Terrorist Screening Database – The Terrorist Watch List


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?

14 thoughts on “Terrorist Screening Database – The Terrorist Watch List

  1. Nancy

    I am on the list as well! I get held up at the airport, and even at Amtrak. Like you, I am not real happy about it, but if this is the sacrifice I have to make, so be it.

  2. Henry

    I have heard that a lot of celebrities are on the list, as well as Ted Kennedy and Nelson Mandela!

  3. clayton

    I heard a show on C-Span that had the Director of the Watch List answering questions from callers. He said that they had 300 call reps handling calls from all the airports. That does not seem like that many, so they must be pretty efficient if they have to clear so many people and you only have to wait 5-10 minutes.

  4. gsmith Post author

    Mar, that is my feeling exactly. Every time I hear someone complain about being inconvenienced it makes me want to scream. I get inconvenienced every time that I travel. Hey, it is just part of the process, I would rather that my family and I be safe.

  5. Jacob

    Just stopping by while dropping my card and saw this topic. I hate the security lines, I know it makes people FEEL better, but I don’t think it really makes much of a difference. It just gives folks the impression that the government is doing something.

  6. Campbell

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    -Benjamin Franklin

  7. moserw

    Where will we end up? Its like one evil replaces another and we have to choose between a known devil and an unknown devil.

  8. Zoe

    If you think being unjustly on a terrorist watch list is an acceptable price to pay, take a look at US v. Khalil. This is a case where a NYC police seargent misused information on the list to help a friend in a child custody hearing. If you had a brain in your head, you’d see that the combination of bad data, easy access and misuse is a problem.


    I am on the Scarrorist “list” last time i fly to the west coat being on the list bump me ahead of everybody in a line of 100 plus people!! thanks FBI
    Now i called the “VIPS LIST”

  10. Black dawg

    McCarthy and Wright continue to analyze Bakhtin in his pursuit of truth. On page 113 the two authors point out that Bakhtin “considers institutions as living institutions” thus the argument by Bakhtin also can be applied to governmental bureaucracies and organizations. Every organization has created a version of the truth, and if those organizations exist and fuse together then we experience amore radiant and fullness of life. Thus the Eclipse group has one view of the truth all of the separate components of the Department of Justice have another version of the truth which have been created by the Federal Marshals service, the ATFE, the DEA, The FBI, the Department of Defense has another view of the truth, and the State Department has another vies of the Truth, and City of Baltimore Police Department has another view of the truth. If all of those organization work together and respect each other and fuse together and work with each other then we as a culture get amore richly rewarding experience. We can see part of this truth manifested in computer scenes with the drive by the Department of Justice to make their databases interoperable so that one data base can communicate to another enabling powerful extractions of data. Such data bases as the DEA Active Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Registrants Database, the etrace data base system by the ATF designed to fuse with the Mexican Governments database to track weapons, the e Terrorist Screening Center that was created on Dec 1, 2003 by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 and the FBI has a sex offender database list. Imagine a world in which Bakhtin theory that institution are people and that the truth is in all of us thus the truth is in the institutions also and that when the institutions fuse together like individuals fuse together that we have amore vibrant life. Thus we see that by creating interoperability between all of the data bases we create amore potent system to understand the truth in all of the organizations and to come up with a better truth. I do believe this is how I would expend Baktins theory to justify interoperability of government data base despite the fact that Bakhtin was imprisoned in a Gulag by a Stalinist government. The creation of such date interoperability might enable the fusion of a Stalin’s government here in America. This is why our government has had check and balances placed in it to control such an occurrence. Do we believe in our founding father structure of our government enough to create interoperability between databases to make our government’s intelligence gathering apparatus more efficient?

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