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Dept. of Homeland Security's intel wing in crisis mode over travel ban

DHS intel crisis

WASHINGTON -- CBS News has learned that the intelligence arm of the Department of Homeland Security is now in crisis mode.

The Office of Intelligence and Analysis was originally tasked with producing an intel document tied to the Executive Order which temporarily instituted a travel ban on people from seven countries. But leaks caused the process to spill out into the public amid concerns the intelligence assessments were being tainted by politics.

Former and current government sources say DHS’s intelligence unit is splitting in two, and there is currently no way of resolving the standoff. The atmosphere has been described as toxic, and some of those involved are considering seeking whistleblower status or legal representation.

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The initial assessment found that citizenship was “likely an unreliable indicator of [the] terrorist threat to the United States.”

The document, which was leaked to the AP last week, also found that citizens of the seven countries impacted by the executive order were “rarely implicated in U.S. based terrorism.”

When it was leaked, DHS officials claimed that the document was not as thorough as they would have liked it to be, even though it had been prepared by experienced intelligence officers.

Plans were made, with the blessing of the White House, to draft another assessment with the help of other intelligence agencies. Some of the contributors to the original report refused to work on the final product because they were concerned that the process had been tainted by politics.

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With the White House preparing to re-introduce the travel ban Executive Order Wednesday, sources say the administration was seeking to bolster the order with intelligence documents pointing to the threat. But the original assessment was rejected by DHS officials.

On Tuesday, in response to questions about the discord in the intelligence unit, a spokesperson told CBS News, “DHS stands by its previous statements on the incomplete intelligence document.”

The spokesperson added, “This was an open source document deemed to be incomplete as an intelligence product by I&A leadership. Other federal law enforcement agencies did not concur with this product because classified and sensitive law enforcement information was needed to provide a complete intelligence assessment.”

The Office of Intelligence and Analysis serves both the federal government but also cities across the country. Its mission is to provide intelligence and information to keep the nation safe and secure. The disarray could have an effect on the intelligence information disseminated to agencies nationwide.

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