— The Erimtan Angle —

On Tuesday, 5 August 2014, RT reported that the ‘United States government has concluded that a new leaker has been supplying members of the media with classified documents, CNN reported on Tuesday [, 5 August]. Earlier that day, The Intercept published a new article based off of disclosures provided to them by an unnamed source pertaining to the US government’s use of watchlists to monitor known and suspected terrorists. Previously, The Intercept has worked closely with top-secret National Security Agency documents admittedly provided to journalists by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA. Tuesday’s leak, however, is of a document dated August 2013 — weeks after Snowden chose to identify himself as the source of the NSA leak and had already arrived in Moscow where he later received asylum and remains today”.[1]

On The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux disclose that these “documents, obtained from a source in the intelligence community, also reveal that the Obama Administration has presided over an unprecedented expansion of the terrorist screening system. Since taking office, Obama has boosted the number of people on the no fly list more than ten-fold, to an all-time high of 47,000—surpassing the number of people barred from flying under George W. Bush”.[2]

 

RT summarizes that “[a]ccording to the journalists’ report, more than 40 percent of the 680,000 individuals listed in the US Terrorist Screening Database shared with local police agencies, contractors and governments around the globe — or around 280,000 people — have ‘no recognized terrorist group affiliation’. Additionally, the documents reveal that the number of people barred from flying in the US — entrees on the infamous ‘no-fly list’ — has increased by 10-times since President Barack Obama entered the White House in 2009 to a total of around 47,000 . . . Tuesday’s Intercept story contains a trove of previously unreported details concerning the administering of federal watchlists and its massive expansion under the Obama administration. As of 2013, the website reported, the main terrorism database operated by the US contains more than 860,000 biometric files on 144,000 people, who are but a sliver of the 680,000 individuals on the lists”.[3]

Scahill and Devereaux, for their part, explain that the “classified documents were prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center, the lead agency for tracking individuals with suspected links to international terrorism. Stamped “SECRET” and “NOFORN” (indicating they are not to be shared with foreign governments), they offer the most complete numerical picture of the watchlisting system to date. Among the revelations:

  • The second-highest concentration of people designated as ‘known or suspected terrorists’ by the government is in Dearborn, Mich.—a city of 96,000 that has the largest percentage of Arab-American residents in the country.
  • The government adds names to its databases, or adds information on existing subjects, at a rate of 900 records each day.
  • The CIA uses a previously unknown program, code-named Hydra, to secretly access databases maintained by foreign countries and extract data to add to the watchlists”.

Going on to say that a “U.S. counterterrorism official familiar with watchlisting data told The Intercept that as of November 2013, there were approximately 700,000 people in the Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, but declined to provide the current numbers. Last month, the Associated Press, citing federal court filings by government lawyers, reported that there have been 1.5 million names added to the watchlist over the past five years. The government official told The Intercept that was a misinterpretation of the data. ‘The list has grown somewhat since that time, but is nowhere near the 1.5 million figure cited in recent news reports’, he said. He added that the statistics cited by the Associated Press do not just include nominations of individuals, but also bits of intelligence or biographical information obtained on watchlisted persons”.[4]

17 Jan 2014

 

 

[1] “US officials: New leaker compromised national security documents after Snowden” RT (05 August 2014). http://rt.com/usa/178232-us-national-security-leaker-snowden/.

[2] Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, “Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers” The Intercept (05 August 2014). https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/08/05/watch-commander/.

[3] “US officials: New leaker compromised national security documents after Snowden”.

[4] Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, “Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers”.

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