The Soviet Union had its KGB, East Germany had its Stasi, and the United States should profit by those examples. It should abandon fusion centers that engage 800,000 state and local law enforcement officers in the business of gathering and sharing purported domestic or international terrorism intelligence. The vast majority conceive this task as synonymous with monitoring and scorning political dissent and association protected by the First Amendment.
To a hammer everything looks like a nail. To an intelligence agent, informant or law enforcement officer, everything unconventional or unorthodox looks like at least a pre-embryonic terrorist danger. The United States should not fall victim to the French Bourbon monarchy disease of forgetting nothing, and learning nothing, as with the A. Mitchell Palmer Raids, McCarthyism, COINTELPRO or Operation Shamrock.
Fusion centers pivot on the idea that the best way to forestall a second edition of Sept. 11, 2001, or a variation is to spy on American citizens in search of clues of an inclination toward future terrorism. Under U.S. law, an earmark of terrorism includes acts that "appear to be intended ... to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." Any dissidence or political dissident is suspect to fusion centers. (More)