(Associated Posers)- WASHINGTON DC- Walter Travis, of Travers City, Michigan had just forgot to put the gas cap back on his Chevy Malibu. He was pulled over within a few minutes of being back on the road by a DHS officer. The officer informed him of the gas cap and that this could have EPA fines as a consequence.
“How did you know about the gas cap when I didn't?” he asked
“We know everything about everything” the officer informed him “Except terrorism or illegal aliens”
What started as a program to track possible terrorism in the US, something it has failed at abysmally, has been given a new job: tracking you. The Department of Homeland Security is a total failure at tracking possible terrorism in the country but it has moved heaven and Earth when it comes to spying on you.
The administration of Barack Obama now claims the right to track citizens 24-7 in the name of “national security”, even if it has nothing to do with terrorism. Using the local-state-federal “fusion centers” every single public employee in the country is now also a spy for the government. The municipal meter reader see a gun magazine on your back seat? It'll be reported and stored in a computer database somewhere.
When John Brunner of Sarasota, Florida held his sons 10th birthday at a local shooting range, a neighbor had sent a tip to the DHS. While nothing illegal was involved, this information went into the computer system and stayed there, in his file. A year later his wife casually complained about her husbands temper and the Child Welfare authorities showed up at their house days later with a court order to take away his legal guns.
Although it is technically illegal for the DHS to store non-terrorism related information long-term, it is up to the same people to decide if it meets that definition. So everything gets stored in a file on you somewhere. Are you a member of the NRA? A Ron Paul supporter? Is your son a Boy Scout? You can bet the DHS knows it.
A Senate Homeland Security subcommittee reviewed more than 600 unclassified reports over a one-year period and concluded that most had nothing to do with terrorism. 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. Disagreeing with the critical conclusions of the report, Homeland Security says it is outdated, inaccurate and too focused on information produced by the program.
When Lake County, Florida began installing “trash cams” in school cafeteria's nobody had a clue that the local DHS Fusion Center would be tapped into it. Children who refused to eat their vegetables on a regular basis saw their parents cited and “interviewed” by government minders.
"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 said.
“We got around that” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel “By redefining all crime and certain suspect activities as terrorism-related”
State officials soon realized there simply wasn't that much local terrorism-related intelligence. Terrorist attacks didn't happen often, but police faced drugs, guns and violent crime every day. Normal criminal information started moving through fusion centers.
Protest abortion outside of a clinic? Your name and possibly photograph is in the system. Write a letter to the editor in favor of gun rights? Your name has likely been cross-matched to your existing file.
Under federal law, that was fine. When lawmakers enacted recommendations of the 9/11 Commission in 2007, they allowed fusion centers to study "criminal or terrorist activity." The law was co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman, the driving forces behind the creation of Homeland Security.
Five years later, Senate investigators found, terrorism is often a secondary focus, but with politics the way they are, DHS fusion centers are likely to see a hefty funding increase from Congress.
“We are busier than ever” Janet Napolitano beamed at the Senate hearing “The world is our oyster and the people are our bloody poodles”
When Senator Olympia Snowe asked if the program could be more focused on actual crimes, the Homeland Security Secretary bristled. “We need more funding in order to create a network of citizen spies, once we are able to spy on everyone, then everyone will be safe”
After the Senate released their scathing report, they indicated their strong support for the program.