“Firing Squad” for Pennsylvania Homeland Security Director. Viewers of popular online show express the need for accountability in the wake of domestic spying in Pennsylvania.
By Angie Ress|RestoreTheRepublic.com
CHICAGO — In the wake of recent revelations of domestic spying by the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, viewers of the popular online show, “The Reality Report”, demanded the need for accountability. In his 62nd webcast Gary Franchi, the host, posed the question, “What should the punishment be for director James Powers for spying on Pennsylvania citizens?” Viewers replied and expressed outrage after Franchi disclosed the case against Director James Powers at the onset of the report.
Governor Ed Rendell has stated that he doesn’t wish to make the Director a “martyr” and offered no accountability when it was revealed the State’s Homeland Security Department paid an Israeli based company $125,000 to spy on Tax Protesters, Gay and Lesbian Groups, and opponents of drilling in the Marcus Shale.
At the end of Reality Report 63 Franchi read the emails of viewers who replied to the question. Mike S. emailed his reply to Franchi’s question stating, “[he] should be put on trial, convicted and then put before a firing squad and executed for treason.”
When asked about putting a public official before a “firing squad” Franchi replied, “I don’t wish death on anyone and a ‘firing squad’ sounds like ‘crewel and unusual punishment.’ But if the courts decide his fate in that fashion, however unlikely, then the law has spoken.”
Other viewers offered lesser penalties such as jail time in the “prison industrial complex” and a penalty invoked by angry crowds during the revolutionary war era, “Tar and Feathering”.
More on James Powers from the Guardian
In October of 1952, Judge Learned Hand delivered his famous speech at the University of the State of New York passionately denouncing the culture of surveillance and suspicion that had stricken the United States at the onset of the cold war. “I believe that that community is already in process of dissolution where each man begins to eye his neighbour as a possible enemy, where nonconformity with the accepted creed, political as well as religious, is a mark of disaffection,” he said.
Almost 60 years later, Pennsylvanians have come to learn how prescient Hand’s words remain today, in post-9/11 America. This month, the state’s citizens were shocked when they discovered that their Office of Homeland Security had been issuing intelligence bulletins to local law enforcement and private industry that covered the activities of law-abiding activist groups, most prominently those opposed to natural gas drilling. The bulletins, however, weren’t generated by state law enforcement. Instead they were produced by the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, a Philadelphia- and Jerusalem-based consulting firm that received a $103,000 no-bid contract from the state homeland security director James Powers to identify threats to Pennsylvania’s critical infrastructure.
Aside from the obvious civil liberties abuses, Powers’s decision to outsource his agency’s intelligence mission demonstrates that the murky world of “Top Secret America” has trickled down to the states. Or in other words, intelligence is now big business. In an explosive two-year investigation published in July, Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William M Arkin described how the federal government has aggressively created a hidden, lucrative industry of private intelligence contractors that help the intelligence community do its job since 9/11. The downside of this system is that it’s so secretive and unwieldy that sources told Priest and Arkin that agencies and their contractors do redundant work that has of little or no intelligence value for unknown sums of taxpayers’ dollars.