As protests are held nationwide against FBI and PA department of Homeland Security domestic spying, the Green Party issued the following press release:
Group calls for termination of Homeland Security Chief over ITRR contract
Feels violated as one of the activist groups spied on
The Green Party of Pennsylvania shares the outrage of fellow citizens and taxpayers at the actions of the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response of Philadelphia, in its blatant abuse of the privilege of its homeland security contract with the Dept. of Homeland Security of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with the full encouragement and enablement of Homeland Security Director James F. Powers, wherein ordinary citizens exercising their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly were tracked and spied upon for no apparent security-related purpose. As one of the groups whose members were watched along with those of other progressive groups pursuing environmental, human rights-related and other causes, Green Party members say they empathize with those who now might feel intimidated against advocating for their causes in the future, in view of this chilling, Orwellian infringement into their own sense of security and well-being.
At the same time, the Party feels that Governor Ed Rendell has not gone far enough in addressing the actions of his own Homeland Security Director, as well as those of the Institute, in overstepping the reasonable bounds of their initially assumed power and scope. GPPA calls upon him to immediately terminate the contract prior to its October end date and dismiss James Powers from his position of responsibility immediately, and also to discipline any and all individuals within the state government bureaucracy who failed to act decisively upon these startling revelations when they became known and especially when the pattern of abuse became undeniably clear.
“It boggles the imagination that our state bureaucracy has become so bloated and inefficient that information such as the unwarranted tracking of private citizens’ non-violent free speech activities just becomes buried in masses of paper while the Institute’s actions, with the full blessing of Mr. Powers, continued unabated. A Governor should not have to rely on a local newspaper to find out about something like this, and a response to something this outrageous should always be at the top of a state Attorney General’s ‘to do’ list,” said I.K. Samways, Chair of the Green Party of Pennsylvania.
“As a staunch advocate and spokesperson for drawing attention to the environmentally damaging effects of hydrofracking and natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale, it was horrifying to discover, essentially, that fellow ordinary citizens concerned about their water quality were put on what amounted to an anti-terrorism watch list,” added Jay Sweeney, former GPPA Treasurer and current Green Party candidate for State House Representative in the 111th District in northeastern Pennsylvania. “Truly, a government agency that treats such citizens as enemies of the state is committing nothing less than treason.”
The Green Party enthusiastically welcomes the special investigation being convened by Sen. Lisa Baker, Chair of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and openly encourages her to leave no stone unturned in using her subpoena power to summon and vigorously question anyone in or out of state government who had any knowledge of the abuses. Our very founder and namesake, William Penn, encouraged us to “speak truth to power”, and to us this means that no official is too high in the hierarchy to evade scrutiny.
“What did Gov. Rendell and Atty. General Corbett know, and when did they know it ?” asks Bob Small, a member of GPPA’s Steering Committee and also of the multi-partisan Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition. “The State Senate, and Sen. Baker in particular, now have the tremendous opportunity to test their mettle and prove that they can and will work concertedly to the benefit of its citizens, by calling on anyone who might have anything to share on this hugely important matter. Citizens still have not forgotten about Bonusgate, and the manner in which the larger parties recently cowered away from debating and competing against other parties on November’s ballot. Now is the time for both large parties to make partial amends and lend so much as a hint that they are worthy of serving in the public’s interest, which should always include first and foremost the protection of citizens’ rights to free speech under the Constitution.”
The Green Party will be fielding one U.S. Congressional candidate and five additional candidates for State Representative in November. The Green Party of Pennsylvania is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. The Green Party of Pennsylvania stands for grassroots democracy, sustainable economics, nonviolence, and ecology.