Remember the (D) that wanted to ban gun sales to anyone who's name was on the TWL?
"One credible tip"...an old guy who's been warning about this dnc/obama socialism for the past 20 years, giving speeches, had a tip on him...6 months of FBI phone taps and a personal visit at his home were the result.
One tip enough to put name on watch list
Travelers go through security lines this month at Denver International Airport. (Barry Gutierrez)
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By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 30, 2010
A year after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, officials say they have made it easier to add individuals' names to a terrorist watch list and improved the government's ability to thwart an attack in the United States.
The failure to put Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the watch list last year renewed concerns that the government's system to screen out potential terrorists was flawed. Even though Abdulmutallab's father had told U.S. officials of his son's radicalization in Yemen, government rules dictated that a single-source tip was insufficient to include a person's name on the watch list.
Since then, senior counterterrorism officials say they have altered their criteria so that a single-source tip, as long as it is deemed credible, can lead to a name being placed on the watch list.
The government's master watch list is one of roughly a dozen lists, or databases, used by counterterrorism officials. Officials have periodically adjusted the criteria used to maintain it.
But civil liberties groups argue that the government's new criteria, which went into effect over the summer, have made it even more likely that individuals who pose no threat will be swept up in the nation's security apparatus, leading to potential violations of their privacy and making it difficult for them to travel.
"They are secret lists with no way for people to petition to get off or even to know if they're on," said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
440,000 on list
Officials insist they have been vigilant about keeping law-abiding people off the master list. The new criteria have led to only modest growth in the list, which stands at 440,000 people, about 5 percent larger than last year. The vast majority are non-U.S. citizens.
"Despite the challenges we face, we have made significant improvements," Michael E. Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in a speech this month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "And the result of that is, in my view, that the threat of that most severe, most complicated attack is significantly lower today than it was in 2001."
The master watch list is used to screen people seeking to obtain a visa, cross a U.S. border, or board an airliner in or destined for the United States.
The standard for inclusion on it remains the same as it was before - that a person is "reasonably suspected" to be engaged in terrorism-related activity. But another senior counterterrorism official, who like some others would speak only on the condition of anonymity, said that officials have now "effectively in a broad stroke lowered the bar for inclusion."
Timothy Healy, director of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, which maintains the master list, said the new guidelines balance the protection of Americans from terrorist threats with the preservation of civil liberties. He said the watch list today is "more accurate, more agile," providing valuable intelligence to a growing number of partners that include state and local police and foreign governments.
Each day there are 50 to 75 instances in which a law enforcement official or government agent stops someone who a check confirms is on the watch list, a senior official at the Terrorist Screening Center said. Such "positive encounters" can take place at airports, land borders or consular offices, or during traffic stops.
The official recounted an incident two years ago in which a state trooper pulled over a truck driver for a traffic violation.
The driver appeared nervous, was traveling to several states, had three cellphones and plenty of food in his truck, and made several calls during the stop. The trooper was able to confirm through a call to the Terrorist Screening Center that the man was on the watch list. It turned out, the official said, that an FBI case agent had an open al-Qaeda-related investigation on the truck driver.
The names on the watch list are culled from a much larger catch-all database that is housed at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean and that includes a huge variety of terrorism-related intelligence.
From its inception in 2005, the database, the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, was plagued by technical difficulties.
In 2008, the counterterrorism center undertook a multimillion-dollar upgrade to streamline and more fully automate the database so that only one record exists per person, no matter how many aliases that person might have.
Those improvements should reduce errors and free up analysts for more pressing tasks, said Vicki Jo McBee, the counterterrorism center's chief information officer.
The new system will also ease the sharing of fingerprints and iris and facial images of people on the watch list among screening agencies, McBee said. And rather than sending data once a night to the Terrorist Screening Center's watch list, which can take hours, the new system should be able to update the list almost instantly as names are entered, McBee said.
Deployment has not been smooth. TIDE 2, as it is called, failed readiness tests and missed a December launch deadline. But now, McBee said, all tests have been passed and the system will be launched in January.
Meanwhile, the National Counterterrorism Center has developed a 70-person pursuit group to investigate "sleeper" terrorism threats, with four teams examining the regional hotbeds in Africa; in Yemen and the Arabian Gulf; in Pakistan and Europe; and in the United States. A fifth picks up the rest of the world.
"We try to look at the unknowns, the terrorists lurking in the dark that you don't know about, like the Abdulmutallabs of the world," said an official familiar with the group.
The teams, which include analysts from the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, might take a tip about a suspect flying to the United States on a certain route, then study travel records to see whether they can find travelers who match the pattern.
They also mine Internet sites for clues, in "a careful, legal way," the official said. For instance, though analysts had not identified Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born Connecticut man, before his May attempt to blow up a car in Times Square, a pursuit team delineated his network of associates in the United States in part by gleaning details from social networking sites, she said.
Much of the pursuit group's work is filtering out irrelevant information.
"We get a huge kick out of" handing a lead to the FBI, the official said. "But . . . the ruling-out is almost as important as the actual finding of leads."
Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson contributed to this report.
INDIALANTIC, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Charles Reinighaus thinks Americans are "disenfranchised" when it comes to the war on terror. He feels like the federal government has all the power to keep the country safe and is missing a key component: the American people. He loves to point out that the Times Square Bomber was not stopped by high tech cameras are other security systems, but rather, by alert citizens who noticed something odd and reported it.
That's why Reinighaus and a group of friends created "The Patriot App" for the iPhone. It's an application that makes it easy to report things you think might not be on the up and up.
Reinighaus says "We didn't want citizens to have to take a passive role any longer to the government and the war on terror."
The app taps into federal tip lines. It lets you make reports, using pre-loaded forms, in any of several categories such as "National Security Threats," "Suspicious Activity," and "Government Waste." You can even include photos and/or video. The app then routes your report to the appropriate government agency like the FBI, Centers for Disease Control or the Environmental Protection Agency.
Some have already nicknamed "The Patriot App" the "Snitch App." Reinighaus says he realizes some may be tempted to use the app to get revenge on personal enemies. But he says he truly believes that 99.9 percent of people are good and will not misuse the technology. He's also quick to point out that false reporting to the federal government can get you a fine up to $250,000, something the application makes clear during the reporting process.
Right now the app is only available on the iPhone. But Reinighaus says his company is currently working on a version for Android based systems that should be available soon.
"The Patriot App" began a few months back as a $1.99 purchase in Apple's App Store. However, the company made a free download for the holidays. Reinighaus says the price could go back up after the first of the year. So, if you're interested in using your iPhone to help fight crime, you might want to download it sooner rather than later.
Informing on your neighbours? There's an app for that: Big Brother iPhone download encourages you to spy
By Daniel Bates
Last updated at 8:50 AM on 15th December 2010
It claims to be a handy way to make you a ‘better citizen’.
But a new app for the iPhone has been condemned by critics who claim it is turning mobile users into a network of government spies.
The PatriotApp links your phone to American security and law enforcement agencies via the Internet and allows you to report anything you want at the touch of a button.
By simply pressing the relevant icon, users can sound the alarm for terrorism, ‘suspicious activity’, a health pandemic or an environmental safety issue.
The $0.99 app, named after the controversial Patriot Act brought in by the U.S. government after 9/11, is designed to ‘encourage active citizen participation in the War on Terror and in protecting their families and surrounding communities’, its makers Citizen Concepts claim.
But critics say it is like putting Big Brother in the palm of your hand and could easily be open to abuse by those with questionable agendas.
The app works by making a direct link between your phone and law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The software also links up to your Facebook and Twitter page meaning you can post alerts on there if needed.
There are options to report ‘government waste’ and a forum for employee whistleblowers whilst other features include a shortcut to the FBI’s Most Wanted Internet page, in case you think you see a suspect out and about.
Citizen Concepts claim that the app will allow citizens to record and reports issues of National Security, government waste, white collar crime, workplace harassment, discrimination, and public health concerns.
But since its announcement, technology bloggers and commentators have savaged the company’s motives.
Technology blog Infowars.com wrote that it was little more than the launch of the ‘iPhone snitch network’.
‘An app like this is meant to solidify the climate of fear in which our leaders want us to exist,’ they wrote.
On Mobilecrunch, Ashley commented: ‘It really does sound like big brother is watching you!’
And on InfoTech.com Erin Monda said: ‘While I suppose this level of connectivity would be helpful, I am deeply cautious about what a degree of overzealousness might lead to.
‘It’s not 1984 yet - thankfully - but there may still be cause for concern.’
Passed in October 2001 with little debate in Congress, the Patriot Act gave U.S. law enforcement agencies sweeping powers to monitor the the personal habits of not only those who have been identified as suspected terrorists, but anyone residing in the United States as well as United States citizens residing abroad.
The law for the first time forced third parties holding personal date to give it up to law enforcement officers without telling the individual concerned, and significantly expanded the use of wiretaps.
A storm of criticism followed, fuelled by a string of cases where federal investigators had invoked the act for purposes it was not intended such as targeting journalists and illegal file sharers who breached copyright law.
Citizen Concepts co-owner Dr Roy Swiger defended the PatriotApp.
‘PatriotApp is a real-world solution for real-world problems...the ever-present threat of terrorism, demonstrate the need for such an application,’ he said.
"No refusal" DUI checkpoints could be coming to Tampa
Florida is among several states now holding what are called "no refusal" checkpoints.
It means if you refuse a breath test during a traffic stop, a judge is on site, and issues a warrant that allows police to perform a mandatory blood test.
It's already being done in several counties, and now Unfried is working to bring it to the Tampa Bay area.
'No Refusal' Weekend Program To Exist Year-Round
Drivers Who Refuse Breath Tests Will Have Blood Drawn
Charles Gonzalez, KSAT 12 News Reporter
POSTED: Wednesday, December 29, 2010
SAN ANTONIO -- Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed announced plans this week to extend "No Refusal" weekends to every weekend in 2011 as opposed to certain holiday weekends, like New Year's and the Fourth of July.
The move to extend the program drew positive words from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Tammy Banovac finally allowed to fly after trumped up claims of an unidentified contour in the rear, and 'unidentified nitrate composition' in the rear (i.e. explosives)
"This is the most ridiculous sky security theatrics imaginable," said Banovac.
Hungary Readies to Nationalize Mandatory Private Pension Funds
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