Even Fox Covering DHS Senate Report

Department of Homeland SecurityA new Senate report slams the Department of Homeland Security. It seems that the fusion centers created in every state aren’t fighting terrorism so much as just militarizing local law enforcement and infringing on the civil rights of Americans. If you’re think Quelle surprise! you’re not alone. A lot of people on the left and right were concerned all the back in 2002 that this is the sort of thing that would happen. Wired has a very good article on the report, DHS Counterterror Centers Produce ‘a Bunch of Crap,’ Senate Finds.

As you may remember, after 911, much of the push for reforming our “security” system was to allow the various organizations to share data so that never again would we suffer such a devastating attack. And the government’s great idea was: a huge bureaucracy inside of which all the other agencies would fit. The linchpin of this would be these fusion centers where all the data would be brought together:

“Nor,” the Senate panel writes in its just-released report, analyzing more than 80,000 fusion center documents, “could [the inquiry] identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.” Unnamed DHS officials told the panel the fusion centers produce “predominantly useless information” and “a bunch of crap.” An internal 2010 assessment, which DHS did not share with Congress, found that a third of all fusion centers don’t have defined procedures for sharing intelligence—”one of the prime reasons for their existence.” At least four fusion centers identified by DHS “do not exist,” the Senate found.

But it is not just that these centers are mostly useless (except as a works program—I’m all for that), they are actively bad:

As civil libertarian groups have long warned (.pdf), those that do are hives of incompetence, bureaucracy, mission creep and possible civil-liberties abuses. Despite instituting privacy protections in 2009, the Senate report discloses, “DHS continued to store troubling intelligence reports from fusion centers on U.S. persons, possibly in violation of the Privacy Act.” A third of reviewed fusion center intelligence reports either “lacked any useful information” on terrorism or potentially violated civil liberties. Other reports sat for months, until their information was “obsolete” by the time DHS published it. Instead of focusing on terrorism, “most information” from the centers was about ordinary crime, such as “drug, cash or human smuggling.”

Interestingly, Fox News is also covering this story, but given that it is basically a GOP program, they tread lightly, As post-9/11 program grew, info on Americans, not terrorists was collected; price tag huge. The article doesn’t mention Obama or Bush. But instead of primarily being about the civil rights issue, it portrays the program as mostly being a financial boondoggle. So even without mentioning Obama, the article is still a hit piece, pushing the standard Republican “when we’re not in the White House” line that debt is killing us.

But I’m pleased they’re even covering it.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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