Pros: Information every American should know.
Cons: Information most Americans don't know.
Conspiracy theorists have a vast and expansive spectrum of thoughts on FEMA / Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Patriot Act, InfraGuard information contracting, ENDGAME, emergency preparedness and Homeland Security contracts. Fusion centers are government funded non-agency regulated or monitored information harvesters that pool data from Federal, State and local agencies. The information is used to protect the United States from acts of terrorism but in recent years the entire collective sphere has come under extreme controversy because of harvesting techniques, the information that is being accessed and how the information is being used. There have also been accusations that some sensitive information has been sold or used as a bartering tool with other countries. The ideology of a fusion center seems like it would be a complete win-win situation for everyone involved but because it is unmonitored and operates by its own rules it has the potential to turn in to a beast running wild with no way to control it.
I was able to get a hold of a copy of the book from a friend that is a conspiracy theorist; if you have never met someone who has strict beliefs about conspiracies and world events then you have no clue how paranoid they can be. Just getting the book off of him was a chore; when I handed it back to him he leafed through it and put it inside a foil lined freezer bag similar to the ones that you can buy for a dollar at the grocery store to keep your frozen foods cold when you leave the store. Ok, so, he is a little odd and definitely strange but he makes some interesting points about fusion centers, FEMA involvement with advanced disaster planning and exercises that have been created to test the current system and the true dangers of having so much power and information in the hands of the government. Spend enough time around people like this and chances are you are going to get sucked in to believing just about any thing. Media can be extremely persuasive regardless of who is in the spotlight. You need to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. If given enough time and money I could convince you that the sun is blue and smoking is good for you.
Information and Intelligence [Including Terrorism] Fusion Centers is an extremely clean, clear and concise book about the benefits of fusion centers, federal funding, planned centers, the role of the private sector in the acquisition of information, contracting outside agents to provide information, potential risks of the centers and the how to possibly overcome community challenges to having a fusion center in an area. Currently there are 83 fusion centers in the United States, 83 that are known, there could be others that are super centers that are not available through Freedom of Information Act. Centers are present in every state except Idaho however locations in Nevada, Michigan, Mississippi and Arkansas are still under construction or are in their final phase of execution. I live in Pennsylvania and there are two known locations; Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Enforcement Network in Newtown and the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center in Harrisburg. Currently Texas has six facilities in areas like McKinney, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. About a third of the centers were established in existing building where federal offices were already present, the rest were newly constructed locations.
Fusion centers seem like a great blanket of protection for the United States and the book showcases the benefits of how having a steady stream of information can help prevent terrorism on American soil. That is the backbone of the organization and the book is a streamline guide to procurement of information and how it could be used. Not how it should be used but how it could be used. Through the eight chapters you are shown the extremely loose guidelines that were established to harvest information and the true need for outside contractors to acquire data. This includes accessing credit card records, passport requests, drivers licenses, credit checks and travel history. Trivial things like your library books, loan applications, political affiliation, medical history, Treasury bond purchases or redemptions, purchases of gold or precious metals and school transcripts could also be used to determine if you were a threat. Consider a fusion center a clearing house of personal information that make the threat of identity theft seem like a walk in the park.
When you read about the risks that fusion centers can incur you stop and think about the information that is being stored at the various agencies; if your information is leaked on purpose or accident who is going to be held responsible? Do you know what information they are collecting and exchanging or where that information could end up? If this were a military or government effort you would have reason to be worried but with the added layer of a privatized out-sourced method of extraction you have way too many chefs stirring the pot. There is no way to monitor what is going on, no disclosure [partly hiding behind the Patriot Act] of information that has been harvested on you and how safe you and your family information is. The guidelines that are proposed in the book are for individual fusion centers; they do not give 'rules' or laws about how the different centers are going to interact or if there is some kind of repercussion for criminal intent in regards to the information. My interpretation of it is pretty simple; under the Patriot Act certain areas of the Constitution are being overridden in the name of homeland safety. I wouldn't have a problem with this if you could easily access or have access to the data that is collect but that is skirted using the guise of "for your own safety".
There are a lot of abbreviations in the book; some of them like DHS / Department of Homeland Security are commonly known but there are others like ISE / Intelligence Sharing Environment, SLT / State, Local and Tribal, HSGP / Homeland Security Grant Program, NCISP / National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan and GAO / Government Accountability Office might not be as familiar. The book is wordy but not so much so that you can't make your way through it. Some of the most frightening aspects of the book include the cold and calculating manner in which natural and human influenced disasters are talked about. While they are only touched upon as examples of how fusion centers can possibly prevent them from occurring, it's still chilling to read about how cut and dry it is.
The contents of the book make an excellent presentation for the creation and funding of fusion centers and they make it seem like it is going to be "the perfect plan" to keep everyone up to speed with the most current and most accurate information. This takes a step backward when it is suggested that the private sector contractors reach out to the community to harvest information. If that sounds a little like Big Brother you aren't far off base. Under the original proposition there would be subcontractors that would be allowed to network their information without having to disclose how the data was obtained. Looking at it from outside the box that could mean information that was obtained illegally or under the Patriot Act as well as information that was purchased from a third or fourth party. Without a way to validate it, it shouldn't even be a consideration but it was and it currently is part of the monitoring process.
To read the official Department of Homeland Security disclosure on Fusion Centers and the United Message of the creation, implementation and continued support of the centers:
To see the disclosed 'locations':
To read the complete bill:
^V^ © Freak369 - 2012 ^V^
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