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The North Central Texas Fusion System (NCTFS) is operated by Collin County's Department of Homeland Security out of a room at the sheriff's office building.
The Collin County Observer released a copy of the February 19th "Prevention Awareness Bulletin" written and distributed by the NCTFS. The newsletter's message was that mainstream Muslim organizations were infiltrating American institutions, with the goal of gaining support for "Islamic-based issues".
The newsletter asked law enforcement to report legal, political behavior. Citing 'evidence' gathered from fringe conspiracy web sites, the article went so far as to say that because of lobbying efforts by Islamic groups, "the threats to Texas are significant."
Last Week, Caroline Fredrickson of the ACLU testified before the US House Homeland Security Committee. Speaking of the NCTFS's bulletin, Ms. Fredrickson testified, "Last month a Texas fusion center supported by DHS released an intelligence bulletin that described a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department and hip hop bands to spread Sharia law in the U.S.30 The bulletin, which reportedly is sent to over 100 different agencies, would be laughable except that it comes with the imprimatur of a federally backed intelligence operation, and it directs law enforcement officers to monitor the activities of these groups in their areas."
The NCTFS calls itself an "all hazards" fusion center. All hazards generally means that the system is trying to compile, combine and assess law enforcement, commercial, internet and national intelligence data in the local region. These fusion centers attempt to gather and store huge amounts of data on the activities not only of criminals, but of local citizens. Even the US Department of Homeland Security has been wary of privacy risks in these "all hazards" centers.
In December of 2008, the DHS issued a "Privacy Impact Statement" on regional fusion centers. The DHS report called for the establishment of community oversight committees and the prominent public disclosure of privacy policies, information collected and how the information will be used.
The NCTFS has not subscribed to nor adhered to these guidelines.
A bizarre, conspiracy-laden memo sent to almost 3,000 cops, fire marshals and public-health officials in North Texas links mainstream Muslim-rights organizations and anti-war groups to Middle Eastern terrorists, and calls on law enforcement to “report these types of activities.”
The leaked memo, dated Feb. 19 and labeled “For Official Use Only,” is one in a weekly series of “Prevention Awareness Bulletins” put out by the North Central Texas Fusion System, a regional intelligence-gathering center run by the Collin County Department of Homeland Security. Five such fusion centers, designed to consolidate and share intelligence with law-enforcement agencies, have been created in Texas since 9/11.
The bulletin has increased fears among civil libertarians and Metroplex Muslims that the North Central Texas Fusion System has edged into spying.
“This memo is not a plea for legitimate intelligence and seems to endorse discrimination against Muslims,” says Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. In a letter to state Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw, three Texas faith leaders have called for an investigation. The leaders say they find “troubling ... the lack of predicate for Reasonable Suspicion before Islamic and Leftist groups are to be spied upon in the course of their constitutionally protected civic activities.”
Serious as those implications are, the bulletin has a decidedly Keystone Kops: Kounter-Terror Squad flavor to it.
The memo suggests that terrorists have deployed lobbyists to turn Americans into pro-terror jihadists. “A number of organizations in the U.S. have been lobbying Islamic-based issues for many years. These lobbying efforts have turned public and political support towards radical goals such as Shariah [sic] law and support of terrorist military action against Western nations. ... The threats to Texas are significant.”
Who are these terror-loving lobbyists? The bulletin names names: The Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil-liberties group; the peace organization ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism); and the International Action Center, a group opposing imperialism and militarism founded by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
“Law enforcement should be aware of activities in their area,” the memo advises.
If it sounds like the fusion center analysis was based on right-wing Web sites prone to conspiracy-mongering, that’s because it was. Citations include an article on HumanEvents.com by the author of such books as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America Without Guns or Bombs; and a review of Stealth Jihad on FrontPage magazine’s Web site.
It gets weirder. The author of the weekly Prevention Awareness Bulletin is James Johnson, son of Congressman Sam Johnson, a Republican who represents Collin County. James Johnson and his wife, Anita Miller, have received at least $1 million in no-bid contracts from Collin County since 2004 to design and run the fusion system.
James Johnson and Miller declined e-mailed requests to comment, but Collin County spokesman Tim Wyatt downplayed the significance of the memo.
“The bulletin didn’t direct any agency to investigate or target anybody,” he said. “I don’t think fire marshals in North Texas are out hunting for radical terrorists.” He did say that the county would review the sources and how the document was written.
Wyatt sent the Observer two January issues of the bulletin to show that most were concerned with more sober topics. One of the January bulletins does steer clear of the Muslim Menace altogether, discussing the law-enforcement implications of failing banks and progress made in preparing for flu epidemics. But the other, dated Jan. 22, includes a 12-point “Suicide Bombing Indicator Checklist.” FYI: Watch out for “inappropriate attire,” “sweating,” “mumbling,” and, of course, “last-minute indulgence in ‘sin’.”
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