Where there is good journalism, there will be scoops
As of 12:45 pm today, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux published a new in-depth piece at The Intercept called "Watch Commander: Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers" examining the government’s Terrorist Screening Database, as discovered in classified documents the news outlet obtained. The article breaks down the system piece by piece, with startling observations from classified documents.
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.
Even if you don’t live in Dearborn, you should be concerned.
…officials don’t need “concrete facts” or “irrefutable evidence” to secretly place someone on the list—only a vague and elastic standard of “reasonable suspicion.
According to information from the documents, during the Obama administration, there are more people in the TIDE (Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment) than ever before (an even bigger system with an even lower bar for making the list), there are 47,000 people on the government’s “No Fly” list, as well as a disproportionate about of suspects on the watchlist based on their assumed terrorist group affiliation (see above pie chart). Which is skewed, because the estimated size of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, for example, is significantly smaller than the amount of people on the AQI watchlist:
If this information doesn’t make you want to put on a tinfoil hat and anti-surveillance coat and go off the grid for a while, on top of all of that, the story itself was scooped by a government agency and handed to the AP. The AP story in question, written by Eileen Sullivan, came out just minutes before the Intercept piece.
The government, it turned out, had “spoiled the scoop,” an informally forbidden practice in the world of journalism. To spoil a scoop, the subject of a story, when asked for comment, tips off a different, typically friendlier outlet in the hopes of diminishing the attention the first outlet would have received. Tuesday’s AP story was much friendlier to the government’s position, explaining the surge of individuals added to the watch list as an ongoing response to a foiled terror plot.
As Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told The Intercept,
We’re getting into Minority Report territory when being friends with the wrong person can mean the government puts you in a database and adds DMV photos, iris scans, and face recognition technology to track you secretly and without your knowledge.
TLDNR; We’re probably all on a secret watchlist. And as soon as we find out we are, the government will know we know.
Images: Chart via The Intercept ”Who’s on the watchlist?” that breaks down the list by affiliated terrorist group, and screenshot from Ryan Devereaux’s Twitter.
Who’s with me?
— (via lasecondevie)
The Three Swords Monument, Norway
This monument commemorates the Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872, after which King Harald Fair Hair united the three districts of Norway into one kingdom.The crowns on the swords represent the different districts which took part in the battle.
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By Joe Hughes
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