For the past year, Texans for Accountable Government has been closely following the development of the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, a Department of Homeland Security funded fusion center. We are pleased to announce that our hard work has paid off in our battle against Big Brother, DHS, and the surveillance industrial complex.
In the end our concerns boiled down to three key issues; the inclusion of the “all-hazards” approach, compliance with the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, and a general lack of lateral oversight and accountability. Surely the Department of Homeland Security was taken aback when a gang of loony libertarians, along with a couple of ACLU folks, a gutsy Public Safety Commissioner, and one hell of a councilwoman, managed to significantly impact each one of the aforementioned grievances. Perhaps the biggest victory of all came in removing the “all-hazards” approach from ARIC. The “all-hazards” approach allowed ARIC to collect, analyze, and disseminate non-criminal information in order to prevent and respond to hazards such as public health emergencies or natural and/or man-made disasters. Our biggest concern, as confirmed by documents we obtained through a public information request, was that ARIC was to include a public health/medical analyst which would “Develop and Enhance Public Health Capabilities for Epidemiologic Response, Responder Safety and Health and Disease Surveillance to Include Response to All-Hazards Events and Public Health Emergencies.” This is of course a primary concern as ARIC was sold to us a “criminal intelligence” center, not an all inclusive information gathering apparatus which merges medical professionals with law enforcement officials. Upon this discovery, we immediately responded by putting together a press conference which was covered by much of the local Austin media. The media pressure, in addition to our relentless lobbying of the City Council, ultimately forced the DHS and the Austin Police Department to back away from the “all-hazards” approach all together! Score one for the good guys!
Once again ladies and gentleman, your friends at Texans for Accountable Government have fought tirelessly to ensure your privacy and civil liberties are protected. While it is unfortunate that Austin will soon have a fusion center of its own, as a result of our hard work, we at TAG are confident that the abuses which have occurred at fusion centers across the country will not be happening here in Central Texas. We will remain vigilant and watchful of ARIC and will soon begin preparing to attack her where she is vulnerable through legislation during the 2011 Texas Legislative Session. As our numbers grow and our influence strengthens, you can look forward to one day living in a city and state without a fusion center and maybe even a country without a Department of Homeland Security.
Remember, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance and we TAGsters have demonstrated our commitment to the cause time and time again. We hope that you will consider supporting our efforts by donating financially HERE.
Thank you again for your continued support. The tide is beginning to turn and TOGETHER, we WILL be FREE!