I am one of the unfortunate many who’s name is in the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database, also known as the Terrorist Watch List. What this means is that when I travel, my name is flagged and I have to be properly identified before I am allowed to get a boarding pass. In addition, I also am more likely to be singled out for random screening during the normal screening process as you go through security. When traveling with others, like my family or business associates, they are also more likely to be randomly searched, and often require additional identification at the check-in counter.
Am I a terrorist you ask? No, I just have the bad luck of having a very common name. Someone with the same name as me is apparently wanted by the FBI, and I get flagged since our names match.
The Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) maintains the consolidated database of the names for all known or suspected terrorists, which is known as the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). The Terrorist Screening Center was created on Dec 1, 2003 by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 which directed that a center be established to consolidate the government’s approach to terrorism screening and to provide for the appropriate and lawful use of terrorist information in screening processes. At this time, over 400,00 names are contained in the database, with 5-6% of that number being US Citizens.
Am I upset? Not really, usually this only causes a short delay (5-10 minutes) when checking-in, and at most airports, the random screening is often faster than waiting in the long security line. In general, I respect what the government is trying to do, and I subscribe to the motto, better safe than sorry. I have recently heard that registering with a slightly different variation of your name, like using full middle name, can help prevent getting flagged. I am going to try that the next time I fly and will comment if it is successful.
Has anyone else found that they are on the list? What are your experiences, and are you upset you are on the list?
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