Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Governor Rendell Fails to Fire Staff Who Hired Spies with Tax Dollars

Gov. Rendell has yet to fire the spies--or the people in his office that hired them.

In an article yesterday in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Angela Couloumbis reports that Governor Rendell, who professed that he never knew that members of his staff hired a anti-terrorism security contractor to spy on activists against hydrofracking, and was upset to hear about it, has failed to take any action at all in firing the staff responsible. We have a Big Brother readers, and his name just might be Eddie.

You see, Rendell is a buddies with Big Gas and a big fan of hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale--even without a severance tax or safety regulations, and the way this has all played out so far, is that when activists have organized large rallies where the governor will be speaking, the speaking engagement has been canceled or postponed. Not only is it ridiculous and criminal to be spying on citizens as terrorists who pose no threat at all to homeland security, but they do it with OUR tax dollars. 

And now, activists groups are suing for this civil right violation, and guess who gets to pay to defend Big Brother? That's right, YOU do.


David Caines said...

While I can't say that I support Mr. Rendels actions, the Fracture mining issue is perhaps the only one that our state and federal agencies have contacted me about over the last year. Mostly in an effort to get good intelligence on the growth of hate groups (white/black and other) in the areas surrounding the work here in Pa. For an assortment of reasons it is know that hate group recruitment is up in those areas, and I don't think it unlikely that some violence will result. The question of course is are we talking about a few pushes and beatings or is the way that Marcellus Shale is handling itself going to be the thing that pushes some into0 acts of terrorism, racial or environmental. What I think a lot of us forget over things like this is that our national intelligence agencies were gutted after the "End" of the cold war, and most of our actionable intelligence comes from outside contractors at this point.
The worry around terror attacks over the fractal drilling issue may be complete paranoia. Personally nothing I've seen supports the idea of a new or deviant group willing to cross the line, but in the wake of 9/11 and rising terrorist incidents, it is possible that Mr. Rendel is simply trying to prevent loss of life. Let's face it folks if we'd had a few more active intelligence assets on the ground on 9/10...9/11 may not have come to pass. There is of course the question of freedom vs. security, but that is way too ind epth to deal with in this format.

noel jones said...

David--you're right, this goes back to our earlier conversations on this blog about civil liberties vs. "security."

I will again quote Ben Franklin:

"Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."

Even Ed Rendell knows that this is an unwarranted violation of civil liberties--that's why he has the good sense to be embarrassed by the expose, to deny any knowledge, and to blame it on his staff.

The argument you are making could be made for ANY opponent of any measure making its way through the legislature and senate, and when big corporations have enough lobbying power to spend $5 million lobbying in the PA state capitol alone to pressure our elected officials, it is a very slippery civil liberties slope to jump on by making excuses for spying on activists and reporting the intelligence back to the corporations who want to squelch political opposition to their ambitions to acquire more wealth.

These articles report that there has been no threat from these groups, and yet we the taxpayers were unwittingly paying to spy on them, when they are simply exercising their rights to free speech as Americans and engaging in their political process as citizens.

Even Rendell has the sense to be embarrassed by this. The question is, what's he going to do about it?

David Caines said...

Valid question, it is a tight rope, we want to be safe, but at what price?
I don't think it's surprising that groups that might be linked to terrorism should have a reasonable expectation that they will be investigated. I don't think that any action outside of standard policing was called for. And personally I oppose all actions of the company involved. I've been fairly vocal about it, I may have been investigated, I'm sort of nonplussed about it. I live in a very different world than Ben Franklin, women have the vote, all races are approaching equality under law, and modern terrorists can destroy a city like NYC in A millisecond and we can all watch it in real-time. As well, as one of those who helped frame the constitution, Franklin was one of the first to debate where the line between freedom and security lay in America. By the standard of his own statement, he would deserve neither. I respect our founding Fathers, but realize that very little of what held in their day holds in ours.

Anonymous said...

I completely do not understand the point being made here.

Terrorists will try to stop fracking? How is that terrorism?

When living people try to defend their resources against for profit corporations and the politicians who are bought by them - is that what is being defined here at terrorism?

noel jones said...

Check this link to the state site where these "terrorism" alerts are listed to see just how ridiculous it is:

This is the nonsense that PA taxpayers are paying an Israeli contractor $103,000 for.

noel jones said...

The latest article on this scandal: