New Details on Government Watchlists Released by Second Leaker

Ben Swann

Last week reported on the latest intelligence leaks from The Intercept, asking Americans to consider the question, Are You on a Government Watchlist? This week we take a look at a new document that offers a more detailed look at how the government operates watchlists.

The previous leaks dealt with a 2013 document from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) which details the rules for placing individuals on terrorism watchlists, including the no fly list. The 166-page document covers two lists: the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), and the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). Chapters of the document include information on what triggers placement on the lists, and what type of information officials are to collect when encountering suspected individuals.

While that document details the vague and broad language used to ensnare individuals as possible terrorists, the latest leak covers another document from the NCTC: the Directorate of Terrorist Identities (DTI) Strategic Accomplishments 2013. DTI is a counterterrorism unit within the NCTC responsible for maintaining the TIDE. The document is essentially a highlight of what the NCTC deems as accomplishments by the DTI in their pursuit of counterterrorism goals.

As CNN has noted, the document could not have come from whistleblower Edward Snowden, as it is dated August 2013, after Snowden left for Russia. This indicates a second whistleblower. The Intercept referred to the leaker only as “a source in the intelligence community”.

Despite the fact that the process for placement on terrorism watchlists is notoriously ambiguous and subject to the governments discretion, the NCTC counts the addition of “one million persons” as a milestone. The document states:

“On June 28 2013, the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) passed a milestone of one million persons in TIDE. While NCTC’s  Directorate of Terrorist Identities (DTI) seeks to create only as many person records as are necessary for our nation’s counterterrorism mission, this number is a testament to DTI’s hard work over the past 2.5 years.”

Although the U.S. government would like the American public to believe there is a strict process for placing individuals on TIDE and the TSDB, and that only the worst offenders are placed under such scrutiny, the leaked document says otherwise.

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