Pa. security chief defends use of controversial bulletins

    At a state Senate hearing, James Powers maintains information collected by private security firm was useful. Governor Rendell calls it “worthless.”

    The head of Pennsylvania’s Homeland Security Office defended controversial security bulletins during a State Senate hearing Monday.

    The documents, which Governor Ed Rendell called “worthless,” provided information about political protests and upcoming religious holidays, along with other data.

    Pennsylvania Homeland Security Director James Powers apologized to groups who felt like the bulletins infringed on their freedom, but he defended the intelligence, saying the information was useful to ground-level officials.

    “For me and for you, does it matter what’s happening in Cecil Township? Well, it matters to the chief of police, who does not have analysts, who does not have researchers, and is responsible to the elected leaders there for public safety,” says Powers.

    The state paid more than $100,000 to a private security firm for the information, but Rendell decided not to renew its contract after the bulletins were made public.

    During the hearing, officials from the State Police told lawmakers they repeatedly questioned the value of the reports.

    Powers said he heard their complaints, but disagreed.

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