The Terrorist Screening Center
Today, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of Homeland
Security Tom Ridge, Secretary of State Colin Powell, FBI Director
Robert Mueller, and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet
announced the creation of the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC)
to consolidate terrorist watchlists and provide 24/7 operational
support for thousands of Federal screeners across the country
and around the world. The TSC will ensure that America's government
screeners are working from the same unified set of anti-terrorist
informationHBCcomprehensive anti-terrorist list when a suspected
terrorist is screened or stopped anywhere in the Federal system.
- Better Informed: The TSC will allow federal, state, and local
officials to make better-informed decisions to protect the United
States from terrorist attacks. For example, better access to
information will make it easier for a consular officer posted
in another country to determine whether to grant a visa, or an
immigration official at a U.S. airport to decide whether a person
is eligible to enter the United States.
- Building Capabilities: Creation of the TSC marks another
significant step forward in the President's strategy to protect
America's communities and families by detecting, disrupting,
and disabling terrorist threats. The TSC builds on improvements
to U.S. watchlist capabilities that began in 2001, immediately
following the September 11 attacks, including, most recently,
the President's creation of the Terrorist Threat Integration
- Consolidating Information: The TSC will receive the vast
majority of its information about known or suspected terrorists
from the TTIC after TTIC has assembled and analyzed that information
from a wide range of sources. In addition, the FBI will provide
the TSC with information about purely domestic terrorism, i.e.,
having no connection to international terrorist activities. The
TSC will consolidate this information into an unclassified terrorist
screening database and make the database accessible to queries
for federal, state, and local agencies for a variety of screening
- The TSC, through the participation of the Department of Homeland
Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, and Intelligence
Community representatives, will determine which information in
the Database will be available for which types of screening.
- For example, The Attorney General's and the Secretary of
Homeland Security's representatives to the TSC will decide which
persons to include in those records that may be queried directly
by law enforcement officials through the NCIC database. Similarly,
the State Department representative, consulting with the Department
of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Intelligence
Community representatives, will determine which information may
be screened by foreign governments.
- Safeguarding Information: The TSC will not independently
collect any information on U.S. citizens. In fact, the TSC does
not collect information at all - it only receives information
provided by the TTIC and the FBI. The TTIC will provide to the
TSC all appropriate and necessary information connected to international
terrorism about any individuals - U.S. citizens or not - that
TTIC partner agencies hold pursuant to their own authorities,
and the FBI will provide to the TSC appropriate and necessary
information concerning domestic terrorism, regardless of whether
it involves U.S. citizens. If the TSC receives information on
U.S. citizens connected with terrorism, its use of that information
is subject to the same legal limitations to which it would be
subject if the information were not included in the Database.
Purely domestic terrorism information will not go through TTIC,
but will be placed directly into the TSC Database by the FBI.
The Attorney General has been directed to implement procedures
and safeguards with respect to information about U.S. persons,
in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of
Homeland Security, and the Director of Central Intelligence.
- The creation of the TSC does not provide any new law enforcement
or collection powers to any government official; it simply consolidates
information that law enforcement, the Intelligence Community,
the State Department, and others already possess and makes it
accessible for query to those who need it - federal security
screeners, State and local law enforcement officers, and others.
The TSC will have no independent authority to conduct intelligence
collection or other operations.
- All information the TSC maintains will have been collected
in accordance with existing law, and TSC officials will continue
to be bound by any applicable laws and constitutional requirements
that restrict the use of that information and that protect privacy
interests and other liberties.
- Information technology and information handling procedures
will be designed to comply with constitutional and other legal
requirements, and participants will continue to be answerable
both to internal agency oversight and congressional oversight.
- Supporting the Mission: The Federal Bureau of Investigation
("FBI") will administer the TSC. The Department of
Homeland Security, the Department of State, and others will coordinate
with and assign operational and staff support to the TSC.
- The FBI is the appropriate administrator of the TSC's start-up
operations because of the Bureau's technical experience in watchlist
integration. Although the FBI will administer the TSC, the TSC
will be an interagency effort. As noted, the Departments of Homeland
Security and State and others will coordinate with and assign
operational and staff support to the TSC. The Principal Deputy
Director of the TSC will be a Department of Homeland Security
official. In addition to the Department of Justice, the Department
of State, and the Department of Homeland Security, the Intelligence
Community and other federal agencies will assign representatives
to the TSC. Each of these agencies will be responsible for specific
aspects of the TSC's work.
The TSC is being phased in via a coordinated interagency effort
administered by the FBI and will be operational by December 1,