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A New Security Designation Will Shield Border Agents From Scrutiny

A New Security Designation Will Shield Border Agents From Scrutiny
Jeff Edwards

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officially and quietly declared itself a federal “security agency” starting on February 1st of this year. The new designation for the Homeland Security agency will allow CBP officials to protect sensitive personnel information from public scrutiny.

In a January 31st internal memo first obtained by CNN, Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan announced the change to executive staff. The move is not anticipated to change the agency’s mission, but will instead allow the CBP to shield more rank-and-file federal workers in its employ from personnel disclosure requirements. Some CPB employees, including Border Patrol Agents were already protected under the “security agency” designation.

“Out of concern for the safety of our workforce, CBP leadership advocated for and recently received OPM’s [Office of Personnel Management] agreement to designate CBP as a Security Agency, protecting CBP employee’s information from OPM’s disclosure policy,” an agency spokesperson told CNN. “Previously, only CBP’s frontline law enforcement, investigative, or intelligence positions held this designation. The new designation protects the entirety of CBP’s workforce.”

The announcement references a Twitter account designated to doxxing CBP employees using publicly available information. The new security designation is framed as a way of protecting employees from similar malicious attempts to unfairly expose private information.

“This past summer, CBP and DHS became aware of a Twitter user posting employee information commonly found in the OPM Open Government releases of salary information for Federal Employees,” Acting Commissioner Morgan wrote. “The information posted on Twitter was considered by OPM to be public information, and is available through several Federal employee salary database search websites. This is but one of the many examples of where the disclosure of CBP employees’ information was harmful.”

Civil rights advocates, however, say the change in designation will also allow the CBP to redact critical documents available under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rules – especially in cases involving official misconduct. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) decried the “growing trend toward secrecy” among federal agencies charged with enforcing sometimes controversial immigration policies of the current White House administration.

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1 Comment

  1. Worldtime

    March 1, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    TSA needs to up their game. Flying from Hawaii they went through my checked bags and took my pills (I know I need to keep them in my carry on) and going through JFK they took a chocolate bar out of my checked bags. I propose when they put that piece of paper in your checked bag that has been searched that it have an employee number on it so we have some recourse about missing things. There should be no leeway for any TSA agent caught stealing. Too much of that going on.

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