In the midst of the never-ending NSA spying revelations, it is easy to lose track of all of the unconstitutional acts committed by the so-called intelligence community - and the ways that NSA spying, and mentality behind it, permeates law enforcement at all levels.
One troubling aspect recently revealed is the fact that the feds give warrantless, illegally-collected information to local law-enforcement agencies for their investigations. This is done through something called “Special Operations Division,” and through Fusion Centers.
The Fusion Centers act as a conduit for Big Brother – they’re a place to simply receive data collected, with or without a warrant, by federal agencies like the NSA. That information is passed on to local law enforcement and often used in day-to-day criminal investigations.
Fusion Centers were set-up under the Bush Administration to “help keep America safe” after 9/11. The Patriot Act removed barriers that prevented the feds from sharing intelligence information with local law enforcement. This was meant to facilitate communication between agencies so decisions could be made quickly in order to “prevent another terrorist attack.” At least that’s how it was sold. Unfortunately, this practice has been abused and focused on the whole American population – not just terror suspects.
Given the penchant the feds have for using their power to harass political opponents, these spying programs have a pernicious chilling effect on the First Amendment of the Constitution.
These changes in the law have fostered a predatory atmosphere within the system. Collusion between the feds, private entities, state and local governments and foreign governments has greatly increased since The Information Sharing Environment (ISE) was established in 2004.
According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators… have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.”
The ISE and its members, including the Department of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence (who the NSA reports to), have created a bonanza in unconstitutional behavior with public and private interests invited to run amok on the privacy rights of citizens.
According to ISE, Fusion Centers are responsible for doing the feds’ dirty work at the state and local levels. The NSA and other federal agencies send down “threat assessments” that are analyzed by the Fusion Centers. Then these are passed on to local and state law enforcement officers and other government officials.
The Fusion Centers play a big role in spreading the NSA’s culture of suspicion into our local communities. Think of them as the hand-off point for the federal spies working with your local police.
Make no mistake about it, these Fusion Centers are openly hostile toward liberty.
A Missouri Fusion Center issued a report classifying “supporters of the Constitution” as potential terrorists and extremists in the same vein as the Ku Klux Klan. They have undoubtedly focused their attention on left-leaning activists as well, particularly the anti-war movement.
In addition to helping the feds demonize their political opposition, Fusion Centers also help them illegally spy on Americans.
The existence of Fusion Centers in virtually every state across the country highlights how deep into our communities Big Brother has infiltrated. The spin insisting that only terrorists and people with something to hide should fear government surveillance is revealed as more blatantly untrue as NSA spying revelations mount. They are prying into the private lives of everyone.
The fusion centers insist that they’re only snooping on people with anti-government beliefs. But with Congress less popular than a root canal and resentment toward public officials at an all-time high among Americans, those comments cannot be seen as anything more than an admission of guilt.
A strategy to take on Big Brother cannot neglect these fusion centers. According to the FAQ section of the Alabama Fusion Center website, they ‘are funded through state or local budgets and federal grants.’ This means it is possible for us to pass bills in state and local governments that make it much more difficult for the Fusion Centers to receive the funding they need to snoop on us and disseminate vile propaganda.
Of course, sycophants are going to whine endlessly about how we desperately need the Fusion Centers to spy on us, and how they’re providing such a crucial function in keeping us safe from the terrorists. However, the evidence suggests otherwise.
According to a study conducted by the the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations from 2009-2010, they “could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.” Not one instance of success despite the Department of Homeland Security spending up to $1.4 billion on them. In addition, embarrassing reports such as this instance of Fusion Center personnel spending $75,000 on big screen televisions have surfaced, raising questions about the efficacy of the invasive program.
We need to capitalize on Big Brother’s ineptitude and let people know exactly how their money is being squandered. While we can’t stop the DHS from funding these Fusion Centers, we can stop our state and local governments from supporting these inefficient, ineffective, liberty-destroying menaces! Big Brother has many tentacles, and we must focus on stopping them all if we are to defeat it.
Passage of the 4th Amendment Protection Act in your state would be a huge step towards stopping the effects of NSA spying and the culture of suspicion it has created at every level of government. By banning your state from cooperating with warrantless snooping, or even accepting “evidence” from federal agencies like the NSA that is collected without a warrant, we can begin the process of healing, and restoring a culture of liberty.