Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
May 11, 2015 11:01 AM   Subscribe

"I don't think they're all necessarily horrible people..." In an impressive display of solid intelligence tradecraft, the IC Watch project has released the Transparency Toolkit, whereby social media sites were mined for keywords, project names, employers, and locations known or suspected to be associated with the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Profile information about the individuals (27,000 of them) was then published in the open. Both the software and the raw data have been released on Github. At the re:publica15 conference on 6 May, founder M. C. McGrath presented a 26 minute talk on the project. The group has a Facebook Page and a shiny new Twitter Feed. Some press reporting has begun to emerge on the project. [Warning: The YouTube link shows highly classified materials; by viewing it you may be committing a crime in your jurisdiction.]
posted by Emperor SnooKloze (74 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 11:19 AM on May 11, 2015


This strikes me as very creepy. I've read the stated purpose, but this just seems like creating a new blacklist of "bad people" for reasons and goals that aren't very clear, or that don't really follow from what's being done.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:20 AM on May 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


McGrath is very good at presenting this info in a way that is NOT creepy. The Intelligence Community is Government and Contractors and Programs, but it is also (and each of those are also) comprised of people. Some of them are climbing the retirement ladder, some of them are trying to make a positive change from within, and some of them list Operational Security in their LinkedIn profile. This is capital-I Important, not creepy.
posted by carsonb at 11:27 AM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Anyway, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is creepy by its premise. There are watchers. They are watching. Now that's creepy.
posted by carsonb at 11:29 AM on May 11, 2015


This is terrific and laudable stuff. And the use of resumes and job listings is really interesting: it suggests an inherent conflict between the face of the intelligence "community" (the euphemism still horrifies me) as an economic sector, which requires a certain amount of openness, and as the covert extension of state power, which requires the opposite.
posted by RogerB at 11:29 AM on May 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Why are we still calling this the "intelligence community"? It's not a community, any more than there is a "street gang community" or a "torture community."
posted by 1adam12 at 11:53 AM on May 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Should the "following the link may be a crime" warning maybe come before the link?
posted by Novus at 11:53 AM on May 11, 2015


I'm not worried about the people listed. There are plenty of "rah-rah war on terror" types who own businesses, exist as hiring managers, etc. And from a historical standpoint, the transition for former Stasi officers wasn't awful IIRC. The system takes care of its own, even if it can't publicly support the original purpose.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:54 AM on May 11, 2015


Should the "following the link may be a crime" warning maybe come before the link?

The goatse.cx lawyer has informed us that we need a warning! So.. if you are under the age of 18 or find this photograph offensive, please don’t look at it. Thank you!
posted by indubitable at 12:04 PM on May 11, 2015


Is the link borked for anyone else?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:06 PM on May 11, 2015


Borked for me too.
posted by kenko at 12:15 PM on May 11, 2015


First link isn't working for me, either, but the second one puts me in mind of this exchange between Robert Redford and Cliff Robertson from Three Days of the Condor:

Higgins: It'd have to be somebody in the community.
Joe Turner: Community?
Higgins: Intelligence field.
Joe Turner: Community! Jesus, you guys are kind to yourselves. Community.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 12:20 PM on May 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


Wait, was a comment deleted? Wasn't there a comment about some woman in Maine selling chocolate or something?

It would be pretty ironic if that comment were deleted from providing the exact type of personal information posters in this thread are lauding the project for providing.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:22 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted - I'll ask folks not to link directly to named individuals in these files, just out of a general on-this-site avoidance of anything in the neighborhood of doxxing. Summarizing info from somebody's profile without a name seems fine to me, but 'this named person used to do intelligence work and now seems to be a teacher' is over a line we don't need to cross. The poster of that comment is welcome to repost without the link.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:26 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


(The site for the project has tended to be a bit wobbly in the face of recent traffic. Take turns, you guys.)
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 12:29 PM on May 11, 2015


It might be nice to know just which jurisdictions in which viewing the Youtube video is a crime. I'm not in the habit of knowing, or guessing, whether I'm committing a crime with my eyes based on where my eyes are located at the time, and I'm afraid that this might be a bad time to start.
posted by Poppa Bear at 12:40 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


These people are literally in the business of compiling this kind of information about all the rest of us, and much more invasive information as well. I see absolutely nothing wrong with doing everything we can to keep a sharp eye on them. Deciding to make your living spying on people is not a value-neutral act.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:43 PM on May 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is creepy by its premise.

If you're a public servant, the rules are different than for someone not working for government. Employees do have personal privacy---no one should have to disclose medical history or their taxes, but they may not have public privacy. This is especially true if they work in public, even something as every day as a teacher or a security guard. Anything in the public record, a criminal record, political activity, professional connections, and the implied influence that brings, are all fair game. Transparency is part of the job.

In fact, I'd argue, that it's a pretty essential requirement for good government.
posted by bonehead at 12:44 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah there are some odd entries in there, like Mrs. Sue DeNimes [not her real name] who, during her years as an anchor/reporter for KATU-TV out of Portland Oregon, managed to find time in her off-hours to also become US Air Force Commander, Protected Satcom Group (leading a 125-person group in acquisition of next-gen protected MILSATCOM, Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) valued at over $6B). I'm not surprised she quit her subsequent job as Director of Program Management at Lockheed Martin & Boeing, because it was probably conflicting with her supposedly concurrent role of owner of HomeStars Video Tours.

Her actual LinkedIn profile does not list any of the military or military contractor jobs that ICWatch attributes to her. So either she's very very sneaky, or they're mixing up people. I've seen a number of these, were it looks like identical names have probably been combined into one identity. Not cool. This can destroy someone's reputation.

In the video linked in the FPP, McGrath admits that "there is some noise in this data", and that some people may have been included simply because of unrelated work with a government contractor, or because they happen to know some people who work in the intelligence community. He goes on to claim that the goal with this project is "to provide a face to the surveillance state, and a better mechanism of researching and understanding these programs, and accountability." Definitely some fascinating tools and methods here (when he talks about ways to discover new codenames, or tracking the life of codenamed operations), but I think this black list (which it ends up being, despite his pronouncements otherwise) is very problematic.
posted by Kabanos at 12:52 PM on May 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


You can already see the black list mentality developing in this thread: "they" spy on us, so they deserve this. If they're on this list they must be bad.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:58 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


re: may be a crime: If you have any sort of clearance, and you a) intentionally read something you aren't cleared for, or b) contaminate a non-cleared electronic device with classified information, your clearance may be revoked, and you may be charged with a crime. This is also an issue with classified information on wikileaks.
posted by garlic at 1:01 PM on May 11, 2015


Your very own made in USA Stassi.
Open it up. Publish it all I say.
posted by adamvasco at 1:04 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


"they" spy on us, so they deserve this. If they're on this list they must be bad.

If they are on this list they are working for the bad guys, so it is not really important what their personal motivations are; they are working to help the bad guys spy on and thereby control the rest of us.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:05 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not just Bizarro World politics but downright offensive to the memory of actual blacklists — backed by massive political and economic power and used as a club against political dissidents — to analogize them to an upstart citizen watchdog's effort to compile information for oversight of the secret operations of state surveillance.
posted by RogerB at 1:07 PM on May 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


If they are on this list they are working for the bad guys, so it is not really important what their personal motivations are; they are working to help the bad guys spy on and thereby control the rest of us.

Yeah! Hey, I know one of these guys! (At least it's the same name, and I don't like him anyway.) Let's organize a demonstration at his work!
posted by happyroach at 1:15 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why? What would a demonstration accomplish?

How do you propose that we can even begin to keep the state security apparatus in check if we don't keep the best watch we can on its members and their activities?
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:17 PM on May 11, 2015


I've been doing a little bit of similar research lately, and have been wondering about the question of whether to publish my findings.

It started with a Washington Post article about suspicious planes circling over some of the areas in Baltimore where there was rioting. The one plane registration/tail number that was mentioned in the article was my entry point--It led me to what looked like a front company, and from there (with the help of Google and public FAA records) I was able to find another dozen or so apparent front companies, with at least 50 registered aircraft. among them. And then I discovered that some of those aircraft appeared to be doing surveillance in my own city, Los Angeles--they were in the air almost every day, for hours at a time. Since then the FBI has admitted that the plane mentioned in the WaPo article was theirs, turning my circumstantial suspicions into something more concrete.

Is this information that I should publish? Would I be harming legitimate law enforcement investigations, or drawing attention to potentially unlawful surveillance that most people are unaware of? I mean, the FBI's job includes doing surveillance of suspects--If that's what they're doing, then I'm OK with that. If they're doing persistent video or aerial cell-phone surveillance and sweeping thousands of citizens into their collection nets, then I think people should be made aware. And the ACLU seems to agree.

The information I've collected isn't incredibly hard to find, but I haven't seen it published anywhere. if I publish it it would make it easier for people to see if the FBI/DOJ is doing similar things in their cities and keep tabs on their activities. Would you publish it?
posted by jjwiseman at 1:23 PM on May 11, 2015 [29 favorites]


Why are we putting a doxxing list on Metafilter? Completely uncool. And honestly, given that we have Mefites in the intelligence community, potentially really fucking problematic.
posted by corb at 1:25 PM on May 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


The video starts with "this is Joe, this is a picture of his house, this is a picture of his wife and kids"... when did that become OK? How is this not doxxing?
posted by Runes at 1:44 PM on May 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


Apparently when it's against people we don't like.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:44 PM on May 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


So, does anyone think the crash was intentional by the ostensible targets?
posted by leotrotsky at 1:47 PM on May 11, 2015


Referring to these employees as 'bad' is lazy and inaccurate.

For good or bad, this is the future Google portends. Big data is coming and I think we have to learn quickly how to adapt. All of this is publicly available information. Do you want to make it a crime to analyse it? I don't believe that is workable, let alone ethically sound.

So yes, jjwiseman, I believe you should publish, absolutely.

Perhaps one of the reasons that spycraft was restrained in the past was the desire for secrecy. That the NSA might have thought they could keep a worldwide surveilance state secret seems odd now, but perhaps a culture of confidence developed after the failure of the Echelon revelations to trigger outrage. Perhaps its more likely the US just rushed to excess following 9/11.

Either way, total surveilance concentrated in the hands of authorities is inconsistent with free will. It's why people are more comfortable with Google and Facebook owning and selling their data than their own government (or someone elses, as the case may be). Its also why the willingness of corporations to share big data with the government is so problematic.

I find it difficult to think of an acceptable alternative other than to make the data public. People acting in public are more likely to behave ethically. As soon as you place someone in a position where they have access to more data than you, the more likely it is they will abuse that access. We need to develop the means to ensure we can all keep each other in check with the data we're all freely generating and giving away.
posted by bigZLiLk at 1:47 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


No, it's against people who have voluntarily accepted a higher burden of scrutiny and responsibility by taking a job related to government security.

If our democracy functioned properly, that scrutiny would be applied by our elected representatives. Since our elected representatives are not doing their jobs, and our electoral system makes it nearly impossible to replace them, we have to perform that scrutiny ourselves.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:49 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Would you publish it?

There's also the option of sending it to The Intercept or a similarly interested news organization if you felt remiss in publishing it yourself.
posted by fragmede at 2:02 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mars Saxman: "No, it's against people who have voluntarily accepted a higher burden of scrutiny and responsibility by taking a job related to government security. "

When the video changed from "this is Joe and his professional behavior" to "this is Joe's wife, kids and friends and where he lives and what his vehicle looks like" it crossed the like from scrutiny of what Joe's up to to doxxing.
posted by Runes at 2:10 PM on May 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's not just Bizarro World politics but downright offensive to the memory of actual blacklists

I think the meaning of blacklist has become somewhat more generalized since the time of Charles II.
posted by Kabanos at 2:16 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm a little uncomfortable with this. I see where the IC Watch people are coming from, but this seems a little misguided to me. If they are looking for a revolution from below, there have to be better ways of going about it.
posted by hwestiii at 2:55 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why? What would a demonstration accomplish?

Oh you know, convince their employer to fire them, maybe force them to move out of town. I mean, if it works for GamerGate...look, that's not important. The important thing is, he has the same name as someone on the list, and I don't like him. So what more do you need? And if you can't trust a doxxing list on the internet, what can you trust?
posted by happyroach at 3:00 PM on May 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Of all the problems and threats in the world this is way down on the list for me--I understand that there are many here who worry/stew/agonize over being spied/listened/watched by the government. Just not there and I do find the activity of "outing" these people an unfortunate use of intellectual manpower and in fact a little creepy if not mean spirited. But I am not one who is significantly worried by the "watching".
posted by rmhsinc at 3:15 PM on May 11, 2015


Yeah, this is total BS. A quick perusal finds all kinds of crap like the postdoctoral researcher in biology who was simultaneously an undergraduate *and* a bigwig at Lockheed Martin (hint: she wasn't; they just smashed together the linked in profiles of anyone who shares a name).
posted by BlueDuke at 3:45 PM on May 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


And to be clear, because of the shoddy way they've smashed things together, this is is worse then doxxing. MeFi should be better than this.
posted by BlueDuke at 3:47 PM on May 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


MeFi should be better than this.

That's probably why MeFi isn't hosting the information (and why specific links to people are being deleted by the moderation staff).

Or should MeFi be better than discussing this? Because hell, the site is sort of set up to discuss things. Even controversial things.
posted by el io at 3:53 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


The inaccuracy has to be part of the point, right? I assume they've been about as careful as the folks who make the TSA no-fly list.
posted by dialetheia at 3:54 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think Metafilter should be better than providing links to things that dox people's families.
posted by corb at 3:54 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


This can destroy someone's reputation.

This can stone cold kill someone.

I'm very much in favor of releasing information on policies and practices, of secret agreements and position papers and operational memos.

Putting up a nice little kill list, with people who may not even deserve to be on it, is something I'm not OK with.

If you think this is anything other than a kill list, you're not operating in the bounds of reality.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:58 PM on May 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


[I'm going to ask folks to stop the specifically "should this post exist on MeFi?" line of discussion - if that discussion is going to happen, it should happen in MetaTalk. To be clear, it's fine to discuss in this thread the more general (non-MeFi) ethical aspects of publicizing the info. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:59 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Slap*Happy - If you think this is anything other than a kill list, you're not operating in the bounds of reality.

Oh, come on, argue better than this.

hwsteii - If they are looking for a revolution from below, there have to be better ways of going about it.

Such as? I'm all ears. Er, and eyeballs.
posted by carsonb at 4:03 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, come on, argue better than this.

No. There is no argument. The information was presented in an actionable form. What kind of action to you expect there to be taken? Agents of ISIL or AQAP to look them up and have a lovely chat about politics? How about the next time one of the falsely named winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time in Pakistan, Egypt or Kenya? Would Al Shabab just chuckle and send her on her merry way after explaining to them she never actually worked for the CIA...
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:14 PM on May 11, 2015


Why are we still calling this the "intelligence community"?

Because it's a community of spies. A Russian spy has more in common with a US spy than either one does to their civilian population. It's not the "US intelligence community", just "the intelligence community", which is global.

Now, as far as this breach of data goes... Oh, wait, not a breach... This hack, oh wait, not a hack... This publicly revealed information that the intelligence workers put into the public domain.

Yeah, maybe your linkedin profile shouldn't have a list of spook projects you've worked on. Maybe the secret intelligence work done at the government should stay a secret.
posted by el io at 4:36 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


MeTa
posted by corb at 5:01 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


carsonb - I don't have a suggestion, but I don't think the people responsible for the direction behind the ongoing intelligence abuses are posting their resumes on LinkedIn. This is like trying to bring down Walmart by harrassing the register clerks or the guy who greets you at the door.
posted by hwestiii at 5:15 PM on May 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


This is just beyond stupid. Look at the people on that list. You have a smattering of military imagery analysts (Here, look at this satellite image of North Korea. Are they building nuclear facilities?), a smattering of military language analysts (Here, listen to these North Korean military transmissions, translate to see if they're talking about building nuclear facilities), and a smattering of a bunch of other people completely unrelated to the alleged scary men who are, "compiling this kind of information about all the rest of us, and much more invasive information as well."
posted by Dalby at 5:39 PM on May 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


Why does Surrey show up so often and so high up in the IC Watch listings in terms of how many US Intelligence people are working there? University of Surrey is the university highest in the list, and then Surrey County Council is pretty high too (117). City of Surrey is another 54. Even Surrey Hospital has 19 and the Police has 15.

What is Surrey up to?
posted by lollusc at 5:47 PM on May 11, 2015


Training?
Slap*Happy. I get your point. A lot of ancillary target info can be accurred on the web already. As to be action ready, you have a point. It is slightly worrying but remember who has the grand master daddy list on almost everyone/thing. [insert joke here]

The larger question is why do this?
And if this list does led to something bad, who is to blame. The one I'm concerned about is the repercussions. These folks have a wicked sense of humour.
posted by clavdivs at 6:20 PM on May 11, 2015


Searched my own name, out of interest. I'm privacy lawyer and not a spy, but privacy law and surveillance issues often interact and I write on both.

Found a 'certified dog trainer' with no apparent security, IT or intelligence qualifications. Her profile picture is her playing with puppies by the waterfront. But hey, she knows how to use MS Word. So that's something.

So, perhaps some accuracy issues?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:36 PM on May 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Was it a Corgi?
posted by clavdivs at 7:16 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


jjwiseman, I'd either publish it or call up some journalists who might work with me to publish it. Sounds like interesting investigative reporting!
posted by geeklizzard at 8:37 PM on May 11, 2015


corb: "Why are we putting a doxxing list on Metafilter? Completely uncool. And honestly, given that we have Mefites in the intelligence community, potentially really fucking problematic."

I am going to disagree with you there. The intelligence community apparently wants untrammeled rights to dox us whenever they want to any extent they want with no real provocation and without even so much as a Nelsonian "ha ha" to the party being doxxed so they know it happened.

As I see it, if they want to have a panopticon-like state, they need to realize people are going to look back through the two way mirror sometimes.
posted by Samizdata at 9:51 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Although, I must say if you ARE going to doxx these people, make damnably sure you are right.
posted by Samizdata at 9:54 PM on May 11, 2015


Lists. They tell me more about who made them then what's on them.
posted by clavdivs at 10:21 PM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Putting up a nice little kill list, with people who may not even deserve to be on it, is something I'm not OK with.

I get where this is coming from, but I think ultimately it's a specious concern. Imagine a hypothetical terrorist sitting down to choose a target. Presumably he's going to act regardless of whether this list exists (no one seems to be arguing that the list will turn non-terrorists into terrorists). Without the list, his victims will likely be random civilians who happen to be at the WTC or the Boston Marathon on the wrong day. Now that the list exists, there's a marginally greater chance that his victims will be slightly-less-random workers in the intelligence sector. This sucks for the people on the list, but are things actually any worse for the population as a whole? No. It just feels worse because the folks on the list are specifiable individuals, rather than an anonymous mass.
posted by twirlip at 11:39 PM on May 11, 2015


Twenty quatloos says this data was already put together by some bored analysts in Russia, China, France, and Germany, independently, starting in about 1946 and updated every few months since.
posted by zippy at 2:42 AM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is just not very good work. I looked up one person I knew was a member of "the community" and found him, but with records ending 1998. His Linked profile shows Booz Allen Hamilton as current employer and a bunch of other clearly military intel related work the past 15 years.
posted by Gotanda at 2:47 AM on May 12, 2015


Although, I must say if you ARE going to doxx these people, make damnably sure you are right.

Look up keywords like "caterer" or "chef" and you can find everyone who went to the Culinary Institute of America. Hundreds of invalid entries with zero effort at quality control; way to go.
posted by doreur at 5:54 AM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


This can stone cold kill someone.

Yes. And stopping these people from doing these searches or building the tools that do the searches will do nothing from preventing a real terrorist from doing the same. Including finding the false positives.

If it worries you that this kind of information is this publicly available, don't shoot the messengers. Start redesigning your surveillance state.
posted by DreamerFi at 7:08 AM on May 12, 2015


Rather than adopting my usual contrarian, throwing-around-annoying-observations behavior, I'll try to be coherent for once. My inspiration is this recent fucking fantastic post on John Oliver's Snowden piece. I claim no necessary affinity with the author other than a desire to a) make sense b) contribute something useful.

First, calling it the Intelligence Community is not a euphemism. I'm a MeFi n00b but I gather there exists here a strong current of sentiment against the sector of American government involved in intelligence collection. That's fine. But I like to see opinions grounded in fact, and I perceive some of that sentiment to not be so. So I offer some facts, and some opinion that I've tried to base thereon.

The American intelligence community (I beg patience, that's the name of the Wikipedia article) is composed of at least 17 distinct agencies. The usual suspects are among those 17, along with some lesser-known "bad guys": Coast Guard Intelligence, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity.

Now, take a dictionary definition of community, "the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes or interests in common," which I've gotten from a bald-faced Google search. I think it's easy to argue that yeah, those 17 agencies are both distinct entities and share common interests, so the requirements for a simple, unbiased use of the word "community" are met.

But I can and will argue this point a bit further. Just within the United States, having 17 fucking agencies was a bit of a problem, so the US government rather wisely decided they should probably all be under the same umbrella. Now what do you call this many-headed spook monstrosity? "Monstrosity" might be the preferred choice of some readers here, but not myself. Well, they all collect intelligence, so "intelligence" should probably be in the (unofficial) title. And since 9/11 they all make (more of) a deliberate effort to talk to each other and share the intelligence they collect. And well, gee, that kinda sounds like a community so maybe we should call it the "intelligence community"... I can argue this even further but perhaps that's enough.

Next, spy agencies exist. This is factual. Ought they to? We're instantly in much deeper philosophical water, but here's my attempt to swim. I see a bunch of claims floating around this thread (and previously in previouser MeFi threads) that hold that governments doing any spying at all is unacceptable. However... governments need information to make decisions. Much of what spy agencies do is gather information, collate and cross-reference it, and present it in a form that's actually useful for decision-makers. If there were no spy agencies, formulating effective foreign policy would be maddeningly difficult, if not impossible.

Now that I've given a legitimate, specific reason for spy agencies to exist (helps formulate foreign policy), the obvious objection is "ok, but that doesn't justify large-scale domestic surveillance of your own citizens." No, it doesn't. Without getting into that specific issue let's say that type of behavior is overreach and needs to be addressed. But to finally refer to this thread's topic, what's being done by IC Watch seems to be a fairly ham-fisted attempt to list employees of any number of US intelligence agencies. Why do that? Based on comments in this thread, and based on the name of the project ("Intelligence Community Watch"), the effort seems to be derive from a feeling of "these people are spying on us so we'll spy on them." An obvious issue with this viewpoint is that it conflates the behavior and moral responsibility of a large organization with the behavior and moral responsibility of individual employees of that organization. Does the individual citizen of a democratic state bear moral responsibility for actions taken by that state? Yes, by definition but in small part. OK, then assume that state does Something Bad. Should that individual citizen be held to account for that Bad Action, in ways where there exist no established norms and the risk of unintended consequences is fairly high? I think not. I'm making an analogy between states/citizens and intelligence agencies/employees, but I think it holds fairly well.

So what exactly is this project hoping to achieve? I think in the current climate, with terrorist attacks directed at cartoonists, publishing names, geographical information and employment history of, well, more obvious terrorist targets is pretty damn irresponsible. Various people here have already pointed this out. But worse than that, making a list of spy agency employees with the implication that being on the list means you're bad or deserve Bad Actions directed at you is not morally justifiable in the slightest.

(Credit where it's due for various viewpoints I've incorporated. I've referenced neither those I attack nor those I reinforce.)
posted by iffthen at 8:17 AM on May 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


R.J. Hillhouse who is figuring quite heavily in the Seymour Hersh / OBL thread was one of the first journalists to expose the private spy industry.
posted by adamvasco at 12:30 PM on May 12, 2015


Agree with others that this is a bit of a blunt instrument. Apparently being a member of a LinkedIn group called The Intelligence Community isn't even enough to get on the list.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 5:58 PM on May 12, 2015


Here's an update on the DOJ surveillance flights that jjwiseman was mentioning:
Department Of Justice Flying Secret Airplane Fleet Over American Cities
posted by larrybob at 11:51 AM on May 27, 2015


Nov 2014 First Snowden. Then tracking you on wheels. Now spies on a plane. Yes, surveillance is everywhere
posted by adamvasco at 12:16 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Awesome! M. C. McGrath rocks!

June 21 is whistleblower Edward Snowden's 32nd birthday btw.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:13 PM on May 28, 2015


From today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Mysterious low-flying plane over Twin Cities raises questions of surveillance
A similar flight — nighttime, circling at low altitude — in a suburb of Boston after the 2013 marathon bombing generated media coverage and concern among ordinary citizens about the “Quincy mystery plane.” That Cessna 182 Skylane also was traced to Bristow, Va., and registered to a company called RKT Productions, according to news reports and witnesses. It was later reported by the Quincy Patriot Ledger that the plane was tracking Khairullozhon Matanov, a Quincy resident who earlier this year pleaded guilty to obstructing the bombing investigation.
posted by larrybob at 11:44 AM on May 29, 2015


I made a mistake on my May 27 post - should have linked to Department of Justice Flying Secret Airplane Fleet Over American Cities. That article credits Minneapolisam, who posted this Medium article on May 25. The Star Tribune article doesn't credit him, but rather credits another person.
posted by larrybob at 1:46 PM on May 29, 2015




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