Pa. lawmakers demand investigation into protest reports

    Pennsylvania lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are demanding hearings into why the Rendell Administration paid for intelligence reports about peaceful protests.

    Pennsylvania lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are demanding hearings into why the Rendell Administration paid for intelligence reports about peaceful protests.

    Governor Rendell says his chief of staff and the head of the state police are looking into how Pennsylvania can improve its homeland security intelligence gathering, but Republicans and Democrats want the General Assembly to investigate the issue, too.

    Both Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, and the head of the House Governmental Affairs Committee have requested copies of every intelligence report the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response provided to the state Office of Homeland Security.

    Vic Walczak, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, says by targeting political groups as potential threats, the state hurt their credibility, in addition to infringing on their rights.

    “Damage done. Are you going to continue your contributions and your support, or are you immediately going to be suspicious. And if you do that with funders, if you do that with allies, if you do that with adversaries, you are doing incalculable harm.”

    It’s unclear whether hearings could be held this year, or if lawmakers would need to wait until the next legislative session starts in 2011.

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