Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Wrongdoing by Senior Homeland Security Officials

Tia Sewell
Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 5:32 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, today sent a letter requesting that Brian Murphy appear to testify before the committee on September 21, 2020. Brian Murphy is the former acting under secretary of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The committee’s letter comes in response to a whistleblower reprisal complaint filed on Mr. Murphy’s behalf that, in Rep. Schiff’s words, “depicts a sustained and disturbing pattern of misconduct by senior Trump administration officials” and “alleges repeated violations of law and regulations, abuses of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis, and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence the U.S. elections.”

The complaint alleges that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf instructed Mr. Murphy to stop providing intelligence analysis related to Russian efforts to undermine U.S. interests. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli told Mr. Murphy to modify a threat assessment section on white supremacy “in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent ‘left-wing’ groups.”

And, as the committee's letter describes, “the complaint alleges that then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen provided in congressional testimony on December 20, 2018 and March 6, 2019, inaccurate and highly inflated claims of known or suspected terrorists entering the United States through the southwest border, which the complaint states constituted a ‘knowing and deliberate submission of false material information.’” Nielsen had attested that the number of “Known and Suspected Terrorists” crossing the U.S. border numbered 3,755, but according to the complaint, Murphy understood that the number “consisted of no more than three individuals.”

The committee launched an investigation into I&A’s expanded intelligence activities in early August after reports surfaced about intelligence collection on American protestors and journalistsincluding open-source intelligence reporting on Lawfare’s editor in chief, Benjamin Wittes.

Rep. Adam Schiff’s letter and the whistleblower reprisal complaint can be viewed below.

Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studied international relations and economics at Stanford University and is now a master’s student in international security at Sciences Po in Paris.

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