Homeland Security 'Fusion' Center Director: We're Not Spying On Americans… Just Anti-Government Americans

from the uh-that's-not-how-this-works dept

You may recall that, last fall, a Congressional investigation completely slammed Homeland Security’s “Fusion Centers” — noting that despite DHS insisting that they were critical to “fighting terrorism,” the actual evidence showed that they had done nothing helpful in the fight against terrorism, but were instead chock full of wasteful (possibly fraudulent) spending… and with an added dose of civil liberties violations (just for fun).

Apparently, the Fusion Centers are trying to rehabilitate their own image, but they might want to send their officials to press training a bit more before sending them out into the wild. Reason alerts us to an interview that the director of the Arkansas State Fusion Center did with some local TV stations in which he appears to completely contradict himself — first arguing that the Fusion Centers don’t spy on Americans… and then saying they spy on “anti-government” Americans. First, there was this:

“There’s misconceptions on what fusion centers are,” he says. “The misconceptions are that we are conducting spying operations on US citizens, which is of course not the fact. That is absolutely not what we do.”

Okay then. We’ve established won’t you don’t do. So, tell us, what do you do?

Davis says Arkansas hasn’t collected much information about international plots, but they do focus on groups closer to home.

“We focus a little more on that, domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government,” he says. “We want to kind of take a look at that and receive that information.”

Okay, hold on a second here. It would seem that his first statement is completely proven untrue by that second statement. Unless he’s arguing that if someone classifies you as “anti-government” then you’re no longer a US citizen, which would be a rather unique (and wrong) interpretation of the Constitution.

Elsewhere in the article, Davis defends what he does by playing the patriotism card, in which he can’t actually explain what good he’s doing, but just the fact that he’s “doing something” after 9/11 is important.

“I do what I do because of what happened on 9/11,” Davis says. “There’s this urge and this feeling inside that you want to do something, and this is a perfect opportunity for me.”

This line of argument is such ridiculously lazy and dangerous thinking. People who feel they need to “do something!” without caring as to what that something is or (more importantly) if it actually helps (or hurts) are not doing anyone any favors. They’re just bound to cause more trouble.

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Comments on “Homeland Security 'Fusion' Center Director: We're Not Spying On Americans… Just Anti-Government Americans”

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61 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

A handy, short list he might want to look into:

-Checkers/Chess
-Model airplanes
-Origami
-Solitaire/Minesweeper
-Minecraft
-Knitting

This is just a small list of a few hobbies he should look into trying so he can feel like he’s ‘doing something’, and best of all they’re cheap, so it’s easy to come in under budget and score some year-end bonuses that way.

They also have the ever so nice benefit of (to the best of my knowledge) not involving the violation of civil liberties and doing the terrorists’ job for them by destroying public trust in the government.

Ed C. says:

This sums it up nicely. “There’s this urge and this feeling inside that you want to do something…” Yes, we do need to protect our country. “I do what I do because of what happened on 9/11…this is a perfect opportunity for me.” Yes, you exploit that need to protect the interest that runs our government.

Anti-government? How about Anti-American! The lot of them should be arrested and tried as traitors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“I do what I do because of what happened on 9/11,” Davis says.”

So, what exactly does he do besides grandstand? What has he done? Grandstanding, hand waving, and making fancy statements is an easy thing that anyone can do. He gets paid by taxpayers to do what exactly, besides grandstand, how many terrorists has he stopped and exactly what did he do to protect us?

Does he even speak any other languages, because that would be a useful intel characteristic that shows merit. What about the rest of them? Or is he just lazy, stupid, and cowardly like all the rest of law enforcement, only preying on the weak.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you are charged to protect us against foreigners you should at least be able to speak their language. If you don’t care about protecting us enough to at least speak a second language fluently then you don’t really care about protecting us much at all and you don’t deserve to be paid by taxpayers to be in a position of ‘homeland security’ or ‘intel’ or any other related field. You should be fired.

Anonymous Coward says:

Simplicity

he’s arguing that if someone classifies you as “anti-government” then you’re no longer a US citizen

? There are good people.

? There are bad guys.

The good people, folks, are Americans. Fine upstanding citizens. They support law enforcement, even if some of them are not actually members of law enforcement. Some of them serve in the military, or in other government agencies, or perhaps in private industry. Anyhow, they all have jobs. They vote. They are citizens. Fine, upstanding citizens in every sense of the word.

Then, the bad guys, are crooks, criminals, thieves, robbers, terrorists. anarchists. nazis. communists. animal-rights activists. None of them have jobs. That’s why they don’t have any money. In fact, that’s the easiest way to spot them: They are poor trash. The poor trash don’t vote, they don’t serve on juries, they don’t cooperate with the cops, in short, they aren’t really citizens. Actually, they don’t brush their teeth, they don’t bathe, and they live like animals, they aren’t really people. More totally sub-human.

?

? There are good people.

? There are bad animals.

Simplicity.

JL says:

Re: Simplicity

You mention anarchist as ‘the bad guys.’

I would posit that an established political position such as anarchism does not equate one with being a terrorist/nazi/communist/etc…

You should apply for DHS and a fusion center position… it would seem you would fit right in with their fascist BS.

Brian Fromme says:

Re: Simplicity

Spoken like a true republican who has never had the honor of spending time with the ‘trash’ who give up jobs to live off the land per set, so that fat uptight worry warts who have their noses in every bodies business, but their own because they are so rich by raping other companies, treating people as slaves and never stopping to think that if that bum decided to finally push for the corner office he once had, that u, mr snot nosed over inflated egotistical jerk, might get your job, by being nice, looking at everything from all angles and having a better clue as to how to budget without human losses…ie…jobs, salary cuts, benefits and so much more. Think about it. Is this that pompous rush numblimb I hear so much gurgling from the jowels created by so many dinners at the palm? Get a clue.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Simplicity

well, yes. if you ignore white collar (financial) crime.. and those, especially law enforcement, who abuse power, physically beat people or kill them without cause, etc etc..
just because you participate in an exercise (voting) that many think is useless at best and a rigged scam at worst, doesn’t make you bad.
you really have to revisit your concepts of people and how they fit into your buckets.

G Thompson (profile) says:

“There’s this urge and this feeling inside that you want to do something, and this is a perfect opportunity for me.

Ah yes this urge, some people might call it patriotism, some that are slightly more cynical and a lot more intelligent call it a delusional fantasy of relevance, power, and omnipotence, using the political correct term of “narcissistic personality disorder”.

Me I just call it by the truer and more historical descriptor of “Egotistical Megalomania”

Anonymous Coward says:

The only way he would make sense is if he says that only foreign citizens in USA are being watched.

It is very unsettling if that is true since they would provide a false sense of security.

Also, his appeal to nothing but emotions is the definition of what you do not want in any type of leadership position.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Some people were probably dumb enough to buy their schtick, but I think the majority of people just felt helpless to cause any sort of actual improvement and decided to vote for the lesser of two evils instead. “One of these idiots is going to win; I may as well vote for the one that would be marginally less of a disaster.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Er, I thought

Are you some kind of rights-activist ?

Why yes, yes I am.

Last time I checked, the men who all signed the Constitution were rights-activists, and terrorists, and anti-government nuts.

So, while I might not rate so high on the important meter as they did, I am honored and privileged to be one of them.

MAC says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Er, I thought

If the british had caught any of them, they would have been hanged or drawn and quartered on the spot.
They were all ‘guilty’ of high treason against the king.
So, that does make them anti-government, terrorist and treasonous traitors in the eyes of the government at that time (the british) and their supporters (the tories).
Did you not pay attention in history class?

Anonymous Coward says:

Unless he’s arguing that if someone classifies you as “anti-government” then you’re no longer a US citizen, which would be a rather unique (and wrong) interpretation of the Constitution.

Actually, for some US citizens that is somewhat true. If a naturalized citizen is found to be a member of a communist or anarchist organization they can have their citizenship stripped and be deported (and if you admit to having ever belonged to a communist party, you will never become a citizen in the first place or even get a green card). The same is true if they’re accused of being a terrorist.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“If a naturalized citizen is found to be a member of a communist or anarchist organization they can have their citizenship stripped and be deported (and if you admit to having ever belonged to a communist party, you will never become a citizen in the first place or even get a green card).”

I can understand that being true in the McCarthy era. Today? On the one hand, no…but on the other, what with Gitmo and indefinite detention, I wouldn’t actually be surprised if that were true. Can you provide sources please?

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, for some US citizens that is somewhat true. If a naturalized citizen is found to be a member of a communist or anarchist organization they can have their citizenship stripped and be deported (and if you admit to having ever belonged to a communist party, you will never become a citizen in the first place or even get a green card). The same is true if they’re accused of being a terrorist.

Is this sarcastic? I’m can’t really tell if this is a joke or you’re being serious.

Just in case, being part of a communist or anarchist organization is perfectly legal in the U.S. You are legally permitted to speak out against the U.S. government. In order to have your citizenship revoked you must stand trial before a federal judge. And you would never lose it for an accusation; you would have to be convicted of illegal activity.

Zangetsu (profile) says:

Anti-Government

Isn’t one of the big selling points about gun control the fact that many people want to be “armed” in case they need to protect themselves from the government? With Homeland Security they “”… focus a little more on that, domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government”. Shouldn’t this mean that Homeland Security should be monitoring members of the NRA?

Anonymous Coward says:

Free thinkers vs. dole queue

I happen to be a rather anti-government individual. I lean toward Libertarianism.

I guess that makes me a terrorist – sorry guys, didn’t mean to be the bad guy!

Eventually, the U.S. government will have eliminated free thinkers and turned every individual in this country into either a government-reliant moron, or a powerful corporate czar.

I’m glad I have choices at least.

Greevar (profile) says:

USA inc.

The democratic experiment known as “America” has failed. It failed a long time ago. It’s long past that we could fix this system from the top-down; the only recourse is to fix it from the bottom up. People need to self-organize and solve their own problems independently from the government voluntarily, because the government is too corrupt and too beholden to the corporations to do anything positive for its people.

We need to solve our problems from the bottom-up, not top-down. We do that by making manufacturing, food, and energy abundant and universally accessible to the individual through technology that distributes the means to do so to the masses. The more abundant goods and all forms of energy are, the less people must rely on corporations and other centralized systems of production. Without people dependent on corporations, corrupting the government becomes pointless because they won’t be able to afford to buy themselves favorable laws. Money in general will become less and less relevant because money exists in an economy of scarcity, but in an economy of abundance (abundance through distributed and accessible production created by technology), it has no purpose.

Think about it, it’s already happening in the content industry. People have the means to be their own artist and the internet is their marketing/distribution tool. Control over what gets distributed and what doesn’t is no longer the domain of rich publishers and labels. Who needs labels and publishers when you can do all that for yourself? So it goes for physical goods. As the tools to make your own goods becomes more accessible and technology makes certain scarce resources more abundant, the need for the “publishers” of manufacturing become irrelevant because people can design and share goods with only a 3D printer and an internet connection. And 3D printing will only get more and more advanced. Then, the only thing that’s really scarce is time, time to design, compose, or problem solve.

The whole reason we are in such a volatile era is because we are beginning to shift from scarcity to abundance. Those that cling to scarcity are frightened that they will lose their position and so they corrupt the government to “protect” their right to be in control of the economy.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is very easy to look at something from the outside and pick it apart. Why dont you try to be more productive and suggest a better way.

Lets do it. Mike, you are now in charge of the security of every man women and child in America. There are known threats domestic and foreign. What methods would you take to guarantee this protection? You are against anything that watches the activity of Americans so how exactly would you scope out the terrorist before his act?

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t give a damn if it’s harder to protect the public, if they infringe on our civil rights to do their job, everything they are supposedly “protecting” just went out the fucking window. It’s their job to protect liberty, not seek out threats while pissing all over those liberties. The moment a government starts treating its people as a potential enemy, the government becomes the enemy of the people. Safety and security of the nation was meant to be protected by the second amendment (i.e. people keep and bear arms so that they can defend against domestic threats, whether its terrorism or our own government).

You must be quite ignorant to think that it’s okay for the government to disregard our basic human rights just so they don’t have to work as hard stopping their ominous and ever-present threats. The DHS, DEA, and IPEC are all agencies made up to fight non-specific and infinite enemies so they can justify their agency’s continued existence.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Just the concept of identifying and spying on the few means that we have monitoring for the all. One might argue that some are spied on more than others but if all of us are monitored then anyone will be spied on once a few magic words have been uttered/printed/blogged/forum.

And what are these evil magic words? How many times have I personally used explosive language and brutal dialogue to tear apart any bloody topic that terrorized some socially vulnerable group or class? What is context anyway and why does anyone get paid to make such examination?

Its stupid that most enforcement derived from such monitoring is not about terrorism or 911. Its a fact that the likely terrorists convicted is close to zero and even the ones charged usually have entrapment complications. The investigative techniques seem more akin to creating and enabling rather than identifying and neutralizing.

Its like a huge panic attack in that only after the fact are there a lot of red faced politicians and parties (all two of them) trying to justify the (galaxy sized) spending waste and constitutional trashing actions. Don’t expect anyone to fess up to being a panic boy anytime soon. Politicians don’t admit mistakes or emit contrition easily until after they are voted out.

Its more likely about enforcing puritanical religiously derived law regulating culture like drugs, sex, home concerts, sharing culture, fill in blank, etc. then hijacked by political convenience. Its kind of normal that political motivated legislation is sometimes created to affect persons not likely to vote for the current regime. Example; Nixon (likely a nutcase) and the drug wars was possibly a great way to neutralize an entire generation rallying against him.

A reaction center can be compared to using a nuclear force on the average citizen and as such normal people will be unavoidably burned with silly arrests and ridiculous charges of terrorism. Example; Like kids with soda bottles and dry ice, about as bad as an M80 firecracker. Having some friends in law enforcement have heard of a few life ruining charges brought up if only because of department rivalry.

Such is the miscarriage of justice touted as necessary evil by present administration(s)? To catch a crook you send out the police in patrol cars. Trashing the very values (freedom, privacy, happiness?) we build our culture on is no way to win the war for democracy.

There seems to be a lot of room to save money on the state and federal level. Reaction centers seem redundant and open for abuse to whatever imaginary cybermen invasion cooked up by legislators/politicians.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Where is this magic terrorist detector?

This isn’t new. I was promised by the Bush administration that they only exposed terrorists to enhanced interrogation because they had determined (magically) that they were terrorists in advance of strapping them to the waterboard. (then it was extraordinary rendition, as in to foreign black sites)

Now the NSA is saying they have this magic detector and can determine who is an anti-government subversive before they spy on them.

Can someone enlighten me as to this new evil-sniffing technology?

Corpus Philisophica says:

Translation

“We focus a little more on that, domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government,” he says. “We want to kind of take a look at that and receive that information.”

Translation:

“We focus on groups that have differing opinions on politics than the director of DHS. We see those people as terrorists and want to prevent them from being influential. After all, we’re in power now and we have can’t have some other group with different opinions taking power. We are especially concerned about constitutionalists who think we should follow that old, out of date, piece of paper.”

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