Those DHS "fusion centers" are bastions of delusion sinking under the weight of their own bureacratic excess. Like the old Temptations' protest song, our spy state is just one great big Ball of Confusion. I have been saying for awhile now that as they're frantically scouring cyberspace for every last bit of information on us, they still don't know what in hell to do with it. I'd suggested copying all million pages of Remembrance of Things Past in a chain email to thousands of our closest friends just to punk them and keep them busy in their thousands upon thousands of DHS cubicles. The Fusionistas seem like an illiterate lot, with reports neglecting to include even the Basic Five: who, what, when, where and why. The average training period before they get to work culling our emails and Tweets? One whole week. I mean, we knew the government was in a race to the bottom vis a vis education, but this is de trop.
A Senate subcommittee finally did come out with a report today confirming what we already knew: while the spy state is shredding our civil liberties, the information they're coming up with is truly shredder-worthy itself. James Risen of the New York Times writes:
The report found that the centers “forwarded 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.”.
The investigators reviewed 610 reports produced by the centers over 13 months in 2009 and 2010. Of these, the report said, 188 were never published for use within the Homeland Security Department or other intelligence agencies. Hundreds of draft reports sat for months, awaiting review by homeland security officials, making much of their information obsolete. And some of the reports appeared to be based on previously published information or facts that had long since been reported through the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Even worse, DHS has "lost" more than $1 billion and even outright lied about the very existence of certain fusion centers. They're called fusion centers because they are supposed to link federal resources with local police agencies. The centers have been implicated in the coordinated national crackdown against Occupy camps last year. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information law revealed
....that on November 9, two days after a demonstration by 1000 Occupy activists in Chicago protesting social service cuts in that city, the NOC Fusion Desk relayed a request from Chicago Police asking other local police agencies what kind of tactics they were using against Occupy activists. They specifically requested that information be sought from police departments in New York, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. Denver, Boston, Portland OR, and Seattle — all the scene of major Occupation actions and of violent police repression.
DHS tried to cover its tracks over its anti-Occupy activities, which were patently illegal. The Fusion Center employees, funnily enough, had obtained most of their information on the Occupy camps from public records and blogs. They were copy-and-pasting plagiarizers as well as spies! Risen recounts several other incidents of DHS incompetence in his Times piece. They range from the comical to the bizarre to the downright frightening. One example:
Last November.... an Illinois 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.
Homeland, Homeland Uber Alles is being run by a gang that can't straight-talk, let alone shoot straight.