News & Politics

Someone Else Is Leaking Surveillance Secrets, Government Says

Edward Snowden is not alone, CNN reports.

Someone other than Edward Snowden is leaking classified documents about the United States’ surveillance operations.

According to CNN, government officials have concluded that there’s a new fount of secret documents, following the publication Tuesday of an article on the Intercept, the site led by Glenn Greenwald, who’s reported the bulk of Snowden-connected stories. The new article looks at the Terrorist Screening Database, or TIDE, an interagency list of “known or suspected” terrorists that has ballooned from 500,000 names in 2009 to 1.1 million last year, 680,000 of whom are on government watchlists. Of that latter figure, more than 40 percent are listed as not having any affiliation to any recognized terror group. The article also features details on the federal government’s no-fly list, which has expanded to 47,000 people under President Obama, ten times its reported peak under George W. Bush.

The Intercept’s story, by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Deveraux, does not name its source, but it includes a slide from the National Counterterrorism Center dated August 2013, several weeks after Snowden went into exile in Russia. But Greenwald himself hinted last month that there are other sources of classified intelligence documents after Snowden.

Today’s Intercept story also landed with a side dish of media drama. The Associated Press, which had also been chasing the story of TIDE’s expansion, published a report about 12:30 PM, a few minutes before Scahill and Deveraux posted their more detailed version. The timing was not accidental, the Huffington Post reports. The NCTC, perhaps knowing the AP’s prose would be less stinging, tipped off the wire service to “spoil” the Intercept’s scoop. To wit: The AP frames the growth in anti-terror watchlists as a reaction to the failed “underwear bomber” who attempted to bring down an airliner over Detroit on Christmas in 2009; the Intercept paints it as surveillance run amok.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.