Oct 25 2012
While the issue of civil liberties was a hot topic under President George W. Bush’s tenure, particularly over the creation of the Homeland Security Department and the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, little is heard in the public discourse these days about on-going infringements of people’s rights. President Obama’s administration has largely continued, and in some arenas, expanded on the Bush-era intrusion into Americans’ lives via warrantless wiretapping and other secret initiatives of the National Security Agency, as well as through so-called “fusion centers” scattered throughout the country.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recently issued a scathing report on fusion centers saying that while the Department of Homeland Security has spent billions of dollars on them, these centers have actually produced “useless, irrelevant, or inappropriate intelligence reporting.” Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, called the fusion centers “one of the centerpieces” of her department’s counter-terrorism efforts.
But constitutional and privacy advocates have added their concerns to those of the Senate Panel, asserting the fusion centers violate people’s privacy. Many local city governments also think so – the Berkeley City Council recently voted to limit their local police department’s collaboration with a fusion center, among other things. Here in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department has been accused by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, of violating people’s civil liberties by feeding reports into a local fusion center.
GUEST: Shahid Buttar, Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Visit www.bordc.org for more information.
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