A fusion center is a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement apparatus which seeks to merge the information gathering and intelligence sharing practices of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Initially sold to the public as a means of preventing and combating terrorism, fusion centers later took on an “all-crimes approach” incorporating information and intelligence about a multitude of crimes from simple traffic tickets to large scale drug distribution networks. Drifting even further from their original purpose, some fusion centers have begun collecting and analyzing private non-criminal information such as shopping purchases, driving habits, and even health records.
While many existed prior, fusion centers received their national legislative backing through the passage of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007. They were created to “bring down the barriers to information sharing”, a problem iterated by many in the intelligence community after September 11th 2001. Fusion centers accomplish this goal by standardizing the computer language used by various law enforcement agencies and granting each other access to their partner agency’s information systems and criminal intelligence databases.
Along with the centralization of data, fusion centers are driving a new philosophy of law enforcement known as Intelligence-Led Policing. Intelligence-led policing can best be described as law enforcement officers and agencies working together to collect information, criminal and non-criminal, in order to analyze trends in large-scale activity and individual activity so they may prevent potential crimes and terror attacks from occurring. Under this new model, in order to prevent potential violent acts from occurring at protests, local law enforcement officials are now being trained to preemptively collect information on protest groups such as the personal data of members, group organization, the basis of their ideology, what laws they hope to change, and their mood. Many are concerned with the potential “chilling effect” these types of activities will have on peaceful constitutionally protected dissent.
Of primary concern for many in the activist community is the fusion center system’s long train of privacy and civil liberties abuses directed at constitutionally protected activity. For example, a Missouri Information and Analysis Center report from February 2009 titled The Modern Militia Movement, labeled Ron Paul supporters and Libertarian Party members as potential violent militia members. This report went out to law enforcement officials all across the country and since many have felt the repercussions. Additionally, another February 2009 report from the North Central Texas Fusion Center warned law enforcement officials about the threat that comes from Americans growing more tolerant of Islamic practices such as footbaths being installed in public places and public schools scheduling prayer breaks to accommodate Muslim students. The report also tells police to be aware of the protest activities of peaceful anti-war groups such as ANSWER (Act Not to Stop War and End Racism).
See Texans for Accountable Government’s Report on other Fusion Center abuses
As the 21st Century enters its second decade, the American public is beginning to realize that many of the institutions created to “protect the homeland” from external threats are now being focused inward on anything the establishment deems a threat to the status quo. The fusion centers apparatus is being utilized towards this end. Please join us at Operation Defuse in doing all we can to ensure those who wish to bring about peaceful change in the United States are able to do it without the threat of state retaliation. Join with us in defusing the police and surveillance state!
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