Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept have a detailed analysis based on confidential documents that they have received that about 40% of the 680,000 people on the US government’s Terrorist Screening Database have no recognized terrorist group affiliation. The TSDB is the ‘watch list’ that the government uses and one can land up on it merely if some government agency somewhere decided that you are suspicious.
When U.S. officials refer to “the watchlist,” they typically mean the TSDB, an unclassified pool of information shared across the intelligence community and the military, as well as local law enforcement, foreign governments, and private contractors. According to the government’s watchlisting guidelines, published by The Intercept last month, officials don’t need “concrete facts” or “irrefutable evidence” to secretly place someone on the list—only a vague and elastic standard of “reasonable suspicion”.
Most people placed on the government’s watchlist begin in a larger, classified system known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE). The TIDE database actually allows for targeting people based on far less evidence than the already lax standards used for placing people on the watchlist. A more expansive—and invasive—database, TIDE’s information is shared across the U.S. intelligence community, as well as with commando units from the Special Operations Command and with domestic agencies such as the New York City Police Department.
In the summer of 2013, officials celebrated what one classified document prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center refers to as “a milestone”—boosting the number of people in the TIDE database to a total of one million, up from half a million four years earlier.
About 47,000 people are on the no-fly list, no small hardship these days. This number is 10 times greater than when George W. Bush left office. At one point, this list even included the president of Bolivia Evo Morales.
There are a lot more details in the article.