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Report Slams DHS Fusion Centers: No Terrorists Nabbed, Civil Rights Violated 178

PolygamousRanchKid writes with news of a Senate report on just how ineffective those DHS "Fusion centers" have proven to be. From the article: "The lengthy, bipartisan report is a scathing evaluation of what the Department of Homeland Security has held up as a crown jewel of its security efforts. ... Because of a convoluted grants process set up by Congress, Homeland Security officials don't know how much they have spent in their decade-long effort to set up so-called fusion centers in every state. ... 'The subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot,' the report said. When fusion centers did address terrorism, they sometimes did so in ways that infringed on civil liberties. The centers have made headlines for circulating information about Ron Paul supporters, the ACLU, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters, and advocates of gun rights."
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Report Slams DHS Fusion Centers: No Terrorists Nabbed, Civil Rights Violated

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  • Surprise! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shaman ( 1148 ) <shaman@ k o s . net> on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @08:52AM (#41537037) Homepage

    There are virtually no government ministries that are effective, why would this one be different? Actually, it is... it's even less effective and even more insulting than most.

  • Re:Surprise! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @08:57AM (#41537091) Journal

    Yet it will be buried as a failure and ignore the next time someone wants to implement something similar.

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @08:59AM (#41537109)
    A lot of these fusion centers do more than just work on terrorism-related issues. They deal with drug trafficking, kidnapping, organized crime, and other issues that concern both state and federal authorities and which require them to work together. Their primary role is really more of a clearinghouse, where state authorities can contact other state and federal agencies to share information, and they allow local state officials to work side by side with federal officials. On top of this, they provide for state governments what the CIA does for the White House, it gives the state analysts that can be called upon to give briefings on a regular basis as well as in more imediate cases, such as after the Dark Knight shooting in Colorado. It is important that state government officials know the drug, organized crime, etc situation in their state, and this is how they find out.
  • Re:Surprise! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:00AM (#41537125) Journal

    Be careful not to confuse dishonesty with ineffectiveness. If you go by their ostensible objective(reducing the already pretty tiny threat of 'terrorists' to an even tinier one), they are a total failure. Whether they have been quite as feckless on other metrics(number of jackboot keyboard jockeys employed, assorted entirely-legal-but-officially-disliked groups surveilled and/or COINTELPROed, etc.) is another question entirely.

  • Disband the DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:04AM (#41537175)

    It was fishy 11 years ago when it was first created. It's still fishy now.
    All the entities that were put under its umbrella (ICE, BCP, Coast Guard, etc) can and should go back to being seperate entities.

  • Re:Surprise! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:06AM (#41537185) Journal

    it's even less effective and even more insulting than most.

    IIRC it is partially a privately run organization (TSA). The only thing worse than government, is private contractors to government, because of (a) the private sector's belief that the government is a endless source of income, (b) the private sector's disdain for the government and (c) the general belief that the government is usually the worst at getting things done (so the blame tends to slide completely over the private contractors)*.

    * Note, this isn't to absolve the government of their incompetence or irresponsibility - just to point out part of the problem that is overlooked.

  • Re:Disband the DHS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:15AM (#41537247) Journal

    Because the Homeland looks more like a Prison Yard every day. ;)

  • Re:Surprise! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:22AM (#41537301)

    More succinctly put:

    Government private contractors combine the worst parts of the government-run systems with the worst parts of a corporate-run system, while bringing in few to none of the intended benefits of either.

    The government side brings in ineffectiveness at designed purpose, and effective immunity from prosecution in event of error. The private side brings in a higher cost (gotta have a profit margin, after all) and an utter disregard for anything so trifling as "human rights". The combination of the two latters is particularly dangerous.

  • by realsilly ( 186931 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:35AM (#41537429)

    After the 1st plane flew into the 1st of the twin towers I knew our world changed. Within mere weeks our civil liberties were being stripped in the form of the Patriot act. But it was justified. "If a few innocents get caught in the nets for the sake of millions...."

    Well we have gotten what we've asked for, right? We're more secure now, right?

    By accepting the Patriot Act, we've given away our rights to not get caught up in nets like this, and because we've sat back quietly and let it happen we are at fault as citizens, and we have no room to complain.

    People forget that if you don't like your limited choices at voting time, they can write in their vote, and if you are doing that because you disagree with the limited choices then you are indeed making the first step in stopping this bullshit. But if you vote for someone on the ballot and don't agree with what they stand for because the other choices suck too, you're just as much at fault.

    Stop voting party lines, break from the mold, write in your vote, you're not throwing it away, that is just republican and democratic fear mongering to get you to vote for one of their two parties.

    Politicians hated / feared Ross Perot because he stressed real change in our Government. Ron Paul is hated / feared for his stance being against the norm.

    If enough people wrote in a vote and took away any majority to the limited parties on the ballot, who knows maybe there will be an awakening in Politics that things need to change and citizens won't stand for their rights being squashed any longer.

  • Re:Surprise! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:39AM (#41537473) Homepage

    There are virtually no government ministries that are effective, why would this one be different?

    I'm focusing on US agencies (I'm guessing you're from a country with a parliamentary system from your use of the term "ministry") since that's what's in question here.

    As common a belief as it is that government doesn't do anything useful, it's simply not true:
    * The VA demonstrably provides more health care bang for the buck than any other system in the US.
    * The EPA has been quite effective at ensuring that we no longer have burning rivers, choking smog, serious levels of acid rain, and safe tap water.
    * The FDA has been effective at ensuring that we can buy pharmaceuticals and know that we're getting what we think we're getting instead of quack remedies, and in ensuring that there's very very little chance of getting food poisoning from what you buy in a grocery store.
    * The FCC does an excellent job of preventing one radio or TV station from interfering with the broadcasts of another.
    * The NLRB has helped resolve lots of labor disputes before they turned into serious strikes or lockouts.
    * The NHTSA does a good job of ensuring that you can drive down an Interstate Highway and be close to certain you won't hit a giant pothole or something and wreck just because of road conditions.
    * State-level building codes do a pretty good job of ensuring that you aren't sold a new house where the roof is about to collapse, the wiring is about to catch on fire, or the plumbing about to leak sewage all over your floor.
    * The FDIC ensures that if your bank collapses through no fault of your own, you won't lose your money, making bank runs a thing of the past (many folks who lived through the Depression can tell you stories about their dad coming home and announcing that their life savings were gone.)

    I could go on, but the point is that most government agencies do a pretty good job of serving their original purpose. The problem is that they've done those things for so long that you take them for granted and stop thinking about them, and focus more on what they don't do than what they do do.

    Now, in this case, I'm going to fault these agencies for being frauds, not for being ineffective.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:39AM (#41537483) Homepage Journal

    It is important that state government officials know the drug, organized crime, etc situation in their state, and this is how they find out.

    Perhaps, but the DHS was founded in an atmosphere of paranoia about terrorism. The rights that politicians granted it were granted in the belief that the DHS was necessary to prevent terrorists from killing large numbers of people. For it to be coopted into the war on drugs or anything similar is overreach in that context (even if there's some line item in some bill somewhere that allows it to do that.)

    I think the DHS is a pretty absurd response to terrorism. But much of the opposition to it comes not from it obeying its perceived public mandate, but for a government agency to be endowed with such powers using them in contexts that were never publicly justified. Let the FBI work with local authorities if they have to on organized crime, and the DEA on drugs, but let's leave the monster of an organization tasked with investigating politically motivated violent crimes - out of it.

  • Re:Surprise! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @09:58AM (#41537657)

    There are virtually no government ministries that are effective, why would this one be different?

    Effective at what? Catching terrorists? Yes, I agree, not very effective. Effective at sweeping up all kind of information about all kinds of people, for use later by who knows whom for who knows what? Very effective.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @10:29AM (#41538047)
    If you want to understand the DHS, all you have to do is change the name: Department of Homeland Pork. When you follow their activity, just think DHP instead of DHS, and it all becomes perfectly clear.

    The DHP has two missions. The primary mission is to expand the budget of the DHP. The secondary mission is to intrude into every aspect of peoples lives. Mission two is a way to justify mission one. So far they have a 100% success rate. Note that security is not even on the list.

  • Re:Surprise! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @10:41AM (#41538185)

    Not really. You have to use wide scope accounting.

    The FDA universally prevents useful meds reaching the market, and the regulatory burden makes those that do prohibitively expensive.

    The EPA has done nothing that advancing tech wouldnt have done anyway. In other words, it is not the EPA that is causal in your clean air.

    The FDIC props up the fiat ponzi scheme and does not have sufficient funds to cover the next round of bank runs.

    The FCC thru its regulatory capture has given us the.slowest most expensive Internet connections possible.

    The NLRB would not be necessary at all if .gov had not created the insane union laws that prevent the wholesale firing of strikers and other factors that give union thugs the upper hand.

    The NHTSA created a system that by systematic error and poor design is responsible for two thirds of all driving related fatalities. Not to mention blind spot mirrors that with more advanced optics could be eliminated but car manufacturers are prevented from replacing by law.

    I couls go on, but you get the point.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @10:50AM (#41538315) Homepage

    It's the greatest expansion of Federal power since the New Deal, and it's 100% crap.

    Yes, I know this is a troll.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @10:56AM (#41538403) Homepage Journal

    Yes, W. was a collectivist.

    Being a Socialist or a Fascist is a moot point when you talk about a collectivist, the only difference is the extent of the means that they will justify to achieve their goals. W. was as against free market capitalism as the rest of them.

    'War on Terror' is a collectivist program.

    'No Child Left Behind' is a collectivist program.

    The new "Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships" is a collectivist program.

    Doubling the budget of "National Science Foundation" is a collectivist move.

    "Vision for Space Exploration" was a collectivist idea.

    "Healthy Forests Initiative", "Clear Skies Initiative", those are collectivist program.

    0% interest rate - this is a collectivist program aimed at increasing power of government by preventing facing the reality and by extending and deepening the problem of deficit and debt.

    The fact that there was a combined number of laws known as 'The Bush Tax Cuts' combined with 0% interest rates, bail outs, stimulus packages, all of this only underscores the collectivist principles behind W's government.

    "Trade Act of 2002", " Dominican Republicâ"Central America Free Trade Agreement", "Sarbanes-Oxley Act", "Economic Stimulus Act of 2008", "TARP".

    All of the above are collectivist programs, none of the above stems from the belief in free market capitalism, all of the above screams: central planning.

    Is it socialist? Is it fascist? Is it communist?

    What is the difference? The differences are in some implementation details but the premises are all the same: deny capitalism and individualism, deny free markets, respond to everything in one single manner: more government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:22AM (#41538709)

    I know this might sound crazy, but perhaps the DHS should be given up entirely. Perhaps it is better to accept that terrorist attacks can and will happen occasionally instead of giving up civil liberties and spending billions of dollars trying to prevent them. What if some day civil liberties will have been undermined so much and there will be so much oppression that terrorists become freedom fighters? Shouldn't there be a balance of power between the people and the government, such that by risking their lives people fighting against an oppressive and undemocratic government could still stand a chance?

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein