Hurricane Sandy. Image: NASA.
Remember that Senate subcommittee for investigations report on fusion centers? The one that said that they produce "a bunch of crap," waste our money, duplicate anti-terrorism efforts and invade our privacy?
Senator Tom Coburn wants us to take that report seriously. In an op-ed published this week in Defense News, he writes that there is a "clear need for reform."
Like us, Coburn is concerned not only about DHS' "disregard for fiscal accountability," but also about "inadequate concerns for privacy" at fusion centers nationwide. That "inadequate concern" enabled serious abuse here in Boston at the local police fusion center, our "Policing Dissent" report shows. But Boston is far from the only example of fusion center-based spying on perfectly legal dissent. The problems we discovered here resonate nationally.
And towards what end? All of that money spent and all of those rights violations for what, exactly? According to the Senate report and to Senator Coburn, not much. The Senator writes:
Despite reviewing 13 months worth of intelligence reporting, the subcommittee could identify no reporting that uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a significant contribution any fusion center made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.
Finally, DHS could not tell us how much money is spent on fusion centers. At a time when we are drowning in a $16 trillion national security threat, this is unacceptable. No federal agency should be unaware of how much money it has or how every dollar is spent. As former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen recently said: “The greatest threat to our national security is our debt.”