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The Watchmen of America is a US militia, at one time active in as many as 21 states (Mother Jones, 2013), although most recently active in only 5 states according to their website. The organization is structured similar to the Civil Air Patrol, with a National Organization (nominally) providing logistical support to individuals in each state in order for them to launch a militia. In practice this support was minimal or absent.
Currently there are 41 states with laws against forming paramilitaries, militia training, or both. Since their website and social media appears to be two years old, I thought this would make a great case study for the use of Open Source Intelligence.
Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
OSINT or Open Source Intelligence is the use of freely available material in order to find raw information for the use of intelligence analysis. As much as 90% of all intelligence may be based on open sources (Muckrock, 2013)
In this case, Google and Facebook are successfully used to identify many of the key players in the Watchmen of America.
To begin, I went to the Watchmen of America website, located at http://www.watchmenofamerica.com. In the upper left corner I see “Patriot Alert System” and “Report Intel.” There are some navigation items along the center and a YouTube video down the page:
Clicking the “Patriot Alert System” brought me to this page, with some “intel reports” on it:
I continued to read around. The “Sentinel” icon in the top right is supposed to refer to a set of intelligence sources that contribute information to a central command that analyzes and disseminates it. When I click the Sentinel button, it leads me to a page that quickly redirects to a login screen:
Many of the pages relating to intelligence led to this section. I’ll turn my attention to Google now.
Google is a fantastic search engine. In addition to searching by keyword, there are filters that can be used. For instance, “filetype:pdf” will show you only PDF files, while site:http://www.yahoo.com will only show results from this domain.
I began my Google Search with the query site:http://www.watchmenofamerica.com. On page 4 I found:
Clicking there leads me to the Sentinel overview page, with a list of links:
Clicking Sentinel Network shows me a map of the Watchmen with their identifying information including call signs, emails, and phone numbers, completely unprotected:
Taking these phone numbers and emails to Facebook allows further identification. For instance, one phone number turned the code-name FREEFALL into a full name and location:
This works because individuals have previously associated their emails and phone numbers with Facebook. Running all available information through Facebook and Google allowed me to identify several more individuals with phone numbers and full names.
The Officer’s Board Room
A mixture of Googling various terms (call signs/code words) and exploring every available link eventually led me to the Officer’s Board Room. This is a flashy looking part of the website that auto-redirects to a login page from another site. By hitting the ESC key before the client-side redirect takes place, I’m able to see almost all the content, because there’s no actual security applied here. This login page is essentially non-functional; no encryption, no security, no protection for people’s personal information.
This part of the website had, shockingly, full identifying information for the leader of the Watchmen (FREEBYRD), the 2nd Officer (LADYBIRD), the 3rd Officer (FREEFALL) and a number of other executives. The full name of the leader of the militia, his address and multiple phone numbers were published.
Other information that was stored very insecurely included additional phone numbers, code names and so on. One of these individuals is even a Clinton, MO police officer.
I’ve chosen not to reproduce this identifying information out of respect for the privacy of those individuals – with the exception of the leader of the militia, Mike Tejeda or FREEBYRD. This individual has wantonly breached the privacy and confidentiality of his core members due to his poor security practices. I’ve blurred out his phone number and address but am keeping his name and picture.
In the end, with a couple of hours, some rudimentary computer knowledge and poor information security practices, I was able to locate:
- 26 emails
- 21 phone numbers
- 17 call signs / code-words
- 12 full names
- 4 complete addresses, including the founder
All in all, individuals in the Watchmen came from 12 states and could be easily located by police due to their association with this organization.
The following are some other pictures I took along the way:
One final thought: while I can’t find it at the moment – there was a page that said “Raw Intelligence Summary”, which made me smile. Intelligence is the opposite of raw information, the phrase “raw intelligence” is an oxymoron.
Muckrock. (2017, Jun 12.) “Myths About Intelligence and the CIA” trained Agency employees how to dismiss criticism”. Best, E. Retrieved on August 25, 2017 from https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/jun/12/myths-about-intelligence-and-cia/
Mother Jones. (2013, Jul 16) Mining Company Deploys More Masked Militiamen Against “Eco-Terrorists”. Sheppard, K. Retrieved on August 25, 2017 from