Investigation Ordered Into Virginia Fusion Center Document

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org 

Investigation Ordered Into Virginia Fusion Center Document

ACLU Urges Congress To Conduct Comprehensive Review Of Fusion Center Activities

WASHINGTON -
Following
the American Civil Liberties Union’s criticism regarding a
controversial Virginia Fusion Center terrorism assessment report,
Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine has announced that he will
investigate the practices of the secretive center located in Virginia.
The ACLU raised constitutional concerns about the report’s focus on
First Amendment protected activities when it was made public this
month. The document characterized the “diversity” surrounding a
Virginia military base and the state’s “historically black” colleges as
possible recruiting grounds for terrorists.
 
“It’s encouraging to
see the governor of Virginia agreed with the ACLU that the Virginia
Fusion Center’s Threat Assessment warranted an investigation,” said
Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative
Office. “We are hopeful that the federal government will follow suit
and realize how damaging these fusion center reports can be absent
strict guidelines and intense oversight. We’re looking forward to
working with Congress and the Obama administration to conduct a
thorough audit of these centers before more federal money is spent to
support their activities.”
 
The federal government
has facilitated the growth of a network of fusion centers since 9/11 to
expand information collection and sharing practices among law
enforcement agencies, the private sector and the intelligence
community. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
there were 70 fusion centers in the United States as of February 2009.
 
The
ACLU has long warned the government about the dangers posed by fusion
centers without proper oversight and, in 2007, released a report
entitled, “What’s Wrong With Fusion Centers?”
The report, which was updated last year, identifies specific concerns
with fusion centers, including their ambiguous lines of authority, the
troubling role of private corporations, the participation of the
military, the use of data mining and their excessive secrecy.
 
Earlier
this month, the ACLU sent five letters to the DHS Office of Civil
Rights and Civil Liberties urging investigations into five troubling
incidents, several of which have stemmed from DHS-funded fusion
centers. From directing local police to investigate non-violent
political activists and religious groups in Texas to advocating
surveillance of third-party presidential candidate supporters in
Missouri, there have been repeated and persistent disclosures of
troubling memos and reports from local fusions centers.
 
“With
any luck, this investigation will shine a light on the murky internal
operations of domestic intelligence centers,” said Michael German, ACLU
Policy Counsel and former FBI Agent. “This threat assessment isn’t just
troubling for its constitutional and racial implications; it also
contains wildly misleading information that could lead to unnecessary
and wasteful investigations of innocent Americans. It’s important for
lawmakers from all levels of government to become engaged with this
issue, conduct thorough oversight of fusion centers and enact
legislation to protect against unwarranted intelligence activities that
threaten our democracy while doing nothing to improve security.”
 
To read the ACLU of Virginia’s analysis of the Virginia Fusion Center’s Report, go to: www.acluva.org/publications/VAFusionCenterSummary2009.pdf
 
To read the ACLU’s report on fusion centers, go to: www.aclu.org/fusion

To read the ACLU’s letters to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, go to: www.aclu.org/privacy

 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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