U.S. News


Is Second Leaker Behind U.S. Terrorism Watchlist Story?

U.S. government officials believe a second leaker is behind Edward Snowden-style revelations on a terrorism watchlist containing 1 million names.
Posted at 12:08 AM, Aug 06, 2014

Is Edward Snowden the only one leaking classified government documents? U.S. officials are now saying no, following an extensive article that reveals information about a secret U.S. terrorism watchlist. (Via Getty Images)

The article, titled "Watch Commander," was published in investigative outlet The Intercept Wednesday afternoon. It includes information prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center about the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, which contains 1 million names of "known or suspected terrorists." 

The leaks sound a lot like some of the other revelations Snowden brought to light — except for one thing: "In that article, they cite documents from August 2013, which is after Snowden had already taken refuge in Russia." 

U.S. officials told CNN that fact leads them to believe there is a second leaker. So, who's behind this newly-released information? 

The identity of the leaker is unknown, but CNN points to the document's cover for clues: the header reads, "SECRET/NOFORN," which means, in part, it shouldn't be shared with foreign governments. CNN adds that's a lower level classification than the "Top Secret" documents leaked by Snowden. (Via National Counterterrorism Center)

But the information published in The Intercept gets into what one ACLU spokesperson called "Minority Report territory" as it details the scope of government surveillance of terrorist suspects and associates. Here are some of the takeaways: 

- Nearly 40 percent of the 680,000 people in the government's Terrorist Screening Database (believed to be a part of TIDE) have no affiliation to specific terrorist groups. 

- The TIDE database has at least 730,000 biometric files on people listed, including face images and iris scans.

- And the no-fly list has grown to 47,000 names — a 1,000 percent increase since Obama took office. (Via National Counterterrorism Center)

That last bit could be particularly damning considering a U.S. District Judge ruled no-fly lists unconstitutional back in June. (Via The Oregonian)

Of course, the revelations lead to even more question about the names within the database. About the 280,000 names not affiliated with terrorist groups, The Verge writes, "Are all of these people potentially homegrown terrorists, or are they part of groups that the government hasn't identified yet, or perhaps they have shown interest in terror groups but haven't joined them?"

As for the authors of the article, Jeremy Scahill tweeted the government tried to get out ahead of The Intercept's reporting by leaking information to other outlets. Ryan Deveruaux plugged those articles from other outlets and retweeted criticism related to the new information.

U.S. government officials didn't immediately respond to The Intercept's article but the implications could be wide-ranging. The article also says the watch list was shared across the U.S. intelligence community and even the New York Police Department.