Terrorist Screening Center

Terrorist Screening Center

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.  

Terrorist Screening Center

Inside the TSC

About the TSC

Background

  • 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

Mission

  • 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

Partners/Customers

  • Law enforcement
  • Homeland Security
  • Intelligence Community
  • International partners

Impact

  • Critical support to U.S. Government counterterrorism operations
  • Enhance law enforcement officer safety
  • Provides investigative/intelligence leads
  • Protecting privacy and safeguarding civil liberties

For More Information

  • Briefing/information requests: 571-350-5678 or tscmissiondevelopment@tsc.gov
  • Media inquiries: 571-350-6397 or media@tsc.gov
  • Website: www.tsc.gov

Redress Procedures

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.

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.

TSC Leadership

Christopher M. Piehota
Director

Christopher M. Piehota was appointed director of the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) on April 10, 2013. Mr. Piehota most recently served as the special agent in charge of the Buffalo Field Office, where he oversaw FBI personnel and operations in western New York.

Mr. Piehota started his career as a special agent in 1995 in the Newark Field Office, where he worked in the international terrorism, domestic terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction programs. In 2002, he was promoted to FBI Headquarters and assigned to the Counterterrorism Division as a program manager for the International Terrorism Operations Section I, which provides oversight for terrorism investigations in the continental United States. Mr. Piehota became unit chief within the Terrorism Reports and Requirements Section in 2003. In this role, he managed the collection and dissemination of FBI intelligence for the U.S. intelligence community.

In 2005, Mr. Piehota was selected as a counterintelligence program squad supervisor at the Washington Field Office (WFO). He became an assistant special agent in charge at WFO in 2007 and provided program oversight for the Northern Virginia Resident Agency and the Security Operations and Technical Services branches. These branches support the field office’s counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal divisions’ technical operations and activities. In 2010, Mr. Piehota joined the TSC and served as its deputy director for operations. He managed the center’s role in the U.S. government’s 24-hour consolidated terrorist watchlisting, screening, and world-wide terrorist encounter operations enterprises.

He is a certified FBI intelligence officer and an Office of the Director of National Intelligence recognized senior intelligence officer. He also holds U.S. Intelligence Community Joint Duty Certification.

Mr. Piehota earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University and a master’s degree in human resource management from Seton Hall University. He has a doctorate in human performance improvement from Capella University. Mr. Piehota served in the U.S. Air Force.