Tuesday, January 02, 2007

laying the foundations of the police state

Since 2004, the Bush Administration has aggressively pursued a program of federalizing law enforcement through the creation of "Intelligence Fusion Centers."

These centers are designed to serve as communications hubs, connecting local, state, and federal law enforecement agencies. By incorporating local agencies into the federal infrastructure, these centers expand the purview of federal intelligence gathering and enforcement.

The extent to which Intelligence Fusion Centers seek to expand federal law enforcement powers is perhaps best found in wording from the Fusion Center Guidelines, a document which exhorts state and local officials that "it is the responsibility of leadership to implement and adhere to the Fusion Center Guidelines."

On page 3 of the Guidelines Executive Summary, the document states that "nontraditional collectors of intelligence, such as public safety entities and private sector organizations, possess important information (e.g., risk assessments and suspicious activity reports) that can be 'fused' with law enforcement data to provide meaningful information and intelligence about threats and criminal activity."

The reference to "nontraditional collectors of intelligence" has a disconcerting resonance with the stated goal of Operation TIPS. The Terrorism Information and Prevention System ("TIPS") was an ill-fated Bush Administration effort to use postal workers and cable-TV technicians as informants, which ended when Rep. Dick Armey included specific legislation in the House's Homeland Security Bill to prohibit the program.

The single-mindedness with which the Bush Administration seeks to expand its executive power poses a clear and present danger to American democracy. Secret surveillance laws, secret detentions, secret national security subpoenas, and secret police all deprive Americans of the assurance that executive power is not exercized arbitrarily.

No use watching your back... you better pray the new gestapo doesn't dislike your politics.

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