Fire Politics- US Senate: (Con) Fusion Centers a (Bad) Joke


DHS/FEMA Implicated in Tomfoolery

You know, those centers–sleek, state-of-the-art facilities bristling with technology where trained professionals quickly and deftly analyze incoming local and state intelligence data to find crucial information on developing terror schemes.  Then, key reports are quickly written and disseminated across the intelligence community, the FBI moves, arrests are made.


A United States Senate Committee with a name too long to type here issued a relentlessly scathing two-year, bi-partisan report yesterday on the Three Stooges/Chaplinesque nationwide Fusion Center effort.  When Senators Tom Coburn and Carl Levin agree on anything, it’s NEWS.

The report cites fusion center products, those few that weren’t shot-down outright, as “often shoddy, rarely timely, and unrelated to terrorism.”

Perhaps the only thing worse than a useless product is not knowing how much it cost, sort of.  To their credit, FEMA managed to narrow the cost down to somewhere between $289M and $1B.  That’s a $700M spread, but it’s only taxpayer money.  The report indicates that there is a certain fondness out there for flat-screened TVs as well as Chevy SUVs and button cameras.  Button cameras?

The fusion center concept roughly emanates from the 9/11 report which suggested that the existing intelligence framework failed to “connect the dots”  where the (mostly) Saudi hijackers were concerned.  This new system, created under “W”, was supposed to be the crucial linchpin in forming a coherent, upwardly focused, highly responsive intelligence apparatus.  It was also said, by senior DHS officials, to be a “force multiplier.”  (I have no idea what that means but I have always wanted to use it in a sentence.)

Instead, it takes months for the often publicly sourced (sometimes from press releases), anemic and shoddy intel reports to be reviewed, re-reviewed and re-re-reviewed by four offices before they are finally published, months later.  Luckily, most were shot down in the review stage.

They must be yukking it up over at 10th and Pennsylvania.  The FBI looks fabulous.  The Senate report makes it clear that FBI is out front  when it comes to pushing relevant domestic intelligence up the Federal food chain.  They often transmit data same day that it takes DHS months to vet–and then shred.

FEMA comes across as looking like the “Price is Right” on a  windy day.  Cash swirls lazily about as the slightly dazed winner hears about that new SUV and, oh yes, the all expenses paid vacation to the upcoming “National Fusion Centers Conference.”  FEMA has no program to ensure effective compliance or that the stated mission is being accomplished for the millions spent.  They are quoted in the report as saying that they don’t micromanage and they need flexibility.  Uh-oh.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said during the Great Depression, “Try something. If it works, do more of it.  If it doesn’t try something else.”

I think we know where we are on that score.







  • Jim says:

    Whenever I think about *fusion* I imagine a trendy Asian restaurant.

  • Glenn says:

    The idea is great. If true Bad implementation
    If they really worked, the proposition was to ensure a 2 way flow of intelligence to first responders. The fact is law enforcement was receiving warnings of credible threats and muscling up their resources in preparation for say a bomb threat or chemical release and only as an afterthought notifying the fire chief. Something like, oh maybe we should notify the F. D. We may have to call them in if this thing blows, or this container really has chlorine in it. There is a famous incident that occurred in the Disneyland complex in CA, where law enforcement, emergency management were deployed out to what was deemed a credible threat. When the fire chief was finally notified it was four hours into the incident when he arrived. This is not abnormal occurrence. If this isn’t it, we need to find something else that works to protect firefighters and EMS personnel. We need to see that ffs are not thrown into an incident that they are ill prepared for that other responders were made aware of well in advance and have taken the necessary steps to protect their personnel, like maybe an armed attack.
    We have fusion center around the Washington region. Never saw a SUV. I can’t imagine the fire side of the Fusion Center Program receiving those kinds of perks.

  • Dennis says:


    Since you gave a big shout out to Doctor No, (is he the guy who did the hit job on the 9/11 Responder Health Bill?), I thought you would like to read his 2012 “Waste Book”, 100 examples of Federal Government fraud,waste and abuse. It certainly makes for interesting reading with examples like the program to encourage more Americans to eat Caviar, “RoboSquirrel vs Rattlesnake”, pizza on Mars, a Community Development Block Grant for a successful New England Brewery, tax breaks for the uber wealthy sports leagues like the NFL (Go Skins!), and $2.5 billion in improper food stamp payments.

    BTW, did you read the entire Fusion Center Report or just scan the Cliff Notes on the Daily Kos? Remember there are two sides to every story….Damn, I wish I had a RoboSquirrel for my Beagle!

  • Eric Lamar says:

    HAHA! I knew you would weigh in, but so late? You are behind in your reading.

    To answer your snarky question, I read the whole sorry-ass thing.

    BTW, who do you work for, again? LOL.

    Take care.


  • Dennis says:

    Oh, I read your blog the day you put it out. I was just avoiding comment but then Sen. Coburn’s Wastebook came out so I thought I would weigh in. My only response is it was a report, written by Minority Staff, released a month before a Presidential Election. With your politcal experience with the IAFF that should sound some alarm bells in you head, ding ding ding. They went for the low hanging fruit and you have to admit they did a good job. But they included outdated material and there are inaccuracies which a civilian would not recognize. Now excuse me, I have to finish my travel plans to Philly.

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