House Passes Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Amendment for Accountability on Foreign Countries’ Access to the Terror Screening Database

July 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON -The House passed an amendment to H.R. 3494, the Intelligence Authorization Act authored by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) regarding the Terrorist Screening Database. The Terrorist Screening Database (TSBD) or the "terror watchlist" is currently being shared with multiple foreign governments, including countries with appalling human rights records. The standard for adding people to the list is very low, and the vast majority of people on the list have never been charged with any crime. Moreover, according to the sworn testimony of one FBI official, a foreign government’s human rights record is not considered as part of the decision to share information with them.

"As members of Congress, we need know which countries receive sensitive information about American citizens," said Rep. Omar. "Many of the Americans on this list have never been convicted of a crime and have not been able to remove their names from the list. It is unacceptable to share the database with foreign countries that have a record of violating human rights, like China and Saudi Arabia.

Even more disturbing is that foreign governments are apparently able to add individuals to the watchlist. Among the most egregious examples of this is that there are credible accusations that Uyghur-Americans have been added at the behest of China. While Washington is united in bipartisan outrage at the precursors to genocide taking place in Xinjiang, our government lets the Chinese government target individuals from that same ethnic group in the name of fighting terrorism. This is a violation of fundamental principles of civil liberties and human rights."

This amendment will require the Director of National Intelligence and Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress on the terrorist screening database within 180 days.

The report must include:

  1. A list of foreign countries that have access to the database.
  2. List of foreign countries that have successfully petitioned to add individuals to the database.
  3. The standards used to determine whether to give a foreign country access to the database.
  4. Whether a country’s human rights record is considered as part of the decision to give it access to the database.
  5. What procedures exist to remove a foreign country’s access to the database.
  6. What procedures exist to inform an individual or their legal counsel that they have been placed on the database.

You can read the full bill here.