Department of Homeland Security violated federal rules
LA TimesA review found that the analysis had violated internal intelligence guidelines that protect civil liberties and govern the collection and retention of information on the Nation of Islam and other "U.S. persons," a supervisory official wrote. "The intelligence note on the Nation of Islam should not have been written," the official wrote. "The organization -- despite its highly volatile and extreme rhetoric -- has neither advocated violence nor engaged in violence."
In Washington, DC, the Department of Homeland Security has recalled an intelligence analysis issued in 2007 about the Nation of Islam.
It was decided that the document dealing with the black Muslim group broke federal rules on the gathering of intelligence activity , officials said Wednesday.
An internal review by intelligence chiefs ruled that analysts had "unintentionally and inadvertently" violated rules governing the collection, retention and distribution of information concerning "U.S. persons and organizations."
Yesterday's New York Times ran a piece about the many reports destroyed by the internal review conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, including ones conducted on pro and anti abortion marches, and other political marches. The department is striving to protect American civil liberties, and must keep refining its perspective on groups' posing of domestic terror threats.
If an organization has not shown violence during an 180 day review, it must be removed from the list, the Times reported.
The error took place during the George W. Bush administration, and steps have been taken to ensure it does not happen again, a Homeland Security spokesman said.
"DHS has implemented a strong and rigorous system of safeguards and oversight to ensure similar products are neither created nor distributed," spokesman Matthew Chandler said. "DHS is fully committed to securing the nation from terrorist attacks and other threats, and we take very seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people while fulfilling this mission."
The analysis under scrutiny, known as an intelligence note, was prepared in October 2007 by Homeland Security's office of intelligence and analysis, according to department officials and the documents, which were released Wednesday by the Obama administration in response to freedom of information lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy and civil liberties group.
The office helps coordinate intelligence between federal agencies -- principally the FBI -- and state and city law enforcement. Intelligence personnel in that office routinely write analyses based on information gathered by other agencies but do not work in the field, officials said.
The 2007 note was titled "Nation of Islam: Uncertain Leadership Succession Poses Risk," according to a Homeland Security report.
At the time, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan had ceded control to an executive board and gone into seclusion to recover from complications of prostate cancer treatment. He has remained active in the organization, although his exact role is unclear.
Nation of Islam officials did not return calls for comment.
The intelligence note was distributed by e-mail to 482 recipients -- including federal intelligence officials, congressional staff and "at least one state government entity and one educational institution," a Homeland Security report said without naming them.