In 2018, President Donald Trump was seeking to jettison the landmark nuclear deal that his predecessor had signed with Iran in 2015, and he was looking for ways to win over a skeptical press. In response, the White House passed along an article published in Forbes by a writer named Heshmat Alavi. There’s a problem, though: Heshmat Alavi appears not to exist. Alavi’s persona is a propaganda operation run by the Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e-Khalq, which is known by the initials MEK, two sources told The Intercept.
In an agency-wide directive sent to DHS staff early Wednesday afternoon, the IG’s office wrote, “All agency personnel must preserve any document that contains information that is potentially relevant to OIG’s investigation, or that might reasonably lead to the discovery of relevant information relating to the implementation of this Executive Order. For the duration of this hold, any relevant information that is within your possession or control must be preserved in the exact form as it currently exists.”
As the Obama administration prepares to hand-off its vast, opaque institutions of surveillance and covert warfare to Donald Trump, many have begun to worry anew about these powers. The new president-elect and his cabinet will have unprecedented power to conduct secret wars and assassinations around the globe, thanks in part to programs bequeathed to him by his liberal predecessor. The aggressive posture that Obama took towards whistleblowers also sets a precedent for Trump to step-up attacks against those inside the government who dare to shed light on such programs.