The OPJ has the beginnings of the story here.
In one recent blog, the pertinacious Potter posts:
But what pisses me off is ... how come it's only lefties who merit government scrutiny?And he boils things down to an irritating rhetorical question:
The Intelligence Bulletin that kicked off this mess is 12 pages long. Among the events it warns of presenting "additional risk factors" are the Jewish High Holidays and Ramadan (see? Muslims and Jews have some things in common after all! Let the healing begin!). Also supposedly presenting an opportunity for trouble: zoning hearings in Upper St. Clair, a Pittsburgh City Council hearing, and gatherings of such bloodthirsty groups as the Brandywine Peace Community.
It's a comprehensive list, except for one thing: It's only interested in political activity on the left.[italics in original]
So see if you can follow this logic. On the one hand, you have a pseudo-populist movement that noisily asserts its Second Amendment rights, and whose members widely consider the current government to be illegitimate and marching toward socialism. On the other hand, you have a demonstration slated to burn the flag used by an armed rebellion against the U.S. government. And guess which of these two groups apparently merits scrutiny?If that hasn't pissed you off, he's got more on the group doing the surveillance. Like any good security firm, it's difficult to dig up much info on it. As Potter has found out:
Mystery continues to surround the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, the non-profit group that apparently received $125,000 of state money to compile a controversial report on environmentalists opposed to natural-gas drilling.Go read Potter. As often as you can.
I first reported on this controversy -- which was opened up by online journalism organization ProPublica -- last week. Since then, Gov. Ed Rendell has disavowed the whole enterprise, while other politicians are calling for an investgation. City councilor Doug Shields, for example, asserted, "I want to see the 990s on this group," referring to documents that tax-exempt organizations must file.
That may not be so easy. While today's Post-Gazette notes that the group is registered as a non-profit with the state, I've been having some difficulty tracking down those 990s. The ITRR doesn't have a listing at Guidestar, a widely used clearinghouse for information about non-profit entities. Nor could I find a listing for the organization on the IRS website. (The agency does list two other Philadelphia-based terror-related groups,)
My colleague at the Philadelphia City Paper, Isaiah Thompson, has hit a similar brick wall.