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article imageSecret U.S. government documents leaked by 'new Snowden'

By Greta McClain     Aug 5, 2014 in World
Washington - First there was Julian Assange, then came Edward Snowden, now there appears to be a new kid in town leaking classified government documents to journalists.
U.S. officials have confirmed an unknown "leaker," whom some have dubbed "the new Snowden," is responsible for the release of national security documents related to a database of names of known or suspected terrorist. The names have all been collected since President Obama took office.
The new leak was revealed by Jeremy Scahill, a journalist with The Intercept, a news site founded by former New York Times reporter and Snowden confidant, Glenn Greenwald.
The leaked documents are from the National Counterterrorism Center, the primary government agency charged with tracking individuals suspected of having links to international terrorism. Marked SECRET” and “NOFORN" (meaning they are not to be shared with foreign governments), the documents show that more than 40 percent of the 680,000 individuals in the Terrorist Screening Database have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.”
Of the 680,000 individuals in the database, 123,635 have ties to Al Qaeda. There are 62,794 individuals linked to the Taliban and 92,765 with ties to "other recognized terrorist organizations. Individuals with ties to Hamas and Hezbollah have a combined total of 43,112, while individuals with no terrorist ties to terrorist organizations is 280,000. There was no indication as to the reason why those name are still being housed in the database
Chart showing the number of individuals  in the Terrorist Screening Database linked to various terro...
Chart showing the number of individuals in the Terrorist Screening Database linked to various terrorist organizations
The documents also reveal that the U.S. government adds an average of 900 names to the database each day. According to Scahill's article, a CIA run program, code-named Hydra, has secretly accessed databases maintained by foreign governments and used data from those databases to add names to various watchlists.
According to the government's Watchlist Guidelines, officials only need “reasonable suspicion" in order to place someone on a watchlist. David Gomez, a former senior FBI special agent, said the watchlist system is “revving out of control.”
The Associated Press (AP) reports that the growth of the database is a direct result of the government's response to the failed December 25, 2007 attempt to blow up a commercial airliner over Detroit. The AP also states there are 25,000 U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents listed in the database.
The number of names in the database has doubled in the last three years according to Mediaite. Government officials admit that there were 1.5 million nominations to the watch list over the last five years. The term "nominations" refers to not only new names being added, but changes or updates to names already in the database.
The rationale for the increase may not be based purely on national security however. Former FBI agent Michael German is quoted as saying:
“These agencies see terrorism as a winning card for them. They get more resources. They know that they can wave that card around and the American public will be very afraid and Congress and the courts will allow them to get away with whatever they’re doing under the national security umbrella.”
According to CNN, U.S. officials have confirmed there is a new individual obtaining and releasing government documents. Official say they are still "investigating" the leak and are attempting to ascertain the identity of the leaker.
Last month Digital Journal reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) has kept files on U.S. citizens or residents who are not labeled as targets for surveillance. Of the 900 files, many contained nothing more than academic transcripts of schoolchildren, photos of children, and job seekers resumes.
Greenwald has long believed there were others within the NSA and other agencies who felt the government was overstepping its authority and keeping files on individuals who legally should not be under surveillance. He also believed it was only a matter of time before "the next Snowden" emerged. In February, Greenwald told CNN:
"I definitely think it's fair to say that there are people who have been inspired by Edward Snowden's courage and by the great good and virtue that it has achieved. I have no doubt there will be other sources inside the government who see extreme wrongdoing who are inspired by Edward Snowden."
More about edward snowden, security leaks, Government, United States, Terrorism
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