Pennsylvania lawmakers open a hearing on intelligence contract

    A Pennsylvania State Senate committee will open a hearing on the state’s recently terminated contract with a private security firm that monitored the activities of peaceful groups around the state in the name of anti-terrorism. The hearing will open in Harrisburg today at 10 am.

    A Pennsylvania State Senate committee will look into the Rendell Administration’s controversial Homeland Security intelligence contract during a hearing this morning.

    At ten o’clock, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee will gavel into session. The head of the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security Office will testify before the panel.

    Chairwoman Lisa Baker, a Luzerne County Republican, says she wants to know how deep the intelligence gathering on political protests went. She also has questions about the need for the six-figure contract with a private security firm.

    “We all know that the Pennsylvania State Police have the Criminal Intelligence Center that do a very good job,” she says. “They’re highly skilled, highly trained professionals who look at threat cells, data, situational awareness, twenty-four-seven. So my question is whether or not this contract was even needed.”

    The committee voted to award itself subpoena power.

    Governor Rendell’s spokesman calls the move a “stunt,” but Baker says the vote was justified, and in line with the committee’s duties.

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