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Jason Leopold Exclusive: Top DHS Officials Went Ballistic Over Rolling Stone Contributor Michael Hastings’ OWS Report, Internal Emails Show

A Freedom of Information Act request investigative reporter Jason Leopold filed uncovered this:

Senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials debated whether they should pressure award-winning reporter Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings to “pull down” a report he published on the magazine’s web site about the agency’s role in monitoring Occupy Wall Street (OWS), claiming it was riddled with “inaccuracies,”according to hundreds of pages of internal DHS emails related to OWS Truthout obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we filed last October.

But it wasn’t Hastings’ February 28 report that was incorrect. Rather, it was an unauthorized five-page internal report prepared last October by DHS employees, who acted “outside the scope of their authority” and violated “privacy standards,” according to the emails, about the potential threat posed by OWS that was flawed. The internal report strongly suggested DHS had been mining social media, such as OWS’s Twitter feeds, for intelligence on the protest movement.

That document, which Hastings had accurately represented in his story, formed the basis for his Rolling Stone exclusive. It was found in more than 5 million hacked emails from private intelligence firm Stratfor that Wikileaks released earlier this year. Hastings obtained the internal report from WikiLeaks, which entered into an investigative partnership with Rolling Stone.

It was Hastings’ characterization of the internal report that struck a nerve with top officials at DHS, who spent two days discussing how they should publicly respond to it, according to the heavily redacted emails.

Robert Davis, a former USA Today reporter who left the news business in 2008 to work for DHS in its Office of External Affairs, proposed issuing a statement in response to Hastings’ report.

“Rolling Stone has posted a blog with a link to a document with the DHS seal and NPPD/IP [National Protection and Programs Directorate/Infrastructure Program] markings that was posted to HSIN [DHS’s Homeland Security Information Network] without approval. Here is the draft statement I would like to send to PA [office of public affairs] asap,” Davis said in a February 28 email he sent to senior DHS officials after Hastings’ story went live.

Much more from the emails over at Truthout.