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Chairman Nadler Calls for DOJ IG to Investigate FBI Surveillance Operations Against Protestors in Portland

Washington, D.C. - Following reports that FBI agents infiltrated protests in Portland, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sent a letter to Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) Michael E. Horowitz requesting that an examination of these surveillance practices be included in the IG's ongoing review of use of force by federal law enforcement against Americans exercising their right to peaceably assemble.

Full text of the letter can be found below and here

December 23, 2021

The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz

Inspector General

Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Inspector General Horowitz:

Last year, I wrote to you to request that you investigate the use of force by federal law enforcement against Americans exercising their right to peaceably assemble.  You undertook that investigation without delay, and I understand the work is ongoing.  Because of recent, troubling reports, I write today to request that your review include an examination into the surveillance practices of certain federal agencies during the national protest activity that began in May 2020 and continues to this day.

According to December 22, 2021 reports, agents of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation infiltrated First Amendment protected protests in Portland, Oregon.  The FBI, according to sources, “set up extensive surveillance operations inside Portland’s protest movement…with agents standing shoulder to shoulder with activists.”  This surveillance operation allegedly included agents from both FBI and DHS and involved plainclothes law enforcement dressing in all-black to match protesters and infiltrate the crowd.

I ask that your office, as part of its review initiated by the July 19, 2020 letter, request instances in which federal law enforcement used tactics like these to surveil citizens engaged in First Amendment protected activity from May 2020 to the present.  I request you identify and review the locations where these and similar surveillance efforts took place; and the length, breadth, and scope of these operations.  I also ask that you review the authorizing processes within the Department of Justice that allow such operations to take place—including a review of whether the political motivations of a particular protest impact federal law enforcement’s response.  Finally, I ask that you examine what actions law enforcement took during these surveillance operations, including but not limited to assistance with arrests, video footage, and intelligence gathering.

I look forward to seeing the results of your investigation into the use of force and surveillance operations against Americans engaging in peaceful protests.  I thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.

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