Monday, September 12, 2016


"Can the high-tech hunt for terrorists stop lone wolf attacks?" PBS NewsHour 9/6/2016

NOVA - 15 Years of Terror


SUMMARY:  Take a look at the room 9/11 built: The operations center at the National Counterterrorism Center aggregates data in hopes that analysts will be able to predict the next terrorist attack.  With the advent of “social media intelligence,” answers are everywhere, but the challenge is piecing them together.  Science correspondent Miles O'Brien reports.

MILES O'BRIEN (NewsHour):  This is the room 9/11 built, the operations center at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) just outside Washington, D.C.

NICK RASMUSSEN, National Counterterrorism Center:  On a 24/7 basis, we have officers here working in shifts who are consuming, reading, analyzing, and assessing every bit of available information that there is to try to figure out what terrorist threats are aimed at the United States.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Nick Rasmussen is the director here.  The agency itself, and this room in particular, were created to encourage the myriad of intelligence, military and law enforcement organizations involved in national security to share classified information.

This is where they try to connect the dots.

NICK RASMUSSEN:  So, there are probably officers at NCTC from 17 or 18 different government organizations all across the government.  Basically, every three- or four-letter agency that you could probably name, we probably have somebody here at NCTC serving from that organization on a one- or two- or three-year assignment.

MILES O'BRIEN:  The nature of the work here has changed dramatically in recent years.

MAN:  These folks can get radicalized by one group and the baton can be passed to another group.

WOMAN:  The FBI had this man on its radar as early as 2013.

MILES O'BRIEN:  More lone wolves, fewer face-to-face meetings and phone calls, the Internet as a source of inspiration and planning.

MAN:  Self-radicalization doesn't have to take many months or many years.

NICK RASMUSSEN:  Increasingly, what connecting the dots means to me is dealing with the huge, huge volume of publicly available or open source or unclassified information that's out there that may have terrorism relevance.

And the work we're doing now with our partners in the intelligence community often doesn't involve really, really sensitive intelligence.  It involves looking at Twitter or looking at some other social media platform and trying to figure out who that individual behind that screen name, behind that handle might actually be and whether that person poses a threat to the United States.

"Why it’s so hard to fight extremist propaganda online" PBS NewsHour 9/7/2016


SUMMARY:  How do you deter people from being seduced by messages of extremism on social media?  Science correspondent Miles O’Brien looks at some of the strategies, including videos that provide a counter-narrative to the Islamic State and a computer program that uses digital signatures to track the movement of images on the internet.

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