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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

ACLU’s German Reacts to Napolitano’s Embrace of Fusion Centers

Anita Barnes
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jul 29, 2009

In her big speech in New York today, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, praised the so-called “fusion centers” that serve as hubs for intelligence produced by federal agencies to be shared with local and state law enforcement. Fusion centers are a “a critical part of our nation’s homeland security capabilities,” Napolitano said. That’s what worries the American Civil Liberties Union’s Michael German.

It’s too easy to pollute the information bloodstream of the fusion centers, he said. “That’s what we’ve seen out of the fusion centers: erroneous, misleading information,” said German, a former FBI special agent. “There’s a lack of accountability” at the centers that enables poor intelligence to “pollute the entire system that local, state and federal law enforcement is relying on. If that system becomes polluted it’s no longer effective,” and the chances for civil liberties abuses are “greatly expanded.” Like for instance: a fusion center bulletin in Texas earlier this year encouraging police to spy on Muslim organizations and antiwar groups.

That’s somewhat ironic, considering a different part of Napolitano’s speech encouraged American counterterrorism efforts to emerge from the “state of fear” they’ve been frozen in since 2001. German said he liked hearing Napolitano argue that “spreading fear wasn’t helping communities become more effective at protecting themselves” and that “a lot of the rhetoric of terrorism is actually counterproductive.” Whether the fusion centers will contribute to Napolitano’s desired “state of vigilance” or will contribute to American Muslim and other communities continuing to feel like law-enforcement targets remains to be seen.

Anita Barnes | With over twenty years of professional experience in the design industry, I'm a web designer and front-end web developer. As a small business owner, I am familiar with the difficulties that come with running a business. One of those challenges is creating a strong online presence. One that not only represents your ever-changing brand and personality, but also appeals to your target audience. Throughout my web design career, I've built a distinct design style that emphasizes attention to detail. I assume that less is enough when it comes to design. You don't have to have all the bells and whistles only because you can. It's critical to figure out which elements are essential for getting your message through to your customers – and which ones are unnecessary. I'll assist you in sorting through the choices to see what works best for you.


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