WASHINGTON – April 1 – As a Homeland Security Subcommittee in the House held a hearing on fusion centers today, the American Civil Liberties Union reiterated its vast concerns that these entities provide huge risks to Americans’ privacy rights.
After testifying last week before the same committee – the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment – the ACLU sent five letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties urging investigations into five troubling incidents, several of which have stemmed from DHS-funded fusion centers.
“Fusion centers have experienced a mission creep in the last several years, becoming more of a threat than a security device. With no overarching guidelines to restrict or direct them, these centers put Americans’ privacy at huge risk,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “We need our government to take a long, hard look at what’s going into these centers and, frankly, what’s coming out.”
Former Congressman Bob Barr, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have all expressed deep concerns about the practices of fusion centers. Statements from them can be found below. (Full press release)
The following can be attributed to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization:
“CAIR is deeply troubled that the North Central Texas Fusion System bulletin labels monitoring the legal activities of American Muslims exercising their constitutional privileges as ‘imperative.’ In light of similar monitoring of peace and anti-death penalty activists in Maryland, CAIR believes it is time for Congress to conduct a deeper evaluation of our nation’s new domestic surveillance infrastructure.
“The author’s unprofessional presentation of known anti-Muslim sources as outlets of credible information also calls the integrity of the entire fusion system into doubt. This second point is an overt manifestation of the ‘Inaccurate or Incomplete Information’ identified in a December, 2008 Department of Homeland Security report on a number of risks to privacy presented by the fusion center program.
“Based on this and other recent incidents and initiatives targeting the Muslim community nationwide, we are concerned that the rights of American Muslims to participate fully in our country’s political process and practice their faith free of government intrusion is under assault.”
To read the ACLU’s letters to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, go to: www.aclu.org/privacy
To read the ACLU’s report on fusion centers, go to: www.aclu.org/fusion
Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; email@example.com