A new Senate report claims that the multi-billion dollar program created to collect information on overseas terrorist following the 9/11 attacks has instead collected information on innocent Americans. Homeland Security, on the other hand, vigorously denies the report, calling it inaccurate and outdated.
According to the Senate Report, since the program began, it has eaten up huge amounts of money on the data mining software, flat screen televisions and two fully equipped Chevrolet Tahoes that are used for communicating, besides paying local, state and federal officials for analyzing the information. The bi-partisan report claims that the money and manpower employed to the national security program has far surpassed that actual subject of terrorism and is largely gathering information from the lives of its own citizens - which is not just unethical, but also a waste of time and money.
Homeland Security officials say that the report is not just inaccurate, but also fails to acknowledge the benefits the program has delivered by involving local governments with federal intelligence officials. The report, however, argues that Homeland Security officials are unaware of the amount of money the program has spent over the last decade because of the intricate grants the program received.
The Congress is unlikely to stop, despite the program’s ineffectiveness, because it means politically important money for state and local governments. "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 notes.
The investigation cites one fusion center reporting a Muslim community group’s list of book recommendations, while another discussed Muslim groups talking about parenting. No evidence whatsoever was found on any sort of criminal activity, but still the information was found on the government computers.
"It was not clear why, if DHS had determined that the reports were improper to disseminate, the reports were proper to store indefinitely," the report said.
The report also notes that the Homeland Security had long known that the information coming out of the fusion centers would be useless. "You would have some guys, the information you'd see from them, you'd scratch your head and say, 'What planet are you from?'" an unidentified Homeland Security official told Congress.
Homeland Security officials have indicated their continued support for the program despite what the Senate report says.