Anonymous Leaker on Government Assassination

James Bond -TIDEOver the past few years, we’ve heard a lot about President Obama’s secret kill list. Yet still we know virtually nothing about its implementation. Despite mild Congressional scrutiny and ACLU lawsuits directed at the shroud of secrecy, some basic questions remain unanswered. How do you get on the list? Am I on the list? Who put me on the list? How do you get off the list? Can you get off the list?

The truth is there are several such lists used to target individuals for different reasons. Some lists are closely kept. Others span multiple intelligence and local law enforcement agencies. There are lists used to kill or capture supposed high value targets. And others are intended to threaten, coerce, or simply monitor a person’s activity. However, all the lists, whether to kill or silence, originate from the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment [TIDE] and they are maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center [TSC] at the National Counterterrorism Center.

The existence of TIDE is unclassified. Yet details about how it functions in our government are completely unknown to the public. In August 2013, the database reached a milestone of one million entries. Today it is thousands of entries larger and is growing faster than it has since its inception in 2003. The March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance lays out the broad criteria for nominating someone to the database.

Not only does the Terrorist Screening Center reserve the right to store your name, date of birth, and other basic identifying information, but it also stores your medical records, transcripts, and passport data. Your license plate numbers, email, and cell phone number — along with the phone’s international mobile subscriber identity and international mobile station equipment identity numbers. Your bank account and purchases. And other sensitive information, including DNA and photographs capable of identifying you using facial recognition software.

The National Counterterrorism Center collaborates annually with agencies from the international alliance known as Five Eyes [FVEY] to supplement any information missing from entries already in its database. Or to add more entries. Individual entries in the database are assigned a TIDE Personnel Number (or TPN). From Osama bin Laden (TPN 1063599) to Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (TPN 26350617) — the American son of Anwar al-Awlaki. Anyone who has ever been the target of a covert operation was first assigned a TPN, and closely monitored by all agencies who follow that TPN long before they were eventually put on a separate list and extra-judicially sentenced to death.

When governments begin to tally enormous enemies lists, they run roughshod over our essential checks on power. Especially when they consider their own citizens to be a threat. Of the more than one million entries in the TIDE database, approximately 21,000 are those of American citizens. By leaking this information, I hope to give the public an opportunity to know what kind of activity might lead to their being placed on a list used to monitor their everyday activity. For the first time, the public has an opportunity to gain insight into the criteria that could potentially lead to their own trial by drone strike.

In 2008, I shook hands with Senator Obama when he came through my town on his way to the White House. After his inauguration, he said, “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” I firmly believe those principles are crucial to an open society, which is why I was compelled to reveal this information. If this administration lacks the courage to uphold its promises to the people, then I and others like me will do so for them.

—Anonymous Leaker read by Jeremy Scahill
The Government’s Secret War with Drones

Stunning Petulance from Minneapolis Police Officers

Lynx forward Maya Moore - Minneapolis PoliceOn Monday night, four off-duty Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers were moonlighting as security personnel for the Lynx WNBA game at Target Center.

The officers wore their Minneapolis Police Department uniforms while working the security job (as permitted by the department).

And in an act of stunning petulance, all four walked off the security job because Lynx players wore t-shirts like the one Lynx forward Maya Moore is wearing in the photo on the left.

On the back of these shirts are the names of Philando Castile, killed by police in Minnesota last week, and Alton Sterling, killed by police in Louisiana. And beneath the names is a Dallas Police department emblem — remembering the five officers killed by a sniper in Texas.

Not Just Shirts

The MPD officers were reportedly also offended by a pre-game news conference Lynx players held. It included seemingly universal comments such as Rebekkah Brunson saying the shirts were meant to “honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us.” And Maya Moore saying, “We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling.”

The Minneapolis police officers should not have been surprised. Last Saturday, the Lynx wore the exact same shirts and made similar statements before a game against the Dallas Wings. Several of the Wings teammates expressed gratitude for the show of support. In that instance, Moore declared, “If we take this time to see that this is a human issue and speak out together, we can greatly decrease fear and create change… Tonight we will be wearing shirts to honor and mourn the losses of precious American citizens and to plead for change in all of us.”

The Police Union Joins In

“We don’t support law enforcement murdering civilians and we don’t support civilians murdering law enforcement.” —Lynx player Simeone Augustus

Commenting on the officers who walked out, MPD union head Lt Bob Kroll said, “I commend them for it” and “if [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.” Then, in an act even more petulant than the walk-off, Kroll said, “They only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.”

The Lynx have won three of the last five WNBA championships, and average about 8,000 fans per game. That’s roughly half the size of a typical NBA crowd, and far larger than a rock concert at nearby venue First Avenue. (A rather well-known rock club, where Prince filmed scenes for Purple Rain.)

Minneapolis Police Have a History

You may recall the story from 2014, when Minneapolis Police Department union members duped a local TV station into claiming Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was flashing a “gang symbol.” The slander was almost certainly a response to Hodges’s attempts at reforming the department.

A Longtime Problem

And such attempts are nothing new. During most of the 1980s, Anthony Bouza was head of the MPD and deeply unpopular with the force because of his reform measures. Later, Bouza described those reforms in Police Unbound: Corruption, Abuse, and Heroism By The Boys In Blue. Bouza wrote that “temptations to abuse are everywhere, and practically irresistible.” He found some officers so dirty and so unfireable, he would pay them to sit at an empty desk rather than poison new recruits with their attitudes. Bouza said officers refer to such attitudes as thinking of themselves as “meat eaters”: tough guys; ones who don’t ever back down from a confrontation.

MPD: To Protect and Serve… Themselves

Most hated of Bouza’s reforms was a reduction in two-person shifts. Officers claimed this reduction would make them unsafe, and pointed to an inevitable officer death as proof. (Police work is dangerous, although not so dangerous as fishing, farming, logging, driving, and many other occupations.) The real cause for officers’ hatred of this policy was the very reason Bouza initiated it. A two-officer crew has virtually unlimited power. In rare cases where an officer’s actions are investigated by prosecutors, witness statements from another officer will always be given more weight than testimony from suspects or bystanders.

Bouza took on the MPD job after previous experience as police commander in The Bronx. But that didn’t seem to matter to the “meat eaters” at the MPD.

Shame on the Minneapolis Police

In any case, shame on the petulant MPD officers who walked off their jobs in a huff because of the principled statements made by Minnesota Lynx athletes. But don’t expect the MPD to make desperately needed changes anytime soon.