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    Springfield News-Leader: State retracts militia report

    Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Missouri Information Analysis Center (”MIAC”) publishing a report (1.7 MB pdf), “The Modern Militia Movement” that cautioned police to look for certain signs that individuals are part of the militia movement and to be wary of such people. The MIAC is creating a “dangerous person” profile that includes political affiliation and policies. 

    Now, the Springfield News-Leader reports that the Missouri governor is backtracking on his support of the report, which cautioned police to look out for supporters of third-party presidential candidates and people against the tax system.

    Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent James F. Keathley ordered the Missouri Information Analysis Center to “permanently cease distribution” of the Feb. 20 report, which labels fundamentalist Christians, members of third-party political movements, strict followers of the U.S. Constitution and people who oppose taxes, abortion and illegal immigration as possible members of militias.

    [Gov. Jay] Nixon and officials in his administration have previously defended MIAC’s report, which has brought national attention to the secretive intelligence-gathering work of state fusion centers.

    Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder spoke out against the report, saying it unfairly maligns “Christians, anti-abortionists and advocates for protecting our borders and supporters of certain political candidates as potential threats to the public safety.”

    I am glad the MIAC report focused a lot of attention on the secretive fusion centers. There needs to be much more oversight of and transparency about these domestic intelligence gathering programs. Note that the controversy has led to politicians denouncing the MIAC report, but the Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent still supports the substance of the report. 

    In a lengthy statement, Keathley expressed remorse for the lack of oversight in the creation and distribution of the report, but he did not apologize for its contents. Keathley said his office “would undertake a review of the origin of the report by MIAC.”

    For more on privacy and civil liberty questions surrounding fusion centers, you can read a report from the ACLU, “What’s Wrong With Fusion Centers?” It identifies problems with fusion centers, including: ambiguous lines of authority, role of private corporations and the military, use of data mining and secrecy surrounding the centers. The Department of Homeland Security also has issued a privacy impact assessment (pdf) of the centers, which echo many of the problems listed by the ACLU.

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