LEO HOHMANN: Brenda Arthur received an unexpected visit on March 8 that, one week later, leaves her feeling more than a little uneasy.
At her door that day was an officer with the West Virginia State Police. He wanted to know about her involvement in a Freedom of Information request regarding a local mosque.
Arthur, who will turn 67 this summer, serves as leader of the West Virginia chapter of ACT For America, whose mission is to educate Americans about the advancement of Islamic principles in Western societies.
As a Jewish American, she was concerned about a major expansion of the Islamic Association of West Virginia in her hometown of South Charleston. This mosque has hosted an openly anti-Semitic preacher in the past, and so she went to city hall in late January to have a look at its construction permits and site plans, something that is within the right of every American citizen under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and state open-records laws.
She had no idea that this perfectly legal activity, performed every day by citizen watchdogs across the U.S., would prompt a visit from the state police.
She was not available to answer the door when Sgt. R.C. Workman came knocking, but Workman left his business card with a hand-written note on the back:
“Brenda, please contact me at: 304-573-6190.”
Workman’s unit is part of the West Virginia Intelligence Exchange, a secretive outfit that works closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “intelligence fusion center” in West Virginia.
All 50 states have at least one DHS fusion center, and the story of Brenda Arthur lends credence to the views of civil libertarians that these centers, whatever their stated purpose, have been weaponized against law-abiding American citizens.
Fusion centers were established a few years after the 9/11 terror attacks by the George W. Bush administration and expanded under Barack Obama.
The West Virginia Fusion Center website says its mission is to “Embrace proactive intelligence efforts. Those efforts are key to inhibiting criminal networks, whether those groups are terrorists, drug-related groups, organized crime, or other criminal enterprises.”
Fusion centers work with “non-traditional sources,” including corporate America, to build threat assessments on people.
But what is it about Brenda Arthur that could garner the attention of this specialized police unit? She seems like an unlikely candidate to be involved in terrorism or organized crime. more here