Beyond NSA’s PRISM — The Extreme Monitoring Developed in the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office

In their 2012 Review publication a seemingly obscure government entity, the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), describes an operational program called PRISM.  The description doesn’t match exactly with the NSA slides of the PRISM program that the Washington Post recently published in relation to leaks by former CIA/former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.   In the CTTSO publication there is no specific mention of PRISM working with Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, or Apple and the collection focus is, as some government officials have stated, on what is referred to as foreign web media extraction. There is language that hints at ambiguity, overreach, potential for abuse (“PRISM provided access to an extensive database of related contextual data trends”) and there is language that might just be pseudo-Intelligence babble (“PRISM integrated visualization components with sentiment estimation” or “a cognitive task analysis was conducted to develop an analytic methodology and a processing pipeline to provide trend data from foreign media.”)


I can’t be certain, but this PRISM (buried pretty deeply beyond my search engines) is most likely some incarnation of the PRISM that is currently the focus of so much national attention (could there be two different programs named PRISM tracking foreign terrorist threats?) But compared to some of the other programs in this CTTSO Review (listed below) PRISM is tame. These programs are either in the pipeline or currently operational (or some combination) and they take monitoring to an extreme.


CTTSO is a stand-alone interagency working group involved in counterterrorism technology development. They do “rapid prototyping of novel solutions developed and field tested before the traditional acquisition systems are fully engaged.”

CTTSO operates under the Department of State Coordinator for Counterterrorism and the Department of Defense Assistant Secretary for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. Membership includes representatives from over 100 US government agencies; all the familiar intelligence and enforcement agencies and the not so familiar including, The National Center for Credibility Assessment, The Pentagon Force Protection Agency, The Physical Security Equipment Action Group, The Office of Bombing Prevention, The US Army National Ground Intelligence Center, Homeland Security’s Forensic Document Library, DOD’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office, Unified Combatant Commands, The Ballistic Research Facility, The Secret Service Special Services Division, The US Marines Special Operations Command, The Department of Energy’s Office of Health Safety and Security, EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center.

CTTSO partners with scores of private firms – – Sig Sauer Inc. (“THE NEXT GENERATION OF SUBMACHINE GUN IS HERE”)  Rapiscan Systems Neutronics and Advanced Technologies (70,000 systems deployed in over 100 countries) ;Western Psychological Services (psychological assessment tools like the Attitudes Toward Guns and Violence Questionnaire).

Sample Questions:

Now, here are the questions. Please press hard when marking your answers.

1) If someone disrespects me, I have to fight them to get my pride back.

Agree    Not Sure            Disagree

2) You’ve got to fight to show people you’re not a wimp.

Agree    Not Sure           Disagree

3) Carrying a gun makes people feel safe.

Agree    Not Sure           Disagree

Sig Sauer be damned apparently.

CTTSO also partners with universities (The Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois, The National Crash Analysis Center of George Washington University ), labs (The Remote Sensing Laboratory in Las Vegas, The Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena), and foreign entities (Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation; Israel Security Agency; The Singapore Ministry of Defense; The United Kingdom’s Counter Terrorism Science and Technology Centre; Arkis Radiation Detectors Ltd. in Zürich, Switzerland; mPedigree Network Ltd. in Ghana).


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