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The Watchlist: Improving the Transparency, Accuracy, Efficiency, and Accountability of the Terrorist Screening Database

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The governments unclassified terror watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database TSDB, has grown dramatically, stressing government screening and counterterrorism resources. The TSDB has been criticized for lacking independent oversight and transparency in its operations, which has led some to allege it is discriminatory toward minority communities. How should the TSDB be improved to improve transparency, efficiency, and accuracy, and to decrease secrecy and perceived bias This thesis is a policy analysis that examines the TSDB administrative processes to determine the extent to which the structure and function serve or compromise national security. It also considers the difficulties the system of redress poses for those classified as a Known or Suspected Terrorist by their inclusion on the watchlist. This thesis recommends that the evidentiary standard needed to list a person on the watchlist should not be changed, but the government should extend the procedures recently adopted for No Fly subjects to all citizens and lawfully admitted permanent residents who request redress of their watchlist status. Judicial oversight and fixed review periods should be added to the redress process to facilitate independent review of the governments watchlisting determinations and ensure that all information contained in the TSDB is regularly reviewed.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law

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