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Opinion: Homeland fusion

Opinion: Homeland fusion

October 18th, 2012 by Savannah (Ga.) Morning News, via The AP in News

Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on Homeland Security fusion centers, from Oct. 8, 2012:

In the years following 9/11, and well into the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security has established a multitude of so-called "fusion centers."

What are fusion centers?

According to the DHS website, "State and major urban area fusion centers serve as focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector partners."

Simply put, these centers allow for expedient communication between different branches of defense and law enforcement, with specific focus on communicating information on potential terrorist threats and suspects.

On paper, it looks like a great idea. In reality, a bipartisan Senate report that was just released suggests that it's awfully expensive and potentially unconstitutional.

The ranking Republican, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, on this Senate panel accused the Department of Homeland Security of hiding embarrassing information about these intelligence-sharing centers, charging that the program has wasted taxpayer dollars while doing little to improve America's security.

In a 107-page report, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said that Homeland Security has spent up to $1.4 billion funding fusion centers that have produced "useless" reports, while at the same time collecting information on the innocent activities of American Muslims - violating privacy laws in the process. ...

Fusion centers that share information and build needed teamwork among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have their place in our national security framework. However, it's abundantly clear that they need greater oversight when taxpayer dollars - and, our civil liberties - are at risk.