By TOM COBURN
Since the 9/11 attacks, Congress and the White House have invested hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in support of dozens of state and local fusion centers across the United States. After a two-year Senate investigation identified problems with nearly every aspect of the Department of Homeland Security’s involvement with these centers — including irrelevant, untimely or useless intelligence reporting to DHS, among other widespread deficiencies — there is a clear need for reform.
Since 2003, more than 70 state and local fusion centers, supported in part with federal funds, have been created or expanded to strengthen U.S. intelligence capabilities and detect, disrupt and respond to domestic terrorist activities. DHS’ support for and involvement with these centers has centered on their professed ability to strengthen federal counterterrorism efforts. However, as the investigation found, there are significant factors hindering this initial intent to connect the dots in the sharing of terrorism-related information among state, local and federal officials.