Nanny State: Fusion centers to provide classified intelligence to local police

30 September 2009

Fusion centers to provide classified intelligence to local police

by rawstory
Thursday Sep 17th, 2009 6:43 AM

In a move raising eyebrows among civil liberties advocates, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it would give so-called local and state “fusion centers” access to classified military intelligence in Pentagon databases.

Fusion centers are hubs for local law enforcement, the private sector and the intelligence community, and were created in an effort to fight terrorism. There are more than seventy known centers across the United States.

The decision to give fusion centers access to classified intelligence appears to a shift in policy by Homeland Security. In July, Secretary Janet Napolitano “that fusion centers were not intended to have a military presence, and that she was not aware of ones that did,” according to the New York Times.

The centers have been a flashpoint of criticism from civil liberties groups. The American Civil Liberties Union, in particular, has been a vehement critic.

“As fusion centers gain more and more access to Americans’ private information, the information about them being made available to the American public remains woefully inadequate,” Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement. “There is a stunning lack of oversight at these fusion centers and, as we’ve seen, these centers are rapidly becoming a breeding ground for overzealous intelligence activities. Opening the door for domestic law enforcement to gain access to classified military intelligence coupled with no guidelines restricting the military’s role in fusion centers is a recipe for disaster.”

In February, the ACLU highlighted a bulletin issued by a West Texas center. The Texas bulletin said it was “imperative for law enforcement officers to report” the activities of lobbying groups, Muslim civil rights organizations and anti-war protest groups in their region.

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