Details of DHS’ Media Monitoring Capability program revealed
A newly obtained document released under the Freedom of Information Act confirms that the Department of Homeland Security keeps tabs on the Drudge Report as part of its media monitoring program.
Image: DHS Logo (Wiki Commons).
According to the document, the function of the DHS’ Media Monitoring Capability (MMC) desk is to track news websites and social media in order to gather critical information, “during normal operations, crises and extraordinary events.”
“It is essential to monitor the media’s storylines and integrate their focus into the Department’s situational awareness and operations analytical process,” states the document, adding that such work is necessary in shaping “public statements” made by the DHS.
The program also serves to monitor stories about Homeland Security itself, although analysts are directed not to focus on public reaction to DHS policies like long TSA wait lines.
“Your tweets and Facebook posts and other social media discussions are being monitored by the Department of Homeland Security,” writes investigative journalist Jason Leopold, who obtained the document.
According to the document, the program treats mainstream news sources such as BBC, AP, Reuters and U.S. television networks as “first tier” platforms that do not require additional corroboration.
Included on a list of “other sources,” ones that need to be verified by a first tier source before being circulated to DHS fusion centers, is Drudge Report.com, along with NationalTerrorAlert.com, DisasterNews.net, Opensourceintelligence.org, Homelandsecurityleader.com and HomelandSecurityToday.com.
The inclusion of the Drudge Report is interesting due to the site’s well known policy of carrying links to articles that are heavily critical of the federal agency, particularly the TSA, on a regular basis.
In 2012, the TSA admitted that at least 9 pages of its internal documents contained references to to the Drudge Report as well as other terms such as “Matt Drudge”, “Alex Jones”, “PrisonPlanet.com”, “John Tyner”, “national opt-out day”, “Opt-Out Alliance” and “domestic extremists.”
Former Congressman Bob Barr’s Liberty Guard organization filed a lawsuit against the TSA after the federal agency refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request that sought to discover whether or not the TSA temporarily amended its security policies for political reasons during the height of the national opt out day protest in late 2010, a campaign that was afforded significant attention by the Drudge Report.
In July last year, the Pentagon announced that it could no longer “hide our bad news stories” precisely because of websites like the Drudge Report.
“When bad things happen, the American people should hear it from us, not as a scoop on the Drudge Report,” said George Little, the Secretary of Defense for Public Affair.