Senate Report Blasts Fusion Centers

A Senate Committee has released the results of its two year investigation into the $1.4 billion post-9/11 fusion centers The bi-partisan report finds the programs, intended to facilitate sharing of information among law enforcement, were ineffective, overly expensive and intruded on civil liberties.

“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties,” said Senator Tom Coburn, the Subcommittee’s ranking member who initiated the investigation.

The investigation determined that senior DHS officials were aware of the problems hampering effective counterterrorism work with the fusion centers, but did not always inform Congress of the issues, nor ensure the problems were fixed in a timely manner.

The iinvestigation reviewed 600 reports and found most had nothing to do with terrorism. The full report is here. [More...]

As to how some of that $1.4 billion was spent:

[T]he report documents spending on items that did little to help share intelligence, including gadgets such as “shirt button” cameras, $6,000 laptops and big-screen televisions. One fusion center spent $45,000 on a decked-out SUV that a city official used for commuting.

And this:

More than $2 million was spent on a center for Philadelphia that never opened. In Ohio, officials used the money to buy rugged laptop computers and then gave them to a local morgue. San Diego officials bought 55 flat-screen televisions to help them collect “open-source intelligence” — better known as cable television news.

One example of the inappropriate use of surveillance: An investigation into the Mongols Motorcycle gang:

Investigators found instances in which the analysts used intelligence about U.S. citizens that may have been gathered illegally. In one case, a fusion center in California wrote a report on a notorious gang, the Mongols Motorcycle Club, that had distributed leaflets telling its members to behave when they got stopped by police. The leaflet said members should be courteous, control their emotions and, if drinking, have a designated driver.

“There is nothing illegal or even remotely objectionable [described] in this report,” one supervisor wrote about the draft before killing it. “The advice given to the groups’ members is protected by the First Amendment.”

How useless were the reports?

A third or more of the reports intended for officials in Washington were discarded because they lacked useful information, had been drawn from media accounts or involved potentially illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens, according to the Senate report.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Wow! Whoda thunk it? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:18:57 AM EST

    So adding a layer of bureaucracy did not improve security.  Obviously a tax hike is the answer.


    As opposed to a tax cut ... (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Yman on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:33:36 AM EST
    ... which is always the Republican answer.

    Better yet, a tax cut and adding a layer of bureaucracy ... the Republican recipe.