Review of the Terrorist Screening Center
(Redacted for Public Release)
Audit Report 05-27
Office of the Inspector General
TSC Call Volume Progression64
As discussed in the body of this report, the TSC receives calls on a daily basis from state and local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, customs agents and border inspectors, private arms dealers (through NCIC), and foreign governments. The chart below indicates the call trends for each of these organizations since the stand-up of the TSC.
As shown in the preceding exhibit, most of the calls received by call screeners at the TSC are derived from the CBP. In fact, these calls equaled 67 percent of the total calls received between December 1, 2003, and January 23, 2005. As of December 7, 2003, the total calls per week from the CBP totaled 29. This number increased to 221 calls per week by July 25, 2004, a 662 percent increase in the TSCís call volume from the CBP per week. By January 23, 2005, the total number of calls per week from the CBP totaled 332, an overall increase of 1,045 percent. These numbers reflect the impact of potential terrorist encounters at U.S. borders and airports, and show the importance of establishing a mutual protocol between the CBP and the FBI for handling these encounters (this subject is discussed further in Chapter 7 of the report).
The state and local law enforcement agency (LEA) calls represent 17 percent of the total calls received by the TSC between December 1, 2003, and January 23, 2005. Second in call volume to the CBP, the state and local calls increased by 204 percent during this time period, from 25 calls per week in December 2003 to 76 calls per week in January 2005. This increase indicates TSCís success at communicating the purpose and importance of the TSC in encounter process to the officers on patrol. This increase in state and local calls is necessary for the TSC to effectively manage all terrorist encounters, and would be expected to continue increasing as the TSC conducts further outreach to the population of state and local law enforcement.
While calls from federal law enforcement agents totaled 16 percent of the total calls received during this period, the call volume per week from federal law enforcement increased by 5,950 percent, ranging from 2 calls per week in December 2003, to 121 calls per week by January 2005. This is a significant increase in the use of the TSC as a screening center for terrorist encounters by federal law enforcement agents and amplifies the need for such an organization to centralize anti-terrorism efforts.
The TSC also receives calls resulting from individuals accessing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS is the FBIís database that checks available records on persons who may be disqualified from receiving firearms. Established as a result of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Act) of 1993, Public Law 103-159, the system allows for Federal Firearms Licensees to retrieve, via telephone or electronic communications, immediate information as to whether the transfer of a firearm would be in violation of Section 922 (g) or (n) of Title 18, United States Code, or state law. According to the NICS 2001/2002 Operational Report, as of December 31, 2002, the NICS Section of the FBI had denied a total of 281,883 firearm transfers to prohibited individuals and estimates that the approximate total number of denials is in excess of 563,000 since the inception of the NICS.
Calls resulting from inquiries in the NICS database are few. These calls range between 0 and 1 per week at the TSC. As of January 23, 2005, TSC call screeners had received a total of 47 calls in response to NICS inquiries. However, the significance of each call received at the TSC from counterterrorism activities is great.
Between December 1, 2003, and January 23, 2005, a total of 89 calls resulted from foreign government inquiries on persons of interest. This resulted in less than one percent of the 18,534 total calls received by the TSC during this period. The origin of a total of 54 calls had not yet been determined as of January 23, 2005.
Of the calls received by TSC call screeners since December 1, 2003, approximately 43 percent resulted in positive identity matches in the TSDB, requiring the calls to be forwarded to CT Watch for further action (see Chapter 6 for a description of the encounter process). Of the remaining calls, six percent resulted in inconclusive hits, for which the TSC was unable to determine whether the encountered individual was on a watch list. These calls are also forwarded to CT Watch for further research for a conclusive identification. During this period, a total of 9,284 calls were forwarded to CT Watch for further review.
Negative hits, or searches in the database that identified no terrorist match, accounted for 42 percent of the total calls received. Ten of the total calls were classified as "Non-Identity," or the result of a hit occurring where an individual is not present for identification. An example of this would be when a law enforcement officer comes across an abandoned car and runs the license plate number in the NCIC database. If the license plate is referenced in the database in relation to a suspected terrorist/terrorist supporter, the plate would result in a "Non-Identity" hit. The below chart displays the total number of positive, negative, inconclusive, and non-identity hits that occurred as a result of calls to the TSC between December 1, 2003, and January 23, 2005.
In addition, the TSC has experienced sporadic increases in call volume during events with a high national profile. As shown in the following exhibit, call volumes and corresponding positive and negative identity matches appear to increase during the Democratic National Convention, Republican National Convention and the Presidential Inauguration.
Calls by Handling Codes
As discussed in Chapter 5, a handling code is to be assigned to every record within the TSDB. FBI agents nominating a record for inclusion in the VGTOF and supporting databases assign a handling code based on the information available about the individual. These handling codes provide instructions to law enforcement. The TSC received a relatively small number of calls related to handling codes 1 and 2, and a significant call volume in handling codes 3 and 4. [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]