Texas Department of Public Safety officials are asking questions following a report that Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council member Mohamed Elibiary may have been given access to a sensitive database of state and local intelligence reports, and then allegedly shopped some of those materials to a media outlet. He allegedly used the documents to claim the department was promoting “Islamophobia” — claims that the media outlet ultimately rejected. They declined to do the story.
Earlier today, I received confirmation from a left-leaning media outlet that Elibiary had recently approached them asking to do a story attacking Texas DPS:
Yes, he approached us and gave us some reports marked FOUO [For Official Use Only] that he said showed a pattern of Islamophobia at the department. He emphasized that some of the regional fusion centers were shut down a few years ago after the ACLU complained that they were targeting Muslim civil rights groups and said that this was being directed by [Texas Gov.] Rick Perry.
We looked at the reports and they weren’t as he had billed them to us. They seem to be pretty straightforward, nothing remotely resembling Islamophobia that we saw. I think he was hoping we would bite and not give it too much of a look in light of the other media outfits jumping on the Islamophobia bandwagon.
I asked if there was any sense of his possible motivation:
Oh, self-promotion definitely. It was clear up front that he wanted to be a quoted source in the story. We’ve used him as an unnamed source in previous stories. There’s nothing unusual or unseemly about that because officials do it all the time, but this was the first time he approached us with documents. Honestly, if they had been what he represented them as we would have probably run with the story. But we looked at them and saw this was a partisan hatchet job that could blow back on us so we passed on it.
In light of these allegations, I spoke today with Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw. He confirmed that Elibiary has access to the Homeland Security State and Local Intelligence Community of Interest (HS SLIC) database, which contains hundreds of thousands of intelligence reports and products that are intended for intelligence sharing between law enforcement agencies.
(Full disclosure: I gave a briefing in April 2010 to the TX DPS on historical terror incidents and terror connections to Texas. I’ve also been critical of Elibiary’s involvement with DHS considering his past extremist statements and activities.)