Intelligence Data and Terrorism: The Inherent Problem

Information   The primary entity within the United States Government responsible for collecting and organizing intelligence data concerning national and international counterterrorism efforts is the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which is based in McLean, Virginia. The predecessor of the NCTC was the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), founded in May of 2003 by President George W. Bush as part of Executive Order 13354, granting “the highest priority to the detection, prevention, disruption, preemption, and mitigation of the effects of transnational terrorist activities against the territory, people, and interests of the United States of America.” The creation of the TTIC came on the realization in post 911 America that very little had delayed or prevented the tragic events initiated by al Qaeda, leading to the creation of an organization that brings terrorism experts together from the CIA, FBI, and Pentagon specifically for purpose of integrating available intelligence information. The name of the TTIC was changed to the National Counterterrorism Center as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

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This Illustration Pokes Fun at the Underpants Bomber
Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com / Foter.com / CC BY

Utilizing various databases, NCTC is in charge of the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), which is the U. S. Government’s principle list of suspected or confirmed international terrorists. The list of names on the TIDE database skyrocketed between the years 2008 and 2013 from 540,000 to 875,000, due primarily to the increased use of the system by security entities “in the wake of the failed 2009 attack on a plane by ‘underpants bomber’ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in Detroit.” These various security agencies use the TIDE database to build other pertinent information, such as the “no-fly list” that is also kept by NCTC. Various member organizations of the intelligence community contribute to the formation of TIDE, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency within the Department of Defense.

Marathon

Was the Boston Marathon Bombing a Sign of Intelligence Failure?
Photo credit: Dillsnufus / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center uses the classified information of TIDE to glean its Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), which is a terrorist watchlist containing over 400,000 unique names. On a daily basis, 1600 new recommendations are made for inclusion on the list, while 600 names are dropped and around 4800 entries are revised daily, based on updated intelligence information. In addition to the “no fly list,” there are 10 other screening organizations mentioned by Wikipedia that depend on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database:

  1. Selectee listDepartment of Homeland Security
  2. Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) – Department of Homeland Security
  3. National Automated Immigration Lookout System (NAILS) – Department of Homeland Security migrated to Treasury Enforcement Communication System (TECS)
  4. Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) – Department of State
  5. Criminal Justice Information Services Division Warrant Information – Department of Justice
  6. Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File (VGTOF) – Department of Justice
  7. Interpol Terrorism Watch ListDepartment of Justice
  8. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Top Ten Fugitive List – Department of Defense
  9. Automated Biometric Identification SystemDepartment of Defense
  10. Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification SystemDepartment of Justice

Funding for the FBI’s ability to screen and track suspected terrorists and terrorist organizations has grown rapidly since the 911 attacks, and information from such efforts is made available to federal, state, local and Native American tribal law enforcement entities – as well as to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Transportation Security Administration.

Although the above-described system of identifying suspected terrorists and terrorist organizations is impressive, the bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 has revealed an inherent and alarming weakness. Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s name had been added to the TIDE list of suspected terrorists in 2011, following Russian reports that he had become involved in radical Islamic activities. Following his inclusion in the TIDE system, his name also came under the scrutiny of the Homeland Security Department’s Customs and Border Protection Bureau – and his name received an additional flag of concern when he left the United States to visit Russia in January of 2012. However, his name automatically received a downgraded status in the database upon his return from Russia six months later – in essence falling through the cracks of investigative efforts. Officials within the system point out “that simply being listed in TIDE is not enough to justify special attention by law enforcement, and that Tsarnaev was not known to be an active threat.” This has led to renewed complaints from some that TIDE is too “large and vague,” meaning that the immense size of the collected data inhibits the very benefits it hopes to provide. One of those vocalizing her concern over this matter is Karen Joy Greenberg, the Director of the Center for National Security and noted author on the subject of terrorism and the Guantanamo Bay detention center. A professor at the Fordham University School of Law, Greenberg cautions that “what you want is more focus, not less focus. It can’t be just about quantity. It has to be about specificity.” As paradoxical as it might seem, the success of concerted efforts in identifying potential terrorists might be the new “intelligence failure,” since the overwhelming growth of the database could make it too difficult to extract the more specific information necessary in pinpointing a real threat to national security. In other words, the crucial information could be awash in a “sea of data” and difficult to identify – a problem similar to the needle in a haystack. Please don’t overlook the link below because your signature is needed to advance the petition to which this website is dedicated.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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The International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP)

PeaceIn 1992, thirty representatives from 10 different countries came together in Bradford, England to consider the nascent international idea of promoting peace museums. Including countries such as Australia, Japan, and the United States, the organization that sprang from this groundbreaking meeting was at first called the International Network of Peace Museums (INPM), but a later similar international conference hosted by the Gernika Peace Museum in Gernika-Lumo (Spain) in 2005 changed the name to the International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP). Over the years, several conferences for the INMP have occurred, including the eight that convened during 2014 in No Gun Ri, South Korea – which is the site of a very tragic massacre that took place during the Korean War. The list of peace museums in the world is a growing one, including approximately 60 such institutions that have sprung up around the globe, like the famous Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway.

Peace Bench

A Peace Bench Located Inside The Hague
Photo credit: celesteh / Foter / CC BY

INMP defines a peace museum as a nonprofit institution of education that is dedicated to propagating a culture of worldwide peace “through collecting, displaying and interpreting peace related material.” Displays or elements of a peace museum might inform the general public about non-violence and peace through the illustration of individual peacemakers in history, organizations that are dedicated to amity and goodwill in various ways, peacemaking campaigns, or historical events that exemplify the value of peace in human endeavors. Like any other museum, peace museums display objects and artifacts that would be of interest to the visitor – in this case focusing on the different people, epochs, and places important to the concept of peacebuilding in the world. Besides museums, the network of INMP also includes peace gardens, particular sites dedicated to peace, and public or community organizations dedicated to “exhibitions, documentation and similar activities.” With an overall mission of contributing to world peace through the promotion of peace museums, the organization has outlined 6 important points of dedication:

  • creating links between peace museums, related institutions and individuals worldwide
  • organizing international conferences and other activities
  • releasing publications in the form of books, articles and newsletters
  • encouraging the exchange of information, material and exhibitions
  • setting up joint exhibitions to spread know-how
  • encouraging the creation of more peace museums in other parts of the world

During its early years, the INMP carried out its functions informally, mostly in the capacity of occasional newsletters spaced out between the above mentioned international conferences. However, as the years progressed, the number of peace museums in the world increased rapidly, necessitating that the network take on a more formal structure of existence. It is presently governed by 10 executive board members and 12 advisory board members that represent museums of peace throughout the world. A major step occurred in 2009 when the INMP was formerly established as an association within The Hague, the international city of peace located in The Netherlands. In the year 2010, the organization opened its secretariat and official archive just a short distance from the Peace Palace that is part of that world famous municipality dedicated to international justice and peace. Far

from being an inconspicuous entity, the INMP is now registered with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO) – meaning that it is not part of a country’s government or a for-profit business. NGOs are usually entities that pursue far-reaching worldwide social interests that do not include political or governmental goals, but who often have consultative status within UN proceedings – due to the special nature of their international roles. Within its sovereign boundaries, the Netherlands has also granted the INMP status as an “institution for general benefit” (in Dutch the words are algemeen nut beogende instelling, ANBI). The office that is located in The Hague is overseen by a “secretariat administrator,” who is not to be confused with the “general coordinator” that oversees the overall functions of the INMP organization.

Peace Palace

The INMP Is Located Not Far From the Peace Palace
Photo credit: jiuguangw / Foter / CC BY-SA

Located in every corner of the world, peace museums optimistically hope to put the progress of worldwide peace efforts in the “spotlight,” in the same educational manner that is employed by all museums. The INMP hopes to strengthen the growth of such institutions “in the broadest sense of the word and without any discrimination.” Such efforts are undoubtedly needed in our world, which is too often cluttered with educational institutions that take the concept of peace for granted – or for some inexplicable reason simply overlook it altogether. In order to overcome the culture of death that is so pervasive worldwide through hatred, violence, terrorism, and war, the value of peace must be studied and venerated in the same way as math, science, history, and literature. If you think deeply about it, the concept of peace museums is so crucial to the future of humanity, it is hard to understand why it took the idea so long to catch on. Why doesn’t every major city of the world have at least one of these establishments? The sponsors of this website praise the work of the INMP and ask you to help promote worldwide amity by clicking on the link below and signing the petition to which we are dedicated.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

 

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