September 4, 2021

The Intercept published information, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, about CBP’s Tactical Terrorism Response Teams, which operate at 79 ports of entry. Established in 2015, the teams “consist of CBP officers and Border Patrol agents who work closely with CBP’s National Targeting Center, which gathers and vets intelligence.” Their scope has since expanded beyond counter-terrorism.

The documents show that Tactical Terrorism Response Teams (TTRTs) detained and interrogated more than 600,000 travelers, about a third of them U.S. citizens, between 2017 and 2019. They denied entry to 8,000 foreign travelers and a handful of U.S. citizens.

“Within 100 miles of any U.S. land or coastal boundary, CBP can detain, question, search, and seize property with fewer restrictions than law enforcement in the interior of the country,” the Intercept recalls, adding that there are indications that some of the Tactical Terrorism Response Teams’ targeting has appeared “politically or ideologically motivated.”

Weeks later, starting on September 20, 2021, media outlets would begin reporting on DHS Inspector-General findings about Tactical Terrorism Response Teams’ targeting of activists and journalists during 2018-19 migrant caravans in Mexico.

— Melissa del Bosque, “Secretive CBP Counterterrorism Teams Interrogated 180,000 U.S. Citizens Over Two-Year Period” (Type Investigations, The Intercept, September 4, 2021)

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): Tactical Terrorism Response Teams

Event Type(s): Misuse of Intelligence Capability

Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: U.S. Citizen or Resident