The number of people on the government’s database of known or suspected terrorists has doubled in recent years, according to new information released by the National Counterterrorism Center. From March 2010 to the end of 2013, the number has gone from 550,000 to roughly 1.1 million people.
The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, is a huge, classified database of people known to be terrorists, those who are suspected of having ties to terrorism, and in some cases those who are related to or are associates of known or suspected terrorists. It feeds to smaller lists that restrict peoples' abilities to travel on commercial airlines to or within the U.S.
The government does not need evidence that links someone to terrorism in order for the person to be included in the database. This is among the reasons the database and subsequent terror watch lists have been criticized by privacy advocates. Of the 1.1 million people in the database, 25,000 are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, the National Counterterrorism Center said.
The growth can be attributed to the events of 2009’s failed Christmas Day bombing attempt on a commercial airline over Detroit. The terrorist’s name was in the database prior to the attack, but he was not included on a no-fly list. The standards for placing someone on the no-fly list and adding names to the database have since been lowered.
The database was created after 9/11 to make the government’s terror watch list more effective.