January 2, 2012
It didn’t take long for the See Something, Say Something campaign initiated by the Department of Homeland Security last year to show promising results. According to a report from St. Paul Minnesota’s KARE11 and NPR, actionable human intelligence is on the rise at the nation’s largest mall, and it’s being cross-referenced with personal information and threat assessments via the recently made public nationwide network of government Fusion centers.
While a mystery to most Americans, the existence of Fusion centers recently made waves when they were brought to the mainstream public’s attention by talk show host Alex Jones and former governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura. As we highlighted in everything you do is monitored, fusion centers are the digital backbone of the modern day domestic spying network and make it possible to track, itemize, aggregate and analyze the personal activities of every American.
Now, those fusion centers have new intelligence assets to draw on for information – your friends, neighbors and fellow citizens – and many of them are delighted to help.
Brad Kleinerman entered the spooky world of homeland security.
As he shopped for a children’s watch inside the sprawling Mall of America, two security guards approached and began questioning him. Although he was not accused of wrongdoing, the guards filed a confidential report about Kleinerman that was forwarded to local police.
The reason: Guards thought he might pose a threat because they believed he had been looking at them in a suspicious way.
Najam Qureshi, owner of a kiosk that sold items from his native Pakistan, also had his own experience with authorities after his father left a cell phone on a table in the food court.
The consequence: An FBI agent showed up at the family’s home, asking if they knew anyone who might want to hurt the United States.
Mall of America officials say their security unit stops and questions on average 1,200 people each year. The interviews at the mall are part of a counterterrorism initiative that acts as the private eyes and ears of law enforcement authorities but has often ensnared innocent people, according to an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting and NPR.
In many cases, the written reports were filed without the knowledge of those interviewed by security. Several people named in the reports learned from journalists that their birth dates, race, names of employers and other personal information were compiled along with surveillance images.
There is no way for the public to know exactly how many suspicious activity reports from the Mall of America have ended up with local, state and federal authorities. CIR and NPR asked 29 law enforcement agencies under open government laws for reports on suspicious activities. Only the Bloomington Police Department and Minnesota’s state fusion center have turned over at least a portion of the paperwork.
In 2008, the mall’s security director, Douglas Reynolds, told Congress that the mall was the “No. 1 source of actionable intelligence” provided to the state’s fusion center, an intelligence hub created after 9/11 to pull together reports from an array of law enforcement sources.
Information from the suspicious activity reports generated at the mall has been shared with Bloomington police, the FBI and, in at least four cases, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
In early December Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Department of Homeland Security would begin shifting its focus in the war on terror to lone wolf attackers living in the United States. Within a couple of weeks of this announcement the US Congress passed legislation that, according to some Senators, citizens and former military leaders, allows for the creation of domestic battlefields and the detainment of American citizens without charge or trial. The installation of backscatter scanners at airports, train stations and bus depots, roving checkpoints on US highways, and biometric surveillance technology at public events, coupled with revelations that DHS is actively looking to identify those who use cash instead of credit in commerce, purchase survival gear or engage in unpopular speech, suggests that the Fusion centers may only be the beginning.
Once the government identifies all of these persons-of-interest and potential domestic terrorists they’ll have to do something about them; we certainly can’t have enemies of the state running around in the wild. Which brings to mind another Fusion center-like conspiracy theory – FEMA camps. But that’s a whole nother discussion.
Hat tip Dan H