Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homeland Security Newsletter Said Anti-Drilling Protesters Could Be Threats

Governor Ed Rendell says he’s angry and embarrassed Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security provided information about environmental protests to drilling companies.
But no administration officials will be fired or disciplined for the controversial security bulletin.
An Office of Homeland Security newsletter distributed in August classified anti-Marcellus Shale drilling protests as potential threats, warning “environmental activists and militants” may grow violent, as natural gas drilling expands in Pennsylvania.
Rendell says he’s “appalled” peaceful protesters were labeled security risks.
He’s letting the state’s contract with the private security firm who assembled the data expire – but says State Homeland Security Director James Powers won’t be disciplined.

"The easiest thing would have been to come in and fire someone. But I’ve always tried to make sure that before we do that, we get to all the facts. And again, the ultimate responsibility for all this stuff is mine. And I am deeply embarrassed, and I apologize to all the groups."

The document also provided information about gay rights and anti-tax protests, among other events.
Jan Jarrett, the president and CEO of environmental group PennFuture, says it was “inappropriate” for the state to monitor environmental protesters’ activities.

"And it was also the lumping of – the lumping of these people within the terrorist umbrella. When they’re peaceful citizens, ordinary Pennsylvanians, concerned about a very important issue in Pennsylvania. The farthest thing from terrorists you could possibly imagine. That’s offensive."
Jarrett says she’s satisfied with the governor’s apology. But members of other groups profiled by the report say they’re frustrated no state staffers were disciplined or fired.
Others said they want to know which officials decided to provide the reports to drilling and energy companies.

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