Internal DHS Review Finds Anti-Trump Whistleblower Brian Murphy Created ‘Toxic Atmosphere’

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal review released on Friday found that Brian Murphy, an anti-Trump administration whistleblower, created a “toxic atmosphere” at the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis as a result of “his demeaning, dismissive, and degrading treatment of employees.”
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A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal review released on Friday found that Brian Murphy, an anti-Trump administration whistleblower, created a “toxic atmosphere” at the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis as a result of “his demeaning, dismissive, and degrading treatment of employees.”

The internal review, dated January 6, was released on Friday to Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR), per his office’s request. The review was released to the public on Friday, but portions pertaining to Murphy’s leadership had been redacted. Breitbart News obtained an unredacted copy of the report.

An unreacted portion of the review stated, “Based on our review of documentation, communications, and scores of interviews, it is clear that Mr. Murphy created a toxic work environment at I&A.”

It said Murphy “regularly interacted with I&A personnel by criticizing and haranguing subordinates and junior analysts in public (euphemistically referred to as getting ‘Murphed’), refusing to listen to counter viewpoints, abruptly making decisions and ignoring data that did not comport with his perceived analysis.”

One interviewee said, “Brian had an outstanding analytic mind and great intellect, but as a leader he was piss poor with zero people skills. His leadership style was to execute in public and crush dissent. As such, folks were not willing to raise their head above their foxhole. From my perspective, the fear factor ran rampant in I&A.”

“Accounts of Mr. Murphy as a toxic, intimidating and retaliatory leader are extremely concerning. They are inappropriate for any member of the senior executive service, and in particular one who supervises an organization of over 600 employees,” the review said.

The review was ordered in July 2020 by then-Trump Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, after a report that said DHS’s I&A office had included summaries of tweets by two journalists in its intelligence products on protests taking place in Portland at the time. The tweets were from New York Times and Lawfare reporters. The summaries of the tweets were viewed as U.S. government domestic intelligence collection on journalists. Wolf also directed I&A to cease identifying members of the media in its intelligence products.

Murphy was head of the I&A unit at the time and was reassigned shortly after the story broke.

About a month later, Murphy filed a whistleblower complaint claiming the Trump administration tried to censor or manipulate intelligence for political reasons.

He claimed the Trump administration wanted to hide intelligence that showed Russia supported Trump’s reelection in 2020, not talk about intelligence on white supremacy, and manipulate statistics about terrorist entries along the U.S.’s southern border. Murphy accused then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; Wolf, who was then-under secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans; and then-Acting Acting DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli of trying to manipulate intelligence reports to align with the former president’s political message. DHS and White House officials called his allegations false and specious.

DHS’s internal review found that there was “no evidence of politicization (roughly ‘write this analysis this way to support this political assertion’) by anyone in the I&A chain of command or DHS Secretary’s office.”

However, it said Murphy directing collectors and analysts to use the term “Violent Antifa Anarchists Inspired” (VAAI) may have adversely colored finished intelligence products over time.

The review also found that the I&A workforce at the time included “untrained, inexperienced” collectors of intelligence without sufficient supervision due to staff shortages and other issues at the time, which led to the inclusion of the summary of journalists’ tweets in the unit’s products known as Open Source Intelligence Reports (OSIRs).

The review also said pressure from Murphy contributed to the staff’s publishing of the tweets in the OSIRs.

It said Murphy was concerned about leaks and had ordered his staff to report all leaks to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“One individual described Mr. Murphy as ‘preoccupied’ with the leaks. Every time the I&A front office became aware of a leak, information regarding the leak was captured and provided to the CSO and the DHS OIG, who were the entities authorized and responsible for investigating unauthorized disclosures. Mr. Murphy specifically provided standing directions to his staff to report all leaks to the OIG,” the review said.

In addition, I&A leadership was treating everything related to the unrest in Portland as urgent, which created an environment where a junior collector could wake a content manager to request that he immediately publish an OSIR regarding a leak. “No one questioned the need for immediate publication or pushed back,” it said, “This environment did not allow for normal procedures that could have prevented the publication of the OSIRs.”

The report concluded, “DHS leadership should strongly consider ensuring that Mr. Murphy not return to lead I&A in any capacity.”

Murphy appeared on ABC News’ This Week on September 26 and denied he ever directed the collection of intelligence on journalists. “At no time was I aware or directed anybody in my organization to collect information on journalists,” he said.

He claimed it was “intense” serving in the Trump administration and that it was “all about politics.” He said if former President Donald Trump ran again, it would be a “disaster,” claiming Trump “puts out disinformation and that’s an existential threat to democracy.”

Murphy’s last day at DHS was September 24.

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