Through its “Fusion Center” program, the military and civilian wings of the United States government have been disseminating classified information on Americans collected through warrantless wiretapping programs to state officials, local sheriffs, town and county governing bodies and various private corporations. In turn, these local officials and private corporations have been amassing their own data on the activity of Americans and sending it up the line to officials in Washington, DC. Americans need have done nothing wrong, nor be suspected of any crime, to be followed and data mined by the Homeland Security Fusion Center system.
Acting Homeland Security Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Bart R. Johnson, in charge of the Fusion Center program, bragged earlier this month about the use of massive surveillance during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, a peaceful and altogether legal gathering:
Here in Colorado, for instance, the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC), or “Kayak” in Denver, served as the funnel for all information and intelligence collected, analyzed, produced and disseminated during the August 2008 Democratic National Convention. The I&A representative we have deployed in the CIAC provided intelligence support to the Principal Federal Official and his staff, while assisting in the coordination of all information sharing activities for the four additional I&A analysts sent to Denver for the convention.
Now that the convention is over, is the operation all packed up and stored away? Far from it. Acting Undersecretary Johnson
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.
I&A Going Forward
As part of our realignment, the Secretary has tasked us with being the manager for a new Joint Fusion Center-Program Management Office that will coordinate support for fusion centers across the department. We anticipate that all DHS components will have new or expanded roles in strengthening fusion centers and the national fusion center network.
In the last six months, President Obama’s Administration has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to the national fusion center network. This has been visible in several ways, including:
•The White House’s issuance of budget guidance that elevates fusion centers as a key priority and calls for the development of recommendations to establish an interagency Program Management Office
We also recognize that State and local governments are facing unprecedented budgetary challenges that are having a drastic impact on the ability of fusion centers to maintain staff and make progress against the baseline capabilities.
It’s one thing to say fusion centers are important; it’s another to demonstrate that importance organizationally and operationally.
To address these challenges and the elevated prioritization of fusion centers, we are taking the following steps to enhance Federal support to Fusion Centers:
•Establishing the DHS Joint Fusion Center Program Management Office that I spoke of; and
•Establishing a National Fusion Center Program Management Office.
The Fusion Centers are just ramping up, and they’re watching Americans’ political activities.
The Senate confirmation hearing for the permanent head of the Homeland Security Fusion Center program is proceeding this Thursday at 10 AM, although you wouldn’t know it from the complete corporate news blackout on the subject. Watch and learn where the American surveillance system is headed next.