Texas Fusion Center Secrets Revealed

Friday, February 28, 2014
By Paul Martin

February 28, 2014

Using the September 11 attacks as justification for the implementation of ongoing domestic surveillance, the U.S. government has spent billions of dollars building what they call “fusion centers,” or “information sharing centers.”

Until recently, information regarding these fusion centers has been kept secret allowing them to operate with no privacy guidelines or restrictions, and the eerie silence has led the public to question their motives and legality.

Recently released audio provided exclusively to the Liberty Beat from inside a board meeting at an Austin, Texas fusion center offers a unique and rare glance inside the program’s operations. The audio provides details on the Fusion Center’s Privacy Policy, how many information requests they receive and produce, a police tactic called “wall-off,” and the effect a newly drafted piece of state legislation could have on operations that were once kept secret from even judges and prosecutors.

Fusion Center Privacy Policies

The Austin Regional Intelligence Center (ARIC), which is staffed by the Austin Police Department (APD), maintains a Privacy Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC) purportedly responsible for ensuring that safeguards and sanctions are in place to protect individual’s rights and civil liberties.

The existence of a Fusion Center Privacy Policy Advisory Committee is a new development, one that could introduce the desired transparency needed to swing the pendulum back in favor of civil liberties.

While the implementation of Fusion Center privacy policies is seemingly progressive in terms of privacy rights, it’s still lacking in that any recommendations made by the PPAC can ultimately be rejected by ARIC’s Executive Board, which happens to be comprised of partner agency police officers. Even the Austin City Council who voted in 2009 to adopt the measure needed to create the center can only make recommendations, but cannot “tell ARIC what to do.”

The Rest…HERE

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