Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell says he is appalled that the state's Office of Homeland Security, unbeknownst to him, had been compiling and circulating information about protesters at peaceful gatherings.A WTAE News report here includes video of Governor Ed Rendell apologizing for "what he calls the $125,000 waste of taxpayer dollars, spent to investigate the so-called alert."
Banging his fist on the podium Tuesday evening, a visibly angry Rendell called the practice "absolutely ludicrous."
"Let me make this as clear as I can make it. Protesting against an idea, a principle, a process, is not a real threat against infrastructure," he said at a news conference. "Protesting is a God-given American right, a right that is in our Constitution, a right that is fundamental to all we believe in as Americans."
And, it wasn't just Marcellus Shale protests which were put on the official bulletin to law enforcement from Pennsylvania Homeland Security:
Among the rallies that were mentioned in the lists were a candle light vigil against the oil company BP, a gay pride festival and protests against natural gas drilling.Ah yes, this is what happens when you give these clowns free reign -- everyone becomes suspect.
"I apologize to the Marcellus Shale protesters. I apologize to the taxpayers protesters. I apologize to the lesbian and gay Pride Festival. I apologize to every single name that was on the list," Rendell said.
Another event whose protesters made the list was a rally in support of higher spending on public schools.
"Supporting my education bill? That was on the list," he said incredulously.
But, back to Marcellus Shale...
As far back as August 27th, there was a comment on this very blog by Gloria Forouzan of Lawrenceville Marcellus Action Group warning about Homeland Security's interest in those who oppose Marcellus Shale drilling:
This morning I rec'd notice that Homeland Security's been watching anti Marcellus chatter on the internet all summer long...And on September 9th, the Philadelphia City Paper posted an email authored by Pennsylvania Homeland Security chief James Powers which in part stated:
What a great use of our tax dollars.
“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.”The email was mistakenly sent to someone who participated in anti-drilling forums.
That same day, the Pittsburgh City Paper also posted a story at Chris Potter's Slag Heap blog about the Homeland Security "intelligence bulletin."
The origin for the bulletin story was a piece at ProPublica on September 8th:
Anti-drilling activists in the state say that public hearings and other events have been peaceful and that they see no evidence of violent opposition. Given the lack of evidence about "extremist" crimes, they say, the bulletin casts drilling opponents as criminals and threatens to stifle open debate.What other events were listed as needing observation? According to Chris Potter:
"It may very well be designed to chill peoples' very legitimate participation in public decision making," said Deborah Goldberg, an attorney with Earthjustice, a national group pressing for stronger environmental protections . "If people who have concerns fear that they are going to be treated as a security threat they may very well be afraid to go and express their views."
The advisory lists a series of public hearings on drilling permit issues across the state as potential flash points. It also mentions a Sept. 3 screening of the anti-drilling film "Gasland" in Philadelphia that went off without incident. Language describes "environmental activists and militants" on one side of the debate and "property owners, mining and drilling companies" on the other.
Finally, the bulletin groups the public hearings and film screening with protest rallies for anarchist clubs focused on "evading law enforcement," and with a Muslim advocacy group's rally for the release of suspects in an alleged terror plot at Fort Dix, N.J.
The advisory was sent to state law enforcement and local government groups, as well as businesses with a specific concern addressed in the bulletin. It was not intended to be distributed to the public.
These include such radical gatherings as a Pittsburgh City Council hearing on drilling slated for Sept. 13, and a zoning hearing in Upper St. Clair scheduled for Oct. 4.Participating in democracy -- what a radical notion!
Here's a video from Monday's dangerous, dangerous protest:
Obviously peacefully protesting out in full view on the very steps of City Hall and speaking at a public hearing constitutes crazy, militant terror activity.
If you too desire to be among dangerous "environmental extremists" terrorist types, you might want to take militant action by joining the MarcellusProtest Facebook page (so very subversive to put their activities there) or visit the Marcellus Shale Protest website (because plotting in secret is so 9/10).
UPDATE: Here's a thought: How frightening is it that the Pennsylvania Homeland Security chief mistakenly sent that email to "the other side." If they really believe that environmentalists are such security threats, wouldn't this be (in his mind) the equivalent of, oh say, cc'ing an al qaeda sympathizer on an email detailing how they're secretly tracking al qaeda events? What a putz!
UPDATE: 2: Bob Mayo also did a story on the intelligence bulletin on September 9th on WTAE.
You can see the intelligence bulletin on Pro Publica's site here.