HomeNewsTexas National Guard 'SCRAPS intelligence wing after members infiltrated a private WhatsApp...

Texas National Guard ‘SCRAPS intelligence wing after members infiltrated a private WhatsApp group to SPY on migrants’


The Texas National Guard has reportedly disbanded its intelligence wing after members used a popular messaging app to spy on migrants, according to an investigation by Military Times and the Texas Tribune.

A Texas Military Department investigation reportedly uncovered the misdeeds – and found at least four officers working on Gov. Abbott’s taskforce infiltrated migrants’ WhatsApp logs and shared their findings with federal agents.

Wary Homeland Security officials, however, ultimately rejected their efforts, investigators reportedly found – on the basis that the two-year-old task force was not an intelligence agency. 

The team, known as Operation Lone Star, served as Abbott’s state-sponsored attempt at stopping illegal immigration, and had been presided over by both the Texas Military Department the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The state had already spent $4.5 billion over the past two years stationing the groups at the Southern border, and the disbandment of the intelligence directorate comes at a time where several have slammed Abbot’s venture as a financial failure. 

The probe and alleged disbandment was first reported Tuesday by The Texas Tribune and The Military Times, who spoke to servicemen who said leaders of the taskforce treated it like the army, and demanded military-level intelligence as a result.

The Texas National Guard has reportedly disbanded its intelligence wing after members used a popular messaging app to spy on migrants

The Texas National Guard has reportedly disbanded its intelligence wing after members used a popular messaging app to spy on migrants

At least four officers working on Gov. Abbott's taskforce infiltrated migrants' WhatsApp logs and shared their findings with federal agents, the state's military watchdog reportedly found

At least four officers working on Gov. Abbott’s taskforce infiltrated migrants’ WhatsApp logs and shared their findings with federal agents, the state’s military watchdog reportedly found

‘Everyone [in charge] wanted to pretend it was like Iraq in 2003,’ one servicemember told the publications, who cooperated on a piece about the new development. 

‘They wanted to do Army stuff, even though this is [legally] not Army stuff,’ the anonymous official added.

According to the report, at least four intelligence officers faced disciplinary action because of their alleged behavior – which the publications said was actually uncovered nearly a year ago, in September 2022, but is only now being set out.

The Texas Military Department – the state’s security watchdog – reportedly told the outlets it concluded its investigation in September 2022, but is still waiting to release its report and ‘finalize’ discipline until leaders receive it.

While only four were said have faced interim discipline from administrators in the meantime, six in total were claimed to have taken part in the debacle – turning over a list of names of prospective migrants at a February 2022 meeting.

Those names, investigators reportedly said, were compiled after the agents secretly infiltrated invite-only WhatsApp groups to spy on asylum seekers and track their movements.

Lt. Col. David Tyler, the leader the intelligence wing from December 2021 to fall 2022 and one of the four said to have already faced internal discipline, told the outlets that ‘all the Generals wanted to know about the next mass migration.’

The pulled team, known as Operation Lone Star, served as Abbott's state-sponsored attempt at stopping illegal immigration, and had been presided over by both the Texas Military Department the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The pulled team, known as Operation Lone Star, served as Abbott’s state-sponsored attempt at stopping illegal immigration, and had been presided over by both the Texas Military Department the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The state had already spent $4.5 billion over the past two years stationing the groups at the Southern border, and the disbandment of the intelligence directorate comes at a time where several have slammed Abbot's venture as a financial failure.

The state had already spent $4.5 billion over the past two years stationing the groups at the Southern border, and the disbandment of the intelligence directorate comes at a time where several have slammed Abbot’s venture as a financial failure.

The probe and alleged disbandment was first reported by The Texas Tribune and The Military Times, who spoke to servicemen who said leaders of the taskforce treated it like the army, and demanded military-level intelligence as a result

The probe and alleged disbandment was first reported by The Texas Tribune and The Military Times, who spoke to servicemen who said leaders of the taskforce treated it like the army, and demanded military-level intelligence as a result

The report suggests that leaders such as Tyler were pressured to violate intel rules by their seniors, who are said to have regularly demanded military-level intelligence from officers like himself who did not have the authority to provide it.

Maj. Dezi J. Rios, the intelligence wing’s deputy director who was also reportedly disciplined, allegedly oversaw the WhatsApp collection operation, while Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric E. Hack led members of its El Paso faction on an alleged operation that shared classified FBI intelligence. 

Also named in the report was then-1st Lt. Emmanuel L. Pierre, a military intelligence officer from a subordinate unit who allegedly began the WhatsApp surveillance about a month before Rios arrived at the border it early 2021.

It’s unclear what the officers’ exact punishment is, or whether other officials are set to face discipline as well. Also unclear is the prospective timeframe for when The Texas Military Department plans to release the potentially damning report.

In the meantime, leaders are said to have already reorganized and disbanded the intelligence unit, folding the remaining personnel into the mission’s operations section. 

The alleged spying, if true, would violate laws that bar state-run agencies from collecting intelligence themselves, and could leave egg on the face of the mastermind behind the operation – the state’s outspoken governor.

The Texas Military Department - the state's security watchdog - reportedly told the outlets it concluded its investigation in 2022, but is still waiting to release its report and 'finalize' discipline. Major General Thomas Suelzer of the department is seen showing a picture of floating barriers after Abbott (not shown) signed several bills to strengthen border security

The Texas Military Department – the state’s security watchdog – reportedly told the outlets it concluded its investigation in 2022, but is still waiting to release its report and ‘finalize’ discipline. Major General Thomas Suelzer of the department is seen showing a picture of floating barriers after Abbott (not shown) signed several bills to strengthen border security

The alleged spying, if true, would violate laws that bar state-run agencies from collecting intelligence themselves, and could leave egg on the face of the mastermind behind the operation - the state's outspoken governor

The alleged spying, if true, would violate laws that bar state-run agencies from collecting intelligence themselves, and could leave egg on the face of the mastermind behind the operation – the state’s outspoken governor

Operation Lone Star was launched by Abbott in 2021, who at the time billed it as a necessity to battle ‘this unparalleled catastrophe caused by President (Joe) Biden.’

Since its launch,  there’s been no evidence of a significant slowdown in illegal crossings, despite expensive measures like the installation of razor wire, empty shipping containers on the north side of the Rio Grande and recently deployed a 1,000-foot-long string of buoys just south of Eagle Pass. 

Meanwhile, as billions of taxpayer dollars continue to be funneled into the controversial program, those at the helm have repeatedly found themselves embroiled in controversy.

Recently, claims surfaced from guardsman working for the task force that they were being ordered to push crossing migrants back into the notoriously tumultuous Rio Grande, and to deny water to those who made it across.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador recently slammed those alleged orders as inhumane.

‘We called the shift officer in command, and we were given orders to push the people back into the water to go to Mexico,’ a whistleblower told the Tribune. 

‘We decided that this was not the correct thing to do, with the very real potential of exhausted people drowning.’

At the moment, the operation is also facing a Department of Justice probe for possibly violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and one of its frontline officers is facing charges for selling pieces of protective gear he was issued for the initiative.

Slamming it as a financial failure and threat to the lives of migrants, a coalition of activist renewed their demands for Abbott to end the operation as recently as Tuesday, congregating at a section of the border by Eagle Pass to do so. 

‘It’s wasted money,’ said Juanita Martinez, a member of the board of directors of the Eagle Pass Border Coalition.

‘What could they spend the money on besides this political stunt that Abbott is carrying out here?’ 

She continued: ‘Eagle Pass is a beautiful town. We are not under attack by immigrants, we are not in danger. We are fine. We want Abbott out of here. We want the concertina wire to be gone.’

Abbott’s office, meanwhile, has yet to issue a statement on the contents of the Tribune’s and Time’s joint report. DailyMail.com has reached out to the Texas National Guard for comment.



Source

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments

+++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++