The Secret Service is thinking of asking the US Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the suspected leak of a classified counter-terrorism document to a news website.
A document which was published in The Intercept provides a statistical breakdown of the types of people whose names and personal information appear on two government data networks listing people with supposed connections to militants.
The Intercept is co-founded by Grenn Greenwald, the reporter who worked with Edward Snowden but the document was dated August 2013, after Snowden left the US.
Since Snowden is not thought to have had access to US networks after May, officials to suspect the drop may have come from a second leaker.
The document talked about the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database (TIDE) and the Terrorist Screening Database.
It said 680,000 names were “watchlisted” in the Terrorist Screening Database, an unclassified data network which is used to draw up more selective government watchlists.
The file also showed that 280,000 of the 680,000 people are described by the government as having “no recognised terrorist group affiliation.”
More lists include a “no fly” list totalling 47,000 people who are supposed to be banned from air travel, and a further “selectee list” of 16,000 people who are supposed to get extra screening.
The screening database is taken from TIDE, a larger, ultra-classified database which contains 320,000 more names.
This is not the first time the Intercept has a big scoop that has put the fear of god into the spooks. It has also published a lengthy document setting out the criteria and procedures by which names are placed into terrorist watchlist databases.