Fusion Centers are like mini Departments of Homeland Security. According to DHS’s website, “A fusion center is a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.” They’re scattered around the country in each state and work with local law enforcement and DHS in preventing and protecting against terrorism. In theory, anyway.
One such fusion center, the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC), made headlines a few years ago when one of their official internal documents was leaked to the public. It entreated law enforcement to watch out for those right-wing extremists, because they could be terrorists. It identified anybody who was opposed to abortion, high taxes, big government, the Federal Reserve System, or in favor of political candidates like Ron Paul or third party candidates as potential domestic terrorists. The MIAC report advised law enforcement to be on the lookout for these people.
Senators who sit on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report Wednesday that demonstrated the utter uselessness of these fusion centers. The Senatorial investigation revealed that these fusion centers “forwarded intelligence of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.” The New York Times reported:
The investigators reviewed 610 reports produced by the centers over 13 months in 2009 and 2010. Of these, the report said, 188 were never published for use within the Homeland Security Department or other intelligence agencies. Hundreds of draft reports sat for months, awaiting review by homeland security officials, making much of their information obsolete. And some of the reports appeared to be based on previously published information or facts that had long since been reported through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
So, they’re just a network of more useless bureaucracies. On top of that, the $1.4 billion that was earmarked for these facilities has gone missing. Fusion centers are run by local and state officials but funded by FEMA with obviously no oversight. The Senatorial report uncovered that while this $1.4 billion has gone missing, fusion center officials did manage to purchase SUV’s and dozens of flat screen TV’s. To fight against terrorism, of course. No wonder government employees love Obama so much.
The investigation uncovered that some of the fusion centers listed by DHS don’t even exist. I guess that’s a good thing knowing that there are fewer centers than we initially thought, but the slightly inflated number of centers surely elicited more earmarked funds. Here are some of the things these mini-DHS’s have been able to accomplish:
Last November…an Illinois [fusion] center reported that Russian hackers had broken into the computer system of a local water district in Springfield and sent computer commands that triggered a water pump to burn out. But it turned out that a repair technician had remotely accessed the water district’s computer system while he was on vacation in Russia.
…In the wake of the January 2011 shootings in Tucson that killed six and wounded others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona center issued a report filled with inaccurate information about the gunman’s alleged connections to an anti-Semitic and anti-government group.
It’s these kinds of things that have prompted Republican Senator Tom Coburn who sits on the investigation subcommittee to call Homeland Security “the most ineffective agency in the government besides Social Security.” While DHS and their network of centers try to tie every anomaly or act of violence to some right-wing, anti-government and anti-Semitic group, Senator Coburn noted that these fusion centers “are not accomplishing anything in terms of counterterrorism.” No, they don’t actually do anything productive, but this is just what it looks like when our government “creates jobs.”