Friday, April 3, 2009

Police 'fusion' centers tracked presidential candiates Paul, Barr and Mckinney

I really hate ending the week with one of these dark and ominous Orwellian stories, but alas, nothing else out there is as interesting...or likely important.

Nearly a year ago to this day I posted about what are called "Fusion Centers". I wrote,

"If we didn't have enough reasons to lie awake at night worrying about the future of privacy in this country and this administration's wholesale assault on the Constitution! Now we learn - thanks to the Washington Post's efforts - that there are "intelligence centers" (why do these operations always have to sound so Orwellian!?) being run by states across the country that have access to the personal information of millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license photographs and credit reports.

But not to worry they tell us, its all for our own protection! Why does none of this make me feel any safer? This sounds like yet another constitution crushing idea that had been in the works for years before 9/11...which just happened to be the kind of "event" that gave the cover needed to implement such a scheme. The possible abuses are incalculable..."

And now, a year later, a story breaks that these same fusion centers were used in the 2008 Presidential Campaign to track and surveil supporters of third-party candidates and "an ambiguous mission directive that has lead to power overreaching."

The good news is the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment (how's that for a mouthful?) held hearings on Wednesday that included the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on Islamic-American Relations speaking against these "centers".

Raw Story has the scoop:

Fusion centers are intelligence databases spread out across the country that collect data on ordinary citizens and synchronize national intelligence collection with local police. There are currently more than 40 fusion centers in the country.


Fusion centers have experienced a mission creep in the last several years, becoming more of a threat than a security device," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office in a statement. "With no overarching guidelines to restrict or direct them, these centers put Americans’ privacy at huge risk. We need our government to take a long, hard look at what’s going into these centers and, frankly, what’s coming out.”


The ACLU has followed possible fusion center improper invasions of privacy, including the surveillance of third-party presidential candidate supporters, religious groups and of anti-war activists. The group is asking the DHS office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to launch independent investigations into the following incidents:

* Inappropriate references "social, religious and political ideologies including support of third party presidential candidates such as Congressman Ron Paul and former Congressman Bob Barr" in a February 2009 report on the "modern militia movement" authored by the Missouri Information Anaysis Center. Report available here.

* A May 2008 report entitled “Universal Adversary Dynamic Threat Assessment” written by a private contractor that labeled environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Humane Society and the Audubon Society as "organizations with known or possible links to eco-terrorism.” The report, which also criticized the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, among others, is available here.


CAIR released the following statement regarding its naming in the Texas Fusion System report."CAIR is deeply troubled that the North Central Texas Fusion System bulletin labels monitoring the legal activities of American Muslims exercising their constitutional privileges as ‘imperative,’" their statement said. The group "believes it is time for Congress to conduct a deeper evaluation of our nation’s new domestic surveillance infrastructure.

Do I have to even make the case how totally unacceptable these violations are, and what a threat they pose to individual liberty? As someone who has personally been very active on environmental and human rights issues, its more than just a little disturbing to know these same groups and interests were targeted by the government.

It goes without saying that we can breathe a certain sigh of relief on such targeting in an Obama Administration, but in no way does that mean we should "look forward and not back". If I hear that term again I swear I'm going to scream! We can't move forward if we don't fix what has happened in the past. How else do you ensure it doesn't happen looking forward?!!

That's my Friday tirade...have a good weekend everyone :)

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Anonymous said...

Much appreciated information--you really had your hand on it...thank you

CFC said...

Okay, I have to apologize, due to issues with my account, for the past year and a half I was not aware of all the comments that were being submitted!! I'm so sorry to you, and everyone else. I went back and approved some, but others were so long ago. At any rate, thank you, and I will be aware of comments in the future. Zack