ACLU Has Concerns About Post-9/11 Initiative

Sep 20, 2012

“Fusion” centers built after the 2001 terrorist attacks are intended to “fuse” various police agencies and objectives. It’s a place for local, state and federal law enforcement to jointly gather, share and store intelligence. But a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union alleges Illinois’ two fusion centers lack appropriate privacy safeguards.

ACLU attorney Adam Schwartz says in other states, fusion centers targeted individuals based on their political views. He says there’s no proof of abuse in Illinois. But he also says it’s hard to know because they’re so secret.

“It’s a large institution, that is processing thousands of names and gathering information of the most sensitive nature about people.  And it's very secretive.  And we view it as insufficiently regulated.  So we cannot say there have been no problems.  But we don’t have evidence of problems” Schwartz said.

Schwartz says both the Statewide Terrorism Center in Springfield, which is operated by the State Police, and a fusion center in Chicago run by the city’s police department need stronger privacy guidelines.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police declined to speak on tape, but says law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to assess and evaluate threats.  She says the state terrorism center follows federal Justice Department guidelines.