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Senate report: Costly anti-terror centers don't work, may violate civil liberties

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Mark Hooper/Flickr

Sign at the entrance to Portsmouth Dockyard: "Counter Terrorism Response Level Heightened."

A bipartisan U.S. Senate report released Wednesday concludes that the nation has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into anti-terrorism "fusion centers" over nine years, with little to show for all that spending. The report also raises concerns about information gathering and storage at the centers that could violate Americans' civil liberties. (You can read the full report below.)

Fusion centers, scattered around the country (with one in Los Angeles), were designed post-Sept. 11 as intelligence hubs where local and federal authorities could exchange information, follow up on reports of suspicious activity and coordinate in the event of disaster. Federal Department of Homeland Security officials have said they're a centerpiece of the nation's counterterrorism strategy.

To reach their conclusions, Senate investigators reviewed 13 months worth of reports the centers had generated and "could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot."