“If Everything is Terrorism, Then Nothing is Terrorism”

Eventually, another whistle-blower after Edward Snowden appears to have emerged and provided the team at The Intercept with an outraging piece of the overreaching American intelligence community which seems in fact to consider 280,000 people who are not affiliated to any terrorist organization as terrorists, 41% of all the 680,000 people officially put on a “watchlist”, with “another 320,000 monitored in the larger TIDE [Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment] data base.”

Who gets on this watchlist? Well, The Intercept had published last month government watchlisting guidelines. According to these, officals do not need “concrete facts” or “irrefutable evidence” to secretly place someone on the list, just “reasonable suspicion”. Criteria to get on the TIDE list are even more relaxed.

The now leaked documents say that the second highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected [sic] terrorists” by the government is in Dearborn, MI. The city with less than 100,000 inhabitants has the largest percentage of Arab-American residents in the U.S., most of which “are ethnic Lebanese who immigrated in the early twentieth century to work in the auto industry, like many immigrants to the area. They have ben joined by more recent Arab immigrants from other nations.” (Source: Wikipedia.)

Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Deveraux of The Intercept had interviewed Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who responds, “To my knowledge, there have been no Muslims in Dearborn who have committed acts of terrorism against our country.” He added that the high concentration of Dearborn residents in the watchlisting system “just confirms the type of engagement the government has with our community—as seeing us as perpetual suspects.” Well, the Christmas 2009 underware bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallah was actually on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on its way to Detroit, MI. This terrorist had not been identified by NSA surveillance, so the nearby Muslim population in Dearborn got apparently under general suspicion.

David Gomez, former FBI agent told The Intercept, “You need some fact-basis to say a guy is a terrorist, that you know to a probable-cause standard that he is a terrorist.” “Then I say, ‘Build as big a file as you can on him.’ But if you just suspect that somebody is a terrorist? Not so much.” “If everything is terrorism, then nothing is terrorism.” According to the documents, “The government adds names to its databases, or adds information on existing subjects, at a rate of 900 records each day.” (Emphasis added.)

What happens to people who have secretly been put on the watchlist or TIDE list? One obvious hint that they are targeted is that they will be stopped at airports. According to the docments, a wide range of personal information is collected and analyzed in secret, including facial images, fingerprints iris scans.

As Scahill and Deveraux report about the leaked documents,

“The documents also offer a glimpse into which groups the government is targeting in its counterterrorism mission. The groups with the largest number of targeted people on the main terrorism watchlist—aside from “no recognized terrorist group affiliation”—are al Qaeda in Iraq (73,189), the Taliban (62,794), and al Qaeda (50,446). Those are followed by Hamas (21,913) and Hezbollah (21,199).

Although the Obama administration has repeatedly asserted that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula poses the most significant external terrorist threat to the United States, the 8,211 people identified as being tied to the group actually represent the smallest category on the list of the top ten recognized terrorist organizations. AQAP is outnumbered by people suspected of ties to the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network (12,491), the Colombia-based FARC (11,275,) and the Somalia-based al-Shabab (11,547).”

Coming back to the whistle-blower. At first glance, it might be good news. The revealing story continues with another individual in the intelligence community who might have perceived a moral conflict. Snowden had instantly understood that he had to escape from relentless prosecution. The manhunt for the new whistle-blower has just begun.

6 August 2014 @ 5:48 pm.
Last modified August 6, 2014.
This entry was posted in surveillance, USA and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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