December 24, 2010
On Thursday, we reported on a Florida fusion center snooping on Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty. Now we discover that a fusion center in Tennessee has put the ACLU on a terror list.
The Tennessee fusion center is part of the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security and received its funding from the feds and the people of Tennessee.
On Wednesday, the Chattanooga Free Press reported that Tennessee antiterrorism officials placed the legislative lobbying organization on an internet map detailing “terrorism events and other suspicious activity” after the group warned schools to ensure holiday celebrations “are inclusive.”
Regardless of what you may think of the ACLU’s agenda, the inclusion of the organization on a map of supposed terrorist threats is disturbing. It demonstrates that the government considers political activism on both sides of the false right-left paradigm a threat to its monopoly on power.
The Tennessee fusion center is part of the expanding homeland security apparatus. It was created with the assistance of the DHS and the Tennessee legislature. The feds provided $500,000 for the project and Tennessee taxpayers contributed over a million dollars.
Tennessee’s fusion center follows a national trend. Originally established under the rubric of fighting terrorism, fusion centers around the country are now used for local crime, including gang activity, missing children, medical fraud, narcotics trafficking, and “other crimes.”
Shortly after the first fusion centers were established, reports Government Computer News, federal and state officials realized two things. First, the fusion concept could extend beyond counterterrorism. And second, federal grants were a powerful force in shaping fusion centers.
Tennessee, however, promotes its fusion center as an effort to combat terrorism. “The Tennessee Fusion Center (TFC) is a team effort of local, state and federal law enforcement, in cooperation with the citizens of the State of Tennessee, for the timely receipt, analysis and dissemination of terrorism information and criminal activity relating to Tennessee,” explains the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
“The Tennessee Fusion Center (TFC), housed with TBI Headquarters in Nashville, TN, was created in response to the intelligence failures of September 11, 2001. Fusion Centers have been developed across the country to provide an avenue of communication to enhance information sharing between Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies.”
Following media coverage of the TFC designating the ACLU as a possible terrorist organization, Mike Browning, a spokesman for the Office of Homeland Security, said “certainly it was not our intent to post it [ACLU's letter to schools] as a terrorist incident. That was a mistake. “But I don’t believe that it’s outrageous that we’re basically taking information that was published in an open service media source and … making sure it gets to the appropriate law enforcement.”
ACLU-Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg called the Tennessee Fusion Center’s tracking of First Amendment-protected activity “deeply disturbing.”
The internet map in question appears on the GlobalIncidentMap.com website. The map details various “incidents,” including Amber Alerts, HAZMAT situations, forest fires, border security, drug interdictions, gang activity, the H1N1 “pandemic,” and oddly the “Iranian Conflict.”
Federalized fusion centers, in addition to HAZMAT and Amber Alert duties, are tasked with monitoring the political ideology of law-abiding Americans.
Early on, writes Tom Burghardt, “fusion centers like the notorious ‘red squads’ of the 1960s and ’70s, morphed into national security shopping malls where officials monitor not only alleged terrorists but also left-wing and environmental activists deemed threats to the existing corporate order.”
As the DHS’ own reports reveal, it is not strictly left-wing and environmental activists the government is interested in surveilling and ultimately neutralizing, but patriot groups and constitutionalists as well.
Is it possible Tennessee’s homeland security – as a creation of the federal Department of Homeland Security – has deemed the ACLU a terrorist threat because of its stand against the concept and implementation of a national security monolith surveilling the American people?
In its 2007 and 2008 reports, the ACLU characterized the rapid expansion of fusion centers as an ominous threat to our constitutional rights and noted specific areas of concern — “their ambiguous lines of authority, the troubling role of private corporations, the participation of the military, the use of data mining and their excessive secrecy.”