Washington's Surveillance Complex

Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC) / Washington Joint Analytical Center (WAJAC)

WSFC is a federal, state, local and private sector partnership that encourages cross-agency information sharing.  WSFC compiles information from a variety of sources (local law enforcement, Regional Intelligence Groups, Federal Agencies, and the Private Sector) and issues periodic Threat Assessments. 

The WSFC replaces the WAJAC, which lacked guidelines for intelligence gathering and operated without accountability or oversight.  By engaging in public education and working with local officials, we hope to create safeguards that eliminate the problems presented by WAJAC.

Regional Intelligence Groups

Regional Intelligence Groups (RIGs) are satellite offices that compile and distill information from local law enforcement.  RIGs then feed information to WSFC.

Public files released by the Tacoma Police Department show that analysts do not limit their searches to groups associated with criminal behavior.  Fusion center reports from Texas, Virginia and Missouri mirror this pattern.

Private Contractors

The Washington State Fusion Center is partially funded by a federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security. A clause in the grant requires that fusion center analysts paid with federal dollars be private, independent contractors.  As noted in the Washington Statewide Integrated Intelligence Plan, Washington is also engaged in a broad effort to attract private sector participation in the fusion center.   Experiences with private contractors taking over other government functions – including prisons and detention centers – causes us great concern. Such programs lack transparency and accountability.  

Suspicious Activity Reporting in Washington

On January 28, 2010, the ACLU of Washington attended the Building Communities of Trust program, sponsored by the Seattle Police Department, the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.  The program provided background on the SAR initiative.  The ACLU-WA stated its concern with accountability and oversight, and will continue to monitor the local SAR initiative to help ensure compliance with civil liberties safeguards.

The ACLU has submitted a public records request in order to learn more about Seattle’s program, including its criteria for what is “suspicious.” Read our request.


The ACLU is actively litigating two cases with heavy overtones of government surveillance without suspicion.  In McCarthy v. Barrett, The ACLU is challenging unwarranted surveillance of individuals’ First Amendment free speech activities as well as unjustified restrictions on lawful demonstrations.  In Chinn v. Blankenship, the ACLU is challenging the pre-textual stop and arrest of a young man on his way to an anti-war protest who was pulled over after his car was identified as carrying “three identified anarchists.”

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