The state and local fusion centers supported by the Department of Homeland Security have produced little intelligence of value and have generated new concerns involving waste and abuse, according to an investigative report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. (NYT, WP)
“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties,” said Senator Tom Coburn, the ranking member of the Subcommittee who initiated the investigation.
While it may not be the last word on the subject, the new Subcommittee report is a rare example of congressional oversight in the classical mode. It was performed by professional investigators over a two-year period. It encountered and overcame agency resistance and non-cooperation. And it uncovered — and published — significant new information that demands an executive branch response. That’s the way the system is supposed to work.
Phi Beta Iota: Although DHS has had a couple of competent intelligence managers (Pat Hughes, Charlie Allen) the money machine put in place by Congress, making DHS the follow on to DoD as the pork pie, proved to be too much for them–keeping the money moving is more important to DHS than actually doing anything in the public interest. This problem is compounded by the lack within DHS of a professional intelligence analytic leadership able to do holistic analytics and empower individual DHS leaders, who should be making evidence-based decisions rather than rubber-stamping the money flow. In these pages and elsewhere, the fusion centers have been criticized from day one for one specific reason: there is nothing useful to local security that can be gained from top secret national sources. Put bluntly, when the secret world does not process 90% of what it collects, and is incapable of doing “Global Coverage,” the fusion centers are simply an extension deep into the heartlandof US IC wasteful irrelevant sources and methods. What DHS really needs is what Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT-02), among others recommended: individual state community intelligence networks able to harvest distributed citizen and “cop on the beat” raw intelligence, while disseminating Global Coverage done by the Open Source Agency, at FOC $3B, half for covering 300 global targets NOT NOW COVERED by the secret world ($10 million a year each), and the other half for the 50 states ($30M a year each at FOC). Integrity is coming back into style. The time has come for every government employee at every level to check their integrity compass, and get right with God, the Constitution, their public constituency, and themselves.