State and local “fusion centers,” created to share counterterrorism intelligence across government agencies to prevent the failures that contributed to the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, exhibit a persistent pattern of violating Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, producing unreliable and ineffective information, and resisting financial and other types of standard public accountability. Those were the findings of six months of investigation and research by Open The Government, drawing on freedom of information requests, court documents, grant records, interviews, and news reports.
The aim was to probe the activities of a network that that has expanded to more than 80 fusion centers across the country, created by states or major urban governments, with approval of governors, and supported by billions of dollars of federal taxpayer funding over the years. Open The Government particularly examined whether the fusion center system and its federal agency supporters – primarily the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Justice Department and the State Department – had made any progress in implementing a U.S. Senate subcommittee’s bipartisan recommendations in 2012. That investigation had uncovered staggering deficiencies, rampant secrecy, and violations of civil liberties.
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