James Powers Jr. (pictured on right), Director of Pennsylvania’s Homeland Security will leave his post on Friday, amidst a firestorm.
The questions are still swirling over a contract between Power’s office and The Instititue of Terrorism Research & Response, a private firm, secretly to monitor the activities of environmental groups such as, The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, or GDAC.
The head of the GDAC, Dr. Thomas Jiunta, told RocktheCapital this afternoon that his coalition’s goal in filing a lawsuit against Powers and The Institute “was not simply to get anyone fired.” “We want the violations of our right to free speech and our surveillance stopped immediately and we do not have any reassurances that this has happened.”
Jiunta, characterized his coalition, which recently applied, for nonprofit status, as a group of ordinary citizens working to protect the environment from the hazards of what he calls “exploitive” natural gas drilling.
Jiunta says one of the requirements of belonging to his group is to “conduct their activities with professionalism and respect, and not to advocate or practice violent methods.”
“We expect to learn why we (GDAC) was a major target of concern by homeland security when their were clearly many organizations involved in environmental activism with regard to protesting the way the gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale is being performed and the risks to ordinary citizens.”
RocktheCapital tried to reach Powers and here is the response we received from his Press Secretary, Maria Finn, “Mr. Powers testified at the hearing on last Monday; aside from his resignation letter, he has nothing additional to add.”
Certainly not what Jiunta wants to hear, which is why his coalition filed a lawsuit. Who ordered the surveillance and why? That is one of the driving questions behind GDAC’s lawsuit.
“We want to learn the extent of the collusion between those doing the surveillance and collecting information on PA Citizens and the natural gas companies doing business in our Commonwealth.” “This is a major concern as our own tax dollars were used to spy on our group and then this information was purportedly reported back to the industry,” said Jiunta.
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