Fact Check: Mountaintop Removal Protest Labeled “Terrorist” by PA Homeland Security Was Entirely Peaceful
There’s disturbing news on the Homeland Security front that you may have heard about if you live in the state of Pennsylvania. If you live elsewhere you’re not likely to have heard a word, since wire services and newspapers outside Pennsylvania have neglected to cover it. Regardless of whether you live in Pennsylvania, you should know what’s going on, because it’s part of an metastasis in the covert surveillance industry that has stretched its fingers to touch every state in the nation.
The Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security has been caught distributing a full 137 bulletins over the past year alone regarding the political protest activities of law-abiding Pennsylvanians. These bulletins were distributed not only to government and law enforcement officials, but to private corporations as well, with the express purpose of countering protesters and supporting corporate interests. “We want to continue providing this support to … stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.” — that’s a quote from Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security chief James Powers.
The 4th and 1st Amendments to the United States Constitution make it doubly illegal to spy on people who’ve commited no crime in order to stop them from engaging in acts of dissent. Yet the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security distributed 137 of these bulletins produced by Homeland Security contractor ITRR, the Institute for Terrorism Research and Response. ITRR got the job thanks to a no-bid contract, and all this is made possible by funding from the federal U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Now that the news is out, Democratic Party officials in the Pennsylvania state government insist they knew nothing of these activities, which means that they’re either lying or they didn’t actually read the terrorist activity alerts that were regularly distributed to them. ITRR’s TAM-C analysis unit, based in Israel, has intelligence assets deployed around the world and declares its work to be:
… no clipping service, but a powerful fusion center of battle-tested operatives, analysts, and researchers who have real-life experience fighting both terrorists and criminal entities. TAM-C is distinguished among other agencies by its access to a vast network of on-the-ground key-sources in virtually every region of the world.
ITRR repeatedly refers to itself as a private intelligence agency with “international contacts and sources to provide live intelligence from the field.” According to its own promotional materials, ITRR specializes in:
current use of undercover agents, their recruitment, training, management, evaluation and control…. undercover activity… protection against undercover operators… covert searches + information gathering from target obtaining documents… recruitment and “running” of operatives.
Is Mountaintop Removal Protest Terrorism?
Consider just one of the hundreds of protest events stamped with a terrorist warning by the Office of Homeland Security’s ITRR reports. On March 1 2010, 40 Americans gathered outside the Region 3 office of the Environmental Protection Agency in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their goal: to publicly demonstrate for the EPA to stop issuing new mountain top removal mine permits.
Here’s the call to action:
Mountaintop removal mining doesn’t happen here in Philadelphia, or even in Pennsylvania, but the decision to destroy our Appalachian mountains, happens at 1650 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.
It is where we need to be.
The EPA Office in Philadelphia is currently reviewing 23 mountaintop removal mining permits. Community leaders in West Virginia are organizing around the clock to stop these permits and to stop further destruction from mining. In the past few months, senior citizens have marched to Massey Energy subsidiary Mammoth Coal, bringing a message to end mountaintop removal mining.
In Pennsylvania, we need to stand with West Virginians. Nearly 500 miles away, we have the opportunity to get the attention of EPA administrators deciding on the mining permits. Join us on March 1st to speak out against mountaintop removal mining.
What: Protest! We will have signs, information flyers, and chants prepared
Where: 1650 Arch St., Philadelphia
When: March 1st, beginning at 11am
Who: You! Recruit a friend or 5
RSVP: If possible, let us know if you are planning on coming.
Robin Markle: robinmarkle [at] gmail.com, 845.594.9138
Amy Wilson: amy [at] energyjustice.net, 507.581.4421
You can also RSVP and invite your friends on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=299942490770
To see how mountaintop removal is affecting communities, check out this trailer to the film Burning the Future: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQPYKD4WGew
Signs, information flyers and chants outside a government office. A facebook page and a youtube video. Do these strike you as terrorist acts?
The report disseminated by the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security suggested so. Its Pennsylvania Actionable Intelligence Report of February 22, 2010 cited “open and closed sources of intelligence” to classify the upcoming EPA protest with a Threat Indicator Warning of “Moderate.” As the Homeland Security report explains, a “Moderate” Warning is given when:
Available intelligence and recent events indicate that hostile elements have the capability to take action against the target and that such action is within the adversary’s current intent. It is assessed that an attack or action is likely to be a priority and might well be mounted.
The Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security’s intelligence assessment labeled these protesters to be “hostile elements” capable of an attack and intending to take action, likely to be a priority and one that might well be mounted. But the news media didn’t seem to think so: no professional news organizations even covered the protest, and there wasn’t so much as a misdemeanor civil disobedience arrest at the protest. The EPA office didn’t see the group as a threat either: after the group asked, the EPA sent down an administrator to have a chat, hardly the action to take in the midst of a terrorist attack. The administrator scheduled a follow-up meeting with the group in his office. What high terrorist drama!
This morning I spoke with Amy Wilson and Robin Markle, the two activists who planned the March 1 action. Both were surprised to find out that their First Amendment activities had been the subject of a Homeland Security intelligence report. When I asked Wilson whether her group had carried out any form of assault or attack, she responded directly: “No. It was entirely peaceful.” Robin Markle agreed, musing that “Maybe it got a little noisy, but it was completely peaceful.” “We’re planning a book reading next,” Markle pointed out. “Should we watch out?”