or the perceptions of undue influence that may compromise the integrity of the work performed by employees.”
Employees are wary of orders to conduct activities they perceive as inappropriate, bureaucratic, or political.
Politico reported that DHS temporarily suspended the program last year due to internal concerns. DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Kenneth Weinstein assured employees that their views and concerns would be heard, and the agency would deliver objective intelligence vital to the homeland security partners.»DHS is reportedly running covert domestic-intelligence gathering program«