Based out of an unassuming building in Virginia, a team known within the organization as the ”vengeful librarians” are tracking chat rooms, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter around the world. On Twitter alone, the CIA screens roughly 5 million messages per day.
They then compare that information to other agency intel, allowing them to produce more detailed projections of possible terror threats or events bubbling beneath the surface. In a recent example, the center’s director, Doug Naquin, told the AP that the agency predicted the Egyptian uprising and the role social media would play in bringing about regime change there.
Set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 commission, the center has become an integral part of the CIA’s overall intel mining, so much so that information gleaned from tracking social media is now included almost every day in President Obama’s daily security briefings.
The revelation is the latest example of the CIA creeping into the murky gray regions of domestic spying, something the agency is prohibited by law from doing. In September, a huge AP report revealed that the CIA was deeply involved in establishing the New York Police Department’s counter-terror operations.
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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