“People don’t know what fusion centers are,” says Catherine Bleish, who was the opening speaker at the 2010 New Hampshire Liberty Forum on March 19.
Fusion centers were created after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a way for local and state law enforcement agencies to share terrorism related information with the federal government, and vice versa. The idea quickly ran into problems, first among them the fact that there simply isn’t enough terrorist activity to justify the concept. Instead of shutting down as pointless, fusion centers gradually began expanding into sharing information about all crimes. Fusion center activity over the years has also raised concerns about government surveillance of legally protected political activity.
Bleish, who was led into becoming an activist by the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign, said she was informed of a report published by the Missouri Information Analysis Center, leaked in March 2009, which stated among other things that people with Gadsden flag and Ron Paul bumper stickers could be militia members or potential terrorists. Bleish, who is the executive director of the Liberty Restoration Project, spearheaded further investigation and activism, eventually leading to MIAC retracting the report.
“MIAC is a Department of Homeland Security fusion center,” she said during her speech. “These institutions are doing a lot of damage to the relationship between the general public and the law enforcement community.”
Bleish also runs Operation Defuse, a project to inform the public about the nature and activities of fusion centers and how those activities contribute to the federalization and militarization of law enforcement.
The New Hampshire Liberty Forum is an annual conference held by the Free State Project, a movement to bring 20,000 activists to New Hampshire to work toward reducing the size, scope and power of government and increasing individual liberty and responsibility. The project has signed over 10,000 participants, and over 800 have already moved. The Liberty Forum, and the project’s summer camping event, PorcFest, allow people undecided about the project to see the state firsthand and observe and participate in local activism.
[“Big Brother is Watching” photo by Darren Tse/DA Creative Photography; CC BY-SA 2.0]