Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 20, 2009

Inside the fusion center petri dish

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Intelligence and Info-Sharing — by Christopher Bellavita on August 20, 2009

This post is about fusion centers.

Fusion centers are my favorite example of how emergence works in the complex adaptive system that is homeland security.

The story has often been told.  Contemporary fusion centers started in a half dozen states and cities.  Independently public safety officials perceived a need to organize and analyze various streams of information and intelligence.  There was no grand national plan.  Centers just emerged in response to a need. That was Phase I.

The federal government stimulated Phase II by offering Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention funds to states and cities that wanted to set up their own centers.  The funds were accompanied by oral and written entreaties to standardize. Conceptually, this was an effort to bring regularity to a largely uncontrolled national experiment.

Money plus perceived need created an ideal growth medium for the fusion center ecosystem.  There are now more than 70 fusion centers.

I don’t know when we entered the current Phase III, but like the economy, fusion centers have stopped growing. In the words of one federal official I spoke with this week, “Fusion centers are in jeopardy.”

Homeland security may be a complex adaptive system subject upon occasion to evolution’s  “variation, selection and reproduction” ritual.  But the people who make up that system are not the blindly obedient servants of a disinterested nature.  They are agents of interests with — to varying degree — free will. Evolution of human systems can be affected by those humans.  Not controlled, but influenced.

Serendipitously, I had the opportunity to speak with three people this week who are in the midst of fusion centers’ Phase III evolutionary dynamics.  These are people who have a perspective about fusion centers and who are in a position to influence what happens to them.  To influence, not control.

One person manages state budgets.  Another is a federal executive trying to make fusion centers work across the country.  The third person runs a state fusion center.

What follows is a summary of the words they spoke this week, via email, telephone and in person.

The state budget manager: Sustainment funding should be a baseline capability

“I am in a meeting  listening to a presentation by a very nice gentleman from [a state] Fusion Center.  The speaker is speaking now about the lack of funding to sustain regional centers and the state center.  I have a brief discussion with him about this issue.

He thinks I’m nuts.

What I don’t understand is why neither he nor anyone else seems to understand the fundamental issue with these and other programs that are initiated with grant dollars.

Federal grant funds can allow state agencies to bypass their normal state funding and program approval processes.  States get appropriations for federal grant dollars through their legislatures often without specific capitol projects or programs being debated or discussed and often without studies to determine the sustainment costs and budgetary impacts on states or local governments.  So a state police agency stands up a “fusion center” using grant dollars.  But sustainment is not in their budgets.  After operating for a year or two, these facilities find that maintenance, system refreshments and personnel costs begin to affect their operating budgets.  They also find their host department’s budgets are being cut because of state or regional economics.  And they, including the speaker I’m listening to, suggest that perhaps the feds should fund state fusion centers.  I contend doing that would make them federal fusion centers.

I suggested that state or regional fusion centers should not be built or operated if they cannot be supported by regional revenue.  The response was that they are already built and should be  sustained.  Why?  If there is value they should be in the host agency’s budget.  Isn’t this why there is a deficit?  Someone should be looking into the governance issues associated with the homeland security grant funded programs in the various states.  I suggest that fusion centers should not be constructed without a mechanism for sustained funding by their host government.  There is a fusion center fad right now that seems irrational.

I think the speakers think I’m crazy, but isn’t there more than one way to do fusion, or must we build expensive facilities for this purpose?

Someone needs to point out that we are heading down the road of implementing programs for the sake of programs, and that the grant funding model that we have facilitates the ability of agencies to implement programs without the full support and checks and balances associated with existing funding mechanisms in governments.  Few city councils or legislatures are going to refuse grant dollars.  But they don’t realize that they are being used to stand up programs that they (councils or legislatures) will be expected to fund in the future.

The feds have published fusion center guidelines and baseline capabilities.  They work with states to make sure that their fusion centers meet this guidelines in order to get DHS support and involvement.  Sustainment funding should be a baseline capability or at least a guideline for an approved fusion center.”

The federal executive: Fusion centers contribute to national security

“Many fusion centers started because of grants that helped states build intelligence and information sharing capabilities.  Then came declining budgets and the economy.  Everybody’s hit hard.  Yeah, a lot of the centers are in jeopardy, very much so.  That is why its important for them to show their relevancy, why they are important, and the value they add.  Because if they add value and somebody wants to shut them down, well they’re not going to let them shut down and then have to deal with their constituency.  That’s why its important to build toward standardized baseline capabilities.

I’ve heard it said that ‘If  you’ve seen one fusion center you’ve seen one fusion center.’  That’s total nonsense and it’s counterproductive, because it’s not true. Nor should it be true.  This is why the federal government needs to work with states and locals to help them build toward baseline capabilities.  FEMA, DoJ and I&A have done some good things related to technical assistance [to fusion centers] with connectivity, training, privacy, civil rights and helping to build that value added.  But the federal government can only do so much.  It’s also up to the states and major urban area fusion centers to build the capabilities.  But we’ll help them.

I support an increase in financial support for fusion centers.  But it needs to be a blend.  While states and cities have to carry their weight, there is also a federal responsibility here.  There needs to be a fiscal balance because fusion centers add value at a state and local level.  But fusion centers are also contributing — significantly sometimes — to national security.  So the federal government should help pay the bill.”

The fusion center director: trying to get out of Dodge

“I’ve come to the view that the idea of us guessing when the next attack is going to occur from the fusion center perspective is just not going to happen.  I’m fooling myself by trying to guess what the next dot is I have to connect.   I know I have been a huge proponent of prevention, but it’s also ok to respond to something as long as you respond in a timely manner.

To me, that changes the paradigm of fusion centers as well as homeland security. We know that police and fire are tuned up to be responders, so why not leverage what we are good at?  I’m not saying intelligence goes away.  By no means am I saying that.  Intelligence can become more of a contextual basis for what may be happening or what may happen.  It can provide us with strategic situational awareness.

Intelligence fusion centers can contribute to the Orient stage of the homeland security OODA loop.  The function of intelligence should be to help an agency process through its OODA loop at a much more rapid rate.  Using intelligence this way adds to our resilience.

That’s my theory.  But there is also a practical reality: in this economy, I can’t hire analysts. I can’t get funds for any collaborative platforms for wikis or other tools.  And it’s not going to happen any time soon now, not with what’s going on fiscally.

I certainly want to win here. I want to prevent terrorism.  I want to put numbers on the board.  But I’m not stupid either.  I have got to chose my battles.

It’s like George Washington.  Once he kicked the ass of those Hessian soldiers he said, ‘You know what, I gotta get out of Dodge and scram. I got to get back across the river.’  He did that because the other Hessians were heading in to help.  And right now I’m just trying to get out of Dodge.

I’m nervous now.  I’m really serious about and committed to fusion centers. But we’re finding out there’s a lot of things we can’t control, for a variety of reasons.

You know a lot of folks have forgotten about the catastrophe and consequences of 9/11.  And it’s really not driving budgets right now.  I still believe in fusion centers but there’s more happening on the criminal side.  I see the really cool things we are doing with mashing information and data.  I just don’t see it happening to the degree, to the level it should be happening with [the terrorist] threats.  It is making me very nervous.”

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15 Comments »

Comment by David C. Gomez

August 20, 2009 @ 8:43 am

“That is why its important for them to show their relevancy, why they are important, and the value they add.”

“I see the really cool things we are doing with mashing information and data. I just don’t see it happening to the degree, to the level it should be happening with [the terrorist] threats.”

From where I sit (as the Federal LE liaison to a state fusion center) is not their ability to analyze, but their ability to collect relevant counterterrorism information and/or intelligence that will prove fusion center’s sustainability. That is the basis for sutainability. It is the product that they were envisioned to produce.

Collection, based on locally relevant collection requirements, is the key to intelligence. As the DHS representative to our state fusion center told me, “All we are doing is circular reporting.” Why? Because they have no collector cabaility, and rely on information that is pushed out to them by other State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement (SLTLE).

The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reports Initiative (NSI) is a good start to a vibrant nationwide collection program, but is a federally driven program as well, and absent continued DOJ/DHS funding will begin to have sustainability problems as well. But the nascent NSI has collection requirements issues as well.

Former Chief of the CIAs Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) Henry Crumpton, quoting John McGaffin wrote, “Gathering [information] which is not driven or informed by specific, focused National Security needs is not the same as intelligence collection as the DCI and the Intelligence Community understand the term. This collection is accomplished not incidental to law enforcement, but by conscious, specifically targeted, operational clandestine espionage activity, whether technical, human, or a combination of both (McGaffin, Security and Liberty, p.4, as cited in Crumpton, p.209).

Until fusion centers develop their own robust collection capability, OR fuse with someone elses collection capability to feed their analysis, they are destined to wither slowly on the vine, until they just disappear from a lack of interest.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2009 @ 11:04 am

DHS could have been a big help from the beginning on structure and funding of the fusion centers. I just quickly reviewed the most recent National Strategy for Homeland Security (October 2007)and found NO mention of the fusion centers even as a concept. There is certainly much about INFO-SHARING just as there was in the 9/11 Commission Report. I intend to look over several statutes this PM when time allows including the Implementation of the 9/11 Commission Act (Public Law 110-53 of August 3, 2007) and the 2004 Intel Reform Act. One of the major premises of the formation of DHS was DOMESTIC INTEL collection, anlysis, and dessimination. Unclear exactly what DHS INTEL Directorate views are on fusion centers. And perhaps this goes to what their formal authority and delegations are in fact and in law.

What I do know well is that the Preparedness Sections of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act are almost never given an adequate budget. And remember that the Stafford Act is largely a delegated authority from the President. One of the things the Fusion Centers might be involved with is WARNING–and be warned this is a highly technical subject. Basically, FEMA and DHS do not seek adquate budget for their statutorily mandated WARNING functions and these typically are not well staffed or funded by FEMA/DHS or STATE EM ops. Below is an extract of mandated activity on the part of the President and this authority delegated to DHS/FEMA. This could reasonably be formally delegated and assigned to the FUSION CENTERS and funded as an on-going line item. It is certain any programs, functions, or activities of the FUSION CENTERS are not currently a line item in the budget as Chris so ably points out in the post. Creation of a grant does NOT and never will create an ongoing program, function or activity as these are all required to be by formal budgeting principles established by OMB and Congress.

Anyhow here is the WARNING mandate:

LEGAL REFERENCES TO WARNING, THREATS, AND PUBLIC INFORMATION
IN THE ROBERT T. STAFFORD ACT (CODIFIED AS CHAPTER 68 OF TITLE 42 OF THE U.S. CODE)

SUBCHAPTER II — DISASTER PREPAREDNESS ASSISTANCE

DISASTER WARNINGS
(42 U.S.C.§5132)

§202.

(a) The President shall insure that all appropriate Federal agencies are prepared to issue warnings of disasters to State and local officials.

(b) The President shall direct appropriate Federal agencies to provide technical assistance to State and local governments to insure that timely and effective disaster warning is provided.

(c) The President is authorized to utilize or to make available to Federal, State, and local agencies the facilities of the civil defense communications system established and maintained pursuant to §611(d) of the Act [42 U.S.C. §5196(d)], or any other Federal communication system for the purpose of providing warning to governmental authorities and the civilian population in areas endangered by disasters.

(d) The President is authorized to enter into agreements with the officers or agents of any private or commercial communications systems who volunteer the use of their systems on a reimbursable or nonreimbursable basis for the purpose of providing warning to governmental authorities and the civilian population endangered by disasters.

SUBCHAPTER IV — MAJOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

GENERAL FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
(42 U.S.C. §5170a)

§402. In any major disaster, the President may —
. . . . . .

(3) provide technical and advisory assistance to affected State and local government for -
. . . . . .

(B) issuance of warnings of risks of hazards; . . .

ESSENTIAL ASSISTANCE
(42 U.S.C. §5170b)

§403 (a) In General. Federal agencies may on the direction of the President, provide assistance to meeting immediate threats to life and property resulting from a major disaster, as follows:
. . . . . .
(3) Work and Services to Save Lives and Protect property. Performing on public or private lands or waters any work or services essential to saving lives and protecting and preserving property or public health and safety, including —
. . . . . .
(F) warning of further risks and hazards;

(G) dissemination of public information and assistance regarding health and safety measures;

(H) provision of technical advice to State and local governments on disaster management and control; and
(I) reduction of immediate threats to life, property, and public health and safety.

EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS
(42 U.S.C. §5185)

§418. The President is authorized during, or in anticipation of, an emergency or major disaster to establish temporary communications systems and to make such communications available to State and local government officials and other persons as he deems appropriate.

TITLE VI — EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
SUBTITLE A — POWERS AND DUTIES
§611(d) Communications and Warnings.
The Director may make appropriate provision for necessary emergency preparedness communications and for dissemination of warnings to the civilian population of a hazard.
. . . . . . .
§611(g) Public Dissemination of Emergency Preparedness Information.
The Director may publicly disseminate appropriate emergency preparedness information by all appropriate means.

I think the FUSION CENTERS are inferentially mandated by several statutes, and EOs and HSPDs. What may in fact be the case is that DHS/FEMA lack the basic skills to ascertain the Congressional and Presidential mandates and therefore probably should have a whole new HSPD on FUSION centers and for the first time one that documents the lawful authority under which it is issued and not just implied Presidential powers.

Thanks Chris for the comprehensive post and still wondering about the training, and personnel security requirements of these critical centers.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2009 @ 11:11 am

I should have pointed out in my comment above that the obsolete term “Director” referring to the head of FEMA is being changed across the board in pending legislation by the House T&I Committee to the correct term “Administrator” throughout the Stafford Act. Expect this technical correction to become law later in the year.

Comment by J.

August 20, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

Agree wholeheartedly, there has to be a plan for sustainment funds and it is the state’s responsibility to provide it. If it’s important enough and the state wants to remain in charge of local incidents, it’s on them. All the feds can do is provide the seed money and offer guidelines to link it to the fed centers.

It may be hard for state governors and legislatures to accept, but “freedom isn’t free,” you have to pay for security. One way or another, it has to come from somewhere, and it’s more controllable and sustainable if it is the state doing the taxing.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

Hey, back again. I think “Paradox” might be a better word than Petri Dish since I am in favor of these centers but know they may well be “wicked problems” as Public Administration types are prone to label problems without good solutions.

Anyhow before looking at the two statutes I referenced above I decided to go back to the “Book” specifically the Homeland Security Act of 2002, as amended. And by the way why don’t the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee just give up on an annual authorization bill for DHS for a while and just update this key statute. Parts make no sense now the way DHS is organized and administered. Anyhow back to “fusion centers” and hoping this is not “cold fusion”!

A very quick review demonstrates to me that useful delegations directly to the Fusion Centers might be initiated. They could be general or specific depending on what DHS appointees see as their role. The target for delegations would be the following Sections:
Under (1)Section 102(c)(3); (2) Section 201(d); (3)Subtitle C-Infor Sharing; 4)Section 221-Info Sharing;and (5)Section 509-National Integration Center!

OKay why these sections because first principles of delegations: (1) just because authority is delegated does not mean the delegator cannot exercise power and does not need to specifically so state in the delegation but can; (2) always delegate adquate authority and accountabilty to subordinate units that need that guidance and role.

These delegations are potentially broad enought to implicate how and when and why the DHS HQ develops and makes policy. So what? IN fact as one of the few DHS orgs that have all federal and state and local elements and staff involved perfect to resolve some tough federalism issues. In fact I long was an advocate of abolition of the FEMA regions. Why, [and not because there were some nice competent people in them] but first of all their operational role vis a vis FCOs was never clear. Second, I would have replaced them with a liaison cell in each STATE EOC with an appropriate staffing level and sophistication depending on risk assessment and size of STATE ops for EM etc. Third, FEMA could develop a career structure where with training and experience personnel moved up from smaller states with less frequent disasters to larger states with more frequent problems. And there would be no cold start up to reorganize or organize just before, during or after a declaration. In other words the cell would support the STATE and local crisis management ops and not be a potential rival. I always used to have fun telling FEMA Regional Directors sorry guys or gals but restoration of the STATE Gubernatorial ops comes first when resources to do anything are short. Stand in line behind the Governor please Mr. Federal Official.

Okay so this further thought recorded will get back hopefully after looking over other potential legal authority for the FUSION CENTERS to be delegated. Delegate or die as they say.

Oh! Perhaps I should have pointed out that in Section 102(C)(3) [6 USC section 112]the word “warning” is also contained. This would support my comments above on this post.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

August 20, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

I hope the opening line from the state budget manager was a rhetorical device: “I am in a meeting listening to a presentation by a very nice gentleman from [a state] Fusion Center.” If not, I’m glad I don’t have to brief him as he obviously needs to put down the blackberry during meetings…

That said, I agree with his points about sustainability funding.

The federal executive is vague–which is probably indicative of continuing confusion at the federal level about the focus of fusion centers. If local and state authorities are to support them in the long term, they will obviously have to pay repeated dividends on investment to those jurisdictions. This means at least a local law enforcement focus, and probably an all hazards one. The contribution to “national security” will come only intermittently since (thankfully) there are not terrorist sleeper cells in every state or region of the country and not a continuous terrorist threat everywhere. The argument shortly after 9/11 was that while NYC or DC or other large urban area were the likely targets, the planning and other related activities could take place far away from those centers (or that a strike in the “heartland” would really terrorize Americans).

Fortunately, while still threatened by future terrorist attacks, we do not currently have an environment like Israel or India or the UK during the Troubles. This points to the Fusion Center Director’s confusion:

“You know a lot of folks have forgotten about the catastrophe and consequences of 9/11. And it’s really not driving budgets right now. I still believe in fusion centers but there’s more happening on the criminal side. I see the really cool things we are doing with mashing information and data. I just don’t see it happening to the degree, to the level it should be happening with [the terrorist] threats. It is making me very nervous.”

While the catastrophe and consequences of 9/11 should not be forgotten, there is no reason to believe the threat of terrorism is going to drive local and state budgets everywhere. The reason he doesn’t see the same degree of “mashing” of terrorist information as on the criminal size is because the levels of activity (criminal vs. terrorist) are not in the same ballpark.

And to be clear, I support fusion centers (as all hazard entities), believe there will be another terrorist attack, and that it could certainly involve something much larger than 9/11.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

I like Arnold’s comment. Sorry to be issuing such drips and drabs but now have found the gold I was looking for. It turns out that Section 501 of the Implementing Recommendations of 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Public Law 11-53, August 3, 2007, does in several pages of statute (121 Stat.317-324)lay out quite nicely a statutory charter for the fusion centers. Surely this language must have a formal delegation down to the 70 fusion centers but maybe not. My point is simple is supports and reinforces my earlier comments in the broad sense and clearly recognizes the fusion centers as potentially key players in our federal system of Homeland Security. Good work Congress. I wonder if this resulted from a submission by DHS and the Executive Branch or was self-initiated by Congress?

Comment by christopher tingus

August 21, 2009 @ 9:22 am

If it was self-initiated by Congress, I would be quite surprised for there is little confidence in the apparent void of intellect in entrusted political leadership these days especially at the State level and from some who on both sides of the aisle who prefer to politicize rather than portray the leadership necessary to understand and fund your work.

If it were not for the commitment in diligence by the DHS, NSA and other security and technologically-savvy folks understandingthe importance of cyber-security down to our brave troop warrior in the field, we would be evn further vulnerable for imminent attack though it is seemingly Australian and European locations which seem a target for the next attack from reading numerous reports.

As far as State government, from a recent personal experience with these individuals and folks like the illustrious and supposed “icon Mr. Kennedy from Massachusetts who feels he has the right to use undue influence and request the change to existing laws at his whim and the interests of his Democratic party despite the law, in my case being enlightened by the real harm, the punishment without due process of the law State lawmakers can inflict on good citizen at their whim without question to the integrity of adopting statute causing undue harm, placing one in jeopardy at its whim, please do not expect too much from State officials or their coffers for the monies have been for the most part ill spent and for the most part, they could not understand the far reaching merits of your passion in professional commitmnet in work nor do woudl they want to understand the essence of the importance of your work and the fusion centers and the invaluable contribution afforded….for any such monies would deprive them of monies they need to sustain their position of arrogance and elitist demanor forgetting that it is the now the ever becoming angry citizen who sees government and its far reaching imposition which will mean term limits and far less empowerment though I believe hope for any such optimistic and responsible destiny waning as the clock ticks with increasing defict….

Thank you for such informative discussion by such enlightened individuals herein as it is refreshing to know there are individuals who are truly interested in our survival for as a beloved Republic with foundation of ethics and principles, the deficit continues to sprial “out of control” – factual unemployment at 16% or greater only to worsen and we have lawmakers blatently using empowerment to punish good citizens contrary to pledge in oath to uphold the US and local State Consitutions.

So to those of you who commit daily at DHS HQ and in the field as well as so many agencies and the DOD, thank you, thank you for your service….however, be very weary.

As ever expanding government is intentionally stripping us naked of our basic Rights here on Main Street USA, be assured that the only confidence we have that the “Brutes of Tehran” and others who seek our demise will not target us for their next shock and awe is because of you who 24×7 genuine care about our well being.

I have witnessed by this personal matter dealing with Massachusetts State bureaucrats in a tax related issue and that they are not only contrary to the oath, the pledge to upholding the Rights of Citizen as expressed as a prerequiste to our country, but we as good citizens cannot place our trust in government and those we have “entrusted” be precious vote to be the servants of the people, but rather master of arrogant, self agenda and indeed even enacting State law to place an individual such as me who has always placed fellow citizens before me…well, thank God that we have pople like you who strive to fulfill the responsibilities afforded to protect our great nation and its most charitable people.

Thank you.

I reiterate, pls do not rely on State government coffer to sustain your necessary work for we here on Main Street USA are being impoverished by increased fees, taxes and no signs in revitalization of local economies as people lose their jobs, their homes and families. In my case, I have become indigent as a result of my Civil and Human Rights being taken from me without due process of the law, hearing and statute which bears no relation whatsoever to “suspend” my license to drive, to be able to earn a living and when I ask the Massachusetts Sstate Legislature, the MA/DOR and RMV, “If someone truly owes you monies and is not in Appeal such as me or even stating I am contesting any income tax assessment, they simply owe income tax as thousands are in fact owing sucdh taxes..why would you “suspend” one’s license as how are they expected to add to the State coffer?” The reply, “Mr.Tingus, we are the deparyment of Revenue,we have been empowered to do so by statute and we will suspend your license to operate a motor vehicle for despite your POA faxed with Philp Dardeno, a former long time DOR official who we have much esteem for in his professional ethics and discipline, nnow retired and many of us worked for and despite, Mr. Tingus we acknowlwdge receipt of properly filed abatements in response to add’ls tax asssessment imposed upon you, it will take up to three week to ‘post’ and during this time your license ill be suspended on 8/3.” My reply, ” If one gave you a check, how long would that post?” – yes, reader, you guessed it..”Mr. Tingus, the next day!” However Ms. MA/DOR Collection Supervisor, “While I am aghast that any person’s Right to oeprate a motor vehicle is ‘suspended’ for anything other than motor vehicle related matter and that an income tax matter especially if someone owes the State coffer monies is ‘suspended’ as there are thousands listed who owe monies and surely you have ‘suspended’ each one these licenses by such abusive empowerment, you acknowledge receipt of properly filed POA and abatement today 7/31 on or before a general post letter I just received stating that unless I am in ‘contest’ of such MA/DOR assessment, on 8/3 my Right to operate a motor vegicle will be ‘suspendeded’ and the MA/DOR collections representative in Springfield stated, “we are the MA/DOR and we have so ordered by empowerment of the State Legislature the ‘suspension’ of your Rights to drive.”

If you do not think readers that I am out seeking the best Civil Rights legal team and recourse for thousands of fellow citizens, it is you at the fusion center I worry about as well for this unreliable political mentality that so pervades those we “elect” by precious vote should leave you, too worrisome for State government whether in california or in Massachusetts is in dire circumstance.

State deficits will only grow due to the incompetence for the most part of those WE elect without holding accountable for their lack of discipline, actions with obvious lack of transparency…We even witnessed US$750 Billion in stimulus monies handed to Hank Paulson et al and no one seems to now where the monies were intentionally earmarked or does the good citizen have good idea, but is intimidated to ask… p

In my case, as one example of numerous abusive treatment of good citizen though an excellent example of why the local State governments you look to for competence is not the recommended way to assure that your good work continues and all must turn to the beltway with prayer that someone’s head your knocking on understands the invaluable service your depict in your daily discipline for in stripping me without my mode of transportation this 19th day with no ability to earn a living, to be able to drive to the grocery store to buy food for sustenence, to be able to drive to the drug store for meds, socially isolated, with every Civil Rights, Human Rights stripped of me and now finding thousands of others with less Rights than those on the streets of Iraq…you who look to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and other State governments and leadership, be weary for it is apparent that the lack of ethics, the intentional tactics in intimidation with malicious attempt to abuse, to punish is the consciousness of the State bureaucrat…is this not true Governor Duval Patrick for you and the State Legislature and its agencies, the MA/DOR and RMV is allowing the addition of Section 23 of Chapyer 182 of the Acts of 2008 pursuant to Section 47B of Chapter 62C stripping one of his /her basic Rights to survive here on the street of Main Street Boston USA with the same you seek to understand the importance of “fusion centers” allowing anyone with a tax related issue to have such absurdity in State law enacted and empowering its agencies to “suspending” my license as a good citizen of the Commonwealth and obviously willing to stand atll for the principles of our beloved firefathers and our great Nation…

….numerous questions are provoked by such blatent theft of my Civil Rights, my Human Rights such as how many citizens are subjected to such unlawful treatement give the US and Massachusetts Constitution and I remind you – who are so wonderfully diciplined in your labor and to the very principles laid down by our forefathers to assure protection and “dignity” for each citizen and to protect our nation from the very foes that lurk among us within our open borders, we enjoin you to continue to work in genuine interest for us here on Main Street Boston and anywhere USA, however soon I will not have access to cable and to my ability to reach to you in forewarning you that you may expect far too much from the folks at the State House with golden dome as they will soon realize that the gold of Paul Revere shining ever so brightly can be substituted by asphalt shingle….

…. and the monies from such depiction in the obvious lack of ethical behavior towards citizen, the monies in deficit-ridden State coffers will be continued to be emptied without transparency and it is you I am concerned about as your work must be funded and I caution you to stop looking to the State for the mentality is so narrow that unless both sides of the Federal Congressional aisle are sought out to fund you…your days and our days are numbered as this my 19th day of intentional punishment now places my mortgage payment in jeopardy for the first time having never been late, however with no access to my Right – not priviledge – the necessity as stated by Federal mandate in a bankruptcy proceeding where one is afforded one’s “mode of transportation” and his /her home for security, the same folks you are expecting understanding and financial support from in your respective discipline, have willingly and knowingly stripped me of my basic Rights to earning a living where my automobile is necessary, placed my physical and emotional well being in jeopardy for I cannot drive to pick up meds and food, etc.

Pls seek Federal responsible lawmakers and keepers of our national coffers and the principles of our forefathers to fund your work for it is not I that will continue to be jeopardized and may evene perish as I remain with anxiet and uncertainy with less Rights than a convicted felon in Massachusetts State Prison, but you more importantly for your work is from my perspective of National Security relevance and on that basis, seek both sides of the aisle to help sustain you for you must not be so jeopardized!

God Bless you! God Bless America!

Thank you to Mr. Cumming for you are so invaluable to our nation with so much experienced knowledge and intellect, to David Gomez, Arnold Bogis, J, Chris and to so many that work 24×7 in diligent commitment with heartfelt national pride to thwart those who seek to use sword to place in peril our nation and our fellow good citizens…

Again, thank you.

Christopher Tingus
64 Whidah Drive
Harwich, MA 02645 USA
chris.tingus@gmail.com
http://www.bigdiglifevest.com
aka Mr. & Mrs. Citizen Joe

cut our .mhe,

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 21, 2009 @ 11:18 am

Post Script: I understand that appointment of replacement for Senators in Massachusettes was changed at the request by Senator Kennedy to election of the replacement. From the standpoint of COG–Continuity of Government principles–I have long recommended that STATES be consistent and allow replacement by appointment of both Senators and Governors and recommend that they fully consider sticking with the same party membership. Should the Flt 93 Aircraft have hit its target, the consensus being that it was the Capitol not the White House, the res ults could have been a devastating interruption of our Constitutional process and in particular if members of SCOTUS had been victims. Norm Ornstein has studied this issue in depth and testified many times that the current system of replacements of members of Congress i an emergency is fundamentally flawed.

Comment by Patrick Duecy

August 23, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

Without a doubt Homeland Security Watch is the best forum of its kind. To date I have been a reader not a contributor. The themes presented in “Inside the fusion center petri dish” are just too important not to acknowledge and affirm. My remarks are based on observations in states and localities, not inside the beltway.

I have engaged with state and local fusion centers from their beginning, initially as the Director of DoD’s Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism and later as a consultant, influencing fusion center development and direction to a degree. The emergence model and subsequent evolution of fusion centers is accurate.

As for funding, the high risk practice of depending on federal grants as a source of sustainment dollars is common. No fusion centers I know of are identified as official line item programs in state, local or departmental budgets. I am sure there are exceptions, but I believe most fusion centers are departmentally sponsored activities with no official standing or programmatically documented manpower and operating costs. Aside from sponsor and partner departments’ contributions in-kind of personnel, infrastructure support and floor space, federal grants are often the only source of dollars for investment in analysts, training and capabilities development. This means that many fusion centers are more or less informal entities with unstable funding and high dependency on in-kind support. Would fusion centers benefit from official chartered standing as a unit of government? On balance, I think so. Would it cost state and local governments more than the current arrangement? Yes. Would state and local chartered, funded and governed fusion centers, supplemented by discretionary-use grant dollars, be more capable and relevant? In the cases I know of, yes.

I disagree with the federal executive who asserts that fusion centers are not different one from another, nor should they be. In reality, they are decidedly very different in terms of their capabilities and the value they add to public safety and homeland security. I agree that standardization is warranted with respect to establishing a baseline of capability for servicing national security requirements. But, one size does not fit all and other fusion center capabilities and functions should be tailored and responsive to local requirements.

The fusion center directors sense that it’s time to get out of dodge is understandable. Fusion centers just can’t effectively perform the terrorism prevention mission under current conditions. From my perspective, the fusion center terrorism prevention mission is pretty much being forced into the position of a secondary or tertiary priority. Many centers have gravitated almost exclusively to a traditional crimes focus.

Muddled DHS and FBI mandates contribute to a confusing federal, state and local terrorism prevention relationship. More worrisome is that many of the FBI’s JTTFs have become competitors with fusion centers’ terrorism prevention missions. The FBI’s requirement that all fusion center findings with a potential nexus to terrorism be remanded to the JTTF for investigation is a disincentive for fusion centers putting energy into terrorism information gathering and analysis. Too often there is no feedback from JTTFs on fusion center contributed terrorism reporting and it is rare that fusion center personnel are given insight to JTTF investigations. Fusion center access to federally classified information systems is still a mixed picture and in any event, information in classified systems is not necessarily tailored and relevant to calculating threats inside the United States (to its credit, DHS has made commendable progress in intelligence sharing relevant to state and local users). Where competition and one way information exchange conditions exist, collaboration and cooperation with both the FBI and DHS suffers and fusion centers tend to shift their priority and resources to local crime issues.

I believe in the fusion center concept, and I am convinced fusion centers could add a great deal more value to national, state and local public safety and homeland security. Tough times tend to clarify and focus thinking. Maybe now is the time to take a deep breath and re-think what is really expected and needed from fusion centers, what we are willing to pay for them and how, and whether DHS and, particularly the FBI, are serious about equitable domestic security partnerships.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 24, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

Mr. Duecy:

In my — rather limited — work with fusion centers, I find the local and regional leadership (within a state) being very sure of their ability to manage intelligence assets to maximize both local and national benefits. They resist federal control for reasons that relate to both practicality and pride, but seem to welcome collaboration with federal agencies and personnel. These same local and regional leaders perceive that “it will be a cold day in hell,” when their local and state political leaders would even talk about matching federal dollars for fusion centers. Part of this is certainly competition for local and state tax dollars. But there also seems to be a sense that anything as “sophisticated” as a fusion center is fundamentally a federal responsibility. I hope this description resonates, if not it will take a dissertation to explain. If it resonates, do you have any judgment as to why fusion centers would be seen as mostly falling outside a state’s or city’s public safety/emergency management responsibility? There are, as you say above, certainly exceptions, such as NYC, LA, and even Las Vegas, but by-in-large the assumption by political leaders is, “Oh, that’s a federal job.”

Comment by Arnold Bogis

August 25, 2009 @ 10:55 am

Mr. Palin,

Is the assumption “that’s a federal job” or is it “that’s a federal priority?”

Not having written than dissertation, I would guess (as you put it, with a few important exceptions) that it is the latter. Almost every state has a legal requirement to balance their budgets, so every dollar put toward a fusion center is one taken from anti-gang activities, new cruisers, etc. So if the return on investment is either not there or not made clear, most jurisdictions would probably rather put limited funds toward traditional and well understood budget lines.

Again, just a guess.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 25, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

Mr. Bogis:

That may be it. It is the simplest explanation. But the reason I pose the question is a nagging sense that something else is afoot. The question is authentic. I don’t have strong evidence for what, if anything, is going on sub-rosa. But to start down a potentially dangerous road to that dissertation… Sometimes I have a feeling that an “after-glow” of the Cold War is that if the threat is a tad exotic and especially if it has a foreign dimension (in your words, it is not “traditional and well understood”) then ipso facto it is a federal job. As you may have noticed, I am a strong proponent in the Tenth Amendment. But I often perceive it can be the States themselves which most seriously undermine their role in the federal compact. And I keep trying to figure out why they are so persistently self-deprecating… even self-destructive.

Comment by Patrick Duecy

August 25, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

Mr. Palin, thanks for your comments and observations. There are state and local leaders who are very engaged with their fusion centers and see them as an important factor in public safety and homeland security. In other cases, leaders seem happy enough with knowing (although some don’t know) they have a fusion center and leave it at that. I think you are correct that most state and local governments are not about to match federal grant funds to support their fusion centers, especially now. There are some though, that have been willing to bear very high sustainment costs out of their own budgets and put more of their own money into their centers than does the federal government.

As for the sense that fusion centers are outside state and local responsibility, that could stem from a perception that fusion centers are a federal creation and amount to an unfunded mandate for state and local government to perform a national security role. While there is a clear state and local commitment to delivering public security and homeland security services within their own jurisdictions and to their publics, I think state and local governments do not feel they have an obligation or the wherewithal to support national/domestic security. Hence,,, “Oh, that’s a federal job”. This is a complicated subject and circumstances and attitudes vary widely across the country. I hope these remarks are not too disjointed and make some sense.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 27, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

Post-Post Script! See below:

Law Enforcement Intelligence

The Emergency Management and Response—Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) learned that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released the Second Edition of “Law Enforcement Intelligence: A Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies.” (PDF, 5.3 Mb) “This Guide of nearly 500 pages serves as a road map to understanding criminal intelligence and its related methodology, standards, processes, management, and resources,” stated the former director of the DOJ Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). “It will reflect the most current issues and initiatives related to law enforcement intelligence at the state, local, and tribal levels.”

After reviewing the Executive Summary, the EMR-ISAC noted the second edition of the Guide captures the vast changes that have occurred in the four years since the first edition was published in 2004. Emphasis has been placed on cooperation and information sharing among local, state, tribal, and federal agencies.

Hard copies may be ordered from the DOJ COPS Response Center by calling 800-421-6770

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