Watchdog: Federal anti-terror unit investigated journalists | World News

A special Customs and Border Protection unit used sensitive government databases intended to track terrorists to investigate as many as 20 U.S.-based journalists, including a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press reporter, according to a federal watchdog.

Yahoo News, which published an extensive report on the investigation, also found that the unit, the Counter Network Division, queried records of congressional staffers and perhaps members of Congress.

Jeffrey Rambo, an agent who acknowledged running checks on journalists in 2017, told federal investigators the practice is routine.

“When a name comes across your desk you run it through every system you have access too, that’s just status quo, that’s what everyone does,” Rambo was quoted by Yahoo News as saying.

AP obtained a redacted copy of a more than 500-page report by the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general that included the same statement, but with the speaker’s name blacked out.

The border protection agency is part of Department of Homeland Security.

The revelations raised alarm in news organisations and prompted a demand for a full explanation.

“We are deeply concerned about this apparent abuse of power. This appears to be an example of journalists being targeted for simply doing their jobs, which is a violation of the First Amendment,” Lauren Easton, AP’s director of media relations, said in a statement.

In its own statement, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) did not specifically address the investigation.

“CBP vetting and investigatory operations, including those conducted by the Counter Network Division, are strictly governed by well-established protocols and best practices. CBP does not investigate individuals without a legitimate and legal basis to do so.”

An employee at Rambo’s Storymakers Coffee Roasters, a small storefront in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighbourhood, said Saturday that Rambo was not immediately available to comment.

Rambo lives in San Diego.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at [email protected] or [email protected]

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*