Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hearing On Security Bulletins

The head of Pennsylvania’s Homeland Security Office defended controversial security bulletins during a State Senate hearing Monday.
The documents, which Governor Ed Rendell called “worthless,” provided information about political protests and upcoming religious holidays, along with other data.
Pennsylvania Homeland Security Director James Powers apologized to groups who felt like the primers infringed on their freedom, but he defended the intelligence, saying the information was useful to ground-level officials.

"For me and for you, does it matter what’s happening in Cecil Township? Well, it matters to the chief of police, who does not have analysts, who does not have researchers, and is responsible to the elected leaders there for public safety."

The state paid more than 100-thousand dollars to a private security firm for the information, but Rendell decided not to renew its contract after the bulletins were made public.
During the hearing, officials from the State Police told lawmakers they repeatedly questioned the value of the reports.
Powers said he heard their complaints, but disagreed. "On a couple of occasions they were concerned that some of the information looked like it was of useless value. But I knew from the stakeholders themselves - the people we wrote this document for, the people at the lowest level of government – that it was useful to them."

Powers says no tax dollars were spent on the bulletins, which were funded by federal grant money. Several senators were hostile to Powers during the hearing.
One Democrat, Senator Jim Ferlo of Allegheny County, told Powers he should be fired.

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