Tenn. ACLU questions inclusion on terror-tracking website

Thursday, December 23, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A spokesman for the state's Homeland Security Office says information about the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee was inaccurately posted on the website of a terrorist watchdog entity.

The Tennessee Fusion Center serves as a clearinghouse for information about criminals and potential terrorists.

Earlier this month, the ACLU sent out a letter to the state's public school superintendents that encouraged schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.

The center's website listed the ACLU action under “suspicious activity,” which Hedy Weinberg, Tennessee ACLU executive director, called “deeply disturbing.”

Homeland Security Office spokesman Mike Browning told the Associated Press on Dec. 21 that posting the ACLU’s action under “suspicious activity” was “a mistake” and that it should have been posted under the heading “general information.”

The Tennessean in Nashville reported yesterday that Weinberg still “questioned why the Fusion Center was monitoring the ACLU's dispatch in the first place, particularly when the note dealt with educational and policy issues, not law enforcement.”

“I think, mistake or not, I'm still not really clear why the ACLU is still listed,” the newspaper quoted Weinberg as saying. “I think the question remains, why is the Tennessee Fusion Center actually tracking or monitoring protected First Amendment activity.”

The Tennessean also reported that Dave Mitchell, head of the Tennessee Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Fusion Center, and Weinberg have agreed to meet to talk about the ACLU's concerns.

Tags: , ,