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DHS official whose office compiled ‘intelligence reports’ on journalists and protesters has been removed from his job

Federal agents clash with protesters near the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 22.
Federal agents clash with protesters near the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 22.Mason Trinca/NYT

WASHINGTON — A senior Department of Homeland Security official whose office compiled ‘‘intelligence reports’’ about journalists and protesters in Portland, Ore., has been removed from his job, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Brian Murphy, acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, was reassigned to a position elsewhere in the department, the people said, on condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter.

Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf made the decision on Friday, one said.

Murphy’s removal follows revelations in The Washington Post that the Intelligence and Analysis Office (I&A) at DHS compiled Open Source Intelligence Reports about the work of two journalists who had published leaked department documents. In a separate intelligence report, the office also analyzed the communications of protesters in Portland.


Wolf ordered I&A to stop collecting information on journalists after The Post article was published on Thursday.

Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Saturday that he was concerned Murphy ‘‘may have provided incomplete and potentially misleading information to Committee staff’’ during a recent briefing about the office’s activities in Portland. Following reports, including in the Post, that DHS had expanded some of its authorities to monitor protesters, the committee had demanded a range of documents and information. ‘‘We will be expanding our oversight even further in the coming days,’’ Schiff said in a statement.

Murphy had previously told staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee his office did not collect, analyze, or exploit information on the electronic devices or accounts of protesters. On Friday, Democratic senators sent Murphy a letter asking him to confirm that was true.

Murphy is a former FBI agent who worked on the bureau’s efforts to combat radicalization. Current and former colleagues have described him as hard-charging and driven and said he has a history of defying managers and bosses.