Home News Testimony Terrorist Screening Center Operations
  • Donna A. Bucella
  • Director, Terrorist Screening Center, FBI
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship
  • Washington DC
  • April 01, 2004

Good afternoon Chairman Chambliss and members of the Subcommittee.  Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the missions and objectives of the new Terrorist Screening Center (TSC).  Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 (HSPD-6), issued on September 16, 2003, ordered the creation of the TSC, directing its operations to begin on December 1, 2003, and we met that goal.  The TSC was created to ensure that government investigators, screeners, federal agents, and state and local law enforcement officers have ready access to the information and expertise they need to respond quickly when a known or suspected terrorist is encountered here in the United States, at our borders and at our embassies.  Today, I will tell you about our daily operations as they relate to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center (NTC) and our role in preventing terrorists and suspected terrorists from crossing our nation's borders.  I will provide as much information as I can in this open forum, however, I will be happy to provide additional, classified details in a closed setting at your request.

TSC Operations
The TSC is a multi-agency Center, including participants from the Departments of Justice (FBI), Homeland Security, State, and Treasury.  Our goal is to consolidate the Government's approach to terrorism screening and provide for the appropriate and lawful use of terrorist information in screening processes.  Being a diverse Center, manned by personnel from both law enforcement and homeland security entities, we communicate and coordinate terrorist screening efforts across the full spectrum of federal, state and local government agencies, sharing information pursuant to the applicable legal framework.

Since December 1, 2003, TSC has been providing key resources for screeners and law enforcement personnel.  

These include:
(1) a single coordination point for terrorist screening data; 
(2) a consolidated 24/7 call center for encounter identification assistance; 
(3) access to a coordinated law enforcement response;
(4) a formal process for tracking encounters;
(5) feedback to the appropriate entities; and
(6) a process to address misidentification issues.

There are three fundamental types of inquiries: interior (within the U.S.), border (at the points of entry at our borders and ports) and exterior (outside the border).  Interior inquiries will normally be made by local law enforcement.  Border inquiries are made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  Exterior inquiries are conducted by the State Department.  Today, I will highlight border inquiries.

 

The TSC receives a high volume of calls that originate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors stationed on the nation's borders.  In a typical case, a person attempts to enter the U.S. at a border crossing.  A CBP inspector queries the name electronically, and receives a response from the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) or the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) indicating that the person may be a suspected terrorist or associate of terrorists.  The CBP inspector will contact the National Targeting Center (NTC), where the record will be analyzed, then passed to the TSC.  We examine the record to determine whether the individual is identical to the person in the Terrorist Screening Center Database.  The TSC then appropriately passes any derogatory information on the subject, and CBP makes a determination on whether the individual will be allowed into the United States.  Simultaneously, we contact our operational component at the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, the CT Watch.  CT Watch provides for the local Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) response.

This collaboration between TSC and CBP has already achieved results.  One instance involves a foreign national traveling to the U.S.  He was inspected by a number of CBP inspectors and found to have dangerous substances in his luggage.  He was arrested, and later removed from the U.S. and returned to his country of origin.  Less than a month later, the individual applied for a new visa and was identified by the TSC as a possible threat based on the previous events.

Our cooperation with CBP has also facilitated the sharing of information related to ongoing investigations.  Information about the circumstances of international travel and data collected by CBP during border interviews can be very important to other investigators.  In one case, for example, the TSC-CBP connection provided the FBI with information about someone traveling with known investigative subjects, and led to the initiation of an investigation of the previously unsuspected associate.

Conclusion
TSC is a multi-agency organization that is contributing to nationwide efforts to keep terrorists out of the U.S. and locate those who may already be in the country.  We work closely with CBP inspectors and the National Targeting Center (NTC), and we look forward to working with the Committee in its efforts to secure our nation's borders.

For this unclassified hearing, I have given you only limited examples of our successes.  We have screened over 2,000 calls since our inception, and assisted in positively identifying a number of known or suspected terrorists encountered during governmental screening processes.  I appreciate the Committee's interest in the TSC's activities and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

 
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