Thursday, 30 October 2014

Snowden Case: FBI Searches Home of Suspected "Second Leaker"

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The FBI has recently searched the home of "an employee of a federal contractor" suspected of leaking sensitive, classified government files to the media. As noted by Yahoo! News, the information is based on information from unnamed sources in law enforcement and intelligence, and evidently the search is part of a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors. It is not known what information led to the search or what was found, if anything.

For months now, there have been hints about the possibilty of a second person leaking classified documents to reporters close to the Snowden story. The speculation stemmed from disclosures about U.S. government surveillance that came after Snowden left the country and, therefore, could not possibly have come from him.

In early August, The Intercept, whose editors include Glenn Greenwald, posted an article entitled Barack Obama's Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers, which includes details of the Terrorist Screening Database. The classified documents that serve as the foundation for the article show that over 40 percent of the nearly 700,000 names on the terrorist watch list have "no recognized terrorist group affiliation." This makes these people, nearly 300,000 of them, not only the largest group on the list, but larger than several other groups combined.

According to a report by CBS News, "The secret documents also revealed that the government is covertly collecting biometric information — such as facial images, fingerprints, and iris scans — about individuals on a larger classified watchlist called the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE)." This is particularly frightening considering the large amount of biometric data available on U.S. citizens due to portions of the REAL ID Act that many states have put into place.

There were also leaks to Der Spiegel, which may have come from the same source. These leaks contained documents showing how the NSA spies on computer systems around the world. The report states, "A document viewed by SPIEGEL resembling a product catalog reveals that an NSA division called ANT has burrowed its way into nearly all the security architecture made by the major players in the industry — including American global market leader Cisco and its Chinese competitor Huawei, but also producers of mass-market goods, such as US computer-maker Dell."

The sources in the Yahoo! News article indicate that even though federal prosecutors are investigating, they "may now be more reluctant to bring criminal charges involving unauthorized disclosures to the news media," possibly due to the recent backlash caused by the treatment of previous whistleblowers such as Snowden and Manning.

This development is good news for those concerned that others would be hesitant to come forward to media with information about government surveillance after Snowden left both his post and his country. It appears that at least one other person has chosen to continue informing the public about actions of our government that threaten liberty and privacy in the name of protecting us from terrorism. If all these revelations do not come from the same source, there may be other whistleblowers that are still unknown. Let's hope so.

Photo: AP Images

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