I was curious as to whether the South Dakota Fusion Center (no, not the secret lab at Mines where the grad students brew moonshine with cold fusion) had gotten corporate-fascist briefings from TransCananda on potential Keystone XL protests. The Canadian company has told Nebraska law enforcement that folks taking pictures and asking questions are potential eco-terrorists; I'd like to know if TransCanada propagandists have said similar things to South Dakota officials about Bret Clanton, Phyllis Cole-Dai, Vi Waln, and other nice South Dakotans who've expressed misgivings about running another tar sands pipeline through our state.

Homeland Security probably already knows I'm curious thanks to NSA surveillance. But I wrote to the South Dakota Fusion Center anyway:

I'm curious: has the South Dakota Fusion Center received materials or briefings pertaining to possible protest activities against TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline? If so, can your office make those materials available for public review? [CAH, e-mail, 2013.06.17]

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety responds this morning:

Dear Sir, [again, formal letter: colon, not comma!]

Thank you for your request for information. We are unable to  respond to your request in any specific way due to provisions of SDCL 1-27-1.5 (5), 1-27-1.5 (8), 1-27-1.5 (27) and provisions of the South Dakota Fusion Center Privacy Policy. Our privacy policy is available on our website at:


[Jenna E. Howell, Director, Division of Legal and Regulatory Services, South Dakota Department of Public Safety, e-mail, 2013.06.19]

No soup for you, press! Here are the open records exceptions DPS cites:

(5)      Records developed or received by law enforcement agencies and other public bodies charged with duties of investigation or examination of persons, institutions, or businesses, if the records constitute a part of the examination, investigation, intelligence information, citizen complaints or inquiries, informant identification, or strategic or tactical information used in law enforcement training. However, this subdivision does not apply to records so developed or received relating to the presence of and amount or concentration of alcohol or drugs in any body fluid of any person, and this subdivision does not apply to a 911 recording or a transcript of a 911 recording, if the agency or a court determines that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the interest in nondisclosure. This law in no way abrogates or changes §§ 23-5-7 and 23-5-11 or testimonial privileges applying to the use of information from confidential informants;

...(8)      Information solely pertaining to protection of the security of public or private property and persons on or within public or private property, such as specific, unique vulnerability assessments or specific, unique response plans, either of which is intended to prevent or mitigate criminal acts, emergency management or response, or public safety, the public disclosure of which would create a substantial likelihood of endangering public safety or property; computer or communications network schema, passwords, and user identification names; guard schedules; lock combinations; or any blueprints, building plans, or infrastructure records regarding any building or facility that expose or create vulnerability through disclosure of the location, configuration, or security of critical systems;

...(27)      Any other record made closed or confidential by state or federal statute or rule or as necessary to participate in federal programs and benefits.

The South Dakota Fusion Center's privacy policy says that individuals may review information about them collected by the Fusion Center "for the purpose of challenging the accuracy or completeness of the information"; however, the Fusion Center can still deny that access if they determine disclosure would interfere with an ongoing investigation, endanger the safety of "an individual, organization, or community," or are otherwise deemed confidential or secret.

So if TransCanada is bad-mouthing South Dakotans to our law enforcement officials, we probably aren't going to find out about it, not without a lot of lawyering.