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Rendell, who claimed he'd just learned about the practice, said Tuesday that the information was useless to law enforcement agencies and that distributing it was tantamount to trampling on constitutional rights.
A Philadelphia rally organized by a nonprofit group to support Rendell’s push for higher spending on public schools even made a bulletin, as did drilling protests at a couple of Rendell’s news conferences this month as he toured the state to boost support for a tax on the natural gas industry.
Lawsuit planned after protesters put on terror list
An activist who believes he was improperly included on a state terror threat list said this morning he is preparing a federal lawsuit.
"When people's civil rights are trampled it's a federal issue," said Gene Stilp of Harrisburg, who holds a Virginia law license but does not practice as an attorney.
Gov. Ed Rendell, speaking Downtown this morning, said he does not believe activists' Constitutional rights were violated.
The statement was a reversal from what he said yesterday. Asked in Harrisburg on Tuesday whether monitoring activists was "tantamount to trampling" on their Constitutional rights, he said: "I would say so."
The 12-page bulletin that was issued Aug. 30 included a list of municipal zoning hearings on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, a forestry industry conference and a screening of the documentary “Gasland” as events likely to be attended by anti-drilling activists.
Aside from the drilling-related events, the bulletin mentioned other potential security concerns that it said could involve “anarchists and Black Power radicals.”
It listed demonstrations by anti-war groups, deportation protesters in Philadelphia, mountaintop removal mining protesters in West Virginia and an animal rights protest at a Montgomery County rodeo.
It also included “Burn the Confederate Flag Day,” the Jewish high holidays and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as potential sources of risk.
Rendell said he learned of the matter from a story in The Patriot-News of Harrisburg
someone who received the Aug. 30 bulletin gave a copy to Virginia Cody, a retired Air Force officer who lives in Factoryville and is concerned about the rapid expansion of Marcellus Shale drilling in northeastern Pennsylvania.
“The idea that my government thinks that what I’m doing is worthy of anti-terrorism interest goes against everything I stand for and everything I ever stood for,” said Cody, 54.
Cody gave the document to a friend, who posted it on an online forum largely read by drilling opponents in the area, she said. She would not say who gave her the bulletin, just that the person works for a private company and was an intended recipient of it.
Amazon Review :
George Orwell envisioned Big Brother as an outgrowth of a looming totalitarian state, but in this timely survey Robert O'Harrow Jr. portrays a surveillance society that's less centralized and more a joint public/private venture.
Indeed, the most frightening aspect of the Washington Post reporter's thoroughly researched and naggingly disquieting chronicle lies in the matter-of-fact nature of information hunters and gatherers and the insatiable systems they've concocted. Here is a world where data is gathered by relatively unheralded organizations that smooth the way for commercial entities to find the good customers and avoid dicey ones. Government of course too has an interest in the data that's been mined. Information is power, especially when trying to find the bad guys. The mutually compatible skills and needs shared by private and public snoopers were fusing prior to the attacks of 9/11, but the process has since gone into hyperdrive. O'Harrow weaves together vignettes to record the development of the "security-industrial complex," taking pains to personalize his chronicle of a movement that's remained (perhaps purposefully) faceless. Recognizing the appeal of state-of-the-art systems that can track down a murderer/rapist with heretofore unimaginable speed, the author recognizes, too, that the same devices can mistakenly destroy reputations and cast a pall over a free society. In a post-9/11 world where homeland security often trumps personal liberty, this work is an eye-opener for those who take their privacy for granted.
Amazon Review :
On June 10th, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that the US had captured a known terrorist who was exploring a plan to explode a "dirty bomb" on American soil. That alleged terrorist was José Padilla who was finally charged in 2005 with conspiracy to murder. What Ashcroft didn't talk about was how information against him was obtained – by the relentless torture of one man-- Binyam Mohamed, in the name of the United States. Arrested at Karachi Airport before Padilla’s arrest on April 10, 2002, Mohamed was put on a luxury executive jet and flown to an interrogation center in Morocco. For over 18 months, he was subjected to one torture after another: Beating followed beating and, then, his guards produced razor blades and began to split the skin all over his body, including on his genitals. Since 1997, hundreds of people, many of whom have no ties to terrorist organizations, have been abducted from foreign airports or street corners on suspicions based at times on the flimsiest of evidence courtesy of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. In Ghost Plane, Stephen Grey tells the true story of the CIA's torture program known by the euphemism "extraordinary rendition" and the airplanes that make the program run. Begun during the Clinton administration, but taking a decidedly more voracious turn after 9/11, the rendition system has seen the transfer of more than 1000 prisoners into jails stretching from Guantanamo to Syria, from Kabul to Bangkok and beyond. Grey had access to the thousands of CIA flight records and has interviewed dozens of sources from the most senior levels of the National Security Council to the CIA. In Ghost Plane, he paints a disturbing picture of the War on Terror that reaches to the highest levels of power in Washington, D.C. and exposes the extreme ethical corruption at the heart of this US government program, a program finally acknowledged by President George Bush in September 2006, undertaken in the name of the citizens of the United States.
Gene Stilp democratic candidate in the 104th district comments on surveillance of activists opposed to marcellus shale drilling during a rally to protest "forced pooling' and statewide zoning exemptions for oil and gas companies drilling marcellus shale gas wells. Governor Rendell admitted that his administration had a $125K contract with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR)the firm tracked the activities of people engaged in lawful protests.
Originally posted by SpartanKingLeonidas
It is the corruption that is caustic to this nation not our own people.
State Homeland Security Director James F. Powers Jr., criticized for releasing terror bulletins that listed law-abiding protest groups, resigned to protect the office from further distraction, Gov. Ed Rendell said Friday.www.pittsburghlive.com...
State Homeland Security Director James F. Powers Jr., criticized for releasing terror bulletins that listed law-abiding protest groups, resigned to protect the office from further distraction, Gov. Ed Rendell said Friday.
Rendell said he did not ask Powers to quit.
Powers declined to comment through an aide but released a statement saying he decided to resign after "a thorough examination, detailed consideration, and reflection on emerging events" related to the terror bulletins.
The resignation of Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security Director James Powers is unlikely to quell the furor that has erupted in the wake of news that his office hired a private contractor that monitored the activities and online conversations of lawful citizen groups.
Gov. Ed Rendell announced Friday that Powers will step down Oct. 8, saying “Jim is a good man who made a very significant mistake in judgment."
Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, chair of the senate committee investigating the issue, said the resignation “opens the door to some badly needed changes, but restoring credibility to the operation now looks to be a monumental task.”
The public attention, contract termination, and Powers’ resignation all make it easy to say case closed: A homeland security bureaucrat overreached and fortunately he was smacked down by the state’s citizens and their elected representatives. But what Pennsylvania’s surveillance scandal shows is that a disturbing federal trend has trickled down to the states. In July, The Washington Post released its two-year investigation “Top Secret America.” The three-part series exposed how homeland security and intelligence have become big business at the expense of taxpayers. Currently, the federal government outsources a substantial amount of intelligence duties to unaccountable armies of contractors that produce redundant reports that are routinely ignored by the intelligence community. These reports remain secret, thus ensuring no public oversight, accountability, or fiscal responsibility.
The recent scandal in Pennsylvania looks eerily similar.