The National Crime Squad (DNR, Dienst Nationale Recherche) of the Dutch National Police (KLPD; Korps landelijke politiediensten) has threatened to shut down Public Intelligence if we do not remove the issues of Inspire magazine which are made available on this site. In a request made to our hosting provider in late February, the Dutch National Crime Squad demanded that we remove all issues of Inspire magazine from our website and refrain from distributing any further issues of the publication. The notice describes the magazine’s content as “illegal” under Dutch law: “Due to the content of this magazine which is considered illegal according to the Dutch law due to the inciting content related to Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, we would like you to remove this magazine from your website.” The notice goes on to state that if the content is not removed from this site, the Dutch police “will under the force of circumstances take down your website on the dedicated server in the Netherlands according to Dutch Law.”
Rolling Stone has released seventeen of the U.S. “Kill Team” Photos, including three uncensored versions of the photos released by Der Spiegel. They have also released two videos produced by members of the “Kill Team” and circulated among U.S. troops.
Since 9/11, the U.S. Government has engaged in a multibillion-dollar effort to construct a domestic intelligence network for the ostensible purpose of combating terrorism, criminal activity and violent extremism. One of the central components of this system is the network of “fusion centers” that have sprung up around the country over the last several years. These entities integrate local law enforcement with a state’s police force, Department of Justice, or Office of Emergency Management and are designed to facilitate law enforcement intelligence activities throughout the jurisdiction, providing federal authorities access to local information and databases, while simultaneously allowing federal agencies to disseminate classified intelligence materials to local authorities. There are almost always federal representatives present in local fusion centers and Secretary Napolitano has recently testified that DHS is “committed to having an officer in each fusion center.” Most fusion centers also work with representatives of the private sector, particularly those industries related to so-called “critical infrastructure and key resources.”
The NOC will use Internet-based platforms that provide a variety of ways to follow activity related to monitoring publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards. Through the use of publicly available search engines and content aggregators the NOC will monitor activities on the social media sites listed in Appendix A for information that the NOC can use to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture. Appendix A is a current list of sites that the NOC will use as a starting point under this Initiative.
Did you know? You might be a terrorist. You probably didn’t know that. In fact, you probably don’t think about terrorism much. However, there are a large amount of people at the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a variety of law enforcement agencies all around the country that do think about it, a lot. It is, in many respects, their job to think about it. Yet, the ever-expanding search for potential activities and indicators of terrorist activity has become emblematic of the overreaching and obsessive nature of efforts to combat terrorism in the United States. Departing more and more from rational depictions of truly suspicious activity, the criteria listed in law enforcement reports as indicating criminal or terrorist activity have become so expansive as to include many ubiquitous, everyday activities. The following list demonstrates the extent of “suspicious activity reporting” by listing a number of criteria which are said to indicate criminal or terrorist activity.
Several restricted intelligence reports from the Counter-Terrorism Unit of the Federal Bureau of Prisons obtained by Public Intelligence detail the incredible levels of surveillance conducted on inmates convicted of terrorism offenses. In particular, the reports detail inmates stored in secretive units known as “Communication Management Units” (CMU) which have been widely criticized by the ACLU and other human rights groups for placing severe restrictions on the activities, as well as visitation and communication rights of inmates housed in the facilities.
Several restricted documents produced by the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange (CFIX) and obtained by Public Intelligence indicate that a variety of protests and political events are monitored by the regional fusion center for potential threats and violent activity. These events span the political spectrum from a summit hosted by Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty to anti-war protests conducted by Code Pink and Veterans for Peace. While the documents make no mention of specific threats arising from the events, they do indicate that the fusion center monitors political action in a variety of forms and sometimes requests law enforcement officers to report on constitutionally-protected activities.
With the release of their November 2010 Special Issue of Inspire magazine, a group claiming to be Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has again succeeded in getting the entire global news media to uncritically relate their message. Every few months since the first release of the magazine in July 2010, the public is now subjected to a mass of uncritical stories that propagate predefined talking-points which are taken almost verbatim from one of two “monitoring groups” which actually profit from the sale of terrorist propaganda materials. One of those groups, the SITE Intelligence Group, was founded by the daughter of an executed Israeli spy. Joel Meares of The Columbia Journalism Review writes that when “Reading the latest terror reports it seems that any questions about the validity of Inspire have disappeared. The magazine once greeted with skepticism and perspective—to what extent one publication can speak for as disparate and fractured a community as the jihadists is always a question—is now being treated as the unquestioned and official spokes-journal of Al-Qaeda. And some close watchers of Al-Qaeda caution against the approach.”
According to a series of classified reports from NATO and the UN recently published by this site, the recent elections in Afghanistan were marred by “unprecedented” levels of violence including voter intimidation, kidnapping of election workers and candidates, as well as attacks on polling stations and ballot distribution systems. A confidential United Nations “Joint Security Analysis” covering the week of the elections states that the country experienced a “massive increase” in violence “due to an unprecedented peak of security incidents recorded on Election Day 18 September.” In fact, there was such a significant and “unprecedented” increase in violence leading up to the elections that this created a significant decrease in subsequent attacks because insurgent forces were literally running out of ammunition.
The Washington Post has changed significant portions of an article published earlier today regarding the CIA’s payment of large numbers of people within Hamid Karzai’s administration in Afghanistan. These changes occur mostly in the beginning of the article and substantially manipulate its content. Most notable among the changes is the complete elimination of a quote describing how “half of Karzai’s palace” is on the CIA payroll. This quote, from an anonymous U.S. government official, was replaced with a paraphrased statement that “a significant number” of officials in Karzai’s administration are paid by the CIA. This alteration is followed by a quote from a CIA spokesman, which does not appear in the original article, who says that the “anonymous source appears driven by ignorance, malice or both.” Another significant quote from this anonymous source, detailing how Kazai is “blind to about 80 percent of what’s going on below him”, was also completely eliminated from the article. There are also a number of smaller changes all of which are designed to eliminate the perception of ignorance, malfeasance, and public perception that the Afghan government is almost wholly owned by the CIA.
A recent guide from the Department of Justice detailing terms and concepts used by “extremist” groups lists “constitutionalists” and “survivalists” . The 120-page, “Law Enforcement Sensitive” guide to “Investigating Terrorism and Criminal Extremism” describes itself as “a glossary designed primarily as a tool for criminal justice professionals to enhance their understanding of words relating to extremist terminology, phrases, activities, symbols, organizations, and selected names that they may encounter while conducting criminal investigations or prosecutions of members of extremist organizations.” Constitutionalist, which is defined as an “adherent or advocate of constitutionalism or of an existing constitution” by Random House’s 2010 Dictionary, is described in the report as a “generic term for members of the ‘patriot’ movement”. Survivalists are described in the document as fearing a “coming collapse of civilization” and are trying to prepare themselves for this collapse. Such individuals are said to have “typically stockpiled food, water, and weapons, especially the latter, and instructed themselves on topics ranging from first aid to childbirth to edible plants”.
For some time, it has been apparent that wireless telephone providers are storing location data on all of their customers. This information indicates the location of an individual’s cellular phone signal from its corresponding cellular tower to provide an approximate location of the user at any given time. Wireless providers are paid for supplying this information to law enforcement and the companies work to provide user-friendly guides to potential customers indicating what details they can provide. We have previously published law enforcement subpoena guides from Verizon, Nextel, MetroPCS, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, among other service providers. Many of the companies providing this information to law enforcement take steps to hide the reality of their information retention. One guide in particular, regarding the Verizon Wireless Law Enforcement Resource Team, is labeled as being only distributable among law enforcement personnel. The guide advertises a wide variety of services available to law enforcement, including details on any user’s “cell sites” going back nearly one year. Another subpoena guide produced by Verizon offers a price list for these services including $125 an hour for “expert testimony”. Active surveillance using trap and trace is the most lucrative for Verizon with a price of up to $1000 a month, not including setup fees and other administrative costs.
We have received reports that there are spam email messages circulating that contain links to this site. This can sometimes indicate a concerted attempt to get a site shut down by their hosting provider or blacklisted in spam directories. However, such actions, when concerted, usually involve the spoofing of IP addresses to further abuse complaints. We have received a copy of one of the messages, which is reproduced below. It contains a link to a collection of news items we posted regarding the former president of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and his supposed looting of the country’s banks prior to his departure from office. The message says that it is from a Taras Shevchenko, who claims to be a “family lawyer” to the former president, and is offering to tell you about the $1 Billion that the president is hiding. He’ll let you have $300 million if you’ll only be discrete about it. The message is also careful to apologize if it “offends your moral values”.
Earlier this week, the owner of a Wordpress-based blogging platform Blogetery.com was informed by the site’s hosting provider Burst.net that their servers had been deactivated following a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Although preliminary reports attributed this takedown to copyrighted content, it has since been discovered that the removal was due to “terrorist materials”. A press release from BurstNet explains “Upon review, Burst.net determined that the posted material, in addition to potentially inciting dangerous activities, specifically violated the BurstNet Acceptable Use Policy. This policy strictly prohibits the posting of ‘terrorist propaganda, racist material, or bomb/weapon instructions’. Due to this violation and the fact that the site had a history of previous abuse, BurstNet elected to immediately disable the system.” Burst.net later posted comments to a forum indicating that they would not allow the customer access to his data. “We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details. By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot.”
Recently reports of an English-language “al-Qaeda magazine” were dealt with in mostly uncritical terms by the majority of news outlets. Wired’s Danger Room blog described how the new magazine was an attempt “to move politically frustrated Muslim youth in the West down the road of violent extremism” by filling that “inexplicably vacant media space between O: The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics and the al-Qaida book Knights Under The Prophet’s Banner”. FOXNews quotes Brookings Institution fellow Bruce Reidel as saying that the magazine is “clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the U.S. or U.K. who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber”. The Daily Beast quotes U.S. government officials as saying that the “U.S. government is aware of this new propaganda vehicle by al Qaeda in Yemen and Anwar Awlaki” and that “AQAP and Awlaki are clearly trying to incite terrorist activity overseas, and to recruit new extremists. The packaging of this magazine may be slick, but the contents are as vile as the authors.”
A recent “Privacy Impact Assessment” from the Department of Homeland Security lists Public Intelligence among the websites actively monitored by the DHS National Operations Center (NOC) for “situational awareness”.
For the second time in less than one week, we have received a legal threat for our republication of a “confidential” document that was, in fact, already publicly available. However, this threat, made by legal representatives of the defense contractor Allen-Vanguard, goes much further than the previous threat made by Visa International Service Association to claim that we may be subject to imprisonment for the reproduction of a four-page public document. The document in question is part of a series of “TRITON Intelligence Reports” produced by the Hazard Management Solutions Company, Ltd., a British company that claims to be the “world’s premier supplier of integrated counter improvised explosive device (C-IED) training, analysis and consulting services”. HMS Ltd. is owned by a Canadian company named Allen-Vanguard Corporation and it is the Trademark Agent and Intellectual Property Specialist for this company that issued the threat.
Last week’s historic market plunge, in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 1,000 points over the course of a few minutes, has led to increased scrutiny of so-called “high-frequency trading” systems and their effect upon market prices. “High-frequency trading” involves the use of computerized systems to place large amounts of orders that are processed within fractions of a second to exploit minute shifts in the price of securities. A number of electronic trading markets have come under particular scrutiny, including the New York Stock Exchange Euronext and Nasdaq OMX Group. Executives from both of these exchanges are set to meet with the Securities and Exchange Commission today to discuss how “conflicting trading rules” may have contributed to last Thursday’s dramatic decline.
Under the “BP Oil Spill Response Social Media Event Monitoring Initiative” the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center (NOC) monitors “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards” in order to provide “situational awareness and establish a common operating picture for the federal government, and for those state, local, and tribal governments, as appropriate, assisting with the security, safety, and emergency response associated with the oil spill”. According to a “Privacy Impact Assessment” from April 29, 2010 available on the DHS website, Public Intelligence is included in the list of sites monitored by NOC analysts.
The Alaska National Guard, in coordination with nearly 50 organizations and more than 4,000 participants, conducted their state’s portion of the annual Vigilant Guard exercise from April 26 – May 1, 2010. Local governments, the State of Alaska, Alaska National Guard and Joint Task Force Alaska conducted a state-wide exercise that was designed to “increase emergency response capabilities” to earthquakes and natural disasters. The exercise scenario involved an earthquake affecting South Central Alaska and combined the state’s Alaska Shield exercise, National Guard’s Vigilant Guard exercise, and Joint Task Force Alaska’s Arctic Edge exercise. A major component of the exercise involved the expertise of the National Guard CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, which deals with chemical, biological, and radiological disaster response.
From March 29-31 in the Orlando Hilton, the annual Defense GameTech conference was being held to discuss “gaming technologies” that can enhance “warfighter training” and so-called “virtual world” technologies. The annual GameTech conference was attended this year by many notable names from the world of computer entertainment, including Will Wright, creator of The Sims, and executives from Linden Labs, the company which makes Second Life. In addition to industry people, the conference was also attended by military, government, and academic experts on “serious games”. One of the main presentations at this year’s conference was given by General James Mattis, Commander of Joint Forces Command.
Less than two weeks prior to the deadly Moscow subway suicide bombings, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a special “threat assessment” which outlined the threats posed by female suicide bombers. The 15-page Law Enforcement Sensitive/For Official Use Only report “Threat Assessment: Female Suicide Bombers” which was obtained by Public Intelligence gives details regarding past examples of suicide bombings conducted by women, including the potential for using breast implants as a means of concealing explosives.
Several confidential documents have been discovered on the website of the Icelandic government providing insight into the bizarre legal tactics used by European governments during the recent financial crisis which led to the country’s economic collapse. Each document is a different analysis of the legal arguments behind the so-called “Icesave dispute”, in which the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and other European governments attempted to force the Icelandic government to repay the debts created by private banking institutions outside their own country.