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May-08-2009 06:58printcomments

Fusion Center Encourages Improper Investigations Of Lobbying Groups And Anti-War Activists

The ACLU has long warned that ambiguities regarding who controls these fusion centers and a complete lack of oversight over their intelligence activities would lead to violations like this.

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Courtesy: baumbach.org

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - A Texas fusion center's "Prevention Awareness Bulletin" made public last night is the latest example of inappropriate police intelligence operations targeting political, religious and social activists for investigation.

The North Central Texas Fusion System bulletin states that it is "imperative for law enforcement officers to report" the activities of lobbying groups, Muslim civil rights organizations and anti-war protest groups in their areas.

"This memo is not a plea for legitimate intelligence, and seems to endorse discrimination against Muslims," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

"The idea that the tolerance advocated by the groups being targeted would be treated as a menace to American security demonstrates a disregard for civil liberties and a disdain for democracy itself. The kind of indiscriminate and unlawful investigations this bulletin calls for always results in a chilling effect on free speech and association."

The federal government has facilitated the growth of a network of fusion centers since 9/11 to expand information collection and sharing practices among law enforcement agencies, the private sector and the intelligence community. There are currently 70 fusion centers in the United States.

"It should be obvious with the constant news of increased violence in Mexico that Texas needs law enforcement to focus on real criminal threats instead of targeting religious minorities and groups with unpopular political opinions."

Rebecca Bernhardt, ACLU TX Policy Director said, "The North Central Texas Fusion Center should be reviewed to determine whether it can contribute to the serious public safety mission of Texas or not."

Proponents have claimed all fusion center personnel receive civil rights training, and that this training is sufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans living in the communities where fusion centers operate, but this is obviously not the case.

The ACLU has long warned that ambiguities regarding who controls these fusion centers and a complete lack of oversight over their intelligence activities would lead to violations like this.

"The Texas fusion center's bulletin shows an unhealthy disregard for constitutional rights and democratic processes," said Michael German, ACLU National Security Policy Counsel and former FBI Agent.

"It demonstrates the lack of professionalism that exists at fusion centers and the severe lack of oversight at the state, local and federal levels. According to its website, North Central Texas Fusion System bulletins are disseminated to thousands of people in over a hundred different agencies, and this report directs law enforcement officers to `report' on the political activities of advocacy groups. The web of connections it weaves – drawing parallels between Muslim civil liberties groups, lobbying organizations, peace activists, hip hop bands, a former congresswoman and even the U.S. Treasury Department – would be comical if not for the real consequences that these organizations and individuals might face."

In 2007, the ACLU released a report entitled, "What's Wrong With Fusion Centers?" which was updated last year. The report identifies specific concerns with fusion centers, including their ambiguous lines of authority, the troubling role of private corporations, the participation of the military, the use of data mining and the excessive secrecy surrounding the centers. As a national trend continues to close down public information about this domestic intelligence network, it continues to grow out of control.

Recent revelations of the Department of Homeland Security's role in the Maryland State Police Department's surveillance of peace groups have deepened the ACLU's concerns, particularly because a DHS intelligence analyst is reportedly assigned to the North Central Texas Fusion System.

To read the ACLU's report on fusion centers, go to: aclu.org/fusion.

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Sheri January 9, 2013 3:20 pm (Pacific time)

Mary and Matt - Jodi, Kurt, and Josh it was so great to work with all of you! You made us feel so comfortable and we had a blast, storm and all! Thanks for binerag with us and taking photos in the rain! You guys are the best! The pictures came out so lovely! We're currently working on figuring out a date, but when we do we'd LOVE to work with you again if possible.


Ross Wolf January 23, 2010 12:19 pm (Pacific time)

Will Democrats Revisit The "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act?" 2010 Story/Top Obama Czar Cass Sunstein Proposed Infiltrating all 'Conspiracy Theorists'

From a recent news report, it appears Obama CZAR Cass Sunstein, supports infiltrating and spying on Americans, their groups and organizations to obstruct Free Speech, disrupt the exchange of ideas and disseminate false information to neutralize Americans that might question government. See: http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=121884 Obama’s CZAR’s proposal appears to duplicate Rep. Jane Harman's "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" HR 1955, introduced in 2007 that stressed disrupting political and other groups without evidence of wrongdoing. Interestingly Obama refused to take a position on this bill. Rep. Harman's "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" was not written exactly like the Nazi 1933 Discriminatory Decrees that suspended the Reich Constitution, but could bring America to the same place by trashing America’s civil liberties. The "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" when closely examined, defined "homegrown terrorism" as "any planned act" that might use force to coerce the U.S. Government or its people to promote or accomplish a "political or social objective." No actual force need occur. Government need only charge that an individual or group “Thought” about doing it. This bill was passed by the House but later died in a Senate Committee after Americans became angry upon learning about it.

Currently—the U.S. Government has already laid the groundwork for the covert infiltration of Americans. Since 9/11 federal government appear to have established across the nation more than 112 Fusion Centers. As noted by the ACLU Fusion Centers were originally established to improve the sharing of anti-terrorism intelligence among different state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. But has since expanded with encouragement of the federal government to pursue all crimes and hazards. Fusion Centers now pursue for analysis not just criminal and terrorist information, but any information that can be derived from police, public records and private sector data about Americans. Fusion Centers increasingly are involving components of the U.S. Military in addition to other government entities to spy on Citizens. Fusion centers heavily rely on local informants for information that is shared with Local, State, and Federal police agencies.

Recently the Department of Homeland Security began sharing more classified Military information with local Fusion Centers; perhaps a mistake, historically local police have not kept secrets. Because approximately 40 Fusion Centers appear to operate more independently than others, it is not possible to generalize the mission of Fusion Centers. Some Fusion Centers however, take advantage of ambiguous lines of authority to manipulate differences in federal, state and local laws to maximize information collection. Increasingly (private security companies and their operatives) work so closely with law enforcement and Fusion Centers—providing and exchanging information about Americans, they appear to merge with police. That is what happened in Germany during the 1930’s when a private Gestapo merged its operations with German State Police. Fusion Centers exchange information with select U.S. private sector companies; that has enabled Fusion centers to escape accountability and public oversight.

While the press on occasion has discussed Fusion Centers invading the privacy of Citizens, media missed Fusion Centers’ involvement in criminal and civil asset forfeitures. It was problematic law enforcement and private government contractors would gain wider access to Fusion Center data to secure evidence to arrest Americans and or civilly forfeit their homes, inheritances and businesses under Title 18USC and other laws to keep part of the assets.

US government spying on its own citizens and infiltrating groups? Now, there's news that's hot off the press. Considering that Americans just rolled over and let Bush pass the Patriot Act, none of this should be a surprise.


Vic May 9, 2009 6:36 am (Pacific time)

Has anything good EVER come from Texas? Have any of you driven through that dung-scented hell-hole? I say give that stinking wasteland back to Mexico along with its dimwitted redneck inhabitants.(and a sincere apology) I doubt they would take it though.


mabamford May 8, 2009 9:23 am (Pacific time)

to view a partial list of crimes committed by FBI agents over 1500 pages long see forums.signonsandiego.com/showthread.php?t=59139 to view a partial list of FBI agents arrested for pedophilia see dallasnews.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3574

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