The Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence branch is “collecting and reporting on various activities in the context of elevated threats targeting monuments, memorials, and statues,” according to an unclassified internal memo obtained by Lawfare.
The undated memo was issued shortly after President Trump issued an executive order against vandalizing federal monuments on June 26.
The memo also refers to threats against statues and monuments as a “significant threat to homeland security.”
However, according to the DHS document, the agency is also watching out for statues and monuments, regardless of whether they are federally owned or not, including Confederate ones.
During an interview with CNN, DHS official Ken Cuccinelli indicated this intelligence gathering has played a part in the escalation in federal law enforcement activities in Portland.
“We got intelligence about planned attacks on federal facilities,” Cuccinelli said. “If we get the same kind of intelligence in other places about threats to other facilities or officers, we would respond the same way.”
According to Lawfare, the surveillance is mostly being conducted via collecting social media posts of protesters, however the DHS has authorized its personnel to “engage in physical surveillance” and “the use of monitoring devices” even if the people or protests being monitored have no connection to property damage.
The memo also gives guidance to distribute information gathered to local law enforcement to protect statues and monuments.
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