Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
DHS ‘fusion centers’ portrayed as pools of ineptitude, civil liberties intrusions
An initiative aimed at improving intelligence sharing has done little to make the country more secure, despite as much as $1.4 billion in federal spending, according to a two-year examination by Senate investigators. The nationwide network of offices known as “fusion centers” was launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to address concerns that local, state and federal authorities were not sharing information effectively about potential terrorist threats. But after nine years — and regular praise from officials at the Department of Homeland Security — the 77 fusion centers have become pools of ineptitude, waste and civil liberties intrusions, according to a scathing 141-page report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations. The creation and operation of the fusion centers were promoted by the administration of President George W. Bush and later the Obama administration as essential weapons in the fight to build a nationwide network that would keep the country safe from terrorism. The idea was to promote increased collaboration and cooperation among all levels of law enforcement across the country. But the report documents spending on items that did little to help share intelligence, including gadgets such as “shirt button” cameras, $6,000 laptops and big-screen televisions. One fusion center spent $45,000 on a decked-out SUV that a city official used for commuting. “In reality, the Subcommittee investigation found that the fusion centers often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever,” the report said. Investigators found instances in which the analysts used intelligence about U.S. citizens that may have been gathered illegally. The Senate report said local and state officials entrusted with the fusion center grants sometimes spent lavishly. 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. Senate investigators repeatedly questioned the quality of the intelligence reports. A third or more of the reports intended for officials in Washington were discarded because they lacked useful information, had been drawn from media accounts or involved potentially illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens, according to the Senate report...more