Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force

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The Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force was initiated October 29, 2001 by President George W. Bush in Homeland Security Presidential Directive-2. The Task Force, "with assistance from the Attorney General (John Ashcroft), the Director of Central Intelligence (George J. Tenet) and other officers of the government, as appropriate, ... to ensure that, to the maximum extent permitted by law, Federal agencies coordinate programs to accomplish the following: 1) deny entry into the United States of aliens associated with, suspected of being engaged in, or supporting terrorist activity; and 2) locate, detain, prosecute, or deport any such aliens already present in the United States."

According to the Directive, the Task Force was to be staffed by "expert personnel" from the U.S. Department of State, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, the Customs Service, the Intelligence Community, "military support components, and other Federal agencies as appropriate to accomplish the Task Force's mission."

Note: The U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Customs Service were merged under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as the U.S. Customs Service and Border Patrol.

The Attorney General and the Director of Central Intelligence were tasked with ensuring, "to the maximum extent permitted by law, that the Task Force has access to all available information necessary to perform its mission, and they shall request information from State and local governments, where appropriate." Together, they were also tasked with inviting "foreign liaison officers from cooperating countries ... to serve as liaisons to the Task Force, where appropriate, to expedite investigation and data sharing."

"Other Federal entities, such as the Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Coordination Center and the Foreign Leads Development Activity, shall provide the Task Force with any relevant information they possess concerning aliens suspected of engaging in or supporting terrorist activity."

Item number five in the Directive of the tasks assigned to the Task Force is "Use of Advanced Technologies for Data Sharing and Enforcement Efforts."

"The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in conjunction with the Attorney General and the Director of Central Intelligence, shall make recommendations about the use of advanced technology to help enforce United States immigration laws, to implement United States immigration programs, to facilitate the rapid identification of aliens who are suspected of engaging in or supporting terrorist activity, to deny them access to the United States, and to recommend ways in which existing government databases can be best utilized to maximize the ability of the government to detect, identify, locate, and apprehend potential terrorists in the United States. Databases from all appropriate Federal agencies, state and local governments, and commercial databases should be included in this review. The utility of advanced data mining software should also be addressed. To the extent that there may be legal barriers to such data sharing, the Director of the OSTP shall submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget proposed legislative remedies. The study also should make recommendations, propose timelines, and project budgetary requirements."

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External articles

  • U.S. Department of Justice Speech: "Attorney General Ashcroft Outlines Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force," October 31, 2001: Outlines Task Force mission and announces Task Force Head: "Steven C. McGraw is an FBI agent who hails from El Paso, Texas. Currently he serves as the deputy assistant director of the Intelligence Branch of the Investigative Services Division at FBI Headquarters."