July 30, 2020

Wyden Opposes Trump Nominee to National Counterterrorism Center

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., opposed the nomination of Christopher Miller to be director of the National Counterterrorism Center, after Miller failed to meaningfully respond to concerns about the federal occupation of downtown Portland that has caused escalating chaos and violation of Oregonians’ constitutional rights.

Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement after the committee yesterday voted to advance Miller’s nomination to the full Senate:

“I oppose the nomination of Christopher Miller to be Director of the National Counterterrorism Center because of his refusal to adequately address my concerns about the creeping role of the Intelligence Community in supporting abusive, militarized and unconstitutional operations in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. It is already the case that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, which is a member of the Intelligence Community, has become involved, undermining almost a half century of reforms designed to keep the IC away from Americans exercising their First Amendment rights.

“The involvement of the National Counterterrorism Center would constitute another unacceptable step backward. In his responses to written questions, Mr. Miller stated that NCTC provides support to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security ‘on purely domestic terrorism issues when assistance is requested.’ Given Donald Trump’s statements attributing instances of violence and property damage to ‘acts of domestic terror,’ I sought assurances that Mr. Miller would exercise independent judgment if asked to lend the vast capabilities and broad authorities of the NCTC in support of Donald Trump’s vendetta against the protest movement. I asked him, therefore, how NCTC would prioritize its responses to requests from the FBI and DHS related to domestic terrorism. He responded that ‘FBI and DHS set the priorities’ and that NCTC would provide assistance ‘commensurate with the threat to the homeland, and in line with the President’s overall national intelligence and counterterrorism priorities.’ 

“The abuses taking place in Portland demonstrate that federal officials must not defer to Donald Trump or to Homeland Security and other federal officials bent on sacrificing the rights of Americans in order to concoct politicized national security crises. The Intelligence Community in particular has an obligation to stay out of politics and avoid all activities that may affect the constitutional rights of many thousands of law-abiding Americans. It is my hope that Mr. Miller, should he be confirmed, will resist pressure to involve NCTC in the administration’s dangerous agenda in Portland and other cities where Americans are protesting against racism and police abuses. It is my hope that Mr. Miller will speak truth to power. But I do not yet have confidence that he will and therefore must oppose his confirmation.”