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Vol. 71/No. 7      February 19, 2007

‘Fusion centers’ centralize spying
data for federal, local cop agencies
Local and state governments in at least 37 states across the country have set up intelligence centers in the last five years to gather and analyze information from local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

These "fusion centers," as they are called, range from small conference facilities to high-tech ones with expensive communications networks, reported the December 31 Washington Post.

The emerging "network of networks" is aimed at streamlining information-sharing between federal agencies and local police departments, in order to centralize domestic spying more efficiently under the banner of "homeland defense."

"Fusion centers" are expected to pool information sent to them by the 700,000 local and state police officers across the country, and make it available to federal agencies. Local police departments will also be able to scan federal records, said the Post.

With the support of Democratic and Republican politicians the White House has been pushing to end restraints on spying and disruption operations imposed on cop agencies in the 1970s, under the impact of the struggle for Black rights and the movement to oppose the Vietnam War.

"You need to educate cops, firefighters, health officials, transportation officials, sanitation workers, to understand the nature of the threat," said Harvey Eisenberg, an assistant U.S. attorney overseeing the fusion center in Maryland. "Constitutionally, they see something, they can report it."

The Department of Homeland Security has spent $380 million in funding state fusion centers since 2001, and will have DHS personnel deployed in most of them by the end of next fiscal year.
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