Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Trump Administration Suppressed and Altered Intelligence Data to Advance Policy Objectives

(Noted News) Last week, a whistleblower complaint was filed by the former Principal Deputy of the Office of Intelligence & Analysis in the Department of Homeland Security, Brian Murphy. In the complaint, Murphy describes multiple accounts of top officials within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suppressing or altering intelligence data to support the policy objectives of the Trump Administration. Furthermore, in response to Murphy’s refusal to modify or omit parts of his reports and in response to him raising concerns about the intelligence abuse, he was threatened with termination and reassignment several times before eventually being demoted to the DHS Management Division. The full complaint was published online by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

In his role at the DHS, Murphy was responsible for all intelligence activities, and the complaint describes his qualifications for the position. Prior to working at the DHS, Murphy served with the United States Marines and the Intelligence Division of the FBI. He received a Master’s degree in Islamic studies before pursuing a doctorate on Russian disinformation efforts at Georgetown University. The complaint alleges that since Murphy joined the DHS in 2018, he was ordered to modify data and reports that reflected on four specific policy matters: the border wall, asylum countries, white supremacy threats, and Russian election interference.

1) Border Wall Data

Between October 2018 and March 2019, the DHS provided information to Congress about the security of the southern border. Murphy was tasked with providing former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen intelligence assessments for her testimony before Congress. He was directly instructed to ensure that the assessments showed a large number of known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) entering the United States through the southern border in support of the White House’s border policies. Murphy refused, saying that doing so would be a felony violation. The complaint describes that regardless of Murphy’s concerns, Secretary Nielsen testified before Congress that 3,755 KSTs were crossing the southern border in contrast to the reports of Murphy’s intelligence team which showed no more than 3 KSTs crossing. In response, Murphy filed an anonymous complaint with the DHS Office of Inspector General about Secretary Nielsen’s testimony. Afterwards, he was informed that several DHS officials were seeking his termination because of his intelligence assessments about the KSTs.

2) Asylum Reports

In late 2019, Murphy was tasked with developing reports about the social conditions of three asylum countries: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The reports were intended to help asylum officers in completing their assessment on asylum applicants. In December 2019, Murphy met with Deputy DHS Secretary Kenneth Cuccinelli to review the reports. In the meeting, Cuccinelli expressed frustration that the reports showed high levels of political corruption and violence along with poor economic conditions in the three asylum countries despite this being consistent with assessments from past years. According to the complaint, Cuccinelli accused the analysts behind the reports of being “deep state” agents who were trying to sabotage President Trump’s asylum policies. Cuccinelli later ordered Murphy to fire or reassign the individuals who compiled the reports which Murphy refused to do.

  • The Homeland Threat Assessment and White Supremacy

In March 2020, Murphy and his intelligence team completed a Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA). According to the complaint, current DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Deputy DHS Secretary Kenneth Cuccinelli prohibited distribution of the HTA saying that two sections in the report on white supremacy and Russian influence in the United States would reflect poorly on President Trump. In May and June of 2020, Cuccinelli met with Murphy and expressly told him to modify the section on white supremacy to make the threat seem less severe. When Murphy refused to alter the underlying data and intelligence in the HTA, Wolf ordered that the HTA be revised by the policy office. According to the complaint, the final HTA that was released without Murphy’s consultation made more reference to ANTIFA and anarchist groups than the original intelligence report made by the Office of Intelligence & Analysis.

3) Russian Interference Assessments

As part of its reports before Congress, the DHS was tasked with analyzing Russian interference in the 2016 elections. In May of 2020, current DHS Secretary Wolf instructed Murphy to stop providing intelligence assessments on Russian interference and to report on activities by China and Iran instead. Again, Murphy refused to alter or omit the assessments and stated that doing so would be a danger to the country. After his conversation with Wolf, Murphy raised concerns to other officials about the DHS willfully withholding intelligence information from Congress. According to the complaint, on July 8, 2020, Wolf met with Murphy and stated that he should hold his assessment because it “made the President look bad.” When Murphy refused, he was excluded from future meetings on the subject of Russian misinformation and interference. On August 1, 2020, Murphy was reassigned to the DHS Management Division and was demoted from serving as Secretary and Principal Deputy Under Secretary at the DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis.

The whistleblower complaint has been filed with the Senate and House Committees on Intelligence and Homeland Security, and the House Intelligence Committee has asked Murphy to testify later in the month.

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