All Eyes on PA Homeland Security Surveillance

All Eyes on PA Homeland Security Surveillance

11/28/2010

The legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania described the collaboration between Pennsylvania Homeland Security, the police forces, and the private industry, as a nasty arrangement where citizen activists are being suspiciously eyed. His statement came about when reports of moves to recruit “a network of citizen spies to combat the security threats they saw in virtually any legal political activity” surfaced.

Another Pennsylvania ACLU official, Sara Mullen, has been monitoring “terror watch” dispatches coming from the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security. These “terror watch” communiqués reportedly used “intelligence” gathered by ITRR, a private consulting firm that ACLU perceives as dubious, that was hired to monitor activists.

In an interview with the Weekly Press last November 8, Mullen said, “From reading these bulletins, it’s clear that ITRR and the Office of Homeland Security found any expression of disagreement with the government or industry – even passing out pamphlets at a music festival – a potential threat. In reality, it was ITRR and OHS who posed a threat to Pennsylvanians’ constitutional rights.”

ACLU, as well as investigative journalists, armed with “Right to Know” requests, continues to discover startling information regarding the nature, coverage, and obvious intent of PA Homeland Security’s monitoring of legal and peaceful activists during the past year.

Despite the resignation of the chief of PA Homeland Security, James Powers, ACLU claims that monitoring activities continue.

When asked for comment on these findings, Witold Walczak, the PA ACLU legal director, said, “They’re not focused on illegal activity — they’re focused on people organizing, and clearly everybody’s in bed with the drilling industry… It’s one thing for private industry to hire groups like ITRR to gather information, but for the government to get involved — you’ve got a nasty menage-a-trois going on here and the citizen activists are the ones getting fracked.”

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com