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America’s Decentralized Intelligence Agency

Since Sept. 11 a domestic intelligence network has quietly emerged in America. It consists of 58 “fusion centers” around the country where state, local and federal law enforcement officers collect and analyze information about potential threats to the homeland. These centers go by different names, but they share the goal of fusing disparate streams of intelligence in order to prevent terrorist attacks and other crimes. One problem is that in most states their mission has spread far beyond the original purpose of counterterrorism to encompass all crimes. The other is that these centers collect reports not just on potentially illegal activities but “suspicious activity.”

A remarkable development in U.S. law enforcement, fusion centers have gone largely unexamined by news organizations. So this week, all of the Center for Independent Media news sites are reporting on what local fusion centers are doing.

Yesterday, Minnesota Independent reported on the efforts of the Minnesota Joint Analysis Center to come up with privacy and civil liberties policy. Today, Iowa Independent profiles Russell Porter, the chief of the Iowa Intelligence Fusion Center. Tomorrow, Colorado Independent takes a look at the Colorado Information Analysis Center and the Democratic convention.

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