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Fusion Centers At Center Of DHS Controversy

A Senate bipartisan report has scrutinized the Department of Homeland Security's National Network of Fusion Centers. DHS established fusion centers in order to share information across local, state, and federal levels regarding criminal and terrorist activity. The report cites several problems with fusion centers, including their incompetency to produce any specific data on terrorists, the infringement of civil liberties, the infringement of First Amendment rights, and the inability of both the federal and state governments to account for money spent on fusion centers. The federal government estimates, for example, that it allocated anywhere from less than $300 million to $1.4 billion. The report strongly encourages Congress to decrease the amount of money allocated to fusion centers. In its defense, DHS retorts that the report is inaccurate and misleading. Furthermore, DHS purports that the report completely ignores the benefits received by participating officials from the federal government. Despite this report, it seems that Congress will continue its support for this program without sufficient oversight for the quality of reports coming out of the centers or for the amount of money allocated.

As Linda Ellerbee questions often, "Who's in charge here?" The federal government has the right to tax its people. However, it also has the responsibility to be held accountable on how it spends its revenue. Furthermore, local and state officials share the responsibility of government accountability in how they spend funds. Last, all parties must decide the true mission and objectives of effectively and efficiently dealing with terrorist information and threats. If the Joint Terrorism Task Force led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation is used to combat terrorist activities and state and local authorities are used to fight against criminal threats, is there really a need to duplicate programs at the fiscal expense of the American people?

by Thomas Krouse, Contributor

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