To visit the Terrorist Screening Center, you have to make some promises. The first is not to divulge where the center is — aside from saying it is in a secure location in Northern Virginia. A reporter has never been allowed inside the center, and NPR was not allowed to record the analysts who work there, in case someone said something that was classified...
In 2004, the year the TSC opened its doors, it had some 5,400 hits. This year, the FBI expects to log more than 22,000.
Those kinds of numbers worry civil liberties advocates like David Sobel, the senior counsel with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"The bottom-line problem is the government since 9-11 has gotten into the business of making lists of suspicious people," he says. "This has happened without much discussion of the criteria or how affected people might get some recourse and get their names off if they mistakenly have been put on such a list."