‘Deeply embarrassed’ Pa. gov. shuts down intelligence reports on peaceful protesters

By Marc Levy, AP
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

‘Appalled’ Pa. gov. halts reports on protesters

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A deeply embarrassed Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is apologizing to groups whose peaceful protests or events were the subject of regular anti-terrorism bulletins being distributed by his homeland security director.

Rendell said Tuesday that the information was useless to law enforcement agencies and that distributing it was tantamount to trampling on constitutional rights.

He said he’s ordering an end to the $125,000 contract with a Philadelphia-based organization that supplied the information, but isn’t firing his homeland security director.

Rendell said he learned of the matter from a newspaper story Tuesday morning.

The bulletins apparently were being shared with the state’s booming natural gas industry because of concern over acts of vandalism at gas wells.

Rendell said one bulletin even included information about a rally in support of his education priorities.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Ed Rendell says he is looking into an intelligence bulletin out of his homeland security office that lists events likely to be attended by environmental activists.

Questioned about news reports on the bulletin, Rendell said Tuesday he was not aware of how it was assembled but would find out.

James Powers, the governor’s homeland security director, told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg that he started inserting information about anti-drilling activists in the bulletins because of recent acts of vandalism around the state related to the natural gas industry.

The bulletin includes a list of municipal hearings, a forestry industry conference and a screening of the documentary “Gasland” as events likely to be attended by anti-drilling activists.

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