This week, my home state of Pennsylvania woke to find the Rendell Administration embarrassed for hiring a private security firm to spy on his own citizenry. Their best defense was that they needed infrastructure threat information to satisfy the Federal Government. So Rendell is firing the company after letting them observe and report on us for at least a year. The press is playing gotcha while the legislature presses for disclosure of the secret reports. So far it seems that the contract spies uncovered a plot by environmental extremists to stop d natural gas exploration by nefariously speaking up at public meetings. I wait with baited breath for new revelations.
Absent from the coverage was a healthy interest in just who was spying on whom. Will anyone be surprised to learn that when looking for experts on how to address the security threat posed by Pennsylvanians to their own government, Rendell's people reached out to the Israeli's? The Institute of Terrorism and Response (ITRR) describes itself as..."an American and Israeli nonprofit corporation created to help organizations succeed and prosper in a world threatened by terrorism." Their specialty?
"Our US-based experts specialize in facing and overcoming domestic forms of terrorism like environmental, ecological, anti-abortion, anti-government, and "home-grown" religious extremism. We have expertise in a wide range of fields including law-enforcement, corporate security, homeland-security, intelligence, law, emergency medicine, and anti-terrorism. The Philadelphia office is also home to our campus-outreach initiative; a nationwide network and fusion-center of students and scholars united against terrorism."
"Anti-government", "anti-abortion" and "ecological threats", it may come as a relief to some that these foreign goons kept the Commonwealth safe from ecological ninnies, Catholics and the Tea Party. Frankly I'd prefer to be spied on by fellow Americans rather than people who learned law enforcement by breaking heads on the West Bank.
If that sounds like hyperbole, consider the desired "Course outcome" one gets from their training.
"The Anti-Terrorism / Response to Terrorism student, upon completion of the course has an understanding of the treat of terrorist attacks and methods; and will be able to incorporate the preparedness and response procedures utilized in Israel into their jurisdictional Homeland Security Planning, Preparedness, Training and Response procedures."
Since there is no reference to the inconvenient existence of our constitution, we'll just have to take it on faith that trainees understand that bulldozing our houses is not an option here.
The institute, which exists in the form of two post boxes, one in Philadelphia and the other in Jerusalem, also operates educational initiatives, including campus seminars, international internships, delegations to Israel, research projects and grant collaboration described thusly, "ITRR has experience with various grant programs DHS, HRSA, and CDC. We form mutual sustainable partnerships with academic institutions to obtain such grants, ensuring the continuance of important training and educational programs." The unmistakable implication here is that they can help you get grants from your own government you might not get on your own.
The penetration of our society by the personnel and institutions of any foreign power is troubling. Actually hiring out our security to persons from a country actively encouraging our entry into disastrous wars is suicidal.