You might remember Bob Johnson, who ran the Raytheon facility in Garland, Texas that rediscovered the links between Atta and Al Qaeda in September 2000, after the previous analysis done at LIWA was lost due to the destruction of their data?
Here is an article about his latest efforts. Biased, but still interesting:
Fusion centers arose amid post-9/11 efforts to get local and state law enforcement involved in anti-terrorism. Federal authorities wanted the nation’s 800,000 or so local and state cops turned into a vast “eyes and ears” network. Information from this army could be fed into local, regional, and state centers where various data streams would be “fused” into a powerful intelligence product. Private-sector databases, criminal records, tips, credit reports, medical records, accounts of suspicious activity—anything that might help analysts “fight a global jihadist adversary,” in the words of the Congressional Research Service, would be used to connect dots.
Many cities and states happily accepted the charge, not to mention the Homeland Security dollars tagged for fusion. Today there are about 60 fusion centers nationwide, and five in Texas. There’s no sign they’re going away. In March, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a national conference of fusion centers that they would be the “centerpiece of state, local, federal intelligence-sharing for the future.” The Obama stimulus package contains $250 million for fusion.
...Most of the center’s activity happens on 20 computer servers humming away in an unseen, secure room. The system holds some 90 million records and is stuffed with data-mining programs and analytical tools customized by Bob Johnson....
“What’s their authority for gathering information off the Internet?” asks German. “Are we devoting law-enforcement resources to gathering information off the Internet every day? To what end? Now does anyone who posts something on the Internet have to worry that they’re being run through a data-mining program? It’s a 1984 version of America that doesn’t even make sense from a security standpoint.”
Here we go again. You don't need authority to gather information off the internet. That's the point of the web. Don't blame German. He's former FBI.