The U.S. government created a secret database of journalists, activists, and social media influencers working with or covering a migrant caravan that traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border last year, according to documents leaked to a San Diego television station.
Agents from Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and some agents from the FBI in San Diego were using a SharePoint application under "Operation Secure Line," which monitored the migrant caravan, reports NBC affiliate KNSD (NBC 7) in San Diego, citing documents provided by an unnamed source within the Department of Homeland Security.
Documents revealed people who officials thought should be targeted at the border, including 10 journalists, of which seven are U.S. citizens. They also listed a lawyer from the U.S. and 47 other people from the U.S. and other countries.
Dossiers were created that included a photograph from either a passport or social media and personal information, including their birthday, their "country of commencement" and their role with the caravan.
Some freelance journalists had alerts placed on their passports and were flagged for secondary screenings at customs points, KNSD's source said.
The program contains a logo with the U.S. and Mexican flags and a banner reading "ILU-OASSIS-OMEGA," indicating they were a product of the International Liaison Unit coordinating intelligence between the two countries.
CBP told NBC News that the database was of names of people who were present when violence broke out at the border in November, and journalists are being tracked so the agency can learn more about the violence. However, the San Diego affiliate said the CBP did not clarify that point directly to them.
CPB told The Associated Press that extra security followed a breach of a border wall in San Diego on Nov. 25 in a violent confrontation between caravan members and border agents. The confrontation closed the nation's busiest border crossing for five hours on Thanksgiving weekend.
Such "criminal events...involving assaults on law enforcement and a risk to public safety, are routinely monitored and investigated by authorities," the statement said.
"It is protocol following these incidents to collect evidence that might be needed for future legal actions and to determine if the event was orchestrated."
The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the operation.
"This is an outrageous violation of the First Amendment," attorney Esha Bhandari said. "The government cannot use the pretext of the border to target activists critical of its policies, lawyers providing legal representation, or journalists simply doing their jobs.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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