Senate report slams DHS intelligence program as costly debacle
A scathing bipartisan Senate report assailed the Department of Homeland Security for overseeing a network of supposed intelligence-sharing centers that, according to the study, did little to track or disrupt terrorist threats.
"The fusion centers often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever," the report said.
The so-called fusion centers were created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. More than 70 state and local centers backed by federal funds were created since 2003, with as much as $1.4 billion in federal taxpayer support committed to the project between 2003 and 2011.
The report, though, portrays an effort that ballooned far beyond anyone's ability to control.
What began as an attempt to put local, state and federal officials in the same room analyzing the same intelligence has instead 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, investigators found.
"The ... 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. It said nearly a third of the 610 reports reviewed were "never published for use within DHS" and elsewhere in the intelligence community.
When the program did address terrorism, it sometimes did so in ways that infringed on civil liberties.