The United States Intelligence fraternity is very elaborate and involves multiple stakeholders to achieve its goal. The information that all the involved parties gather must be shared to make it objective in the pursuit of criminal activities. However, the coordination of all the intelligence sectors is hard without a mechanism to share the information and plan for action. The Homeland Security Fusion Centers serve as the heart of Intelligence sharing in the United States. These are establishments that allow the private investigators, the military, and police departments to come together and share their findings in a common platform. Fusion centers prevent the conflict of interest that may arise among different stakeholders pursuing the same information. They embrace the due implementation of authority jurisdiction without hampering the process of justice administration. Fusion Centers with their plausible achievements have got various shortcomings that need to be addressed. In a nutshell, the infringements of civil rights and poor governance of Fusion Centers are the major shortcomings of intelligence sharing and management.
Fusion centers are channels for basic policing, espionage on social movements, and violation of civil liberties, lastly, the actors in the fusion centers often find themselves conflicting on several matters thus derailing the primary purpose of establishing protocols that are supposed to be followed in the process of knowledge and information sharing among the various agencies involved in homeland securities. The following is a description of some of the issues that derail the sharing of information among the agencies:
The presumption that an individual is innocent until proven guilty is one of the major obstacle in the sharing of information and intelligence and law enforcement offices. This explains why fusion centers tend to provide insufficient information to other government bodies. Acting in the interest of protecting civil rights and liberties of the suspects, crucial information is concealed. This is evident in the case of the Al-Qaeda-led attack on the United States, where it was found out that some government agencies had prior information about the suspected attacks but chose not to share it in the name of ensuring that their rights were protected. While the FBI had no knowledge that Al-Qaeda terrorists were in the country, some federal agencies had even interacted with them. It is explained that three of the suspected terrorists had received flagging for over-speeding, and other two had violated immigration laws. However, this information was concealed to the FBI and the CIA until the investigation after the attack proved lack of knowledge sharing among the agencies. The FBI and the CIA were thus concealed of crucial information that would have helped to thwart any attack on the United States. This is because the Fusion Centers were acting in the interest of ensuring that the investigation process was not affected for they believed it would be in contravention of their rights.
A careful review of some of the major disasters that have hit the United States suggest the laxity among various bodies and government department in sharing information. A perfect case is that of the 9/11 terrorism attack that hit the Twins Tower in the city of New York. Based on the finding of the report by the commissioners, it was identified that there exist walls between intelligence bodies such as FBI, CIA and the law enforcement offices. The wall that exist is based on statuary barriers that exist among those bodies and this results to jeopardizing the free flow or sharing of data among the bodies. A divide between these government functions; law enforcement and intelligence, has been in existence since history. It is a perception that is best explained by how the two functions share differences spanning from the abuses that happened to the federal agencies during the period of the cold war. And, another case is the attempt by the intelligence to keep information separate and foreign from the law. This is to prevent any aspect of bias in the case of law enforcement.
Another reason why these barriers towards sharing of information between the security agencies such as the fusion center and other government departments is the need to create independence among the bodies. Each body has its function and use for data or intelligence obtained. For instance, the foreign intelligence body will tend to use data for the process of military operations and policy making while the law enforcement tends to use it for conducting judicial proceedings in the nation. And, thus sharing this information would jeopardize the objectivity of the function of each body. As a result, the restrictions and divides result to concealing of information obtained by each body thus inhibiting the process of sharing information by the infusion centers.
Failure to share knowledge among the agencies within the security departments of the United States has dire consequences. It has been identified that protecting of civil rights and liberties by some federal agencies has resulted to the concealing of information among the various agencies. In addition, the difference in use of data among the various agencies results to restriction in the sharing of information among the various bodies as sharing would result to jeopardizing of the objectivity of the roles of each federal department. Besides the two, there are historical differences between the foreign intelligence and the law enforcement based on earlier conflict between them dating as far as the cold-war period. This has resulted to creation of barriers between them and this creates problem in sharing of intelligence between the two bodies. If the trend were to continue, the country continues to suffer from attacks. The following are some of the recommendations that would help in addressing this restriction in data sharing:
After a careful review of the 9/11 attacks, it was identified that there exists a wall between federal intelligence bodies and law enforcement bodies. And, this results to restriction of information sharing by intelligence bodies such as fusion centers. It is thus recommended that removing the wall between the two bodies would help in preventing the paucity of information sharing. It is also recommended that Congress removes the numerous limits that prevent fusion centers from sharing of information between law enforcement and intelligence by having integrated databases where information can be accessible to all authorized federal bodies. The USA Parrot Act of 2011 was a good start all established practices should be overcome to ensure there is proper information sharing. This would help in sharing of privy information about suspects between the federal bodies without having to subterfuge the law. It should be made clear that government bodies should share information amongst themselves if it is believed that the information is of serious impact to the nation's security. This would help to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 incident. This would strengthen the Fusion centers and at the same time prevent any problem that may arise from information containment among the various security agencies.
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