Terrorism Screening Database (TSDB)

January 2008
Background Information Summaries;2008, p7
The Terrorism Screening Database (TSDB), popularly called the Terrorist Watch List, is a list of about a 750,000 names of suspected terrorists who are subject to extra security screening when trying get a visa, board an aircraft, or when stopped by local police. The list was begun in 2003 as a consolidation of several U.S. government lists of people suspected of ties to terrorism. The list includes names of foreign suspects and U.S. citizens. It is made available to multiple law enforcement agencies, notably the Customs and Border Protection agency and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as well a local police departments. Individuals whose names appear on the list may be given extra scrutiny, based on the circumstances. The TSDB records all positive hits, called "encounters," and makes them part of the record of individual names to help track the location of people in the database. The director of the TSDB testified in 2007 that 269 people whose names are on the list were barred from entering the United States in fiscal year 2006. Critics have complained that the list contains many names inappropriately, or that different versions of the list allow legitimate terrorism suspects to slip through checkpoints. Other critics say the database can result in violations of civil liberties. The government does not confirm whether specific individuals are included in the database.


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