Senate Report Investigates Costly DHS Fusion Centers
According to an article from Fox News, a bipartisan Senate report assailed the Department of Homeland Security for overseeing a network of supposed intelligence-sharing centers that, according to the study, have done little to track or disrupt terrorist threats.
“The fusion centers often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever,” the report says, as quoted in the Fox article.
The fusion centers were created in the aftermath of 9/11, and more than 70 state and local centers backed by federal funds were created since 2003, using as much as $1.4 billion in federal taxpayer support committed to the project between 2003 and 2011, the article reports.
The report, however, portrays the attempt to put local, state and federal officials in the same room analyzing the same intelligence as a cost-center of massive proportions – using huge amounts of money for data-mining software, flat screen televisions and, in Arizona, two fully equipped Chevrolet Tahoes used for commuting, the article says.
“The… 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 says. It also said that nearly one third of the 610 reports viewed were “never published for use within DHS” or elsewhere in the intelligence community, Fox News reports.
Fusion centers have, in the past, also made news for circulating information about the American Civil Liberties Union, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters and activists of gun rights, the article says. One fusion center cited in the Senate investigation wrote a report about a Muslim community group’s list of book recommendations, while others discussed American citizens speaking at mosques or talking to Muslim groups about parenting, the article says.
Homeland Security says the report is outdated, inaccurate and too focused on information produced by the program, ignoring benefits to local governments from their involvement with federal intelligence officials, Fox reports.
Homeland Security officials cannot be sure how much they have spent in their decade-long effort to set up one fusion center in every state, but government estimates range from less than $300 million to $1.4 billion in federal money, plus more invested by state and local governments, the article says.
A Senate Homeland Security subcommittee reviewed more than 600 unclassified reports over a one-year period and concluded that most had nothing to do with terrorism, the article says.