One of our great counterterrorism failures are the government fusion centers–these are supposed to be information clearing houses that focus on terrorism and share information among local, state, and federal agencies to prevent intelligence lapses.
That’s the idea anyway. The reality is somewhat different, as Yasha Levine at NSFWcorp.com reports (behind paywall; boldface mine):
Internal records show that detective Saul Ayala spent months gathering intelligence on local anarchists and sniffing out their plans to “disrupt” the ALEC conference. Ayala passed this info on to his superior in the PPD’s Career Criminal Squad, who would in turn pass it further up the chain to PPD’s Homeland Defense Bureau and the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, also known as the Arizona Fusion Center, that’s run in conjunction with the FBI, DHS and other state and federal security agencies. Once in the fusion center, the info can be accessed by just about any law-enforcement agency, including private security contractors.
I’m sure those private security contractors have extensive systems to prevent this sensitive information from being leaked. STOP LAUGHING! STOP LAUGHING! And if ALEC sounds familiar, that’s because you’re thinking of the most odious lobbying organization out there. Let’s get back to the fusion centers:
In fact, the Fusion Center’s Phoenix antiterrorism analyst seemed way too focused on monitoring Occupy Phoenix and their anti-ALEC activities. Her name was Brenda Dowhan. Her official title was Terrorism Liaison All-Hazards Analyst.
Dowhan was clearly no whiz at this antiterror intel stuff, but she managed to keep herself busy. Police correspondence from the time bulges with emails between Dowhan, local, state and federal law-enforcement authorities….
In December 2011, Dowhan alerted her anti-terrorism colleagues in the Flagstaff area about a couple of Occupy Phoenix members who posted their plans to travel there on Facebook. That same month Brenda tracked down the real identity of a Guy Fawkes dipshit named David Mullen, who had the dumb idea of sending a mass email out to the Phoenix police department politely asking the cops to “Please leave the Occupy movement alone.” Brenda tracked Mullen down because Phoenix Assistant Police Chief Tracy Montgomery thought his letter contained a veiled threat, and put the department on the case to figure out who this guy was.
In other words, Phoenix cops activated investigative units that normally pursue organized crime, hardened violent criminals and terrorist activity to spy on a few skinny vegan anarchists. Not only that, but the police were funneling the intelligence up to the feds and private security firms—all to protect a pro-business legislative outfit from criticism.
In campaigns that the ACLU now argues violated both “federal privacy regulations and the BRIC’s own privacy policies,” from 2009 to 2010, the intelligence center produced SARs on peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstrators, as well as on antiwar groups including CODEPINK. The BRIC also documented the behavior of protest speakers and participants including a city councilor, and famed Boston University professor (and pacifist) Howard Zinn, the latter of whom reports listed as an “extremist.” Memos show BRIC officers following peace and environmental protesters around downtown Boston, keeping tabs on their locations for no apparent reason. A read through the reports is demonstrably hilarious, smacking of the scene in Billy Madison where the snooping school janitor tells Adam Sandler’s nemesis that “Billy likes to drink soda.” An “intelligence report” from March 2010 about CODEPINK and United For Justice With Peace rings especially ridiculous, though not to the BRIC….
All things considered, it’s of little surprise that neither the BRIC nor the Commonwealth Fusion Center in Maynard picked up on dangers posed by alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev—even though the U.S. government had been warned twice by the Russian government that he had radical ties, and even though Tsarnaev raised more than a few red flags.
In September 2011, the Boston fusion center (‘BRIC’) turned its attention to Occupy Boston and anti-foreclosure activists. One might not agree with these activists, but they’re at worst annoying and inconvenient. Codepink? What the hell is a bunch of pacifist grandmothers going to bomb? So what if they embarrass a politician while he’s speaking (besides, the jackass might deserve it)?
We are constantly told by our political betters that there’s a tradeoff between liberty and security, but the fusion centers aren’t providing much security. Instead, they are tasked with monitoring non-violent political dissidents, instead of their putative mission which is to prevent violent terrorism.
Anger is the appropriate emotion. Perhaps rage.
But Rolling Stone published an obnoxious and tasteless magazine cover. That’s worth getting upset about. Or something.