A Billion Dollars Of Federally Funded Paranoia

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by James Bovard via The Mises Institute,

When it comes to mindless excess in the war on terror, it is difficult to compete with the 70+ fusion centers bankrolled by the Department of Homeland Security. They began to be set up around the nation shortly after 9/11 as federal-state-local partnerships to better track terrorist threats. But the centers have been a world-class boondoggle from the start.

Fusion centers have sent the federally funded roundup of data on Americans’ private lives into overdrive. As the Brennan Center for Justice noted in 2012, “Until 9/11, police departments had limited authority to gather information on innocent activity, such as what people say in their houses of worship or at political meetings. Police could only examine this type of First Amendment-protected activity if there was a direct link to a suspected crime. But the attacks of 9/11 led law enforcement to turn this rule on its head.”

Fusion centers do a far better job of stoking paranoia than of catching terrorists. Various fusion centers have attached the “extremist” tag to gun-rights activists, anti-immigration zealots, and individuals and groups “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority” — even though many of the Founding Fathers shared the same creed. A 2012 DHS report went even further, stating that being “reverent of individual liberty” is one of the traits of potential right-wing terrorists. Such absurd standards help explain why the federal terrorist watchlist now contains more than a million names.

Federal management is so slipshod that a 2012 Senate investigation found that the federal estimates of spending on fusion centers varied by more than 400 percent — ranging from $289 million to $1.4 billion. A DHS internal report found that 4 of 72 fusion centers did not actually exist, but that did not deter DHS officials from continuing to exaggerate the number of such centers. The Washington Post highlighted a few of the dubious findings: “More than $2 million was spent on a center for Philadelphia that never opened. In Ohio, officials used the money to buy rugged laptop computers and then gave them to a local morgue. San Diego officials bought 55 flat-screen televisions to help them collect ‘open-source intelligence’ — better known as cable television news.”

A Senate investigation found that DHS intelligence officers at 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.” A Senate investigation found no evidence that the fusion centers had provided any assistance in detecting or disrupting any terrorist plots. Sen. Tom Coburn, who spearheaded the Senate investigation, observed, “Unfortunately, DHS has resisted oversight of these centers. The Department opted not to inform Congress or the public of serious problems plaguing its fusion center and broader intelligence efforts. When this Subcommittee requested documents that would help it identify these issues, the Department initially resisted turning them over, arguing that they were protected by privilege, too sensitive to share, were protected by confidentiality agreements, or did not exist at all.”

Spying on your Neighbors

The Senate report laid out a cavalcade of fusion-center snafus. The New York Times summarized one case: “An Illinois [fusion] center reported that Russian hackers had broken into the computer system of a local water district in Springfield and sent computer commands that triggered a water pump to burn out. But it turned out that a repair technician had remotely accessed the water district’s computer system while he was on vacation in Russia.”

The fusion centers help create databases with SARs (Suspicious Activity Reports), which are usually garbage even by the lowly standard of government data. The Los Angeles Police Department encourages citizens to file reports on “individuals who stay at bus or train stops for extended periods while buses and trains come and go,” “individuals who carry on long conversations on pay or cellular telephones,” and “joggers who stand and stretch for an inordinate amount of time.” The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security encourages people to report “people avoiding eye contact,” “people in places they don’t belong,” or homes or apartments that have numerous visitors “arriving and leaving at unusual hours,” as PBS’s Frontline reported. Colorado’s fusion center “produced a fear-mongering public-service announcement asking the public to report innocuous behaviors such as photography, note-taking, drawing, and collecting money for charity as ‘warning signs’ of terrorism,” the American Civil Liberties Union reported.

The Constitution Project concluded in a 2012 report that DHS fusion centers “pose serious risks to civil liberties, including rights of free speech, free assembly, freedom of religion, racial and religious equality, privacy, and the right to be free from unnecessary government intrusion. Several fusion centers have issued bulletins that characterize a wide variety of religious and political groups as threats to national security. In some instances, state law enforcement agencies that funnel information to fusion centers have improperly monitored and infiltrated anti-war and environmental organizations.”

Dylan Murphy reported at CounterPunch, “Between 2005-2007 the DHS and Maryland State Police spied upon and infiltrated anti-war, anti-death penalty and animal rights groups. Despite the fact that these were peaceful protesters who engaged in no criminal activity the surveillance went on for several years with many activists being designated terrorists.” The ACLU’s Nancy Murray wrote, “We now have proof of what peace groups and activists have long suspected: Boston Police officers have worked within the local fusion spying center, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), to monitor the lawful political activity of local peace groups and track their movements and beliefs.”

Some of the most harebrained advice comes directly from the DHS. In a 2003 terrorist advisory, it warned local law-enforcement agencies to keep an eye on anyone who “expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the U.S. government.” DHS officials also urged local lawmen to be on alert for potential suicide bombers who could be detected by such traits as a “pale face from recent shaving of beard.” They “may appear to be in a ‘trance,’” or their “eyes appear to be focused and vigilant”; either their “clothing is out of sync with the weather” or their “clothing is loose.” Perhaps to ensure that there will never be a shortage of suspects, federal experts advised local agencies of another tell-tale terrorist warning sign: someone for whom “waiting in a grocery store line becomes intolerable.”

The Pentagon has its own catch-all definitions of suspicious or terrorist-related behavior. Its Counterintelligence Field Activity program covertly gathered information on Americans who protested the Iraq War or who were involved with websites critical of U.S. military policy. The Pentagon has conducted surveillance on anti-war protests and gatherings, including one at a Quaker meetinghouse in Florida. Names gathered in such fishnets are added to a Pentagon database involving the “terrorism threat warning process,” according to Newsweek.

More and More Enemies

The Pentagon’s homeland surveillance efforts should have been no surprise considering the values promoted in its anti-terrorism training materials. The ACLU reported in 2009 that training materials taught soldiers and others that public protests were “low level terrorism.” The ACLU derided that lesson as “an egregious insult to constitutional values.”

Unfortunately, the 2012 Senate exposé of fusion-center follies did nothing to deter other agencies from casting an even wider — and more ludicrous — net for terrorist suspects. In 2014, the National Counterterrorism Center produced a report entitled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts.” As The Intercept summarized, the report “suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as ‘Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,’ … and ‘Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity)’ … to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.” The report recommended judging families by their level of “Parent-Child Bonding” and rating localities on the basis in part of the “presence of ideologues or recruiters.” Would copies of Atlas Shrugged on a living-room bookshelf be enough to trigger a warning of a family at risk of “extremist ideologies”? Former FBI agent Mike German commented, “The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical, and social-service employees to rate the communities, individuals, and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face.”

Once the government gets into the surveillance business, bureaucratic momentum spurs the continual creation of new classes of potential enemies. A similar metamorphosis occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, when the FBI decided to use illegal powers to target people who garnered official displeasure. Nixon White House aide Tom Charles Huston explained that the FBI’s COINTELPRO program continually stretched its target list “from the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.”

Though the fusion centers are a dud on the anti-terrorist front, perhaps they are a big success in making Americans wary of speaking out against government abuses. In the 1960s and 1970s, FBI agents were encouraged to conduct interviews with anti-war protesters to “enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and further serve to get the point across that there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.” Nowadays, many Americans fear that there is a federal agent watching every email or click on the Internet — thus making dissent more dangerous than ever.

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swamp's picture

Shut this shit down.

SWRichmond's picture

Waiting patiently for SPLC to declare antifa to be a terrorist group.


greenskeeper carl's picture

Unfortunately, this type of shit is likely to grow, not shrink, under president trump. I voted for him anyway, even though I knew this, because I want our foreign policy to at least resemble sanity and back off the war path with Russia, and to stop allowing our country to be overrun by third worlders. The growth of the police state was a forgone conclusion under killery, along with the overrunning of the place with foreigners, as was yet another war, so I still stand by my choice(watching leftists have meltdowns was just icing on the cake).

We are stuck with this shit for the foreseeable future. Trump is no civil libertarian.

svayambhu108's picture

The center cannot hold,

Fuck poetry

The shit is about to hit the fan 

NotApplicable's picture

And of course, all by design. Just another day in the Deep State.

balolalo's picture


TRUMP IS ABOUT TO turn homeland security loose. 

Loose reigns and boosted budgets for "homeland security" and the military industrial complex.

is that winning?

TruxtonSpangler's picture

the fusion centers are working precisely as designed

philipat's picture

If Trump is serious about small Government and balanced budgets, he can't just tinker round the edges and must close whole Departments. DHS is a prime candidtae. And do we really need SEVENTTEN alphabet soup "intelligence" Agencies in competition and tripping over each other?

Arrow4Truth's picture

They trip over each other now. FBI vs CIA, dogs sleeping with cats, mass hysteria. A better question might be, 'Do you really need SEVENTEEN alphabet soup "Intelligence" Agencies?' Period.

I Feel a little Qeasy's picture

Almost spat out my coffee reading this! Fucking hilarious how you lot think you're free with all this shit going on, and you have the fucking gall to call out other nations such as Russia and Iran. Coast to coast insanity! And I love it 'cos the high cost (not just in terms of money) is driving you further and faster down the toilet. Bon voyage suckers!

meterman's picture

"grow under Trump" How about some proof oh expert one!

Miss Informed's picture

How about his endorsement of "stop and frisk" police tactics during the campaign?

Colonel Klink's picture

Waiting for the SPLC to be declared an American terrorist organization, along with the ACLU. Ever notice they are against America on the vast number of the issues?

Arrow4Truth's picture

Attorneys are by definition, foreign agents... and both organizations are comprised of zionist joos. There I said it. I know nothing Colonel.

svayambhu108's picture

If you have a bucket with a hole in it... as much as you patch it it still has a hole in it

junction's picture

All those civil service people working at fusion centers have one thought: keep this boondoggle going for long enough so that they can qualify for a federal pension.  For those DHS employees who carry guns, that could be as little as 20 years if they reach the age 55 by then.  So, less than 10 years and counting for many of these do-nothings.

ReZn8r's picture

These people do not get pensions. Pensions have been over for a long time. Gov employees contribute to a thrift savings plan.

SmittyinLA's picture

Shut down and deport, these people were Hillary Socialist imports, we'd be in one wicked civil war had she won right now, those people had gun control, mass roundups, prosecutions re-educations and mass murder planned Ala the Chinese "Cultural revolution" where they murdered anybody with an IQ over 100.

Don't think it couldn't happen here.

I Feel a little Qeasy's picture

Despite that (though I don't believe you bullshit propaganda) THEY STILL HAVE HIGHER I.Q THAN YOU!

peippe's picture

And where, exactly, are these gov't douches supposed to find work that pays the bills?

If you close all these precious Fusion Centers, our economy/way of life will collapse.

It'llbe anarchy.

brown_hornet's picture

I hope you forgot you're sarc tag.

peippe's picture

well i called'em douches in the post-

yes it is sarcasm.


Arrow4Truth's picture

The word anarchy comes from the ancient Greek anarchia, which combines (a), "not, without" and arkhi, "ruler, leader, authority." Thus, the term refers to a person or society "without rulers" or "without leaders." I like the sound of that. Let's get it on.

nmewn's picture

What does one do when searching for a Schadenboner?

Why...look up Maxine Waters words of wisdom of course!...


...thats right, you heard it, Russians hacked the DNCCCP? and Putins advancing into...Korea...LMMFAO!

rlouis's picture

Rumor is that a scary clown that looks like Rep. Waters has been seen around D.C. and in neighborhoods around Compton. 

WillyGroper's picture

yea a dud for one & a boon for the ghoulish farmer.

Andre's picture

The one thing the Trump candidacy and election has done is to show ALL of us just how broken this country is. ZH  and others have shown it for a while, but this is past saving. No idea when, but it is no longer a question of if things will fly apart.

It was not his intention, but this has brought the failings of the country into stark relief.

nmewn's picture

Its all good, now we've proven we're just as "unexceptional" as the rest of the world, no reason to come here!

So, there is that! ;-)

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

We give out an exceptional amount of free shit here in USSA

DaBard51's picture

"Silly season" stuff, it seems.





When nine hundred years old you become, look this good you will not.

restelle's picture

No, a "Billion" pieces of PAPER ( or DIGITS ) that have no tangible value.  Fuck off with this act.  DONE with it.  It's ALL GARBAGE and FAKERY.

Like having precious metal in PAPER! You bought PAPER!  NOTHING ELSE.

I'm gonna have a fucking aneurysm or whatever the fuck it is called.


TeethVillage88s's picture

Monthly Treasury Report (MTS) 30 Sept 2016, Table 5,

2016 Total-Department of Homeland Security Outlays = $57.6 Billion.

$12.7 Billion for FEMA
$10 Billion for Coast Guard
$13 Billion for Customs Border Protection
$6.4 Billion for immigration & Customs Enforcement
$5.2 Billion for TSA
$3.4 Billion for Citizenship and Immigration

Anyone think we are doing a great job on immigration?

divingengineer's picture

Use the fusion centers, fill up the FEMA camps withe antifa orcs, let ICE deport them.
Just use the laws and personnel we already have.

grekko's picture

The Coast Guard and Border Prot are okay.  They actually do save some lives or have a proven track record of stopping illegals, when they are left alone to do their job.

DuneCreature's picture

Your name is in The Core, count on it.

Here is what Fusion Centers are really all about, We The People. ... In Viet Nam it was called Operation Phoenix. .... In South America they are called Death Squads ........................ Here they will probably just be called DHS SWAT.


They have our names and addresses...........We should have theirs in our data bases.

Live Hard, Keep Spreading Webb's Video Links So He Stays HIGH PROFILE, Die Free

~ DC v5.0

metanoic's picture

Webb's channel is unbelievably good. Worth mentioning Doug Valentine as well, just did a great interview w/ Corbett.

DuneCreature's picture

Agreed.. I think MK has that Valentine interview linked earlier in this thread. .. Great background.

Live Hard, Highly Recommended Viewing, Die Free

~ DC v5.0

metanoic's picture

Implicit terror now. Explicit terror later. Worth every penny.

Northern Flicker's picture

Shhh - the American people shouldn't know about such things.

"If the American people knew what we have done, they would string us up from the lamp posts." - George H.W. Bush

grekko's picture

In reply to HW, it's never too late to right a wrong.


George W. 'the torturer' Bush & Dickhead Cheney had to reward DHS & US Law Enforcement for not looking critically at 911 WTC 1, 2, & 7, otherwise their respective companies would not have received all the contracts to blow Iraq back to just dirt & rocks whilst the American people were fed daily Whore House briefings on how well their technology could incinerate Arab antiquities where the very first known stories of man first were discovered. The Epic of Gilgamesh is one example. Clearly, DHS Fusion Centers was a deep state front for totalitarianism on a state by state basis. They militerized police forces with SWAT Teams not unlike Seal Team 6, and they armed all forces with major assault weaponry and armored MRAPS. We the people are their principle target for eventual slaughter en masse if they get that command from leaders within their operating structure. Aside from that there is not much populations can do against that sort of institutional terrorism offered up by governments. The State is both Financially and morally bankrupt. When they fail financially, they will absolutely act in an adversarial manner with 'we the people' because they base their survival on the death of the masses when bankruptcy sets in. Government is not of the people, by the people, and for the people. Government is by the Corporatists, of the Corporatists, and for the Corporatists. Everyone else can just fuck off & die for all they care about any of it.

Arrow4Truth's picture

Agreed, agreed, agreed. It's all quid pro quo. One only needs to look at a few of their statutes to determine what's going on (ref 28 USC 3002 (15)) When they begin to "act in an adversarial manner," their not going to like me very much. Cheers.

the edge of chaos's picture

so "they" most certainly survail THIS site and all of us who come here. In the purge WE will be the 1st ones they come for...write that down.