Commissioner: No ‘spying’ by so-called fusion center
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A secretive state police unit gathered information on Maine citizens involved in legal activities but insisted they “we’re not spying on people,” Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Saushuck told lawmakers.
Legislators on the Judiciary, and Criminal Justice and Public Safety committees spent more than two hours asking questions about the so-called fusion center created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to collect, analyze and share intelligence between the state and federal government.
Sauschuck repeatedly insisted that the center is not an investigative agency and that it gathers open-source information as lawmakers asked questions for two hours, the Portland Press Herald reported.
“We’re not spying on people,” Sauschuck said. “This is public information that is readily available.”
Still, he did confirm that the fusion center collected information in advance of protests and rallies, using social media, for example, to estimate the potential size of a gathering.
The activities of the Maine Intelligence Analysis Center came under scrutiny after a federal whistleblower lawsuit alleged that the unit gathered and stored intelligence on gun buyers, power line protesters, and employees of a camp for Israeli and Arab teens.