Thursday, September 16, 2010

Securing the homeland, Pennsylvania style

The trouble with what we here in America like to call “homeland security” is that, sometimes, the people in charge of securing the homeland seem to use George Orwell’s 1984 as a training manual.

The latest example of this comes from The Associated Press, which reports that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is reining in his state’s homeland security office because of what could charitably be called its overly zealous approach to its job.

The office, which distributes bulletins ostensibly designed to protect Pennsylvania from the bad guys, has included information about “an anti-BP candlelight vigil, a gay and lesbian festival and other peaceful gatherings,” according to the AP story. The bulletins, issued three times a week, even reported on a rally by supporters of more funding for public schools.

And all for a mere $125,000.

Rendell supposedly just learned how his government has been protecting Pennsylvania from Pennsylvanians. The AP quoted him as saying the information in the state's security bulletins is useless to law enforcement, and distributing it violated the constitutional rights of the people involved in the affected protests, rallies and other events.

"I am deeply embarrassed and I apologize to any of the groups who had this information disseminated on their right to peacefully protest," Rendell said at a news conference. The governor called the practice “ludicrous” and “stunning.”

I don’t know about you, but this sort of thing makes me wonder how else we’re wasting tax dollars in an unconstitutional campaign to keep us safe from imaginary enemies, all while diverting attention and resources from the task of tracking the people who actually mean us harm.

2 comments:

  1. It is also a nice diversion from the real problems plaguing America like joblessness, poverty, lack of health care, education etc.

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  2. Yeah, protecting Pennsylvania from the "threat" posed by a gay and lesbian festival obviously is a better use of tax dollars than grappling with the very real problems that you mentioned.

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