Time to Close Fusion Centers

BORDC’s Shahid Buttar explains bait & switch on NSA spying
May 24, 2014
Protecting Sources
June 2, 2014
BORDC’s Shahid Buttar explains bait & switch on NSA spying
May 24, 2014
Protecting Sources
June 2, 2014


Adding to the long list of troubling intelligence-collecting activities carried out by fusion centers, a new report from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) reveals how the Department of Homeland Security coordinated with local law enforcement across the country to monitor the Occupy movement in 2011 and 2012. Based on thousands of government emails and documents the PCJF obtained through freedom of information requests, the report describes a nationwide, coordinated effort by federal and local officials along with military agencies and private security contractors to monitor “all manner of peaceful and lawful political activity that took place during the Occupy movement, from protests and rallies to meetings and educational lectures.”

Numbering almost 80 across the country, fusion centers were created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks to address concerns that local, state and federal authorities were not effectively sharing information about potential terrorist threats. Over a decade later, they have become bloated centers, lacking a clear mandate and sufficient oversight. Despite receiving upwards of $1.4 billion in state and federal Homeland Security funds, a bipartisan Senate investigation found that the intelligence they produce is “of uneven quality – oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties.” And now there’s more evidence of them collecting intelligence on peaceful protesters. [find links to additional reports below]

We’re partnering with RootsAction to petition Congress to take action to close Fusion Centers. Please add your voice, and share! [Action ended]

The documents, many of which are partially redacted, reveal a surprising degree of coordination between local authorities and fusion centers. For example, the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, acting on a request from police chiefs to “identify, research and document trends or activities that may threaten public safety,” produced a bulletin detailing the “tactics and strategies” employed by Occupy activists nationwide. Included in this bulletin were reports about Las Vegas “activists staging sit-ins” and free speech protesters in Long Beach, California being arrested for staying in a park past its 10pm closing time. The report also notes that Occupy activists had momentarily interrupted a speech by President Obama in November of 2011. According to the New York Times, among the most active centers tracking Occupy activities was a Boston-area fusion center which “issued scores of bulletins listing hundreds of events including a protest of ‘irresponsible lending practices,’ a food drive and multiple ‘yoga, faith & spirituality’ classes.” Law enforcement in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., participated in similar monitoring activities. “The U.S. Fusion Centers are using their vast counter-terrorism resources to target the domestic social justice movement as a criminal or terrorist enterprise,” PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard said in a press release. “This is an abuse of power and corruption of democracy.” In one of the more bizarre examples of mission creep revealed by these documents, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), whose official mission is to “address the entire spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosive threats,” was tracking and sharing intelligence on Occupy activities. According to PCJF: “This Pentagon agency that exists to counter threats from weapons of mass destruction circulated material on Occupy including, for example, one document with the subject line: “FW: Alert Update! Chicago … What Police Should Be Learning From The Occupy Protests.” This document shows in an email chain that this article was initially circulated through the subscription website activistmap.com, which is billed as the “Domestic Terrorism Tracking System.” The keywords associated with this Domestic Terrorism Tracking System include: anarchist(s), animal rights, environmentalist, protesters, socialist(s), communist(s), civil disobedience, social justice and global justice, among others.” (emphasis added) “[T]he Fusion Centers are a threat to civil liberties, democratic dissent and the social and political fabric of this country,” said Carl Messineo, PCJF Legal Director. “The time has long passed for the centers to be defunded.”

We’re partnering with RootsAction to petition Congress to take action to close Fusion Centers. Please add your voice, and share!

More disturbing information about Fusion Centers:

Officials Cast Wide Net Monitoring Occupy (NYT Article)

Fusion Centers Monitor Right Wing Groups too (InfoWars.com)

U.S. Army Illegally Infiltrated Anti-War Movement and Orchestrated Broad-based Multi-Agency Spy Ring (DDF)

Why Fusion Centers Matter: FAQ (EFF)

Amazing Fusion Center Document (DDF)

U.S. Senate Report on Fusion Centers/Wash. Post Article/NBC News Report Fusion Centers: Too Much (bad) Information (ACLU)

Intelligence Fusion Centers: A DE-CENTRALIZED NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY House (Republican) Report on Fusion Centers (House Intelligence Committee and Homeland Security Committee) Fusion Center Report (ACLU)