Domestic Terrorism Cases Up; Fusion Center Effectiveness In Question


Domestic terrorism was a major focus for police and federal agents after the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people 20 years ago Sunday. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, law enforcement shifted its focus from domestic to foreign terrorism. Today, while the number of violent incidents committed by domestic extremists is increasing, the holes in the net to catch them are growing larger, The Kansas City Star reports. A network of centers set up to detect and deter terrorism has done little of either, while federal funding to train law enforcement officers has been slashed. Authorities and others are beginning to raise the alarm. “Our leaders don't seem too concerned about the threat from within,” said Daryl Johnson, a former Department of Homeland Security analyst. “My fear is that there will be some kind of mass-casualty attack, with more people dying needlessly at the hands of domestic extremists. That's what keeps me awake at night.”

Since the 9/11 attacks,domestic extremists have killed more than 50 victims, many of them police officers, in dozens of attacks. The 78 “fusion centers” promoted by the Department of Homeland Security to be the centerpiece of terror intelligence in the wake of 9/11 has disrupted a system of police work that previously had been effective. Despite hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars pumped into them, the centers are largely autonomous and operated by disparate agencies that sometimes don't cooperate with one another. The fusion center victories DHS touts often have little to do with domestic terrorism. In fact, many of them involve drug busts, fugitive apprehension or natural disaster responses.

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