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ACLU’s Adam Schwartz: Law Enforcement Uses Fusion Centers To Scrutinize Innocent Americans (video)

by on Friday, October 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm EDT in Justice System, Politics, War On Terror

Reason TV interviewed Adam Schwartz of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois where he discussed how law enforcement’s pervasive surveillance and data gathering efforts pose a threat to Americans’ constitutionally protected privacy and First Amendment rights. 

Schwartz describes the significance of fusion centers and the role they play:

“In the wake of the 9-11 terror attacks, the U.S. government has spent billions of dollars to have the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security fund state and local fusion centers. These are state organizations that fuse under one roof, as much information as possible about people who are suspected of criminal or terror activity and then they funnel this information towards the Department of Homeland Security.”

Fusion centers maintain a large number of databases on each person, including gov’t criminal databases, gov’t noncriminal ones, and private ones. 

A recently published U.S. Senate investigative report concluded that the information coming from the fusion centers was unrelated to terrorism, and instead threatened citizens’ Privacy Act protections and civil liberties:

The investigation found that DHS intelligence officers assigned to state and local fusion centers produced intelligence of “uneven quality – oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.”