DHS-Funded START Consortium Survey: Sovereign Citizens Top Concern of Law Enforcement; Ahead of Islamic Extremists



The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a University of Maryland project funded by the Department of Homeland Security, has designated the so-called sovereign citizen movement as the number one domestic terrorist threat in America.

According to a report issued by START last month, “sovereign citizens were the top concern of law sovereign enforcement” and ranked ahead of neo-Nazis, the KKK, the patriot movement, and other “idiosyncratic sectarians,” including survivalists, all who allegedly pose a threat to the police and the state according to a survey conducted by the Homeland Security funded organization.

Information detailing the alleged terrorist threat was collected from state and local fusion centers, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the DHS, BATF, DEA, ICE, and state and local homeland security and anti-terrorism task forces.

“The 2013-14 study results show that law enforcement’s top concern is sovereign citizens. Although Islamic extremists remain a major concern for law enforcement, they are no longer their top concern,” the START report states. According to the organization, threats posed by sovereign citizens include cyberterrorism, the use of explosive devices, military weapons, and biological, chemical and radiological weapons.

The report recommends state and federal law enforcement share intelligence data on targeted groups, develop “tactical responses” to threats and “act on that information to prevent or mitigate threats.”

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Filed under DHS, START

Aspen Security Forum 2014 Highlights


July 23-26, 2014

Some of the more interesting talks at the Aspen Security Forum 2014 from current and former military and intelligence leaders. All of the ASF2014 talks can be viewed here.

Rethinking the U.S. National Security Apparatus

This session will discuss whether the United States government is properly structured,
financed, and staffed to meet the security threats of today.

Gen. Michael Hayden (Ret.), Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Former
Director, National Security Agency; Principal, The Chertoff Group
Mike Leiter, Former Director, National Counterterrorism Center; Head of Global
Government and Commercial Cyber Operations, Palantir; National Security Analyst,
NBC News
John McLaughlin, Former Acting and Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency;
Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies
Adm. Eric Olson (Ret.), Former Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
MODERATOR: Eric Schmitt, National Security Correspondent, The New York Times

Striking the Right Balance Between Security and Liberty

We are still in the post-9/11 era, but we are also in the post-Edward Snowden era.
Citizens’ expectation that the government will protect them from security threats is
unchanged, but they are much less willing now than they were in the immediate
aftermath of the terror attacks to grant the government virtual carte blanche to do what
it thinks is necessary to respond to these threats. What is the “right” balance between
security and liberty?

Raj De, General Counsel, National Security Agency
Robert Litt, General Counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
John Rizzo, Former Deputy & Acting General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency
Scott Charney, Corporate Vice President, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft
MODERATOR: Greg Miller, National Security Correspondent, The Washington Post

The Future of Warfare

Our still formidable nuclear arsenal and our supremacy in conventional armaments are
of limited use in a world now dominated by the asymmetric tactics of terrorists and
cyber-warriors. What are the new weapons—and new conceptions of warfare—that can
help America maintain its strategic and tactical edge?

Dawn Meyerriecks, Deputy Director, Directorate of Science and Technology, Central
Intelligence Agency
Steve Chan, Director, Network Science Research Center, IBM
Lynn Dugle, President, Raytheon Intelligence, Information, and Services; Vice President,
Raytheon Company
MODERATOR: Kevin Baron, Executive Editor, Defense One

Intergovernmental Cooperation in Counterterrorism

This session will explore the respective roles of key actors at various levels of
government and in the private sector in counterterrorism and how cooperation among
them can be improved.

Matt Olsen, Director, National Counterterrorism Center
Robert Mueller, Former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Partner, Wilmer
Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
Ralph Boelter, Vice President, Corporate Security, Target; Former Assistant Director,
Counterterrorism Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation5
MODERATOR: Mike Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent, Yahoo News

Security Challenges in an Ever-Evolving Cyber Realm

If the good news is that cyber-threats are now on everybody’s radar screen, the bad
news is that we seem no closer to getting a handle on how to counter them. What can
we do to counter this ever evolving threat?

Richard Ledgett, Deputy Director, National Security Agency
MODERATOR: David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times

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UK Deputy PM Clegg Commissions RUSI to Carry Out GCHQ Review




Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, has commissioned a review into the new intrusive capabilities of British intelligence agencies and the legal framework in which they operate, after failing to persuade David Cameron that the coalition government should act now to tighten the accountability of Britain’s spies.

Clegg has been trying for months inside government to persuade the Conservatives and intelligence agencies that the existing accountability structure is inadequate and could corrode trust, but in a Guardian article before a big speech on Tuesday the deputy prime minister admits he has failed to persuade Cameron of the need for reform.

Clegg has as a result opted for an independent review, modelled on a report commissioned by Barack Obama, into the implications of the information harvesting technologies developed by US and UK intelligence agencies and exposed by leaks from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The independent review, to be led by the intelligence and military think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), will look at the proportionality of the data gathered for surveillance purposes and the legal framework in which this happens.

The review, to be chaired by RUSI’s director general, Michael Clarke, is in part modelled on the work commissioned in January by Obama from John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, into big data and privacy. Clegg says the aim of the review, due to report after the general election, will be to bring the issue into the mainstream of public debate, noting the “quality of the debate in the US provides an unflattering contrast to the muted debate on this side of the Atlantic”.

The deputy prime minister says the RUSI review needs to answer serious questions on how long the data is stored, by whom, and whether ministers or agencies should authorise its gathering.


Filed under GCHQ, RUSI

Surveillance Costs: NSA’s Impact on the Economy, Information Security, and Internet Freedom



There’s a debate raging in DC and around the world about the extensive National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs that were first revealed this past summer–not only about whether the surveillance is consistent with constitutional and human rights, but also about the costs and the benefits of such mass surveillance. New America’s National Security Studies Program recently addressed the “benefits” question by releasing an in-depth research report demonstrating that the NSA programs have done little to prevent terrorism.

This event from New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) will look at the other side of the coin and examine the costs of the NSA programs. Such costs include not only the direct cost to the American taxpayer, but also the cost to the American Internet industry (by some estimates over $180 billion within the next few years), the cost to America’s foreign relations and its work to promote “Internet Freedom” globally, and finally, the cost to Internet security itself.

Anne-Marie Slaughter
President & CEO, New America Foundation 

Kevin Bankston
Policy Director, New America Foundation, Open Technology Institute

Featured Speakers:

Daniel Castro
Senior Analyst, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

Mieke Eoyang
National Security Program Director, Third Way

Richard Fontaine
President, The Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Ross Schulman
Public Policy and Regulatory Counsel,
The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)

Micah Sherr
Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Georgetown University 

Related Link: Tiny Constables and the Cost of Surveillance (Bankston/Soltani)


Filed under New America, NSA

Global Commission on Internet Governance Announced at Davos; Members Include Carl Bildt (Chair) & Michael Chertoff




Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, will chair a new Global Commission on Internet Governance, launched by The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).

Announced today at the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, the Global Commission is a two-year initiative that will produce a comprehensive stand on the future of multi-stakeholder Internet governance.

“In most countries, increased attention is being given to all the issues of net freedom, net security and net governance. And they are, in my view, closely related to each other. The rapid evolution of the net has been made possible by the open and flexible model by which it has evolved and been governed. But increasingly this is coming under attack,” said Carl Bildt. “And this is happening as issues of net freedom, net security and net surveillance are increasingly debated. Net freedom is as fundamental as freedom of information and freedom of speech in our societies.”

The commission will include about 25 members drawn from various fields and from around the world, including policy and government, academia and civil society.

The Global Commission on Internet Governance will encourage globally inclusive public discussions and debates on the future of Internet governance through a public consultation platform, and through other institutional, media, and academic channels. It will create and advance a strategic vision for the future of Internet governance that can act as a rallying point for states that are striving for a continued free and open Internet.

The commission will focus on four key themes:

  • Enhancing governance legitimacy;
  • Stimulating innovation;
  • Ensuring human rights online;
  • Avoiding systemic risks.

“The work of this vitally important undertaking will be supported by a highly innovative research program at both CIGI and Chatham House as well as widespread stakeholder consultations with civil society and the private sector. The Commission’s work is also intended to build on a number of important strategic dialogues that are already underway and to feed into ongoing policy discussions at the global level,” said Fen Osler Hampson, Director of the Global Security & Politics Program at CIGI.

“The issue of Internet governance is set to become one of the most pressing global public policy issues of our time. The Commission will work to develop ideas and propose a policy framework that enhances the legitimacy of Internet governance whilst preserving innovation. Chatham House is honoured to partner with Foreign Minister Bildt and CIGI in the Global Commission on Internet Governance,” said Dr. Robin Niblett, Director of Chatham House.

Members of the commission currently include the following:

Carl Bildt, Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance / @carlbildt

Carl Bildt has been Sweden’s foreign minister since 2006, and was Prime Minister from 1991 to 1994, when he negotiated Sweden’s EU accession. A renowned international diplomat, he served as EU Special Envoy to the former Yugoslavia, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Special Envoy to the Balkans, and Co-Chairman of the Dayton Peace Conference.

Gordon Smith, Deputy Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance /@GordonSmithG20

A former Canadian deputy foreign minister, NATO ambassador and G7/G8 sherpa, Gordon Smith is a distinguished fellow at The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). He has been a key contributor to CIGI’s G20 research activities, events and publications; his current work focuses on the convergence of technology and global affairs.

Dominic Barton

Dominic Barton is the global managing director of McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. He served as McKinsey’s chairman in Asia from 2004 to 2009, based in Shanghai, and led McKinsey’s office in Korea from 2000 to 2004. Dominic is an active participant in many international fora, including the World Economic Forum, Le Cercle des Économistes: Les Rencontres Économiques d’Aix-en-Provence, the Asia Business Council, and the China Development Forum.

Pablo Bello / @pablobello

Pablo Bello Arellano is a Chilean economist, expert in telecommunications and economic regulation. Pablo was appointed Secretary General of the Asociación Iberoamericana de Centros de Investigación y Empresas de Telecomunicaciones (AHCIET) in June 2011. During the presidency of Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010), he served as Vice-Minister of Telecommunications. Before that, he held the position of Director of the Division of Studies and Regulatory Policy within the Subsecretariat of Telecommunications of Chile.

Pascal Cagni

Pascal Cagni is an Independent Director at Kingfisher and Vivendi. He is a Business Angel in multiple start ups of the digital economy. From 2000 to 2012, Pascal led Apple EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India, Africa) to become the largest and fastest growing region for Apple. He graduated from Sciences Po Paris, holds a Master in Law, an MBA from HEC Paris and graduated from the Executive Program (EPGC) at Stanford, having been the Auditor of the 63e IHEDN Promotion.

Moez Chakchouk / @mchakchouk

Moez Chakchouk is Chairman and CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI), the primary Internet service provider in Tunisia. Moez has served as a research engineer at the Centre of Telecommunication Studies and Research (CERT), Director of Interconnection and Access at the Telecommunications Regulation Authority (INT) and Adviser to the Minister of Communications Technology. He holds a Master of Science and Ph.D. in telecommunications and applied mathematics.

Dae-Whan Chang

Dae-Whan Chang is Chairman of the Maekyung Media Group, which includes the Maeil Business Newspaper and Maeil Broadcasting Network (MBN). He served as Acting Prime Minister of Korea (2002), Chairman of the Korean Association of Newspaper (2005-2010) and Chairman of the Board at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts (2008-2011). He serves as Member of the National Competitiveness Council, Board Member of World Association of Newspapers and Founder and Executive Chairman of World Knowledge Forum.

Michael Chertoff

Michael Chertoff was secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. Before heading up the Department of Homeland Security, he served as a federal judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Michael is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Anriette Esterhuysen / @anriette

A resident of Johannesburg, South Africa, Anriette Esterhuysen is the Executive Director of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), an international network and non-profit organization committed to providing affordable Internet access to all people to enhance social justice and development. She was previously executive director of The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT), where she helped establish Internet connectivity in South Africa.

Hartmut Glaser / @hartmutglaser

Hartmut Glaser is executive secretary of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee and serves on the Board of Directors of LACNIC. He has served as special adviser to the dean of Escola Politécnica at the University of São Paulo, special adviser to the rector of the University of São Paulo, and special adviser to the president of the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo.

Dorothy Gordon

The Director-General of Ghana’s Advanced Information Technology Institute, the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), Dorothy Gordon is at the vanguard of ICT development in Africa. Under her leadership, AITI-KACE seeks to bring African innovation to African consumers to forge a sustainable industry of communication technology. Dorothy sits on the board of several technology-based organizations.

Dame Wendy Hall / @DameWendyDBE

Dame Wendy Hall is professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, and dean of the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering. One of the first computer scientists to undertake serious research in multimedia and hypermedia, the influence of her work has been significant in many areas including digital libraries, the development of the Semantic Web, and emerging research discipline of Web Science.

Fen Osler Hampson

Fen Osler Hampson is a distinguished fellow and director of the global security & politics program at CIGI. He has served as director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and is concurrently chancellor’s professor at Carleton University. He is the recipient of various awards and honours and is a frequent commentator and contributor to international media.

Melissa Hathaway

Melissa Hathaway is a CIGI distinguished fellow and President of Hathaway Global Strategies LLC. She is also a Senior Advisor at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center and is the Chairman of the Council of Experts for the Global Cyber Security Center in Italy. She served in two US presidential administrations, where she spearheaded the Cyberspace Policy Review for President Barack Obama and led the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative for President George W. Bush. Melissa is a frequent keynote speaker on cyber security matters, and regularly publishes papers and commentary in this field.

Patricia Lewis / @PatriciaMary

Patricia Lewis is research director of international security at Chatham House. She conducts projects in the area of cyber security, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, biosecurity, conventional arms trade and space security. In previous positions, she has been deputy director and scientist-in-residence at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Middlebury College, and director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research.

Mathias Müller von Blumencron / @mtblumencron

Journalist Mathias Müller von Blumencron is editor-in-chief digital media at the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Prior to his current appointment, Mathias was an editor-in-chief of Germany’s leading weekly Der Spiegel, where he managed all digital products, and editor-in-chief of Spiegel Online, which he built into Germany’s most successful and award-winning news site. He has served as a business correspondent in Germany, Washington and New York.

Beth Simone Noveck / @bethnoveck

Beth Simone Noveck, founder and director of The Governance Lab, is a visiting professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the MIT Media Lab. Currently on leave from the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, she served in the White House as the first United States deputy chief technology officer and is founder of the White House Open Government Initiative.

Joseph S. Nye / @Joe_Nye

Joseph Nye is a university distinguished service professor and former dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard University. He has served as assistant secretary of defense for International Security Affairs, chair of the National Intelligence Council, and deputy under secretary of state for Security Assistance, Science and Technology.

Sir David Omand

Sir David Omand was the first UK security and intelligence coordinator from 2002 to 2003 as Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office. Previously, he was Permanent Secretary of the UK Home Office and Director of GCHQ (the UK Sigint and cyber security agency). He has a degree in mathematics and theoretical physics and a Master’s in Economics. He is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College Cambridge and is Senior Independent Director of Babcock International Group PLC. His book Securing the State is published by Hurst (UK) and Oxford University Press (US).

Nii Quaynor / @niinarkuquaynor

Nii Quaynor is chairman of the Board of Directors at National Information Technology Agency. He pioneered Internet development and expansion throughout Africa for nearly two decades, establishing some of Africa’s first Internet connections and helping set up key organizations, including the African Network Operators Group. He is a member of the IGF Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group.

Latha Reddy

Latha Reddy, born in India in 1951, was educated at Madras and Bangalore Universities, and holds a Master’s degree in English Literature. She served in the Indian Foreign Service from 1975 to 2011. She was Ambassador of India to Portugal and Thailand and Consul-General in Durban, South Africa. She was Secretary (East) in the Indian Foreign Ministry, overseeing Indian foreign policy in Asia. She also has extensive experience in multilateral and regional diplomacy. She was appointed as the Deputy National Security Advisor and Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat from 2011 to 2013, and has worked on a wide variety of strategic and security issues, including cyber security.

Marietje Schaake / @MarietjeSchaake

Marietje Schaake is a Dutch Member of the European Parliament with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe political group. She serves on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and is the founder of the European Parliament Intergroup on New Media and Technology. Before joining parliament, she worked as an independent adviser on issues of transatlantic relations, diversity and pluralism, civil and human rights and integration.

Tobby Simon

Tobby Simon is the president of Synergia Foundation, a think tank in India that works closely with industry, polity and academia to establish leading edge practices through applied research in the domains of geo politics, geo economics and geo security. He has been an adviser to several international organizations such as The World Health Organization , The European Union and served as the Regional Director for The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA).

Michael Spence / @amspence98

Michael Spence is the William R. Berkley Professor in Economics and Business at the Stern School of Business, New York University. A Rhodes Scholar, he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001, and the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economics Association in 1981. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society.

Paul Twomey / @PaulDTwomey

Paul Twomey was the CEO and president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from 2003 to 2009. He has held executive positions within the Australian Government’s foreign trade organization and has served as CEO of the National Office for the Information Economy. He is former senior consultant with McKinsey & Company. Paul is also the founder of Argo P@cific, a high-level international advisory firm.

Pindar Wong

Pindar Wong is the chairman of VeriFi (Hong Kong) Ltd., a discrete Internet infrastructure consultancy. He serves on the Digital 21 Strategy Advisory Committee of the Hong Kong Government, the School of Engineering Advisory Committee HKUST, the Technical Advisory Board of the Packet Clearing House, the W3C Web Payments Community Group and as the co-public lead of Creative Commons Hong Kong.

Commission Support

Laura DeNardis, Director of Research of the Global Commission on Internet Governance / @LauraDeNardis

A scholar of Internet architecture and governance, Laura DeNardis is a CIGI senior fellow and professor at American University. She is an affiliated fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. She is a co-founder and co-series editor of the MIT Press Information Society book series and currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network.

Additional commission members will be confirmed over time.

“For many people, Internet governance sounds technical and esoteric, but the reality is that the issues are ‘high politics’ and of consequences to all users of the Internet, present and future,” said CIGI Distinguished Fellow Gordon Smith, who is deputy chair of the new commission.

“Internet governance is too important to be left just to governments. The Internet is a fundamental part of the global economy and how we manage its future will be decisive in facilitating development for all. Finding a way through the issues of access, privacy, security, protection and surveillance requires in-depth consideration and the wisdom that the Global Commission will provide,” said Dr. Patricia Lewis, Research Director, International Security Department, Chatham House.

For more information on the Global Commission on Internet Governance, please visit: www.ourinternet.org. Follow the commission on twitter @OurInternetGCIG.

CIGI’s recent research on Internet governance

Chatham House’s international security research examines key issues in cyber security


Filed under Chatham House, CIGI, Davos, WEC

Ullman: Whistleblowers/Anonymous/Information Revolution Threaten “New World Order”; “Extraordinary Crisis” Needed to Preserve It



Paul Joseph Watson/InfoWars:

Writing for the Atlantic Council, a prominent think tank based in Washington DC, Harlan K. Ullman warns that an “extraordinary crisis” is needed to preserve the “new world order,” which is under threat of being derailed by non-state actors like Edward Snowden.

The Atlantic Council is considered to be a highly influential organization with close ties to major policy makers across the world. It’s headed up by Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former United States National Security Advisor under U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. Snowcroft has also advised President Barack Obama.

Harlan K. Ullman was the principal author of the “shock and awe” doctrine and is now Chairman of the Killowen Group which advises government leaders.

In an article entitled War on Terror Is not the Only Threat, Ullman asserts that, “tectonic changes are reshaping the international geostrategic system,” arguing that it’s not military superpowers like China but “non-state actors” like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and anonymous hackers who pose the biggest threat to the “365 year-old Westphalian system” because they are encouraging individuals to become self-empowered, eviscerating state control.

“Very few have taken note and fewer have acted on this realization,” notes Ullman, lamenting that “information revolution and instantaneous global communications” are thwarting the “new world order” announced by U.S. President George H.W. Bush more than two decades ago.

“Without an extraordinary crisis, little is likely to be done to reverse or limit the damage imposed by failed or failing governance,” writes Ullman, implying that only another 9/11-style cataclysm will enable the state to re-assert its dominance while “containing, reducing and eliminating the dangers posed by newly empowered non-state actors.”

Ullman concludes that the elimination of non-state actors and empowered individuals “must be done” in order to preserve the new world order. A summary of their material suggests that the Atlantic Council’s definition of a “new world order” is a global technocracy run by a fusion of big government and big business under which individuality is replaced by transhumanist singularity.

Ullman’s rhetoric sounds somewhat similar to that espoused by Trilateral Commission co-founder and regular Bilderberg attendee Zbigniew Brzezinski, who in 2010 told a Council on Foreign Relations meeting that a “global political awakening,” in combination with infighting amongst the elite, was threatening to derail the move towards a one world government.

Ullman’s implied call for an “extraordinary crisis” to reinvigorate support for state power and big government has eerie shades of the Project For a New American Century’s 1997 lament that “absent some catastrophic catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor,” an expansion of U.S. militarism would have been impossible.

In 2012, Patrick Clawson, member of the influential pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) think tank, also suggested that the United States should launch a staged provocation to start a war with Iran.

Ullman’s concern over failing state institutions having their influence eroded by empowered individuals, primarily via the Internet, is yet another sign that the elite is panicking over the “global political awakening” that has most recently expressed itself via the actions of people like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and their growing legion of supporters.


Filed under Atlantic Council, NWO

New America Foundation Report: “Do NSA’s Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?” Nope




Our review of the government’s claims about the role that NSA “bulk” surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading.  An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal. Indeed, the controversial bulk collection of American telephone metadata, which includes the telephone numbers that originate and receive calls, as well as the time and date of those calls but not their content, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, appears to have played an identifiable role in initiating, at most, 1.8 percent of these cases. NSA programs involving the surveillance of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act played a role in 4.4 percent of the terrorism cases we examined, and NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority played a role in 1.3 percent of the cases we examined.

Surveillance of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group.

Furthermore, our examination of the role of the database of U.S. citizens’ telephone metadata in the single plot the government uses to justify the importance of the program – that of Basaaly Moalin, a San Diego cabdriver who in 2007 and 2008 provided $8,500 to al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia – calls into question the necessity of the Section 215 bulk collection program.

Additionally, a careful review of three of the key terrorism cases the government has cited to defend NSA bulk surveillance programs reveals that government officials have exaggerated the role of the NSA in the cases against David Coleman Headley and Najibullah Zazi, and the significance of the threat posed by a notional plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange.

Click on the link to go to a database of all 225 individuals, complete with additional details about them and the government’s investigations of these cases: http://natsec.newamerica.net/nsa/analysis


Filed under New America, NSA