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Posts Tagged ‘National Intelligence’

From Washington Technology

Law enforcement welds together intell networks

By Alice Lipowicz

03/14/08 — 01:38 PM

statueoflibertyspying01.jpgState and local law enforcement agencies are moving to strengthen their links with the National Counter Terrorism Center’s classified online information repository, government officials said yesterday.

The center’s secure national Online Secret Web site is now state, local and tribal partners’ primary access point for counterterrorism information, Michael Leiter, acting director of the center, testified to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism.

“We have been told repeatedly by senior state, local and tribal officials that the information already contained on (Online Secret) meets the vast majority of their counterterrorism needs,” Leiter said.

To increase the usefulness of the Online Secret Web site, the Interagency Threat Assessment Coordination Group is helping to make the information easier to access and more relevant to state and local participants, he said. Also, federal partners including the FBI are posting more products on Online Secret, including daily, situational awareness and comprehensive reports.

The coordination group is preparing an outreach effort explaining to the state, local and tribal users what intelligence they can find on Online Secret and how to access it, Leiter said.

In addition, Leiter said, state and local partners are deploying additional information technology networks, which they refer to as pipes, to connect to the Online Secret network.

Online Secret “is only accessible if one has the right pipes,” Leiter said. “It is my understanding that such systems are being rapidly deployed.”

Two of those networks are the Homeland Security Secure Data Network (HSDN) and the FBI’s FBInet, said Charles Allen, undersecretary for intelligence at the Homeland Security Department.

DHS is helping intelligence fusion centers connect to Online Secret through the secure data network, Allen said.

“DHS is on track to deploy HSDN to 41 state and local fusion centers by the end of fiscal year 2008,” Allen said.

Strengthening information-sharing networks often offers opportunities for IT contractors. DHS, for example outsourced portions of the development, operation and security of its Homeland Security Information Network for sharing unclassified information with state, local and tribal partners.

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From ABC News/The Blotter

ACLU: 900,000 Names on U.S. Terror Watch Lists

February 27, 2008 12:40 PM

Justin Rood Reports:

The FBI now keeps a list of over 900,000 names belonging to known or suspected terrorists, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

If that number is accurate, it would be an all-time high, exponentially more than the 100,000 names on the list several years ago.  But the number needs to be taken with a grain of salt: after all, the ACLU doesn’t keep the list, the FBI does, and the bureau doesn’t generally like to talk about it.  (Indeed, the FBI has not yet responded to a request for comment for this post.)

But if the ACLU’s figure isn’t accurate, it’s also unlikely to be off by that much.  Last September, the ACLU notes, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General reported the FBI watch list was at 700,000 names, and growing at 20,000 names per month.

The ACLU says they “extrapolated” from those figures to determine the list’s current size. ACLU’s Barry Steinhardt added that the group had spoken privately with people familiar with the watch list, who told them the 900,000 figure was not outlandish.

In the past, The FBI has told ABC News that the size of its watch list is classified. Despite that, both the bureau and the DoJ Inspector General have published the total figure in unclassified reports.

There’s no doubt the FBI’s list is growing: just last June, ABC News reported it was at 509,000 names, based on information in an unclassified FBI budget document.

But strangely, the list may be growing not because of swelling legions of foreign terrorists. Instead, it appears the FBI may be adding tens of thousands of names belonging to U.S. persons it suspects of being domestic terrorists — people who have no known ties to international terrorist organizations.

A separate entity, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), keeps a list of all names believed to belong to terrorists linked to international terror groups.  That list, which was at 100,000 names in 2003, grew to 465,000 names by last June – but since then has grown only modestly, according to NCTC spokesman Carl Kropf.  Today, Kropf said that list stands at roughly 500,000 names. (Unlike the FBI, the NCTC does not maintain that the size of its watch list is classified information.)

The FBI takes that list and adds to it a new collection of names which belong to U.S. persons believed to be domestic terrorists: people who have links to terrorism but not to any international group.

Last June, the NCTC was responsible for putting 465,000 names on the watch list, and the FBI appeared to add an additional 44,000.  By September, extrapolating from the DoJ Inspector General’s report, the FBI’s contribution appears to have grown to somewhere north of 200,000 names.

Today – if the ACLU is to be believed – the FBI’s contribution may be as high as 417,000 names.  Which would raise a new question: Where are so many domestic terrorists coming from?  Or do they simply use more aliases than foreign terrorists?

Update: The FBI responded late Wednesday afternoon. Spokesman Chad Kolton did not dispute the ACLU’s figure, but noted that the watch list contains names, aliases and name variations for individuals. The number of people on the watch list, he said, was around 300,000, and only 5 percent are U.S. persons.  Kolton noted that the list is “regularly reviewed for accuracy.” Last year the bureau removed 100,000 records “related to people cleared of any nexus with terrorism,” Kolton said.

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As the list of potential terrorists increases, and now includes gamers and bloggers, the US Government is hot on the trail of phone tapping at any cost.

As we have been learning, one never knows what 15 year old Tommy, a gamer, may tell his 16 year old blogging buddy Sean on the phone that could help the CIA and FBI in diverting a potential terrorist plot.

Today the National Intelligence group is in a tizzy since the Protect America Act expired. Oh my! US spies don’t know how to conduct their jobs within legal bounds and are concerned that they may be losing valuable information gained by illegal means if the Protect America Act, with additional protection clauses, isn’t set back in place again soon.

Concerned over the lapse of the Protect America Act, Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell, throwing a temper tantrum in a letter to Congress, stated that the United States “is now more vulnerable to terrorist attack and other foreign threats.”

Mukasey further indicated that because the Protect America Act had lapsed valuable information was being lost.

Once again government officials were raising and throwing down the “war on terror” flag to strike fear into the hearts and minds of US citizens.

However, all is not lost!

According to National Intelligence, telecommunications companies agreed to continue to illegally wiretap and spy on US citizens without the Protect America Act.

Whew! Bet you were worried about that one!

One upstanding telecommunications company is refusing to cooperate (name not released) with the illegal action and they are denounced as potential hold-ups to providing information on new suspected terrorists.

Civil rights and privacy advocates are outraged at the continued abuses of wiretapping. “In an attempt to get sweeping powers to wiretap without warrants, Republicans are playing politics with domestic surveillance legislation,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Check out article at Los Angeles Times.

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