Congress: The DHS's "fusion centers" full of bad intelligence, lies, and imaginary buildings

A bipartisan report on the DHS's much-vaunted, scorchingly expensive "fusion centers" that were supposed to be the future of American security. The Congressional investigators who wrote the report don't mince words, and accuse the DHS of uncontrolled spending, poor, false and even lying intelligence reporting, illegal intelligence gathering, and even making up four imaginary fusion centers that were never built, but were reported to Congress as open for business and bustling with activity. (via Techdirt)


  1. So…what are the odds that anyone in the decision-making process at the DHS will be going to jail? 


    Not a chance in heck?

    1. I go with B as long a defense/security spending is the only major “public” project that both major parties can agree up.

  2. Our security theater has a staff of highly dedicated special-effects experts working night and day. Is that so wrong?

  3. How the heck to you expect to catch imaginary terrorists without imaginary intelligence gatherers?

    1. I suppose you would rather those billions were spent on the deficit, the debt, or improving the social safety net, funding health care or otherwise spent on the citizens that provided it? 

      Typical commie, who needs imaginary terrorists with people like you around to threaten our advancement of a police state? Maybe you will be the focus of the DHS soon?

  4. This is the underground half of the new gold rush to steal billions of tax dollars in the name of national security. The above ground half is the TSA, but it has the added benefit of turning us into complacent sheep.

  5. Are you sure that fusion centers are supposed to be _buildings_ (as entailed by the headline)? I don’t see that indicated anywhere, and, yes, I RTed the FA. I think it’s more likely that the fusion center is, at most, a designated set of cubicles at a “host” police department, if not merely a weekly meeting amongst various Deputy Police Chiefs and Assistants to the Regional Manager.

    1.  $1.4 billion earmarked for some cubicle partitions?  I think that would actually make the DHS look even worse.

  6. Remember, the real purpose of the Department of Homeland Security is to maintain a state of terror in the American populace, with the intent to make voters easier to manipulate.

    “We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”

    — erroneously (alas!) attributed to Petronius Arbiter

  7. Corruption in DHS!?  Z O M G!!!!

    So what has been said by the public all along is finally believable when there is a congressional report?
    How soon till we have pundits on TV decrying this hatchet job on the fine workforce of DHS?

    1. You obviously don’t care if the terrorists win.  But I’ll have you know that at least SOME of us are properly scared, and feel that no amount of money is too much to spend to make us feel safe.  This so-called report is obviously a hatchet job on the fine workforce of DHS.

      1. But there is the upside, the terrorists can’t win.
        I’m more terrified of my government than of them.

  8. SO I heard it’s “Homeland” still because no one can make up their minds over whether it should be “Fatherland” or “Motherland”, or the third choice, “I’ll shoot you in the face USA USA”

    1. Well either of the two gendered variants have been used in recent history by politics entities that USA found itself at war with.

  9. Waste is common in new government initiatives. But as a boing boing reader of many years, and an employee of a state agency that oversees a fusion center, this post is misleading. I follow GAO reports closely and they often report accurately about waste and inefficiency in homeland security. The report discussed here, however, smacks of congressional careerism. Bumping your poll numbers by denouncing government, even if partly legitimate, is not worth the press coverage, especially here. Do problems exist? Of course. But things have gotten better recently. It’s an important topic to report on but not one that deserves sound bite analysis fed to boing boing readers from congress.

    1. Care to address these points?

      The report found that the centers “forwarded intelligence of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.”

      That article just keeps listing error after fault after failure, with the final word coming from a Republican:

      “Homeland Security is probably the most ineffective agency in the government besides Social Security,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma and the ranking minority member on the investigative subcommittee that published the report. The fusion centers, he added, “are not accomplishing anything in terms of counterterrorism.”

      1.  They do, however, make it look as though the government is doing something to protect people from an amazingly over-inflated threat. That’s pretty much the DHS’s entire job description.

      2. That’s true of raw intelligence from all sources. The analysis end has cleaned things up. The point of fusion centers was to get the information from the source to the decision makers. The problems you mentioned were endemic when the program started. You had non intelligence people acting as sources for national intelligence information. It took a while for things to improve but they have.

        Be mindful also that these initiatives are purely state driven. Their quality is directly linked to the people administering their functions. Quality varies widely and is more dependent on individual abilities in the state than it is on the practical application of the program in general.

        These centers are ideally only a means of gathering, collating and forwarding on potentially vital information. This is not an intelligence creation program. The intelligence was there as a matter of regular law enforcement behavior. The collection and diffusion of this information was the real purpose. What states did with it and to it can be a different matter entirely. Hence the issue of the broad generalities used in the report.

        1. If all of our modern technology and seemingly endless funding produce intelligence of such poor quality, we might as well go back to reading entrails.

          1. Hey, man, spying is hard. You think it’s easy to do all that James Bond shit? He makes it look easy, but man, our spies have to drive Chevys and wear Mens Wearhouse suits. C’mon, who needs to infiltrate the enemy when you can just sit at a cafe and read a paper?

        2. And the 4 non-existent centers full of bustling non-existent DHS personnel previously reported to be both existing and operating?

          That is the meat of this post, the remaining implications of DHS as a boondoggle matter too but the outright fraud in millions is the meat.

          Also, you are defending the role, but the role is indeterminate, made clear in the report. Why should citizens foot the bill for overlap when the JTTF already exists and functions between the agencies in a more efficient and voluntary manner, given the example of the non-existent centers?

          Why should billions be funneled toward investigating domestic terrorism at an agency initially designated and created in response to international terrorist actions/threats?

          The DHS is a floundering foundling from most any perspective, devoid of a role and unable to show concrete results. Is it theatre?

          Edit- I forgot to ask you to respond to the original question posed you by ocker3, you didn’t respond appropriately, this isn’t a press conference and boilerplate non-answers are insufficient.

        3. It took a while for things to improve but they have.

          Can you please provide some evidence for this claim?  Can you please provide some evidence that DHS is returning value that approaches anywhere close to the amount of money spent on it?

  10. Interesting report. Now, since these lawmakers are aware of the waste, fraud, and abuse, what are they going to do about it?
    My guess, not a thing. After all, the Social Security Administration is known to be more ineffective than the DHS and nothing has been done about that either.
    Commities, reports, etc. It’s a little dance they do to befuddle and maintain. 

    1. After all, the Social Security Administration is known to be more ineffective than the DHS and nothing has been done about that either.

      What do you mean?  As far as I know, social security is actually run really well to the point that its been lending money to the rest of the government.  More info please?

  11. GAHHH!!
    I try to share this to Facebookie, and the headline gets cut down to “Congress: The DHS” and that’s it.
    This sort of thing happens pretty regularly with BoingBoing. Can anyone explain to my why? Or better yet, could someone please fix it?

Comments are closed.