from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 69
July 9, 2007

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One of the few comparatively new features in the post-cold war landscape of U.S. intelligence is the emergence of dozens of domestic intelligence "fusion centers."

These are state and local offices across the country that are supposed to integrate (or "fuse") multiple information streams from national intelligence sources together with local law enforcement and other data in order to enhance homeland security and increase preparedness against terrorism or natural disasters.

A major new report from the Congressional Research Service finds that this aspect of the domestic intelligence and homeland security infrastructure is still far from mature.

"It is unclear if a single fusion center has successfully adopted a truly proactive prevention approach to information analysis and sharing. No state and its local jurisdictions appear to have fully adopted the intelligence cycle."

In principle, fusion centers represent a conduit "through which federal intelligence can flow across the country."

But "numerous fusion center officials claim that although their center receives a substantial amount of information from federal agencies, they never seem to get the 'right information' or receive it in an efficient manner," the CRS report stated.

"It could be argued that if information flow into fusion centers is limited, the quality of the information is questionable, and the center doesn't have personnel with the appropriate skill sets to understand the information, then the end result may not provide value."

At the same time, "the potential fusion center use of private sector data, the adoption of a more proactive approach, and the collection of intelligence by fusion center staff and partners has led to questions about possible civil liberties abuses," the report noted.

There are now more than 40 intelligence fusion centers around the country. The 100-page CRS report includes a map and a list of these centers. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Fusion Centers: Issues and Options for Congress," July 6, 2007:


Some recently updated reports of the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

"Statutory Offices of Inspector General: Past and Present," updated June 21, 2007:

"Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2007," updated May 29, 2007:

"GAO: Government Accountability Office and General Accounting Office," updated June 22, 2007:

"Digital Surveillance: The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act," updated June 8, 2007:

"Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress," updated June 8, 2007:

"Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements," updated June 1, 2007:


Some of the most important news in Department of Defense information policy has to do with what did not happen.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon asked Congress to enact two new provisions that would have restricted public access to broad swaths of unclassified information (Secrecy News, 04/24/07). But Congress declined to approve either one.

One provision would have created a new exemption for unclassified information regarding weapons of mass destruction. The other proposed provision would have established civil and criminal penalties for unauthorized publication or sale of "geodetic products" (i.e. maps and images) that the Secretary of Defense had designated for "limited distribution."

Neither provision survived in either the House or Senate versions of the FY 2008 Defense Authorization Act and, barring extraordinary developments, will not be enacted into law.

Also this year, a Freedom of Information Act exemption for "operational files" of the Defense Intelligence Agency is set to expire. DIA did not request, and will not receive, an extension of the controversial exemption, which was adopted in the 2006 Defense Authorization Act with a "sunset" date of December 31, 2007.

Last week, the Department of Defense issued a final rule setting forth "the policies and procedures ... that permit U.S. citizens to perform historical research in records created by or in the custody of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD)":


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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