Regardless of your position regarding Fusion Centers, it’s hard to argue that their ongoing implementation across the United States is unimportant. Through these new centers, 72 of which are fanned out across the country and more of which are being built, information from classified military surveillance programs regarding people not necessarily suspected of any crime is being shared with local sheriffs and boards of county government. 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 Fusion Center system.
The Fusion Center system is run by the Department of Homeland Security, specifically by its Intelligence and Analysis (“I&A”) branch. Last Thursday, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing for the nominee to head the Homeland Security Intelligence and Analysis program, Caryn A. Wagner. There are 17 members of the Committee, but as the confirmation hearing for Caryn Wagner got underway only 3 of those members bothered to show up. Only Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins and Paul Kirk were in attendance.
If you oppose Fusion Centers’ invasion of Americans’ lives, then it’s important for your Senators to ask Caryn Wagner questions about her plans to continue or abate the program. If you support Fusion Centers and you really believe they’re the key to stopping terrorists, then by all means wouldn’t you want your senators to make sure that the program was going to be run right?
The next time you hear the following members of the Senate Homeland Security committee talk in impassioned tones about either civil liberties or the looming terrorist threat, ask them why they couldn’t be bothered to show up and ask the person tapped to lead the Fusion Center effort a single question. The following members of the Senate Homeland Security committee didn’t care enough to show up: