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Homeland Security Committee Meets This Week to Confirm Director of Homeland Security Fusion Centers

The National Security Agency is engaged in warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans’ communications, recording journalists on the job and listening in to American soldiers having phone sex with their wives. The FBI’s Operation BITE ME has been targeting innocent Americans and groups for surveillance on the basis of race, religion and political opinion. These and other national surveillance programs are gathering information about Americans, information which is then shared with members of the military, state government officials, local sheriffs and even local government officials through 72 Fusion Centers located throughout the United States. These Fusion Centers, in turn, act to further gather information on Americans for sharing with other Fusion Centers and the federal government.

The Fusion Centers are, in a further complication of matters, subcontracting their work out to private corporations, creating yet another class of people to take possession of data regarding the legal activities of innocent Americans. Such is the fate of the North Central Texas Fusion Center, operations of which were awarded this fall to the ADB Consulting limited liability corporation. ADB is run by Anita Miller and Bob Johnson, who is coincidentally (or not) the son of Texas Republican Representative Sam Johnson. In case you were wondering, the North Central Texas Fusion Center got started after local officials took trips to Washington, DC to lobby for federal support.

The North Central Texas Fusion Center, which shares information on Americans over the World Wide Web using a standard SQL server, is responsible for a bulletin earlier this year which advocates the deployment of the Homeland Security apparatus to engage in surveillance on anti-war protesters. The attention of the NCTFC is dedicated to reporting on International ANSWER:

The IAC was founded by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. The IAC delegation led by Clark included former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The IAC views Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups like Hamas and groups fighting U.S. forces in Iraq as legitimate popular resistance forces and a bulwark against U.S. imperialism and “Israeli terrorism.”

The IAC also has operations in the United States including one of the main anti-war and anti-Israel protest movements in the U.S. called ANSWER, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. Law enforcement should be aware of activities in their area… it is imperative for law enforcement officers to report these types of activities to identify potential underlying trends emerging in the North Central Texas region.

Another Fusion Center, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, used its surveillance and data collection capabilities to draw up a report this year that concluded supporters of Congressman Ron Paul, people flying flags declaring “Don’t Tread on Me” and owners of bumper stickers expressing libertarian positions were part of a potential home-grown terrorist movement. Apologies were forthcoming… after the whole thing became public.

In a speech made earlier this month, Acting Homeland Security Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Bart R. Johnson declared it the purview of his department to oversee the further implementation and strengthening of Fusion Centers in the United States:

This includes serving as a smart and aggressive customer of the Intelligence Community, having a seat at the table when our nation’s intelligence collection priorities are determined, and serving as a single repository where crucial information may flow between the Intelligence Community and our homeland security federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector partners.

We have a unique mission at I&A—to be the premier provider of homeland security information and intelligence to state, local and tribal governments—and Secretary Napolitano has tasked us to do a better job of focusing and defining that mission. Having served as governor of Arizona, attorney general of the state and U.S. attorney in Phoenix, the Secretary’s background is rich in state, local and tribal governments. She is committed to information sharing and has made it one of DHS’ top priorities.

In response, we have realigned the Office of Intelligence and Analysis to be the focal point—the one-stop shop, if you will—for state, local and tribal governments to come to for information and intelligence on homeland security threats. We are committed to providing our customers with that information and intelligence accurately, quickly and in the form that they can best use it….

What makes I&A unique is that we take information from the national Intelligence Community and other DHS components, analyze it and move it to our state, local, tribal and private sector partners in a format that they can use. We also facilitate the reverse: providing the federal government, including the IC, with information and intelligence from state, local, tribal and private sector partners.

The fusion centers—which are owned and operated by state and local authorities—are the primary way that DHS shares intelligence and analysis with its state, local and tribal government homeland security partners. Having spent most of my professional life in the New York State Police, I know first-hand how valuable fusion centers are to multiplying the effectiveness of our first responder and homeland security efforts….

By the end of fiscal 2010, we will deploy DHS personnel to all 72 recognized fusion centers and all 72 centers will have access to our Homeland Security Data Network that carries classified information up to the Secret level.

Bart R. Johnson is only the acting director of this effort. This Thursday at 10 AM, a hearing to consider the nomination of Caryn A. Wagner as full director of the Fusion Center effort will be held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. News of this hearing hasn’t been shared by any newspaper or cable news network, which is odd, considering that this will be the one person most responsible for the nationwide collection and dissemination of private and “classified information up to the Secret level” about you and your fellow Americans. I encourage you to watch the confirmation hearing and pay attention: in their questions, will Senators exercise due diligence in seeking to protect the constitutional rights of Americans? In her answers, will Wagner affirm Americans’ rights?

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