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Torin Monahan

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The Future of Security? Surveillance Operations at Homeland Security Fusion Centers

Since President Obama took office, state surveillance has grown and mutated. In particular, there has been a renewed commitment on the part of the Department of Homeland Security to create a robust network of “fusion centers” across the country to share and analyze data on citizens and others. Such centers may prioritize counterterrorism activities, but the orientation of many fusion centers has expanded to include “all hazards” and “all threats,” such as responding to environmental catastrophes or investigating non-terrorist criminal gangs. This article analyzes several problematic cases in which personnel at fusion centers have exploited the significant leeway granted to them to engage in racial profiling, political profiling, illegal data mining, and illegal data collection. The author argues that for surveillance states to be more democratic, their police apparatuses should possess clear guidelines that respect the law, follow their own guidelines, and subject their activities to routine public scrutiny. To do otherwise is a recipe for abuse.

surveillance, fusion centers, Obama, profiling, chilling effect, intelligence-led policing

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 84-98.

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