July 5, 2008
|Fusion centers are a creature of the Department of Defense and DARPA, an outgrowth of the supposedly discredited and "defunded" Total Information Awareness program|
In order to sell us on surrendering our rights, the government told us they would establish “fusion centers” around the country to collect intelligence on al-Qaeda and assorted other amorphous bad guys, an explanation that made sense to a lot of people after September 11, 2001. For some reason, though, the government did not get around to telling us that these so-called “fusion centers” are a creature of the Department of Defense and DARPA, an outgrowth of the supposedly discredited and “defunded” Total Information Awareness program, the brainchild of convicted Iran-Contra felon John Poindexter.
Back in 2002, writing for the New York Times, William Safire said Poindexter was “determined to break down the wall between commercial snooping and secret government intrusion. The disgraced admiral dismisses such necessary differentiation as bureaucratic ’stovepiping.’ And he has been given a $200 million budget to create computer dossiers on 300 million Americans.” In other words, the TIA program would create computer dossiers on virtually every American — not just blue eyed, blond haired al-Qaeda Americans, mind you, but everybody without exception.
Due to a spate of bad publicity, the House and Senate moved to cut funding for the program by adding provisions to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2004. Two years later, in early 2006, Shane Harris, writing for the National Journal, revealed that TIA “was stopped in name only.” It lives on behind the veil of the classified intelligence budget and “names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.”
Two of the most important components of the TIA program were moved to the Advanced Research and Development Activity, housed at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., documents and sources confirm. One piece was the Information Awareness Prototype System, the core architecture that tied together numerous information extraction, analysis, and dissemination tools developed under TIA. The prototype system included privacy-protection technologies that may have been discontinued or scaled back following the move to ARDA.
In other words, after a meddling and mostly clueless Congress stuck its nose in TIA, the program went undercover and now poses even more of a threat to the liberty of average Americans, not just al-Qaeda dimwits and patsies. TIA and the fusion center concept was just too good for the spooks to let go. An idea “that grabs so much government power at the expense of its citizens’ privacy always has a phoenix-like ability to resurrect itself, and so the fusion center initiative has been reborn under the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative’ and been provided with $380 million in funding for 40 installations throughout the country,” writes the Ohm Project. “These fusion centers are usually located deep in the bowels of some state law enforcement agency… All forty coordinate and share data with each other, but no single agency, Congressional or otherwise, has oversight authority over them.”
However, the sales pitch is ongoing, never mind the lack of “oversight authority” or the Orwellian aspects of the government shuffling through credit, medical, and sundry other records of over 300 million Americans. As KLAS in Las Vegas reported earlier this week, while supposedly preventing terrorism “is the main mission of Metro’s Fusion Center,” it is also “proving successful in solving local crimes,” much to the approval of Nevada Congress critter Harry Reid. Las Vegas is not alone in this move away from investigating terrorism and concentrating of crime — Boston, Chicago, and other large cities are selling their fusion centers in the same way. In fact, Chicago’s fusion center dispenses entirely with the idea of terrorism — its fusion center is called the Crime Prevention Information Center. The Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center promotes its operations as follows:
Not specifically prevent al-Qaeda terrorism, mind you, but “prevent criminal activity.” In order to do this, you have to surrender any last shred of privacy, any quaint idea that you are protected by an increasingly moribund Constitution and Bill of Rights. “Fusion center technologies of all kinds vacuum up information from the real and digital worlds day and night,” explains the Government Security website. “In addition to microphones placed in crime-ridden hot spots, real world citizens send information to fusion centers by calling telephone tip lines or sending e-mail. Video cameras installed by local law enforcement, state departments of transportation and corporate security departments often provide visual data to fusion centers through memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and sometimes by request during emergencies.” In order to fight crime, fusion centers bring together the FBI, DHS, FEMA, CIA, and state and local law enforcement, all of them using a networked system developed by DARPA and the Pentagon.
The principle role of the Intelligence Fusion Center is to compile, blend, analyze and disseminate criminal intelligence and other information (including, but not limited to, threat assessment, public safety, law enforcement, public health, social service and public works) and to support efforts to anticipate, identify, prevent and monitor criminal activity. The ultimate goal is to provide a mechanism where law enforcement, public safety and the private sector can come together with a common purpose to improve the ability to safeguard our homeland and prevent criminal activity.
“Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver’s license photographs and credit reports,” the Washington Post reported in April. “The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies. They are expected to play important roles in national information-sharing networks that link local, state and federal authorities and enable them to automatically sift their storehouses of records for patterns and clues…. The list of information resources was part of a survey conducted last year, officials familiar with the effort said. It shows that, like most police agencies, the fusion centers have subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans’ locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like.” Additional records at the disposal of widely dispersed fusion centers include “wage and property records, corporate charters, utility records and a host of government files, including criminal justice information and traffic tickets.”
According to the government, all of this data is required to protect you from al-Qaeda… er, excuse me, protect you from pot dealers, shoplifters, prostitutes, drunk drivers and the like. More than half of all federal and state inmates were convicted on drug and “public-order” offenses in 2006. Naturally, they are a national security risk.
“The still rising prison population comes after a decade of declines in violent and property crime. According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime declined 2.2% last year and has dropped a whopping 32% since 1995. Property crime rates have also declined, although not so dramatically, dropping 23% since 1985,” reports the Drug Reform Coordination Network. “Violent and property crime is down, but discretionary drug arrests continue to go through the roof.”
The bastard son of TIA, growing like a cancer in the bowels of the NSA, and the proliferation of fusion centers employing this technology have nothing to do with crime, even nonviolent and victimless crime — it has to do with implementing a total surveillance panopticon, a high-tech control grid.
The FBI is not particularly interested in drug crimes, or violent crime for that matter, but as numerous news stories reveal they are interested in infiltrating and disrupting political activist groups. Under the guise of fighting crime — and more and more, domestic crime is considered terrorism — the government has provided an excuse to roll out its intrusive technologies, cooked up by DARPA and the Pentagon, not so much to surveil Joe and Jane Taxpayer, but rather the troublemakers among us. And the troublemakers, of course, are those opposed to endless war and the imposition of a fascist corporate state. Joe and Jane are not a problem — that is so long as they pay their taxes, follow myriad state and federal laws, get their vaccinations, drink their fluoride, eat their GMO, and donate their kids to various perpetual war for perpetual military-industrial complex profit scams.