McCarthyism By Email: Fomenting Fear Of Environmentalists and Tea Partiers Alike

joe mccarthy- ist photo

"McCarthy brandishing one of his infamous lists," Image credit:Knowledge Rush

Environmentalists in Pennsylvania may have more in common with the "Tea Party" crowd than they might like to admit. Both have been similarly spied on and reported to PA authorities as 'security risks,' simply because they expressed their Constitutional rights to free speech and/or to peaceful public assembly.

Brian recently covered the absurd-sounding story of a Philadelphia-based 'security company' contract with Pennsylvania's Department of Homeland Security - providing a service more in line with the style of Tail Gunner Joe* than the the US Constitution (the latter having been first signed in Philadelphia). See PA Homeland Security Spies on Anti-Drilling Activists, Reports to Drilling Company for details. This is work a homeless person could do with a computer in the public library; but with better value added, for sure. Read on if you have the stomach for it.Pennsylvania State politicians on both sides of the aisle are investigating: seeing an opportunity to make political hay over how their respective constituents were mis-characterized. As well they might.

  • One bulletin from Harrisburg warned that a protest over use of carriage horses in Philadelphia could turn into "a fertile recruiting or meeting ground" for militant animal-rights activists.

  • And Halloween might bring "rowdy behavior" from eco-activists in masks and costumes at a lunchtime rally outside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Philadelphia office.

  • Those and other warnings about domestic political groups - ranging from antinuclear protesters to tea-party activists - can be found all through 137 state-issued intelligence bulletins that Gov. Rendell's office released Friday amid continuing criticism of the program that produced the bulletins.

  • At the center of the controversy is an e-mail written by the director of the state Homeland Security Office that seemed to take sides in the Marcellus Shale gas-drilling debate.

  • "We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies," James F. Powers Jr. wrote in a Sept. 5 e-mail to Virginia Cody, an anti-drilling activist in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

  • Two bulletins late last year included warnings about tea-party activists - one before a march in Harrisburg, the other before anti-immigration rallies in Hazleton and Valley Forge. "Analysts have collected disparate communications among individual white nationalists expressing an affinity for the tea-party ideology and a willingness to join the protest," the bulletin said.

*McCarthyism defined, via Wikipedia:

McCarthyism is a term used to describe the making of accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by heightened fears of communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents. Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, "McCarthyism" soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries.

I haven't scanned those 137 bulletins but I'll betcha that several relate to climate protests. Green tea, anyone?

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