Daily Archives: November 29, 2007

Anti-terror Intelligence Fusion Centers Cast Wide Net on Run-of-the-Mill Crime

 
Unidentified analysts keep tabs on information flowing into the Combined Intelligence and Fusion Center for NORAD/Northcom in Colorado Springs, Colo., in this Aug. 25, 2004 file photo. Local intelligence-sharing centers created after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States were designed to prevent future attacks. Forty-three of these ‘fusion centers’ have been opened and 14 more are on the way, but their mission has been blurred to include run-of-the-mill crime and hazards, and it’s unclear how effective they are, a new government report says. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Associated Press | Nov 28, 2007

By EILEEN SULLIVAN

WASHINGTON – Local intelligence-sharing centers set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have had their anti-terrorism mission diluted by a focus on run-of-the-mill street crime and hazards such as hurricanes, a government report concludes.

Of the 43 “fusion centers” already established, only two focus exclusively on preventing terrorism, the Government Accountability Office found in a national survey obtained by The Associated Press. Center directors complain they were hampered by lack of guidance from Washington and were flooded by often redundant information from multiple computer systems.

Administration officials defended the centers and said encompassing all sorts of crimes in the intelligence dragnet is the best way to catch terrorists.

The original idea was to coordinate resources, expertise and information of intelligence agencies so the country could detect and prevent terrorist acts. The concept has been widely embraced, particularly by the Sept. 11 commission, and the federal government has provided $130 million to help get them off the ground. But until recently, there were no guidelines for setting up the centers and as a result, the information shared and how it is used vary.

Centers in Kansas and Rhode Island are the only two focused solely on counterterrorism. Other centers concentrate on all crimes, including drugs and gangs, according to Congress’ investigative and auditing arm. Washington state’s center, for instance, has an all-hazards mission so it can focus on natural disasters and public health epidemics in addition to terrorism.

“States are at different levels because there wasn’t the preconceived game-plan on how to do this,” said George Foresman, a former undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department who oversaw the awarding of startup money for many of the centers.

The GAO findings backed up results from a congressional report this year.

“Although many of the centers initially had purely counterterrorism goals, for numerous reasons they have increasingly gravitated toward an all-crimes and even broader all-hazards approach,” according to a Congressional Research Service report from June.

To Jack Tomarchio, a senior intelligence official at the Homeland Security Department, that is not a bad thing. “In many cases, there’s also a nexus between criminality and terrorism,” Tomarchio said. “Terrorists, like anybody else, need money to do their deeds.” Often, he said, that means terrorists will be involved in narcotics trafficking and similar crimes.

Most centers are run by state police or other law enforcement agencies. Many also have representatives from a range of other agencies, including fire and public works departments and state gambling regulators. This has raised concerns about privacy as those agencies become linked to a broader intelligence-sharing network. Most of the centers also include federal officials such as analysts from the FBI and Homeland Security.

Some centers are even housed with federal agencies, which can be a benefit. Minnesota’s center is in the same building as the FBI, which makes it easier for local officials to access the FBI’s networks.

The centers potentially can tap into five separate federal databases containing case files on investigations, reports on suspicious incidents and research material on terrorist weapons and tactics. But not all the facilities are in buildings that have adequate security to access those databases, GAO found.

Each center is independent and not controlled by the federal government. It was only last month that the Bush administration offered guidelines for the centers’ missions and operations. The White House published a strategy paper advising centers to share information about all criminal activity, saying that could help uncovered potential terrorist plots.

The federal government, however, still needs to do a better job of explaining what information it can share and how much money it will provide, according to the congressional investigators.

At the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, watch commander Lori Norris said more federal money and guidelines could solve many of the center’s frustrations. Arizona’s center has representatives from the state’s public safety, motor vehicles and liquor control departments, as well as its National Guard and city and county fire departments and federal agencies.

The Arizona center cannot access some of the federal information systems because its building does not meet security requirements. “We would be able to, but again, we don’t have the funding for that,” Norris said.

In addition, Norris said she would like the government to pick one or two systems for sharing information — not the three or four currently used. “I have to log on with four different passwords into these systems every single day and look at all this stuff,” Norris said.

Many centers do not know what information to expect from Washington or how quickly they can expect to receive it.

“There’s got to be a clearer definition as to when that information goes out and who it goes out to,” Norris said. It’s not uncommon, she said, for law enforcement officers to learn of important developments first from the news media.

But when information is sent to the states, it often comes more than once, said Richard Kelly, who heads New Jersey’s fusion center.

“If DHS and FBI put out a joint bulletin, we get it twice,” Kelly said. “If we ever did get to one standard policy in how to communicate down to the states and locals, that would be a good thing.”

The GAO also found that some fusion centers have had a hard time hiring and training analysts, and many say they need federal guidance on what skills the analysts should have. Fusion centers have found it hard to get security clearances for their personnel, and find that even with appropriate clearances, information continues to be withheld. Nineteen centers told GAO that federal agencies, most often the FBI and the Homeland Security Department, wouldn’t accept each others’ clearances even though the law says they’re supposed to.

. . .

Related

Homeland Security “Fusion Centers” spark police-state fears

Intelligence Fusion Centers Emerge Across the U.S.

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Tokyo exhibits humanoid robots

Humanoid robot Twendy-One picks up a toast from a toaster and places its on a plate while Waseda University student Genki Fujii prepares salad during a demonstration of the robot designed to be safe to take care of elderly at the university laboratory in Tokyo Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2007. The 1.5-meter (3 feet, 8 inches)-tall and 111-kilogram (244 pounds), battery-powered robot has been developed by Prof. Shigeki Sugano of Department of Mechanical Engineering of the university. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

AP | Nov 28, 2007

Robots dazzle at Japanese exhibit

By HIROKO TABUCHI

Japan’s Nippon Dental University Hospital staff member Yuko Uchida demonstrates the workings of “Simroid”, a humanoid robot dental therapy simulator for dentists and students. The robot, resembling an attractive young woman with long black hair and a pink sweater, can mumble “ouch” when the dentist hits a nerve.(AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

TOKYO – A robot math whiz breezes through a Rubik’s Cube, using metal hands to twist and turn the colorful toy. A panda robot uses sensors to detect when people are laughing, and joins in. A dentistry student peers into the mouth of a new patient — a humanoid practice robot with a complete set of pearly white teeth.

Japan showed off its cutting-edge robots Wednesday at the country’s largest robotics convention, a dazzling display of the technologies that make it a world leader in both service and industrial robotics.


The dental training robot, dubbed Simroid for “simulator humanoid,” has realistic skin, eyes, and a mouth fitted with replica teeth that students practice drilling on. A sensor fitted where the nerve endings would be raises the alert when they drill too close — triggering a yelp from the robot.

“Ow, that hurt!” a female robot squeaked, narrowing her eyes as a young dentist drilled on her replica teeth. “Now, I’m OK,” she said as the dentist eased off.

“Our aim is to train dentists to worry about whether patients are comfortable, and not just focus on technical expertise,” said Dr. Naotake Shibui of the Nippon Dental University in Tokyo, who collaborated with technicians at Kokoro Co. to develop the robot.

Researchers are still ironing out a few kinks — including perfecting a function that lets novices inject anesthetic into robot gums — before working on commercialization plans, Shibui said. He said a prototype has been used at the university since September.

Across the hall, Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ Mr. Cube robot used built-in color sensors and a pair of dexterous hands to solve a Rubik’s Cube, then raised the completed puzzle in glee to show off to spectators.

Mr. Cube is no match for his human counterparts, taking up to five minutes to solve a typical puzzle while the human world record is 9.77 seconds.

Still, the sensors’ ability to quickly detect and differentiate between colors is a breakthrough in industrial robotics, said Kawasaki engineer Masafumi Wada.

“We hope to employ this technology to robots working in factories, so they can distinguish parts by color, as well as size and shape,” Wada said. “That would make production lines much more versatile,” he said.

The main focus of the 2007 International Robot Exhibition, which kicked off Wednesday in Tokyo, is on industrial robots like Mr. Cube.

Japan is an industrial robot powerhouse, with more than 370,000 in use in 2005 — about 40 percent of the global total and 32 robots for every 1,000 Japanese manufacturing employees — according to a recent report by Macquarie Bank.

A Hitachi employee demonstrates the company’s new humanoid robot “EMIEW 2” in Ibaraki. Japanese engineering giant Hitachi Ltd. on Wednesday unveiled its new lightweight robot that can converse while easily scooting around people.(AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

But Japan has also led the way in personal robots, with players ranging from Honda Corp. and Sony Corp. to little-known startups launching robotic companions for the home.

Waseda University’s furry, panda-shaped Tocco-chan robot, for example, is designed to relieve stress by helping people laugh.

An employee of Yamazaki Educational Systems Co. holds two “My Baby 2” robotic babies at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo November 28, 2007. The robotic babies are designed to teach parenting skills and require feeding, diaper changes, burping and sleeping and also record data on how their human parents treat them. REUTERS/Michael Caronna (JAPAN)

A Web camera connects to software that scans a person’s face for smiles — and when it detects one, the robot joins in by giggling and wiggling its arms and legs.

“I wanted to design a robot that helps people,” said Waseda research student Saiko Hirano, who developed Tocco-chan. “But mostly, this robot is the product of a wild imagination.”

Constitutional overhaul would expand Chavez’s powers, grant unlimited re-election

“If you wish — and if you approve the referendum — I will stay as long as God wills! Until the last bone of my skeleton dries up! Until the last bit of my body dries up!”


A man stands under a mural depicting Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez in Caracas November 28, 2007. Chavez has at least a seven-point lead for a referendum on Sunday on reforms that would allow him to run for reelection indefinitely, according to a poll distributed on Wednesday. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Associated Press | Nov 28, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela: Hugo Chavez could have a shot at becoming president for life if voters approve a sweeping overhaul of the constitution Sunday that would give him unchecked power to reshape Venezuela’s government, economy and society.

Some polls show Chavez faces considerable resistance in the referendum. His primary impediment seems to be voters like Vanessa Meneses, a 27-year-old single mother who has backed Chavez in past elections but now fears he could become another Fidel Castro.

“Supposedly he wants to make Venezuela like Cuba and stay in power forever. It’s scary,” Meneses said. “He wants to be the only one like in Cuba, and I don’t like it.”

Venezuelans across the political spectrum see the vote as a turning point for their country — and perhaps a point of no return. The changes to 69 of the constitution’s 350 articles would enshrine a socialist economic system, create new classes of property to be managed collectively and let Chavez stand for re-election in 2012 and beyond.

Chavez has sold these changes by capitalizing on his personal popularity — he is seen by many Venezuelans as their savior, spreading more oil wealth among the poor than any leader in memory. A “yes” vote keeps him on as captain of a ship that otherwise “could sink,” he warns. His image is everywhere — even the Caracas subway plays a rap-style campaign jingle for Chavez.

The former lieutenant colonel, now 53, insists he will stay in power for as long as his people want him to — perhaps into the 2030s, or for life. “If you wish — and if you approve the referendum — I will stay as long as God wills! Until the last bone of my skeleton dries up! Until the last bit of my body dries up!” he shouted to the applause of thousands.

Opponents — including Roman Catholic leaders, press freedom groups, human rights groups and prominent business leaders — fear the reforms will remove some of the last checks on Chavez’s power.

Students are proving to be a particular challenge, leading street protests and occasionally clashing with police and Chavista groups. One man was shot dead Monday while trying to get through a road blocked by protesters. A large opposition march is planned for Thursday, along with pro-Chavez rallies.

The amendments would remove term limits, extend presidential terms from six to seven years, grant Chavez direct control over the Central Bank and monetary policy, allow his government to detain citizens without charge during a state of emergency, and let the state occupy private properties it wants to expropriate. He also would be empowered to redraw the country’s political map and handpick provincial and municipal leaders — a change opponents fear will push aside any elected officials who aren’t his allies.

“The only certain thing that emerges is a total concentration of political power in Chavez’s fist,” opposition politician Teodoro Petkoff wrote in his newspaper Tal Cual. He calls the changes a “Plan for Venezuela’s Destruction.” Other opponents have taken out newspaper ads urging voters to “defend democracy.”

Yet many Chavistas see real benefits in these and other amendments — such as shortening the workday from eight hours to six, creating a social security fund for millions of informal laborers and promoting communal councils where residents decide how to spend government funds in their neighborhoods.

“It’s power for the people. It’s not power for me,” says Chavez — a theme also promoted by his leftist allies trying to rewrite the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador. Smiling in a TV campaign commercial, Chavez tells viewers: “I want you to be the center of power.”

Many voters confess they don’t understand all the changes, but will vote based on how they feel about Chavez.

“I think people want him to stay on until he has consolidated our process, and may God give our Comandante a long life,” said Gladis Gonzalez, 50 and studying law at a free state university.

Others say they’ll vote “yes” because the new constitution guarantees that oil-funded “missions” will keep offering free health care and education.

But shopkeeper Maria Teresa Gonzalez said she has lost faith in Chavez after seeing rampant murders in her part of Caracas and shortages of milk and other goods. If he were successful, “things would have changed and gotten better. And they’re getting worse.”

If approved, the revisions would create an unprecedented “centralization of power” in the president’s hands, said Jose Vicente Haro, a constitutional law professor at Caracas’ Andres Bello Catholic University. “In nearly 50 years of democracy, it would be the constitution that has given him the most power.”

Full Story

British teacher charged with insulting Islam over teddy bear’s name

· Calling toy Muhammad is an ‘incitement to hatred’

Guardian | Nov 29, 2007

by Xan Rice in Nairobi, Andrew Heavens in Khartoum

A British primary school teacher was charged yesterday in Sudan with “insulting religion and inciting hatred” after allowing children in her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Sudan’s ambassador to London was summoned to the Foreign Office last night as the state prosecutor said Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, would appear before judges in Khartoum today. She has been held by police since Sunday, accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad. Despite her colleagues insisting it was an innocent mistake, Sudan’s deputy justice minister confirmed yesterday that a charge had been laid. “The investigation has been completed and the Briton Gillian was charged under article 125 of the penal code,” said Abdel Daim Zamrawi, speaking to the official Sudan news agency in Khartoum. “The punishment for this is jail, a fine and lashes. It is up to the judge to determine the sentence.”

Gibbons arrived in Sudan in August to take up a post at the exclusive Unity high school, which follows a British-style curriculum. In September, during a class on animals and their habitats, she asked her seven-year-old pupils to give a teddy bear a name. They chose Muhammad, the name of one of the boys in the class and a popular name in Sudan.

Last week the education ministry informed the school that a few Muslim parents had complained about the name, and police arrested Gibbons at her home in the school grounds.

Sudan’s top clerics, known as the Assembly of the Ulemas, said in a statement on Wednesday that parents had handed them a book the teacher was assembling about the bear. “She, in a very abusive manner, used the name of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah shame her,” the statement said.

Unity’s directors have shut the school to avoid the type of protests that greeted the publication of the notorious cartoons in a Danish newspaper last year.

The Foreign Office confirmed Gibbons had been charged, prompting a statement from Gordon Brown’s official spokesman. “We are surprised and disappointed by this development,” he said. “The first step is to summon the Sudanese ambassador so we can get a clear explanation for the rationale behind these charges.”

The foreign secretary, David Miliband, is expected to see the ambassador this morning. The Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown is understood to have been in close contact with Sudanese officials. Diplomats in Khartoum, who were denied access to Gibbons on Tuesday but were allowed to see her for 90 minutes yesterday, were shocked by the decision to press charges. They had hoped that a policy of quiet diplomacy would persuade the authorities to free the teacher.

Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he was appalled by the news. “This is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith.”

Ghazi Suleiman, a human rights lawyer and Sudanese MP, said: “This should not be politicised. People must stay calm. There was a complaint made against her by certain parents. There is now a case to answer. In my opinion as a lawyer, the lady is innocent. I am sure that if she is seen by a competent court, she will be acquitted.”

Some analysts saw ulterior motives. There are tensions between Britain and Sudan over the conflict in Darfur. In a Guardian interview this month, President Omar al-Bashir expressed anger at the threat of UK sanctions against Sudan if peace talks failed.

Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a prominent peace activist in Khartoum, said: “This was an opportunity for the government to distract people from the main issues in Sudan: the problems between the authorities in the north and south of the country, the conflict in Darfur and the question of letting in United Nations peacekeepers.”

There were reports yesterday of pamphlets being circulated in Khartoum calling on people to protest against the teacher after Friday prayers. But many people seemed to take her side. Muhammad Kamal Aldeen Muhammad, a 20-year-old student, said it was clear that she had not intended to insult the prophet. “All she was doing was trying to help her students. The government is looking at this purely from an Islamic perspective.”

Iraqis see hope drain away

Mohammed Salman grieves at the site of a book market in Baghdad where a car bomb killed his brother and 37 other people March 5.


USA TODAY | Nov 28, 2008

By Susan Page and Omar Salih

Jobs gone and schools closed. Marriages delayed and children mourned. Markets bombed and clean water in short supply. Speaking freely now a dangerous act.

And hope lost.

Four years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Iraqis describe daily lives that have been torn apart by spiraling violence and a faltering economy. The bursts of optimism reported in a 2004 public-opinion survey taken a year after the invasion and another in 2005 before landmark legislative elections have nearly vanished.

Face-to-face interviews with 2,212 Iraqis — a survey sponsored jointly by USA TODAY, ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corp. and ARD, a German TV network — find a nation that in large measure has fragmented into fear. Six in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going badly. Only one-third expect things to improve in the next year.

POLL RESULTS: Iraqis say life is deteriorating

That represents a dramatic deterioration in just 16 months, a reflection of how the security situation and quality of life in Iraq have unraveled. In an ABC News poll in November 2005, seven in 10 Iraqis said their lives were good and nearly as many predicted things would get better.

Now, said Zaid Hisham, “You worry about everything.” The 29-year-old Shiite engineer has postponed plans for his wedding until he can find a job. He and other Baghdad residents were interviewed by USA TODAY to supplement the poll findings. “When I go out, my family calls me every five minutes or whenever there is an explosion — there are many — to see if I am still alive. It’s worry, worry all the time. You can’t see your future, and you can’t even try to put an outline for your future.”

“We are in hell,” said Solaf Mohamed Ali, 38, a Shiite woman who works in a bank.

Not every Iraqi makes such dire assessments. There are significant differences in outlook within the country and among its groups.

Kurds, who make up 15%-20% of the population and are largely independent in northern Iraq, describe the fewest problems and express the most optimism about progress in the next year. Shiites, who make up about 60% of the population and suffered discrimination and brutality under Saddam Hussein, say they’re struggling, but many remain hopeful about Iraq’s long-term future. Sunni Arabs, another 15%-20% of the population and the group that lost power when Saddam was ousted, express almost universal desperation.

Conditions in Baghdad are worse than elsewhere for Sunnis and Shiites. Of the 429 Baghdad residents surveyed, not one felt safe in his or her own neighborhood. Everyone interviewed in the capital said he or she often avoided even going outside because of violence.

Beyond Baghdad, the security situation was better, albeit only relatively so. One-third called their neighborhoods safe; two-thirds said they weren’t. Outside the capital, 38% said they often avoid leaving home; 42% stay away from markets, and 59% watch what they say.

Across the country, Iraqis say the basics of day-to-day living have deteriorated. On each of 13 aspects of life — from security to the availability of cooking fuel and medical care — a majority rated conditions as bad. In not a single case did a majority predict things would get better in the next year.

The poll, taken Feb. 25-March 5, has a margin of error of +/—2.5 percentage points.

The Sunday Times in London published a poll Sunday of 5,019 Iraqis taken by a British firm, Opinion Research Business, from Feb. 10-22. It found that Iraqis by 49%-26% preferred life under the new government to life under Saddam.

In the USA TODAY/ABC News Poll, Iraqis by 43%-36% said life was better than before the invasion. That’s a decline from the optimism in the November 2005 survey, however, when by 51%-29% Iraqis said life was better.

Full Story

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Executive Order on Asset Seizure Casts a Wide Net

Secrecy News | Nov 28, 2007

by Steven Aftergood

Last July, President Bush issued a broadly-worded executive order authorizing the government to seize the assets of “any person” who threatens the stability of Iraq and, more controversially, any person who provides assistance to such a person.

The scope, objectives and precedents of the order — Executive Order 13,438, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq” — were examined in a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

“The broad language of this executive order has been the subject of a degree of criticism as potentially reaching beyond insurgents in Iraq to third parties, such as U.S. citizens, who may unknowingly be providing support for the insurgency,” the CRS report noted, citing prior reports in the Washington Post, TPM Muckraker, and elsewhere.

In fact, the potential application of the order appears to be technically unlimited since it includes a recursive clause that has no defined endpoint.

Thus, section 1(b) of the Order states that any person who provides goods or services to a person whose actions are proscribed under section 1(a) is himself subject to section 1(a). But then, anyone who provides similar support to that person could likewise be swept up in the expansive terms of the order. And so on, without end.

In practice, the application of the order will be defined by implementing regulations to be issued by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which will also prepare an initial list of blocked individuals and organizations. Those have still not been published.

Homeland Security “Intelligence Fusion Centers” spark police-state fears

Center helps war on terror, but is it threat to privacy?

Minnesota group helps disseminate intelligence, but some fear its reach.

Star Tribune | Nov 4, 2007

By Dan Browning and Mark Brunswick

Minutes after the I-35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River, the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center called Mike Bosacker wanting to know what was going on, and whether terrorism might have been involved.

Bosacker got the call because he and nine analysts work at the Minnesota Joint Analysis Center (MNJAC) in Minneapolis.

Known generically as an information “fusion center,” MNJAC is one of more than 40 such centers that grew out of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to ensure that future threats wouldn’t fall through the cracks that traditionally have separated law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Next year, MNJAC is expected to seek funding from state taxpayers for the first time.

But the idea of fusion centers worries some legislators and data privacy experts, who have raised concerns of privacy violations and unwarranted domestic spying. Bosacker said that soon after the 35W bridge collapsed this summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent MNJAC video that helped investigators quickly quell terrorism concerns, according to special agent Paul McCabe, spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis office.

Coordinating that kind of rapid information-sharing is just how the fusion centers are supposed to work, Bosacker said.

“The criticism before 9/11 was that nobody was sharing information,” McCabe said. “The feds weren’t sharing with the locals. The CIA wasn’t sharing with the FBI. The FBI wasn’t sharing with anyone. And [fusion centers] is one way of getting the information out there, disseminating information.”

But some fear that fusion centers such as MNJAC could end up sharing the wrong kind of information for the wrong reasons. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, “The concern is to what extent, if at all, First Amendment protected activities may be jeopardized by fusion center activities.”

With the Republican National Convention coming to Minnesota next year, some legislators say they don’t know enough about MNJAC and want to ensure that it won’t be used to spy on protest groups without just cause.

Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, said she has concerns about the information MNJAC may be storing. In 2003, a computer hacker found a law enforcement file on her in a massive state database that MNJAC might be expected to tap into. Holberg warned state officials of the hacker’s encroachment, prompting the state to temporarily shut it down.

“I need to make sure that there is an audit trail to find who has access to the database and what they do with it,” Holberg said. “There’s been abuses in the past and we don’t need them again.”

Bosacker said he understands such concerns but considers them overwrought.

“We’re not trying to keep books on people who are not engaged in crime,” he said. “But we also have an obligation to protect people from criminal behavior, and that’s what this is about.”

Police-state fears

The 9/11 Commission found that the hijacker terrorists might have been stopped if intelligence and law enforcement agencies hadn’t hoarded information about them in separate silos.

In 2004, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, requiring an information-sharing network among federal, state, local and tribal agencies and certain segments of the private sector.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who was commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the state’s homeland security director at the time, helped launch MNJAC in early 2005 with a federal grant and space at the FBI’s headquarters building in Minneapolis.

MNJAC acts as an analytical center and a multidirectional relay for crime and homeland security information. An example of its work came after the 2005 London subway bombings, when MNJAC sent alerts to law enforcement, military and agencies that monitor critical infrastructure about what to watch for in similar attacks. MNJAC also sends data to federal authorities and fusion centers in other states to alert them to crime trends, such as the recent rash of Minnesota thieves targeting copper tubing.

Continued

. . .

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Intelligence Fusion Centers Emerge Across the U.S.

Information Fusion Centers and Privacy