fusion centers

*Domestic Surveillance in Your Backyard - What's Wrong With Fusion Centers?* Forum in Tucson

Earlier this week (5/5/08), the Arizona ACLU hosted a panel discussion about Fusion Centers featuring former FBI Special Agent and Policy Counsel for The ACLU, Mike German, and Department of Homeland Security Director of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Programs, David Gersten. What follows are some personal notes and observations from the raucous meeting of about 50 people at the University of Arizona College of Law.

According to the ACLU, "Fusion Centers are state, local and regional institutions that [were] originally created to improve the sharing of anti-terrorism intelligence among different state, local and federal law enforcement agencies..." An audience member pointed out that Fusion Centers (under different names) existed before 9/11 but they were poorly funded and had no teeth. Generous funding of Fusion Centers only began after the release of the 9/11 Commission Report in response to recommendations by the Commission to improve sharing of intelligence information because the astonishingly successful attacks of 9/11 were ascribed to "intelligence failures" and "failures of imagination."