Fusion Centers and Federalism: Erosion or Enhancement?   [open pdf - 386KB]

From the thesis abstract: "This thesis examines the broader federalism implications of fusion centers. From a constitutional perspective, these bodies matter because they stand squarely at the crossroads of federal, state, law enforcement, and intelligence concerns. Although collating state law enforcement information existed prior to 9/11, the growing linkage with a 'national' homeland security mission spawns an entirely new set of issues. The lines separating the levels and responsibilities of government, once clear and distinct, have now become ambiguous and confusing, thereby enabling states to reassert their power vis-à-vis the federal government. The decentralized nature of the overall homeland security apparatus and the growing complexity of the assigned tasks enables fusion centers, and thus the states themselves to rise in stature. Because each state is free to tailor its own security framework, fusion centers enjoy the kind of flexibility urgently needed in today's domestic security environment. This thesis addresses the recent advances in federalism by exploring two pillars of fusion center characteristics. The first section can be construed to be the 'hardware' piece; that is, the missions and structures under which they operate. The second section investigates the 'software' side, or the databases and networks containing the information and intelligence."

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