Home / Civil Rights / Fusion Centers Closed to Freedom of Information Act Requests
Print Friendly and PDF

Fusion Centers Closed to Freedom of Information Act Requests

Written by Gary North on June 18, 2012

If you don’t know what a fusion center is, read the Wikipedia article. They are government-run regional centers that collect information on American citizens. Quite simply, they are domestic spying operations.

A fusion center is an information sharing center, many of which were created under a joint project between the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Justice‘s Office of Justice Programs between 2003 and 2007.

They are designed to promote information sharing at the federal level between agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Justice, US Military, and state and local level government. As of July 2009, the Department of Homeland Security recognized at least seventy-two fusion centersTemplate:PBS Frontline Report: Are We Safer?, season 29 mentions that the DHS created 72 fusion centers. Fusion centers may also be affiliated with an Emergency Operations Center that responds in the event of a disaster.

The fusion process is an overarching method of managing the flow of information and intelligence across levels and sectors of government to integrate information for analysis. That is, the process relies on the active involvement of state, local, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies—and sometimes on non–law enforcement agencies (e.g., private sector) — to provide the input of raw information for intelligence analysis. As the array of diverse information sources increases, there will be more accurate and robust analysis that can be disseminated as intelligence.

Although the phrase fusion center has been used widely, there are often misconceptions about the function of the center. Perhaps the most common is that the center is a large room full of work stations where the staff are constantly responding to inquiries from officers, investigators, and agents. This vision is more accurately a watch center or an investigative support center — not an intelligence fusion center. Another common misconception is that the fusion center is minimally staffed until there is some type of crisis wherein representatives from different public safety agencies converge to staff workstations to manage the crisis. This is an emergency operations center, not an intelligence fusion center. The fusion center is not an operational center but a support center. It is analysis driven.

On its own authority, the Department of Homeland Security has announced that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) does not apply to these fusion centers.

The DHS has in effect said that the transparency law does not apply to it. It is exempt.

Specifically, the Department exempts portions of the system of records from one or more provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement requirements.

DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective June 7, 2012.

It originally announced this policy in November 2010. It waited for comments. There were only six. Congress was silent, as it usually is. Therefore, the DHS has now decided to go ahead with its 2010 policy.

After careful consideration of public comments, the Department will implement the rulemaking as proposed, additionally the Department will not update the Systems of Records Notice.

On what basis did the DHS decide to ignore the FOIA? Here is its official statement.

DHS’ decision to take exemptions to the Privacy Act (point 4) are appropriate given the law enforcement nature of the collection and the concern that providing access may give individuals the ability to contravene legitimate law enforcement activities.

So, because it enforces the law, it does not need to obey the law.

Clear?

But what if your name goes into the file? What if the information is inaccurate? What can you do about this?

Nothing. You will never find out.

But inaccurate information can get in, you argue.

Nonsense, says the DHS. There are lots of internal safeguards. The agency polices itself. The National Operations Center (NOC) is reliable. The DHS assures us of this. There is nothing to worry about unless you are a criminal or a terrorist.

So, there is no need for outside access.

With regards to the comments concerns regarding exemptions from the ‘‘relevant and necessary’’ standard (point 5), sufficient means do exist to verify the accuracy of the data and ensure that incorrect data is not used against an individual. System users are trained to verify information obtained from the NOC before including it in any analytical reports. Verification procedures include direct queries to the source databases from which the information was originally obtained, queries of commercial or other government databases when appropriate, and interviews with individuals or others who are in a position to confirm the data. These procedures mitigate the risk posed by inaccurate data in the system and raise the probability that such data will be identified and corrected before any action is taken against an individual. In addition, the source systems from which the NOC obtains information may, themselves, have mechanisms in place to ensure the accuracy of the data prior to the information being shared, as outlined in the ISE.

You must stop worrying, unless you are a criminal or a terrorist.

Anyone who continues yo worry is presumed to be a criminal or a terrorist.

You will therefore stop worrying. Now. Do you understand?

Continue Reading on www.gpo.gov

Print Friendly and PDF

Posting Policy:
We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse. Read more.

24 thoughts on “Fusion Centers Closed to Freedom of Information Act Requests

  1. ccfonten says:

    How interesting. Another example of this thugocracy: we are the law….we are above the law….we decide what the law will and will not be.
    Now…..you just be a good little peon and sit down, shut up and go away.

  2. William 1 says:

    It was spelled GESTAPO i Germany and now here we are!

  3. Nazi Germany 2012 style. Plus the KBG in action!

  4. we do not enforce the law, we are the law. Our system is run with over site by outside sources. Without active over site we end up with a Star Chamber court. The Magna Carta eliminated that centuries ago. This administration keeps trying to subvert the constitution and due process at every turn. Time for sedition and treason charges

  5. Not to worry! Obama has the MOST transparent administration EVER!!

  6. What are our supposedly representatives doing about this!!!!!! DHS is not the law! We are giving away our feeedoms in the name
    fighting terror.

  7. I can see where this would present a very difficult dilemma. One of the main factors allowing the 911 terrorist to carry out their attack was the lack of interdepartmental sharing of information that might have revealed the threat before it occurred. Therefore, how does a government gather and share information on potential terrorist planning and activity without trampling on the privacy rights of its citizens and, at the same time, not allowing the terrorist to have access to the information being gathered about them?

  8. Waschbear says:

    In the DDR, they called them STASI's, and they had large archive with records on most od its citizens. I also read the head line story "The Globe", showing that HE wants to destroy "the Donald", for speaking out about him and his BC.

  9. Mike Knight says:

    Once Romney's in all the people on these forums who consider themselves Republicans will suddenly not care about this, and a lot of stuff now that "their guy" is in. The people who call themselves Democrats, and blindly support Obama will then finally start complaining about tyranny. If only the two sides could come together. Then maybe we could have some real change.

  10. I read the first three words of the headline and got my hopes up.

  11. "So, because it [DHS] enforces the law, it does not need to obey the law."

    That may resonate well with sales people at EMC, Oracle, Verizon Business , and so on. After all, the DHS isn't the only government agency with great potential to drive revenue and commissions. Speaking of sales people, Susan Zeleniak, Group President of Verizon Federal, has something that she and her team would like to add to the discussion.

    "Today," claims Susan and her team, "the U.S. federal government is expected to foster transparency".

    Verizon Federal is "the sales organization within Verizon Enterprise Solutions dedicated to serving the federal government." Verizon Business is the successor of MCI. See http://www.verizonbusiness.com/solutions/governme… for Susan and her team of go-getters.

  12. Gary North, what good are you? You give us this information, now that it is too late to comment? Presumably you are implicitly criticizing us for not submitting comments on the original proposal, of which we were ignorant. So why did you not alert us during the comment period? The system by which important policies and information are made "public" surreptitiously, and then the citizens are blamed because they were "informed" and did nothing to prevent it, is in itself an outrage and I am disgusted with YOU for participating in it. Next time, tell us something useful, like how to prevent or object. Help the people protect their freedom, don't just report on its demise after the fact.

  13. What was that Obama quote on the youtube birther videos? "Only those with something to hide……" or some such.

    Looks like they have something to hide.

    But, don't worry about it or they will think you are a terrorist. Makes perfect sense to me. Time to play ostrich!

  14. The problem is over reach. Why do you need infusion centers to share information? If an organization has information about an indivual or group that is a threat, forward the information to all other organizations that have a need to know. That would be SOP for all agencies. In the age of computer information, what is so hard about that? Why do we need another expensive watch dog group that has no accountability? If the American People have no recourse and no right to information about themselves, that's a bigger danger than any terrorist group could ever be.

  15. I agree. The point of my comment was not to defend the infusion centers but to point out that there is always a tradeoff in the balance between freedom and security. In a society where we are totally free from government intrusion, the criminal (terrorist) is also free to plan their activities. In a society that is too restrictive to allow the criminal to plan his activities, the people must also live with those restrictions. There is a balance point between the two that is acceptable. My personal belief is that we, as a free people, should tell the government where that balance point should be, not the government telling us.

  16. snakearbusto says:

    Who's "HE"? Obomber I assume. And of course Bush – or Romney – will wave a magic wand and save us from this assault on our freedom? Wrong. Nixon and his thugs contributed, and every president since him has contributed, and Bush and his thugs took it farther than anyone else had after 911. Fusion centers were in place in Denver and Minneapolice in 2008. They will be again, and will continue to be regardless of who wins the "election." But keep making Oh Bomb Us the bad guy and the Republicans the bad guys. That's. Exactly. What. They. Want.

  17. snakearbusto says:

    And of course Bush – or Romney – will wave a magic wand and save us from this assault on our freedom? Wrong. Nixon and his thugs contributed, and every president since him has contributed, and Bush and his thugs took it farther than anyone else had after 911. Fusion centers were in place in Denver and Minneapolice in 2008. They will be again, and will continue to be regardless of who wins the "election." But keep making Oh Bomb Us the bad guy and the Republicans the bad guys. That's. Exactly. What. They. Want.

  18. snakearbusto says:

    And of course Romney will wave a magic wand and save us from this assault on our freedom? Wrong. Nixon and his thugs contributed, and every president since him has contributed, and Bush and his thugs took it farther than anyone else had after 911. Fusion centers were in place in Denver and Minneapolice in 2008. They will be again, and will continue to be regardless of who wins the "election." But keep making Oh Bomb Us the bad guy and the Republicans the bad guys. That's. Exactly. What. They. Want.

  19. snakearbusto says:

    Clear-sighted words. Thank you.

  20. I for one am willin gto give up my freedom to feel safe from terrorist. They hate us because we're free.

  21. The private sources would include the credit reporting agencies, financial transaction records, market research companies, the internet, power companies, civil court records, and even employer's records.

  22. Amazing! This blog looks just like my old one!

    It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

  23. hey there and thank you for your information – I have definitely picked up something new from
    right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this site, as I experienced to reload the website a lot of times previous to I could get it to load
    correctly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK?
    Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and
    can damage your high-quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and could look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content.
    Ensure that you update this again very soon.

  24. I am extremely inspired with your writing skills as neatly as with
    the layout to your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
    Either way keep up the nice high quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a
    nice weblog like this one nowadays..