Please assist us in keeping the information provided in the PIB [Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin] to those having a valid need-to-know; it should only be disseminated via closed communications systems. Thanks for your support. We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.
James F. Powers, Jr. | Director
Office of Homeland Security
Excerpt from an email by Jim Powers, former director of Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security mistakenly sent to a critic of gas drilling in Pennsylvania.- Advertisement -
The "support" Powers was referring to was intelligence information provided by the Institute for Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), a private Philadelphia/Jerusalem based company that received a $103,000 no-bid contract from the PA Office of Homeland Security. ITRR boasts that its "Analyst team is comprised of the leading experts in terrorism and international security," and that "Intelligence is gathered by multi-language and Arab native-language who have previously served in security and armed forces positions in the war on international and domestic terror."
However, the "intelligence" provided to Homeland Security in Pennsylvania by ITRR was comprised almost exclusively of reports on activities and events organized by political (from anti-tax Tea Party groups to anti-war organizers), environmental, LGBTQ and animal rights activists who challenged the government and private sector interests.
Even though the Pennsylvania state legislature, after initial outrage, seems content to consider this an isolated incident (James Powers resigned and Governor Ed Rendell allowed ITRR's contract to expire) and move on with business as usual, this is just a symptom of a larger issue of a failed and dangerous intelligence network in the United States. OpEdNews.com will be reporting more on these abuses in future issues.
In response to this assault on first amendment rights and in the shadow of recent FBI raids of activists in the Twin Cities and Chicago, the ACLU along with targeted activists joined forces in a town hall titled the "War on Dissent." OpEdNews covered this event held in Philadelphia earlier this week.
The videos below include must-see presentations by Mary Catherine Roper, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania; Paul Hetznecker, a Philadelphia civil rights attorney; Michael German, former FBI agent now with the ACLU Policy Counsel; and Jess Sundin, one of the targets of the recent FBI raids on activists in the Midwest. The forum was moderated by activist and attorney, Michael Coard.