Ford Motor Company Has a TIDE Report

I’ll have plenty to say about the Pemanent Subcommittee on Investigation’s report on how terrible DHS’s fusion centers are. The short version: they’re nearly worthless and a big waste of money.

But since DHS is so crappy, it says something that they find the National Counterterrorism Center’s Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database to be equally crappy.

While reporting information on an individual who is listed in the TIDE database sounds significant, the Subcommittee found that DHS officials tended to be skeptical about the value of such reporting, because of concerns about the quality of data contained in TIDE.156

156 Although NCTC describes its TIDE database as holding information on the identities of known and suspected terrorists, DHS officials – who interacted with TIDE data on a daily basis, as they reviewed reporting not only from state and local law enforcement encounters but from encounters by DHS components – said they found otherwise. “Not everything in TIDE is KST,” DHS privacy official Ken Hunt told the Subcommittee, using a shorthand term for “known or suspected terrorist.”

Would you buy a Ford?” one DHS Senior Reports Officer asked the Subcommittee staff during an interview, when he was asked how serious it was for someone to be a match to a TIDE record. “Ford Motor Company has a TIDE record.”

The report’s footnote goes on to describe how DHS’s crappy reporting and NCTC’s crappy reporting reinforced each other.

Ole Broughton headed Intelligence Oversight at I&A from September 2007 to January 2012. In an interview with the Subcommittee, Mr. Broughton expressed the concern DHS intelligence officials felt working with TIDE data. In one instance, Mr. Broughton recalled he “saw an individual’s two-year-old son [identified] in an HIR. He had a TIDE record.” Mr. Broughton believed part of the problem was that intelligence officials had routinely put information on “associates” of known or suspected terrorists into TIDE, without determining that that person would qualify as a known or suspected terrorist. “We had a lot of discussion regarding ‘associates’ in TIDE,” Mr. Broughton said.

Mark Collier, who served as a Senior Reports Officer and briefly as chief of the Reporting Branch, recalled another case. An HIR was drafted concerning an incident with a TIDE match, but the TIDE record was based on an FBI inquiry. Later on the FBI ended its inquiry and cleared the individual of any connection to terrorism – but because DHS had filed an HIR on the person, the individual’s record was kept active in TIDE.

This reinforcement process carried over into DHS reports that were quashed on First Amendment grounds. Repeatedly, fusion center staffers submitted reports on speech and religion related activities solely because there was some tie between them and TIDE.

One draft reported on a list of reading suggestions by a Muslim community group, “Ten Book Recommendations for Every Muslim.” The report noted that four of the titles were authored by individuals with records in a U.S. intelligence counterterrorism database, the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE).

[snip]

Another cancelled draft HIR reported on a U.S. citizen visiting and giving a lecture at a mosque. The draft contained no derogatory information on the speaker, or the mosque, although it noted that the speaker was once the head of a U.S. Islamic school that had a record in the TIDE database. “There is concern,” the drafting officer wrote in his initial submission, “that [the subject’s] visit . . . could be to strengthen ties with the . . . mosque as well as to conduct fundraising and recruiting for the sake of foreign terrorist organizations.”

Now, as I said, a civil liberties and privacy review (which I’ll discuss at more length in a later post) quashed these particular reports because they recorded protected speech. But imagine how many similar reports remain in NCTC or FBI’s files, given that they have more leeway to record First Amendment protected activity?

Soon, we’ll have the entire marketing plan of Ford Motor Company in our terrorist databases.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

6 replies
  1. Frank33 says:

    Guess who loves the corrupt but profitable Fusion Centers and helped establish them all over the Homeland? Hint: He may be mentally unhinged.

    If you guessed Gruppenfuhrer Mitt Romney, you are correct. There might be a few Homeland Security stocks in his portfolio duh!

    Romney played a pivotal role in promoting the establishment of these counterterrorism centers across the country to “connect the dots” and stave off another 9/11, as The Huffington Post reported in May. In his role as chairman of a national task force on intelligence sharing, the then-Massachusetts governor used his bully pulpit to call for a nationwide network that would meld together local, state and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to detect threats.

    At a New Hampshire town hall meeting during his first run for president, Romney, who as governor had opened two of the country’s first fusion centers, explained enthusiastically what they were all about…

    And what does PJ Crowley say, about Fascist Fusion Centers, and a MittBott in the Secret Government? “Nothing to see here…”

    P.J. Crowley, a former Obama administration State Department spokesman, is doubtful. “There will be little impact,” he said in an email. “The report questions both execution at the local level and oversight at the federal level. I doubt either candidate will want to touch the issue.”

  2. BSbafflesbrains says:

    I have always considered Taurus owners suspiciously and this confirms it. A ford is parked by my house at night; will drones target Fords in the future? Should I be worried since I owned a Ford in the past? This is so scary.

  3. jerryy says:

    @BSbafflesbrains: “Should I be worried since I owned a Ford in the past? This is so scary.”

    Well, maybe if you can manage worries without letting the paranoia take over. See, it is like this, all of these “American” cars are secretly not. GM is connected to Mexico and China which as you know means they are responsible for getting drugs to help their computer-hacking buddies attack our White House’s computers. Chrylser you ask? Nope, they are in with the Italians that let their court convict our secret cia guys for torturing in their country. And as you know, Ford is big with those Europeans trying to make those low mileage cars while frowning on our efforts to end the Geneva Conventions. I guess you gotta buy a Toyota or Subaru to get an honest to goodness American made car, or maybe a Kia.

    :^)

  4. P J Evans says:

    It kind of fits with TSA’s airport security people stealing valuables from luggage and carryons (and selling them on eBay). TSA says it fires them when it finds out – but the ones who have been arrested and tried were caught by actual police, not by TSA.

  5. lefty665 says:

    @BSbafflesbrains: “A ford is parked by my house at night; will drones target Fords in the future? Should I be worried since I owned a Ford in the past? This is so scary.”

    It’s ok if you have a Ford Fusion, they’ve got connections. That’s why they call them “Fusion” centers. Since don’t ask don’t tell went down, it’s ok to have a Fusion Hybrid too. If McCain had won, Ford Mavericks would have gotten similar professional courtesy in 2008. Legacy American Motors products have potential for similar treatment later this year.

    There is no need to fear that the cell transmitters built into newer Fords have anything to do with drone targeting. It’s all just silly rumors. I’m sure they can’t hear anything you say in your car either, but just to be on the safe side, best not engage in any unpatriotic driving. Ain’t America wunnerful? Have a nice day.

  6. Bustednuckles says:

    I don’t know, they might be on to something.
    I worked for Ford for ten years and they can be quite the cutthroat bunch, they also did build the rolling fireball known as the Pinto too.
    ;)

Comments are closed.