Fusion Centers Looking for Applications for Data Mining Capacity

The Department of Homeland Security Department has funded 72 state and local Fusion Centers, which establish data mining relationships with public and private data warehouses.

The main task of fusion centers is putting data in a form that analysts can turn into useful information that contributes to improved decision-making. Fusion centers combine data from various sources — primarily federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, but also other repositories, such as driver’s license databases — and make the information available through a single interface or, at least, in a single location.

After September 2001, fusion centers have experienced a rapid expansion.

Local and state law-enforcement agencies that operate Fusion Centers depend on funding from Federal government agencies to open centers, train staff, and develop intelligence expertise.

It has long been understood that local and state law-enforcement did not want to limit the work of Fusion Centers solely to terrorism related investigations. However, the relationships between state/local Fusion Centers and Federal government agencies is not transparent.

According to a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union:

New institutions like fusion centers must be planned in a public, open manner, and their implications for privacy and other key values carefully thought out and debated. And like any powerful institution in a democracy, they must be constructed in a carefully bounded and limited manner with sufficient checks and balances to prevent abuse.

Judicial review of Indonesia’s 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction Law

In the second phase of a judicial review of the 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction Law, the Constitutional Court heard plaintiffs argue that further regulation would hurt law-enforcement efforts, the Jakarta Globe reports.

The law, also known as ITE, allows law-enforcement agencies to conduct electronic surveillance, including wiretapping and monitoring of e-mail and other Internet communications, and is due for further government regulation.

“We deserve to live under the protection of the state and we deserve rights to use communication devices freely. All methods of correspondence must be protected by the government,” Anggara, the director of the Institute of Criminal Justice Reform, one of the plaintiffs demanding the review, told the hearing. “Since [wiretapping] is already allowed by law, why should it be regulated via a government regulation?”

Anggara argued that if the government used regulations to control interception mechanisms, it would run contrary to the rights of the people, since the regulation would not be formulated by accommodating the aspirations of the public.

“If wiretapping were ruled simply by a law [not a regulation], then the public’s opinions would be accommodated by the House of Representatives. We believe that in any case, interception violates our constitutional right to maintain confidentiality.”

The government, through the Ministry of Information and Communication, plans to issue a regulation on wiretapping. Minister Tifatul Sembiring wants law enforcers to get approval for wiretaps from the court and ministry.

Andrinof Chaniago, a political expert at the University of Indonesia, said wiretapping was already regulated by existing legislation. A new regulation “will only lengthen the processing of cases and add more bureaucratic red tape into corruption-eradication efforts.”

Emerson Yuntho, deputy head of Indonesia Corruption Watch, said requiring prior approval could lead to conflicts of interest. But Safri Nugraha, dean of the law faculty at UI, said in some instances it was appropriate that wiretapping be conducted under restricted conditions with a court-issued warrant.

“They should have to provide sufficient early evidence to the court that wiretapping is needed in the investigation,” he said. “Otherwise, it might be abused.”

NGO’s develop checklist for next special rapporteur on torture

The Coalition of International NGOs Against Torture (CINAT) has developed a checklist of suggested criteria to be considered in selecting the next UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Special Rapporteur Nowak’s term expires in November 2010, and careful consideration is required to maintain the high quality of appointments to this important position. View the CINAT Checklist here.

Daniel Benjamin remarks on US international counterterrorism policy

U.S. Government Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism Statement by Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Read the statement here.

International Counterterrorism Policy in the Obama Administration: Developing a Strategy for the Future Remarks by Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State, at the International Peace Institute. Read the statement here.

New INEX papers

The promotion of human security in EU security policies – by Inger Helene Sira and Jonas Gräns

This Policy Brief calls for a comprehensive understanding of the internal/external security landscape from an EU perspective. The expansion of activities and policies that favour a closed Union, with the extensive investment in counter-terrorism, has the potential of becoming counterproductive for the safety of EU citizens. The EU’s common foreign and security policy should instead focus on adopting an approach that is firmly in line with the principles of human security. To a large extent, this has been incorporated in the European security strategy, which adheres to these principles. In this context, however, the discourse as well as the official documents need to be followed up with due and serious action. In doing so, the root causes of insecurity can be addressed, and the security of Europe and the rest of the world will ultimately be at the centre of attention.

Security as a commodity: The ethical dilemmas of private security services by Jelle van Buuren

Private security services are gaining importance in the general provision of security. This Policy Brief argues that what we are seeing is not simply the transfer of security functions or responsibilities from the public sector to the private sector, but an overall expansion in both private and public security. Against this background, the paper examines the provision of security as a commodity, which can give rise to different ethical dilemmas related to accountability, transparency and other issues of ‘good governance’.

The EU and the European Security Industry: Questioning the ‘Public-Private Dialogue’ by Didier Bigo & Julien Jeandesboz

In September 2007, the European Commission published a Communication on “Public-Private Dialogue in Security Research and Innovation”, purportedly to specify the guidelines, objectives and modalities for the relations between public and private actors in EU-funded security research schemes. The authors of this paper, however, charge that the tabling of this Communication was misleading in light of the fact that relations between the European institutions, particularly the European Commission, and major companies in the field of defence and security, have intensified significantly since the early 2000s. They have found that major defence and security companies have played a key role in the definition of the orientation and priorities of the EU’s research and development policy for security-related technical systems – and also turn out to be the major beneficiaries of this policy. Against the background of this observation, they then explore a series of questions concerning the ‘dialogue’ advocated by the European Commission. Firstly, between whom is this dialogue supposed to take place? Previous and current EU security research schemes have notoriously left little room for participants other than major industrial groups, on the one hand, and national and European security agencies and services, on the other. Secondly, what should be the purpose of such a dialogue?

Justice, CIA clash over probe of interrogator IDs

Georgetown SLB reports that the CIA and Justice Department are fighting over a secret investigation into a controversial program by legal supporters of Islamist terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay that involved photographing CIA interrogators and showing the pictures to prisoners, an effort CIA officials say threatens the officers’ lives.

UK Counterterrorism measures in British Airports

New Report by the Home affairs Committee in the house of Commons. Read it here.