House File 2435 introduced in the Minnesota Legislature will legitimize and authorize a fusion center in Minnesota called MNJAC. Since 2005, MNJAC has been under the radar of the public and the Legislature. In other words, many people do not know about it.
Minnesota has received millions of $$$ from the Department of Homeland Security since 2005 to set up MNJAC . There has been very little public discussion and oversight by the public or Legislature of what the Minnesota fusion center does and how it is organized because of the way it got started.
With money from the Federal Government, which did not need authorization from the Legislature, and a program that Minnesota law enforcement greatly wanted, it became in a very low key way, part of the BCA.
Now the Fed dollars are drying up, the Fusion Center is going to need state $$$ next year. They also want to expand their “activities.” Hence, the proposed bill.
No specific public hearings to the best of my knowledge were held to discuss in detail this new section of the BCA since 2005. It was skimmed over several times with the traditional oversight hearings, and possibly one or two others. MNJAC has had no effective and accountable legislative oversight.
Here is an example of “suspicious activity reports” which MNJAC pushes local police to do: http://americaswarwithin.org/articles/2011/09/07/mall-america-reports-brad-kleinerman
The bill authorizes in 10 plus lines, less public scrutiny, less public accountability, and more secrecy and expansion of power for law enforcement.
But more important there has never been a “real” opportunity for the citizens of Minnesota to scrutinize MNJAC. They can start by following or being part of the hearing next week:
THURSDAY, March 1, 2012- 10:15 AM
Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance
Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Tony Cornish, HF2435 (Woodard) Fusion center to assist with detection, prevention, and investigation of, and response to criminal and terrorist activities provided