Probe Finds Police Fusion Centers Smother Freedom, Waste Millions
• Melding of local, state police offices with federal “war on terror” efforts a mistake
By Mark Anderson
The post 9-11 network of law-enforcement fusion centers set up in every state to help fight the “war on terror,” funded through a grants process Congress set up, is getting terrible grades in a 141-page report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
That panel reviewed more than 600 unclassified reports over a one-year period, concluding that most of the operations carried out, after the expenditure of well over $1B, had virtually nothing to do with terrorism.
“The subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot,” the October 3 report says, in part.
“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers . . . designed to share information . . . have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counter-terrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn initiated the investigation that resulted in this report, called “Federal Support for and Involvement in State and Local Fusion Centers.”
In other words, the United States has a mega-expensive anti-terror apparatus that really doesn’t fight terrorism but becomes another self-perpetuating bureaucracy that tries to smother freedom.
And yet this startling Senate report was followed by something perhaps even more eye-opening—the October 8 release of a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report, entitled, “Investigative Report on the U.S. National Security Issues Posed by Chinese Telecommunications Companies Huawei and ZTE.” So, while the U.S. security bureaucracy has been looking for the slightest signs of pending sabotage and terror from domestic patriots and Muslims, China has continued making major inroads into the United States.
The House report follows an 11-month investigation into the business practices of Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp., two of the world’s largest makers of telecommunications equipment. These firms develop and sell telecom gear like routers, handsets and switches. The report recommends that Huawei and ZTE be excluded from expanding their businesses in the U.S. because of “cyber-espionage risks and connections to the Chinese government.”
The House report notes a threat is posed to U.S. national security “by vulnerabilities in the telecommunications supply chain . . . given the country’s reliance on interdependent critical infrastructure systems . . . and the growing dependence all consumers have on a small group of equipment providers,” although Congress, as usual, seems tone deaf to the fact that its financial and trade policies are tailor-made for monopolies to take root.
Nor has Congress said much, if anything, about Foreign Trade Zones—entire Chinese industrial and residential communities transplanted into Idaho and elsewhere in the United States, while much of America’s original industrial base has been dismantled and “parted out” to China and many other foreign locales. Some of America’s industry is rebounding, but it’s a long, hard process.
Among other important things, the House report obtained by AMERICAN FREE PRESS underscores the sheer fragility of an over-centralized system developed without regard to local control by individuals and communities, even when handy, clean technology that would make the average home or factory less reliant on the grid for electricity is more accessible and more affordable than ever before.
“The risk posed to U.S. national-security and economic interests by cyber-threats is an undeniable priority,” the House report warns. It further states:
First, the country’s reliance on telecommunications infrastructure includes more than consumers’ use of computer systems. Rather, multiple critical infrastructure systems depend on information transmission through telecommunications systems —[including] electric power grids; banking and finance systems; natural gas, oil and water systems; and rail and shipping channels; each of which depend on computerized control systems. Further, system inter-dependencies among these critical infrastructures greatly increase the risk that failure in one system will cause failures or disruptions in multiple . . . systems. Therefore, a disruption in telecommunication networks can have devastating effects on all aspects of modern American living, causing shortages and stoppages that ripple throughout society,” observes the report. “[China’s] cyber- and human-enabled espionage efforts often exhibit sophisticated technological capabilities,” and these capabilities include inserting “malicious hardware or software implants into Chinese-manufactured telecommunications components and systems marketed to the United States.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Listen to Mark’s weekly radio show and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.