The government has wasted billions of dollars on an intelligence-sharing program created after 9/11 that is infringing on Americans’ civil liberties and using vast resources for functions that have nothing to do with terrorism, a Senate report has found.
The report is “a scathing evaluation of what the Department of Homeland Security has held up as a crown jewel of its security efforts,” reports the Associated Press. “The report underscores a reality of post-9/11 Washington: National security programs tend to grow, never shrink, even when their money and manpower far surpass the actual subject of terrorism. Much of this money went for ordinary local crime-fighting.”
The Senate Homeland Security subcommittee reviewed more than 600 of the intelligence program’s reports and found the giant bureaucracy surrounding the program produced almost nothing that had to do with countering terrorist threats.
“The subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot,” the report said.
“When fusion centers did address terrorism, they sometimes did so in ways that infringed on civil liberties,” the AP reports. “The centers have made headlines for circulating information about Ron Paul supporters, the ACLU, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters and advocates of gun rights.”
Some of these intelligence centers even investigated Muslim-American community groups and their book recommendations. No evidence of criminal activity was ever found, but the government did store the information, which it is prohibited from doing for First Amendment activities.
Despite the Senate’s blistering critiques about the program’s massive waste and abuse, “Congress is unlikely to pull the plug” for political reasons. The program has meant big money being allocated to state and local governments and businesses tied to the bureaucracy.
The program has “cost huge amounts of money for data-mining software, flat screen televisions and, in Arizona, two fully equipped Chevrolet Tahoes that are used for commuting,” according to AP.
As with most government programs, this one has become self-perpetuating regardless of merit. And while the Senate report was critical, no legal challenges to the unconstitutional activities of the Department of Homeland Security have been recommended, or undertaken.