TROUBLE WITH THE TERRORIST

 

TROUBLE WITH THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST

 

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1.0 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The report is based on a case study on problems that have been associated with the terrorist watch list since its inception in 2003 after the 911 attacks.

The first part addresses the information system concepts referred to in the entire case study. It then looks into communication benefits brought about by the watch list.

The report then addresses the weakness of the watch list and steps that should be taken to turn those weaknesses into strengths.

Finally it addresses privacy and constitutional rights of individuals in relation to the watch list and ethical business communication as used in the case study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAGE OF CONTENTS

1.0  Executive Summary……………………………………………………………………………2

2.0  Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………..4

3.0  Background……………………………………………………………………………………5

4.0  Methodology…………………………………………………………………………………..6

5.0  Findings……………………………………………………………………………………….7

5.1  Information System concepts in the Case Study……………………………………..7

5.2  Communication Benefits of the Watch list……………………………………………8

5.3  Weaknesses of the Watch List……………………………………………………….10

5.4  Steps to be Taken to resolve the weaknesses in the watch list……………………….11

5.5  Privacy and Constitutional Rights of individuals in Relation to the watch list………12

5.51 Ethical Business Communication as applied in the case study…………………13

6.0  Recommendation…………………………………………………………………………….15

7.0  Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………….16

8.0  References…………………………………………………………………………………..17

9.0  Appendices………………………………………………………………………………….18

2.0 INTRODUCTION

The report evaluates the success of the process of coming up with a watch list by addressing issues emanating from the integration process. The report looks into the process of integrating the information databases on known and suspected terrorist to generate one database from twelve individual databases. The purpose of integrating the databases is to enhance communication between the various government agencies.

The report starts by looking at information systems concepts used in the case study. It  explains kind of data used to generate the watch list database (names, date of birth and other identifying information) ,their sources, procedures governing sources of data records incorporated onto the watch list and organization responsible for the maintain the data bases.

It aims to establish how the watch list is generated by looking into which organizations nominate individuals for inclusion National Counterterrorism Center (NCTM) for international terrorism and FBI (Federal Beaureu of Intelligence) for domestic terrorism, into the watch list and the Organization responsible for maintaining and updating the databases the Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC).

It then addresses the weakness of the watch list database and steps that can be taken to turn those weaknesses into strengths.

It finally addresses the issue of privacy and constitutional rights off individuals with regards to the list and ethical business communication as used in the case study.

 

 

 

3.0 BACKGROUND

According to Bradford et al. (2007, P.18-21) the current watch list data base is being maintained by nine agencies but still contains twelve databases. Nowadays it incorporates data received from terrorist indentity data marts environments (TIDE) in coming up with its records. TSC (Terrorists Screening Center) and TSA (Travel Security Administration) have also managed to reduce the false positives and concurrently reduced the no fly list by fifty percent. The law is also being amended to help reduce privacy issues relating to the watch list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.0 METHODOLOGY

In researching on the topic trouble with the watch list database secondary sources of information were used. Information was gathered from books, journals, newspapers, and internet sources were used. Another source that was incorporated into the report was the case study trouble with the watch list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0 FINDINGS

5.1 INFORMATION SYSTEM CONCEPTS IN THE CASE STUDY: TROUBLE WITH THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST.

An information system constitutes of people who may be individuals or organizations, a computer system made up of hardware and software, guidelines to govern the functioning of the system and data that function together to meet required objectives. Information system concepts reflected in the trouble with terrorist watch list case study include:

Every information system is constituted to meet a given objective. The main objective of the organizations involved in the terrorist watch list data base generation and use is to discourage movement of known or suspected terrorists through consolidation of information regarding terrorist and suspects into a single database to enhance uniformity and well coordinated communication between the agencies.

The information system data sources are the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTM) for international terrorism and FBI (Federal Beaureu of Intelligence) for domestic terrorism, into the watch list and the Organization responsible for maintaining and updating the databases the Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) which nominate individuals for inclusion into and the data base.

Data resources incorporated in the case study include information on the terrorist and suspected terrorist which include their names, birth dates and identities such as alias names and brief description. The records are either categorized as classified or unclassified. The unclassified information can be accessed by all agencies but the classified information is stored in the databases of intelligence agency and alternative law enforcement.

Guidelines and procedure governing the databases are established by the agencies concerned agency head and approved by the attorney general of the U.S. These guidelines govern how individuals merit being included in the watch list.

The users of the information generated from the information system include the transportation security administration (TSA), border protection department, the CIA, the FBI among others.

5.2 COMMUNICATION BENEFITS OF THE WATCH LIST

The consolidation of the watch list into one database brought about the following communication benefits.

The database encourages uniformity and clarity in communication because every agency that uses the database as a source of information is obtaining the same information. If every agency were to maintain an independent database the  information in the various databases might be contradicting bring about disparities as to the authenticity of record regarding a terrorist or a suspected terrorist but when the  records are held in single  database all agencies have access to same information bringing about uniformity. This also serves to avoid confusion that could arise if the records on the suspected terrorists and known terrorist were to be held in different databases.

The watch list is also saving on the cost of communication.TSC (Terrorist Screening Center) is able to coordinate and rely the same information to all the agencies without having to duplicate the same information to the various agencies which could be very expensive. Maintenance and generation of a database from one point is cheaper for the government is than maintaining twelve different databases.

The watch list also ensures that all agencies can access information very fast. The records on details of the terrorist are maintained from a single database that rely information to the various agencies when called upon to do so. This encourages speedy resolution of any issues that could come up regarding a hit on a terrorist or potential terrorist. For example if a hit is made on a terrorist who is ready to attack  such as suicide bombers speedy relying of information could  help save a lot of lives. According to an article in the tribune newspaper, Hilkevitch et al. (2011) Yemeni passengers were held at the airport for more than an hour and later allowed into the plane because the police could not process their identifying information fast enough.

The watch list also enhances reliability of information contained in the database and communicated to the various agencies. Any decisions made based on information communicated from the database is based authenticated information hence reliability such as when apprehending a suspect the agency rely ion information from the watch list to ensure they are apprehending innocent citizens. For records to be put into the watch list database they have to meet certain procedures and the TSC staff scrutinizes the records to ensure they merit entry into the database. This discourages false or incomplete information being included in the database which could bring about the unreliability of any information communicated from the database.

The watch list has also served to enhance the relationship between TSC and the various federal agencies. Every agency can be able to diligently meet their individual objectives without any hiccups due to the help with reliable information relied from the watch list database.

 

 

 

5.3 WEAKNESSES OF THE WATCH LIST

Since its inception in 2003 the watch list has been coupled by a few problems due to lack of proper streamlining of a few issues. This has given rise weaknesses in the watch list which include.

The watch list is incomplete due to the delay in completion process of integrating the watch list database. Two years into the process where twelve databases that were to be integrated in the watch list since its inception in 2003, TSC has only managed to integrate ten databases. This brings about the issue of dependability of the use of the database since it is not complete.

According to Bradford et al (2011, p. 18-21), the reliability and accountability of information in the watch list has also been questioned due to incorrect information regarding records and discrepancies in the procedures used in process of nominating individual to the watch list and removal of records from the watch list between various government departments. This brings about confusion to user of information in the watch list as its making their objective of restraining movement of known and suspected terrorist very difficult to achieve.

Another weakness in the databases is its size. The databases growth rate is two thousand records per annum. The public has been complaining due to non terrorist law abiding citizen inclusion into the database which questions the procedures followed to merit individuals for inclusion into the list. This leads to non terrorist individuals being erroneously included into the list leading to inconveniencies such as delays at the airport for travelers whose names come up in the list due to similarities in names of terrorists or terrorist using of fake names as put in Bradford et al (2011, p. 18-21).

The records in the watch list contain incomplete records with missing fields due to the problem of so many positive matches of non terrorist individuals.

When an individuals names comes up in the watch list data base they have to be put through a long bureaucratic process before their names are removed from the list names removed. This could take up to forty days to resolve mean while the citizen is banned from travelling.

The FBI delay in adding suspected terrorist into the list and removal of false matches from the watch list has also raised a red flag regarding the reliability of the watch list. According to Bradford et al. (2007, p18-21) the database still contains on dead terrorist from september11th attacks.

The system has also been faulted on the basis that it includes individuals in the watch list based on race and tribe.

 

5.4 STEPS THAT CAN BE TAKEN TO RESOLVE THE WATCH LISTS WEAKNESSES

To increase the usefulness and reliability of the watch list TSC and the various agencies party to the constituting of the watch list should take the following measures.

The procedures governing the inclusion of individuals currently require only minimal data to indentify individuals and include them in watch list should be amended to include  more identifying information thus reducing the instances of so many false positive matches  that are  causing high  growth rate in the watch list.

The FBI should be more vigilant in including information of known and suspected terrorists into the database to avoid instances where terrorist bypass airport checks due to their delays in updating the list. They should also be equally fast in removing false positive matches from the list as this leads to more inconveniencies for non terrorist individuals that had been included in the list erroneously and above that they have to endure the long process of removing their names from the list.

The TCS staff should ensure that all records in their database for the watch list are complete with all fields and up to date to eliminate the problem of so many positive matches that are leading to the very high growth rate of the watch list.

The requirements for identifying possible terrorist should be unbiased and simply because individuals are from a certain race or tribe or are very vocal on issues that could that could be termed as inciting against national security should  not warrant their being included in the  watch list

The TSC should also increase their speed in the process of integrating the two remaining databases in the watch list as this increase the indentifying data for individuals to be included in the watch list as they are more technical. According to Bradford et al. (2007, p18-21) the watch list still contains names of September 11th terrorists who died ten years ago.

5.5 PRIVACY AND CONSTITIONAL RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS IN RELATION TO THE WATCH LIST

The list infringes on individuals constitutional right to privacy when it reflects an individual who is a non terrorist as a terrorist, the information may be true but when it creates a false impression about an individual it is infringing on their constitutional right to privacy. For example in the case of false positive matches that create a false impression about the individual which could be regarded as deformation.

5.51 IMPORTANCE OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION ETHICS IN THE TROUBLE WITH WATCH LIST CASE STUDY

Business communication ethics govern the way the process of communication is conducted in a business setup.

According to IABC website (2011) ethical business communication calls upon individuals in a business set up to be sensitive to cultural beliefs and values in the way they carryout there communication. TSC( Terrorist Screening Center) and all agencies involved in the development and dissemination of information from the watch list should be culturally sensitive and should not include or request for information based on their culture for  example travelers of the Muslim religion should not be screened based on their religion.

As put in Trevino et al. (2010, p.222-253) ethical business communication also requires that the information distributed should be gathered from reliable sources hence honest and true. The TSC staff and agency that determine inclusion of individuals in the watch list should there fore obtain reliable information to eliminate the issue of false positive matches. They should ensure that any false information disseminated is corrected as soon as possible. For instance in the case of innocent citizens being included in the list the FBI should ensure that such issue is resolved as soon as possible to avoid further inconveniences.

Ethical business communication requires communicators to uphold confidentiality of sensitive information. This pertains to information flow from TSC (terrorist Screening Center) to the various agencies. For example the airport such information should be handled with almost confidentiality because if it is accessed by the wrong persons it could cause panic and become threat security. For instance if travelers at an airport were to gain information that amongst them was a terrorist this could raise alarm among the travelers causing confusion as every one runs for safety and causing a lot of harm in the process and may be it was just a false positive match.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.0 RECOMMEDATION

The watch list having been coupled by so many shortcomings and hiccups since its inception in 2003 needs to tighten its guidelines regarding the procedures it follows in the inclusion of individuals into the watch list to avoid so many red flags that could make the list irrelevant and unreliable for meeting its objective of deterring terrorism.

TSC needs to ensure administration of the database is improved by ensuring it contains records on individuals that pose real national threat that will enhance reliability of information contained in the databases. This should be done that following business ethics rules to ensure that constitutional privacy issues of individuals are not infringed upon and also maintain confidentiality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.0 CONCLUSION

The main aim of the report is to find solution of the weaknesses in the watch list data base and the process help the Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) enhance communication with the government departments and also achieve the objective of deterring terrorist attacks.

This can be achieved through proper administration of the data base to avoid inclusion of innocent non terrorist citizens into the watch list and more vigilance in the updating of the data base.

The TSC should look into privacy rights of individuals erroneously included into the list to avoid costs related to legal process if non terrorist were to sue for infringement of their constitutional right to privacy and damages associated with the tedious process of removing ones name from the list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.0 References

ACLU. (2011).Terror Watch List Counter: A Million Plus. Retrieved on 26th 2011

From www.aclu.org.

Bradford et al. (2007). Watching the Watch lists. P. (18-21).

Federal Investigation Beaureu. Frequently asked questions. Retrieved on 26th April 2010 from www.fbi.gov.

Finn et al. (2011). Leaked Cable Tells of 3 Previously Undisclosed Members of 9/11 Plot: Washington post.

Florence. (2005).Making the no fly list: A due process for terrorist Watch lists.

George. (2000). Business ethics and the challenge of the information age. (63-72)

Government Accountability Office. (2003). Information Technology: Terrorist Watch Lists Should Be Consolidated to Promote Better Integration and Sharing. p84.

Hilkevitch et al. (2011).Yemeni Passengers expose strengths, weaknesses of airport security, experts say. McClatchy – Tribune Business News September.

IABC. (2011). IABC Codes of Ethics For professional Communicators. Retrieved on 26th April 2011from www.iabc.com.

Trevino et al. (2010). Managing business ethics. P. (222-253).

 

 

9.0 Appendices

9.1 ETHICAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

According to the IABC website (2011) for information to be ethically communicated, communicators of such information should follow certain guide lines which include:

The communicator must ensure information is relayed in a credible manner by being from reliable sources and timely as outdated information cannot be relied to make sound business decisions.

In case of erroneous information being released to users it should be corrected immediately upon realization of the mistake.

Communicators should be sensitive to cultural beliefs and values of all individuals receiving such information and all individuals likely to be affected by such information.

Communicators of information should not use confidential information accessed in the course of carrying out their professional duties for personal gain. They should guard such information at all times to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands.

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