In October 2010, Jim Powers, PA Homeland Security Director resigned following the news of surveillance of gas drilling opponents and other activist groups and protestors.
Pennsylvania had a private contract with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR).
The then Governor Ed Rendell has originally refused to fire Powers, but backtracked saying he was ‘deeply embarrassed’ and ‘appalled’ by the contract and the type of free speech activities his state was monitoring.
Rendell did not renew the contract with ITRR.
Although the headlines at that time focused on “gas drilling opponents” and “environmentalists” we should note that ITRR also “spied” on groups such as the Tea Party Express, pro-drillers such as Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance (NWPOA), 2-4 Mid-Atlantic Citizen Homeland Security Association (2-4MACHSA or “Mountain Men”), LGBT Gay Pride Parade in Harrisburg PA, Brandywine Peace Community, anarchist organizations, and more.
Oct 4, 2010: Senator Kim Ward Questions Former Homeland Security Director James Powers, P.E.M.A. Robert French; Pennsylvania State Police Major George Bivens and Michael Perelman from the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response. The Questions were part of the Senate Investigative hearing held regarding a contract between PA Homeland Security and I.T.R.R.
POWERS, WITMAR and BRAVO
According to the video above, the Pennsylvania Actionable Intelligence Bulletins (PAIB) provided by ITRR were sent to about 800 law enforcement officers, regional advisors and security directors of corporations operating in the Marcellus Shale.
Comparing himself to the Tommy Lee Jones’ character in the film “The Fugitive,” Powers said, “I don’t care” which side of the issue someone is on — or if they’re innocent. “My concern is public safety.” However, the “intelligence” in the briefings includes lists of public meetings the state has determined anti-drilling activists plan to attend.
“I find it kind of creepy that the state is compiling information on the innocuous activity of citizens,” said Jan Jarrett, president of PennFuture, a group that has expressed concern about drilling issues.
When one of these intelligence bulletins was spotted on a pro-drilling Internet site and disseminated among anti-drilling activists, Powers sent an e-mail of reprimand to the woman who e-mailed it.
He mistakenly thought she was pro-drilling.
In the e-mail, Powers told the woman the “sensitive information” she disseminated is not meant for the public, but only for those “having a valid need to know.”
He added, “We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders, while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.”
Powers sent copies of his e-mail to the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response as well as to Pam Witmer, a lobbyist with the Bravo Group, which lobbies for the gas industry.
This raises the question of why Pam Witmer, Energy & Environmental Practice Lead Government Relations for Bravo Group received emails from Powers. Neither Witmer or Bravo Group are fall into the category of law enforcement officers, regional advisors or security directors.
Other clients of Bravo Group include Edison, Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, Peoples Natural Gas and Sunoco. Witmer was President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, a trade association, from 2000 to 2007. Bravo group is also listed as an associate member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas industry funded organization.
In November 2010, the then Governor-Elect Tom Corbett began assembling his transition teams. One of those teams was the Energy & Environment Transition Committee. Pam Witmer was on that team.
Witmer was appointed as a Commissioner by Corbett to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission in 2011.
Big questions still loom. Who else did Powers email? And is PA Homeland Security sending out similar emails and reports to people and corporations who are not law enforcement officers, regional advisors or security directors?
READ THE DOCUMENTS:
- Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR) Pennsylvania Actionable Intelligence Bulletins (PAIB) for March and June 2010
- Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR)) Pennsylvania Actionable Intelligence Bulletins (PAIB) for August 2010
- Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR)) Pennsylvania Actionable Intelligence Bulletins (PAIB) for September 2010
- Pennsylvania Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Hearing – September 27, 2010: Senator Lisa Baker, Chair and Aaron Shenck, Executive Director
©2013 by Dory Hippauf