As noted in several media, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has released a report highly critical of state fusion centers. (Access has been a bit difficult on Wednesday.) Here are a few paragraphs from the Subcommittee’s news release:
A two-year bipartisan investigation by the U. S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found that Department of Homeland Security efforts to engage state and local intelligence “fusion centers” has not yielded significant useful information to support federal counterterrorism intelligence efforts.
“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties,” said Senator Tom Coburn, the Subcommittee’s ranking member who initiated the investigation.
The investigation determined that senior DHS officials were aware of the problems hampering effective counterterrorism work with the fusion centers, but did not always inform Congress of the issues, nor ensure the problems were fixed in a timely manner. MORE
Chairman of the full-committee Joe Lieberman has taken exception to the subcommittee report. From a Wednesday statement:
“I strongly disagree with the report’s core assertion that ‘fusion centers have been unable to meaningfully contribute to federal counterterrorism efforts,’” Lieberman said. “This statement is not supported by the examples presented in the report and is contrary to the public record, which shows fusion centers have played a significant role in many recent terrorism cases and have helped generate hundreds of tips and leads that have led to current FBI investigations.
“The report does include valuable findings in some areas. It cites examples of inappropriate use of homeland security grant funds and accurately notes that FEMA has struggled to account for how homeland security grant funds are allocated and used, a longstanding concern of mine.
“But the report also contradicts public statements by the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the FBI, who have acknowledged the value fusion centers provide to the intelligence community. MORE
This is a case when I expect the same data could support two very different understandings of reality.