NCIC Databases

The NCIC databases contain about 40 million records pertaining to stolen vehicles, missing or wanted persons, suspected terrorists, and more. Incorrect, conflicting, or false information pulled from these databases have led to repeated false arrests. [1] [2] The NSA surveillance programs autonomously collect data on a much larger scale and may even rely on info from the NCIC databases. Is it possible that inaccurate information can be fed into these programs? If so, as these programs typically pertain to national security, an innocent person may be classified as a terrorist and be wrongly arrested or killed.

Patriot Missile System

On February 25, 1991, an U.S. Army barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, was hit by a Scud missile fired from Iraq. 28 soldiers were killed because of a bug in how the system used of signals from it’s internal clock. The radar system searched at an incorrect range gate and didn’t detect the incoming Scud missile. [3] Are the technologies used in NSA surveillance drones the same technologies used in drones for carrying out missile strikes? Bugs in these technologies might lead to surveilling or striking wrong targets.


  1. Peter G. Neumann. “More on False Arrests.” Risks Digest 1(5), September 4, 1985.
  2. Rodney Hoffman. “NCIC Information Leads to Repeat False Arrest Suit.” Risks Digest 8(71), May 17, 1989.
  3. E. Marshall. “Fatal Error: How Patriot Overlooked a Scud.” Science 255(5050):1347, March 13, 1992.