Leading the U.S. government’s consolidated approach to terrorism watchlisting/screening: that’s what the Terrorist Screening Center, or TSC, is all about.
Born out of the events of 9/11 and created in 2003, the TSC maintains the U.S. government’s consolidated Terrorist Watchlist—a single database of identifying information about those known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity.
By supporting the ability of front-line screening agencies to positively identify known or suspected terrorists trying to obtain visas, enter the country, board aircraft, or engage in other activity, the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist is one of the most effective counterterrorism tools for the U.S. government.
- Christopher M. Piehota - Director
- Established in 2003 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
- Homeland Security Presidential Directive-6 (HSPD-6) directed the Attorney General to establish an organization to consolidate the U.S. Government’s approach to terrorism screening; as a result the TSC was created
- Multi-agency organization, administered by the FBI, that maintains a 24/7 Operations Center
- Maintains and operates the U.S. Government’s consolidated Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), often referred to as the “Terrorist Watchlist,” and serves as a bridge between law enforcement, Homeland Security, the Intelligence Community, and international partners
- Critical element of the overall U.S. Government’s Counterterrorism Strategy
- Watchlisting: The TSC maintains and operates the TSDB
- Screening: The TSC provides near real-time identity resolution
- Information Sharing: The TSC shares information from the TSDB with key partners
- Law enforcement
- Homeland Security
- Intelligence Community
- International partners
- Critical support to U.S. Government counterterrorism operations
- Enhance law enforcement officer safety
- Provides investigative/intelligence leads
- Protecting privacy and safeguarding civil liberties
The Terrorist Screening Center is dedicated to ensuring activities are conducted in a manner consistent with protecting privacy and civil liberties. Generally, individuals are included in the Terrorist Screening Database when there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a person is a known or suspected terrorist. Individuals must not be watchlisted based solely on race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, or First Amendment-protected activities such as free speech, the exercise or religion, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly, and petitioning the government for redress of grievances.
The TSC regularly conducts comprehensive and case-specific quality assurance reviews of its data to ensure the U.S. government’s substantive criteria for watchlisting are met and to ensure the records maintained in the Terrorist Screening Database are current, accurate, and thorough. The TSC also participates in redress procedures established by agencies that perform terrorist screening.
The Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) works with the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies on a daily basis to resolve complaints from individuals experiencing repeated screening delays or difficulties that may be related to the consolidated terrorist watchlist. Because individuals could experience problems during screening for any number of reasons, not just because of the terrorist watchlist, they should contact the agency conducting the screening process in question.
Because the contents of the consolidated terrorist watchlist are derived from classified and sensitive law enforcement and intelligence information, the TSC cannot confirm or deny whether an individual is on the watchlist. The watchlist remains an effective tool in the government’s counterterrorism efforts because its contents are not disclosed. The nondisclosure of the watchlist information protects the government’s operational counterterrorism and intelligence collection objectives, as well as the personal safety of those involved in counterterrorism investigations.
Filing a Redress Inquiry
The TSC does not accept redress inquiries directly from the public. Instead, members of the public should contact the relevant screening agency with their questions or concerns about screening. The screening agency is in the best position to identify and resolve issues related to that agency’s screening process. Information on how to contact screening agencies is listed below.
Traveler Screening Redress
The Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) provides a way for travelers to express concern when they believe they have been incorrectly delayed, denied boarding, or identified for additional screening or have otherwise experienced difficulties when traveling or seeking entry into the country. DHS TRIP allows travelers to submit a redress inquiry in a single request via a secure website. DHS TRIP works with the Department’s component agencies, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, and other government agencies including the Department of State and the TSC, as appropriate, to make an accurate determination about any traveler who has sought redress.
Please see the DHS TRIP website to review frequently asked questions or file a request for redress related to your travel screening.
Inquiries Related to Visas
The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website provides information on how to address questions about the denial of a visa. Individuals who are overseas should contact the U.S. embassy or consular office abroad about visa issues.