- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

U.S. law-enforcement authorities and government officials worldwide now can access an FBI computer database with more than 200,000 names of terror suspects and their associates.

The Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) is a consolidation of identities of domestic and international terror suspects from databases formerly maintained by the Justice, State, Defense and Homeland Security departments that was created as a bridge between the intelligence and law-enforcement communities to facilitate real-time information sharing.

“We have been given the authority to be partners with federal, state and local authorities in the sharing of information about terrorism,” TSC Director Donna A. Bucella said during a briefing this week at FBI headquarters. “Now there’s one watch list to which there is ready access to the most thorough, accurate and current information to respond quickly to known or suspected terrorists.”

Ms. Bucella, who was director of aviation operations in the Transportation Security Administration before being detailed to the FBI to lead the TSC program, said an additional 150,000 entries in the system contain partial names or identities. She said the majority of those listed live outside the United States, and many have what she described as inconclusive ties to terrorism or terrorist organizations.

But Ms. Bucella said more than 6,000 “positive matches” have been made of terror suspects or their associates among the more than 56,000 inquiries the TSC has received since the official start of the program in December 2004, resulting in 60 arrests. She noted that about half of the encounters were “repeats,” meaning the suspects had been stopped on other occasions.

Law-enforcement officers and government officials who make inquiries have the option of arresting or detaining suspects if a warrant is outstanding, which happens in less than 1 percent of the cases, or gathering information and letting them go, she said.

Last year, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General said in a report that although TSC had created and deployed a consolidated watch list database, it could not ensure that the information in that database was complete and accurate.

Ms. Bucella said the database, which she described as “unclassified law-enforcement-sensitive,” is updated every day, with additions, modifications and deletions to help identify and detain potential terrorists and prevent attacks.

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