By Kenneth Lipp
The Wizard of the DVIC
It is apparent that direct engagement with the Center will be a visit to the Emerald City, with a very amiable Inspector Smith pulling levers behind the curtain. “Come back tomorrow,” the Wizard Smith tells those entreating him, again and again, until finally he is forced to surrender to them nothing but tokens of what they already had.
The ability of the policy to provide protections of civil rights depends upon a mechanism of penalties for violations and an authority under which those penalties are enforced. This authority, according to the policy, is assigned in some measure to the Privacy Officer and Security Officer, and ultimately to the Executive Director, Smith. Smith wrote the monograph on the DVIC as his thesis for a master’s degree, from a program at the Center for Homeland Defense created just for fusion center directors. Any inquiry made into the DVIC by official channels is redirected to him, and a suspicion cannot help but arise that this a systemic condition representing the immaturity of the facility’s oversight measures and stunted development (this state is reflected in the nascent, forced logic of the fusion center intelligence-led policing model as a whole.).
Like phone calls, the complaint and accountability feedback mechanism for the DVIC seems to have an “answering service,” with all issues being forwarded to Inspector Smith until such time as the designated position is filled.
“You’ll have to see the Wizard.”
It’s the Money
Fault for the fusion center’s delayed deployment and staff vacancies certainly should not fall on Inspector Smith alone, or even upon him most heavily. Twice during its development the project was suspended due to the truancy or suspected malfeasance of the City of Philadelphia.
After the completion of Phase I, an initial planning and assessment undertaken by SOSSEC, Inc for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force, Phase II was delayed for “about 12 months” while the City of Philadelphia looked for a building for the facility, according to SOSSEC’s VP Eugene Del Coco. And as reported by the Declaration vis-a-vis a Senate report, funds for the project were withheld by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2011 over concerns that the city was spending money to build a Real Time Crime Center on the site, a new construction expense prohibited under its Homeland Security Grant Program award.
A look at the Philadelphia Mayor’s Operating Budget for 2014 shows that the city intends to spend millions of such grant funds on the DVIC this year:
Mayor Michael Nutter has personally made several announcements of impending grand openings on different dates, and even now post-ribbon-cutting, the DVIC seems to be running on one leg with one eye to guide its course. There is no practical way that Inspector Smith, with a skeleton crew perhaps, can assure the public that an endeavor that crosses a multitude of jurisdictions to link dozens of entities, most of which are undisclosed, is being undertaken with due consideration of and response to its inherent risks to civil rights – even part time and not on the weekends, if this is the case.
Inquiry continues, and a meeting suggested yesterday with Inspector Smith, who in any event seems to be the only sanctioned source of official answers, is to be held, tentatively, next week. The Declaration is also conducting an already fruitful “web-mining” investigation to extract informative documents from the Internet, which we will use to enhance our coverage, and add to the DVIC archive on this site.