At best, security bulletins provided by a Pennsylvania state contractor were useless compilations of news reports and Internet postings. At worst, they were inflammatory memos that wasted police officers’ time, confused recipients, provided inaccurate information, and branded peaceful activists as potential threats to public safety. That’s what witnesses and legislators told a state Senate committee yesterday, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Chairwoman Lisa Baker called the hearing on a controversial $103,000 contract with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, which provided security bulletins meant to warn of potential threats to the infrastructure. Baker said she was “absolutely stunned” to hear that the Pennsylvania State Police had been questioning the contract for 10 months and had — to no avail — alerted Homeland Security Director James F. Powers Jr. to numerous inaccuracies and inflammatory entries in the bulletins. “I liken it to reading the National Enquirer. Every once in a while they have something right, but most of the time it is unsubstantiated gossip,” said Maj. George Bivens of the state police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He said the bulletins resulted in a waste of police effort to address nonexistent threats based on biased analyses by amateur investigators.