Pennsylvania Homeland Security has been spying on anti-drilling activists, taking down names of attendees at meetings and even a screening of a documentary on drilling; these dossiers on peaceful protesters are then supplied to Marcellus Shale, a drilling company. The State Homeland Security Director James Powers justifies the snooping on meetings and information sessions because activists' "presence may spark something else. [I don't want to see public meetings] escalate to physical criminal acts."
Comparing himself to 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 he or she is 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."
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