In a 107-page report released late Tuesday, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said that Homeland Security has spent up to $1.4 billion funding fusion centers -- in effect, regional intelligence sharing centers-- that have produced "useless" reports while at the same time collecting information on the innocent activities of American Muslims that may have violated a federal privacy law.
The fusion centers, created under President George W. Bush and expanded under President Barack Obama, consist of special teams of federal , state and local officials collecting and analyzing intelligence on suspicious activities throughout the country. They have been hailed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as “one of the centerpieces” of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts.
The American Civil Liberties Union also issued a statement saying the report underscores problems that it and other civil liberity groups have been flagging for years. "The ACLU warned back in 2007 that fusion centers posed grave threats to Americans' privacy and civil liberties, and that they needed clear guidelines and independent oversight," said Michael German, ACLU senior policy counsel. "This report is a good first step, and we call upon Congress to hold public hearings to investigate fusion centers and their ongoing abuses.”
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