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Privacy Government Power Politics

PA's Dept. of Homeland Security Shared Oil-Shale Protester Info With Companies 293

Western Pennsylvania's shale oil deposits have lately attracted interest not only from companies who have been extracting some of that oil, but from locals who object to what they perceive as sharp dealing by the companies involved, favorable treatment by the state government, and environmental degradation as a result of the extraction. Some of the most visible of those protesters, it turns out, have been tracked (including "Web traffic") by Pennsylvania's own Homeland Security department, and that information about them has been shared not only within the department, but with the oil companies themselves. Homeland Security director James Powers defended the information shared with the oil companies as part of a triweekly bulletin, saying "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."
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PA's Dept. of Homeland Security Shared Oil-Shale Protester Info With Companies

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  • Tell me again... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:24PM (#33581880) Journal

    I hear all the time about how government protects people from corporations, and that's why we have to keep giving government more and more power. Holy shit, you mean they actually don't?


    • by schmidt349 ( 690948 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:40PM (#33581976)

      When you create the legal fiction that an intangible conglomeration of people, united solely in their desire to exploit other people for monetary gain, counts as a human being under the law, weird shit starts happening.

      If you ask me it's time we brought back the death penalty for unruly corporations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you ask me it's time we brought back the death penalty for unruly corporations.

        No, because the psychopaths responsible for the decisions, will find a way out, leaving their customary trail of destruction and misery after them: they will manipulate their way out of the to-be-killed corporation that they corrupted and abused, and into a leading position in another company. Which is, btw. what they do today already, even without your proposed "death penalty for unruly corporations".

        Instead, we should introduce death penalties for unruly executives, and start recognizing corporate psychop

        • by Kirijini ( 214824 ) <kirijini@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:18AM (#33583694)

          the psychopaths responsible for the decisions, will find a way out, leaving their customary trail of destruction and misery after them: they will manipulate their way out of the to-be-killed corporation that they corrupted and abused, and into a leading position in another company.

          Imagine you're on the board of directors of company x. Suppose the CEO of company y, known to be ruthless and to dramatically increase profits, -

          but also known to have caused the "execution" of company y, i.e., caused the immediate liquidation of company y, meaning that all of company y's "going concern" value is lost and only the value of its liquid assets are recovered by shareholders,

          - wants to be the CEO of your company, company x. Would you want him to be your CEO?

          The imposition of an actual "death penalty" for criminal corporations would have an enormous impact on the way business is run in this country... because people would lose money as a result of criminal behavior by a company they have invested in.

          • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @06:17AM (#33584566)

            Would you want him to be your CEO?

            Sure, why not? He'll help me and my fellow directors loot the company and jump ship before it sinks. Then we'll help him get a new CEO position in whatever companies we've spread to, and repeat the process.

      • Re:Tell me again... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:36AM (#33583530)

        No. Corporations can't die. You can try to kill them, but they just won't die. It is true that they are anti-social, greedy, selfish, single minded, manipulative, and basically fits every criteria for being classified 3213 by the American Psychological Association (Schizophrenia & Psychotic States). Its illegal for a board member of a company to do anything that diminishes the profits of shareholders. I've seen CXO's of pharmaceutical companies lie after being sworn in -To Members of the US Congress-.... Why? Because if they didn't lie, then they would be sued by shareholders, unemployed, and never get a job again. Somewhere, we gave away too much. This nameless, faceless entity (Hello Enron, Hello WorldCom, Hello Tyco, Hello Freddy Mac, Hello Fannie Mae) who doesn't even know what hungry is, is somehow worthy of the status 'too big to fail', yet millions of people who do know what hungry is, are less worthy and are completely subjected to failing. The pendulum has swung too far in one direction. Both political parties say 'Yes Mr. Corporation Sir, can I get you another?'. Its made worse by corrupt politicians who place personal gain over 'the good of the people'.

      • back to the future (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:38AM (#33586040) Homepage Journal

        If you ask me it's time we brought back the death penalty for unruly corporations.

        That's exactly as it used to be. Pennsylvania was notorious for shutting down banks that were misbehaving in the 1810's and 1820's. All corporations of the time were for limited terms and for public benefit.

        Come around towards 1870 and John D. Rockefeller finds he can use his "influence" in Congress to get corporations made permanent, and soon in Santa Clara a footnote to an unrelated case finds that corporations have human rights, and all three branches of government heartily embrace this bizzare idea.

        Soon after the "Trust Busters" decided to break up Standard Oil and implemented the break-up plan that Rockefeller himself crafted (as he had found Standard Oil by that time to be too unwieldy to compete nimbly). They showed him, right?

        Witness the transformation of the Wall Street banks in the 1990's from partnerships (where the owners' money is directly at risk) to corporate ownership and the resulting shenanigans that ensued.

        Corporations remove that direct responsibility, and are, in essence, an agreement between the government and the managers to protect the managers from the People when they engage in malfeasance. Typically, those managers see to it that the representatives in Government are well taken care of, and thus the positive-feedback loop is complete.

        Partnerships are the natural structure of companies that need to grow to a large size. There is a limit on their size, in contrast to giant multi-national corporations. Some will argue that the big multi-nationals are essential to provide some kind of product at some kind of price, but the evidence against them is far too compelling to support those arguments of a net-utility benefit.

        I'll get a bunch of responses here that we need a big government to protect us from corporations (from well-meaning folks educated in government education centers) but I hope I've given enough of a kernel of information to lead you to read up on how government action is the root problem here, and that corporations exist only at its pleasure.

    • by conspirator57 ( 1123519 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:46PM (#33581992)

      and to think those of us who objected to PATRIOT, state fusion centers, and the rest of the expansion of the surveillance / police state were called wingnuts: after all, if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear, and so what's the harm in letting the government spy on you? oh wait. and to think that this is merely the tip of the police state iceberg. i foresee far darker days ahead on our society's current path.

      • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @08:35PM (#33582094)

        People only tend to appreciate the evils of government when the party they dislike is in power.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hellop2 ( 1271166 )
          I disagree with this. At least I think I do, since your use of "appreciate" is confusing. However, back at the University of Oregon, all the hippies protested Clinton, and the Kosovo war.

          Show me a sane person who likes evil.

          Do you think all the War protesters suddenly A-OKed the war after Obama was elected?
          • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:40PM (#33582312)

            No, but a lot of them stopped talking about it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by hedwards ( 940851 )
              Probably, because the wars were winding down. Wars tend to get less attention as they wind down. There are exceptions, but the reality is that Iraq was starting to wind down and consequently there wasn't the need to do a huge amount of protest. But there was also the issue of time, when Obama took office, the war was hardly the only mess he got stuck with, people tend to focus on the things with the most immediate impact as in the economy.

              I realize that the right needs to invent conspiracies to drive it,
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                "winding down" here having the value of :s/US military/mercenaries/g
                oh, i'm sorry we call mercs "security consultants" these days. i almost missed that memo.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by sumdumass ( 711423 )

            Do you think all the War protesters suddenly A-OKed the war after Obama was elected?

            A lot of them did. It's for two reasons, one the biggest protesting point was that Bush was involved and anything to rail on Bush seemed to be acceptable. Another reason is that once obama was elected, they had some sort of trust that the wars were somewhat necessary seeing how he didn't end them or anything. (fun fact, Obama's ending of the Iraq war was little more then renaming the support and training troops that were

            • Wow, I cannot imagine how on earth you got those points. First off, you don't just remove all the troops in a couple days, the results of doing such an ill advised troop withdrawal tends to be catastrophic. Just look at what happened when we basically did that in Vietnam. Secondly, it's not just a matter of renaming the mission, they're there under a completely different mandate. By your logic, Operation Desert Storm is almost into its second decade.

              Yeah that's right, enforcing the no fly zone is just a
            • fun fact, Obama's ending of the Iraq war was little more then renaming the support and training troops that were scheduled to be left behind from Bush's SOFA agreement that was created about a year before the elections.

              Way to twist it. He campaigned on those plans - that they were substantially SOFA is no big deal - for one thing Obama was campaigning on that general strategy at roughly the same time that the Iraq SOFA was being negotiated. No one with half a brain could listen to Obama's campaigning and take away that his goal was an immediate pull-out of troops upon inauguration. Although a dumbass who listened to the PR machine of his political opponents rather than think for himself would probably come away with th

            • Re:Tell me again... (Score:5, Informative)

              by Mitsoid ( 837831 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:27AM (#33583492)
              Disclaimer: I am an independent voter, I'm not for or against any party as a whole

              Well you didn't cite, so I had to use wikipedia to find the information.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S.%E2%80%93Iraq_Status_of_Forces_Agreement [wikipedia.org]

              The last SOFA before bush left said combat troops would be removed only from cities, not from the country.
              The SOFA also stated that non-combat troops would remain up to 2 years later.
              The entire agreement was renewable

              So you could say Bush set it in motion, however you could also say there's no guarantee we would have left.
              If people wanted to get out, Obama clearly pushed that as his platform

              Another fun fact (from wiki, 'cause I'm too lazy to follow their citation trail): Apparently in the SOFA agreement if the Iraqi interim government says GTFO, the US has 1 year to leave... They haven't requested the US leave yet
          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            Show me a sane person who likes evil.

            Show me anyone, sane or insane, who "likes evil". I think there's a few performers and serial killers. It's not a useful observation.

            Do you think all the War protesters suddenly A-OKed the war after Obama was elected?

            No, but most of them did suddenly A-OK it. My take is that the issue wasn't that the US was killing innocent people, but rather who would have benefited from winning the war.

        • Re:Tell me again... (Score:5, Informative)

          by youngone ( 975102 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:48PM (#33582344)
          That would likely be true if The US were not just a one party state. Also have a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism [wikipedia.org] Take special note of this bit: "Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy." That's pretty much exactly what is happening here.
        • by Xaositecte ( 897197 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:01PM (#33582382) Journal

          Eh? Both Republics and Democrats have been pushing this shit. Who the hell is standing against it?

        • by msauve ( 701917 )
          You're creating a false dichotomy. Both major parties function primarily to build and maintain governmental power.
      • How much do you want to bet that National Security Letters were involved here somehow?

        • I'll take that bet, seeing as it was a state government involved, and not the feds.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by quanticle ( 843097 )

            The state Department of Homeland Security is a "fusion center" serving to "facilitate" cooperation between state and federal authorities. Given that, I wouldn't rule out federal involvement.

    • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @08:29PM (#33582052)

      They could...

      If the people actually cared about ethics in government and business...

      Instead everyone wants to get rich by any means necessary, including cheating and reality tv shows.

      What is the government? Its you... Its me... Its the people. Its our country. If we cant trust the government, we cant trust each other or our country.

      If we want a better government, elect better people and be a better person yourself. Be vigilant

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

        I'm sorry but you're wrong, and here is why: When your choices are "rich corporate whoring power loving freedom hating slut" A or B, how EXACTLY are you gonna "elect better people and be a better person yourself" hmmm? don't say third party because thanks to deregulation allowing all the media to be owned by a handful of multinationals which conspire to disallow any non corporate approved voices to be heard at debates, and when even a run for a state senate will cost millions, the odds of a third party actu

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Whammy666 ( 589169 )
      Fascism: When govt and corporations actively work together to the detriment of the general population.
      • Re:Tell me again... (Score:5, Informative)

        by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:39PM (#33582576) Journal

        That problem predates fascism by a couple of centuries. Adam Smith knew it as "mercantilisim".


      • by astar ( 203020 )

        If you look around there are all sorts of different definitions of fascism. You might look at the wikipedia summary on this. I use a deviate definition. Admittedly I am a little vague on the details. Try this.

        Austerity on the general population. Think of it as looting their living standards, their lives, and ultimately their bodies.
        A financial structure that needs that loot to keep going a little longer.
        A big economic crisis.

        I sort of think we could include the late roman empire under this rubic as fas

    • Gasland (Score:5, Informative)

      by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @08:34PM (#33582090) Journal

      This isn't new. There are youtube videos of the water coming out of people's kitchen faucet catching on fire.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRZ4LQSonXA [youtube.com]

      The process to remove natural gas and oil from shale is extremely complicated. Many companies won't even tell you what chemicals they use; they claim it's a "trade secret". They tell you that everything's okay, but you know for a fact that some of that cocktail they're pumping into the ground simply must be a carcinogen. And if they're drilling on your land, and you get your water from a well (and that's a lot of people in western PA), then you better believe that their fracking chemicals (hydraulic fracturing) are leeching into the local water table.

      Naturally, there are also plenty of loopholes in the regulations to make sure that Corporate America can continue to rape and plunder low-life commoners like you and me.

      For lots more information, go watch Gasland.

      http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/613/index.html [pbs.org]

      • I encourage people interested in the issues here to go out and research BOTH sides of the issue. Watch Gasland. And then go read the criticisms of the information presented in the film.

        Many of the claims like those made in the parent don't stand up to research.

        For example the following discusses the trade secret issue:

        http://solveclimate.com/blog/20100913/fracking-chemicals-will-be-disclosed-drilling-companies-say [solveclimate.com]

        • Re:Gasland (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:38PM (#33582932) Journal

          lol, are you for real? Try reading the article you cite as evidence. Last time I checked, ultimatums are generally issued after significant resistance.

          The Obama administration urged gas companies to voluntarily disclose the toxic chemicals they inject in the ground in a type of natural gas exploration that uses hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

          If companies rebuff the request — a seemingly unlikely event — environmental regulators could get tough.

          I also find it absolutely hilarious that you're trying to use an article that was printed this week as evidence that these companies haven't been fighting to keep these chemicals secret for the past several years.

    • by Haeleth ( 414428 )

      I hear all the time about how government protects people from corporations, and that's why we have to keep giving government more and more power.

      Really? I am forced to conclude that you work in a psychiatric ward, or possibly as a comedian, because I can't think of any other contexts where you might constantly hear that kind of claim uttered.

      The usual reasoning for why we give money to government is not that they protect us from corporations, but that they provide us with services that corporations wouldn'

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I hear all the time about how government protects people from corporations, and that's why we have to keep giving government more and more power.

      Merely giving government the power is not enough. You also need to hold it accountable for the use of said power.

      This is actually true of anyone, not just the government. The reason why government is still preferable over corporations is that we do have some means of holding the government accountable in a democracy - even if they are growing more and more theoretical in a malfunctioning one such as yours. Corporations do not have any such means even in theory.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's especially bad considering PA has a 2nd term Democrat for governor, Rendell.

      Same guy pushed landfills from the cities onto farmland (he's from Philadelphia, you know, just over the river from NJ literally). While NJ was cutting down their use of landfills, he pushed PA into accepting the business. Where I am, we have an incinerator that was built in the county (before Rendell) that's rarely used on route 441. Instead, we've opened up yet another landfill outside of Elizabethtown, since it's cheaper

  • why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    I don't see what the PA department of homeland security has to benefit from giving that info to the companies? Can someone elaborate?
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:25PM (#33581892)

    Who knew...
    I bet the trains run on time though.


  • by StillNeedMoreCoffee ( 123989 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:25PM (#33581894)

    This is terribly interesting, the worst nightmare posible. The entrenched law inforcement and investigatory agency, tax payer funded being used to unabashedly help business over the general welfare. Someone should be going to jail here.

  • by ugen ( 93902 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:27PM (#33581918)

    I had to re-read this a few times. Are these guys taking their cues from North Korea newspapers? Whoever this guy is he should be 1) reminded of what the 1st amendment is about 2) fired.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:30PM (#33581958)

      3. Sued by every person whose information was "shared."
      4. Prosecuted by the attorney general of the state.(and if he refuses to prosecute, by the US Attorney General.)

  • Problem? (Score:2, Insightful)

    State Homeland Security Director James Powers explained that he has been including anti-gas drilling activist information in his triweekly intelligence briefings for about a month because there have been “five to 10” incidents of vandalism around the state related to the natural gas industry, which is one of the sectors he is charged with monitoring.

    One of those incidents, he said, involved someone shooting a natural gas container tank with a shotgun in Venango County.

    If someone is shooting at

    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @08:21PM (#33582036) Homepage

      If someone is shooting at my stuff, especially if it's the large, exploding kinda stuff, like a gas storage tank. I'd expect to be told about it. This doesn't sound so sinister.

      No, you expect the appropriate authorities to be told about it. You might rightfully expect some information on the general nature of the threat (if any) but you should not expect to be told about specific persons which seems to be what is happening here.

      That would be vigilantism.

      • No, you expect the appropriate authorities to be told about it. You might rightfully expect some information on the general nature of the threat (if any) but you should not expect to be told about specific persons which seems to be what is happening here.

        That would be vigilantism.

        This information is generally available in any local newspaper, there is no harm in directly bringing to the attention of a company during a briefing. It's only vigilantism if you actively hunt those people down and punish them ou

    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @08:28PM (#33582046)

      If someone were to ruin your water supply, especially with poisonous, exploding kinda stuff, by drilling at an adjacent property, wouldn't you also expect to be told about it? Keep in mind that the locals depend heavily on well water. This is a serious issue.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      You'd expect to be told info about a group of people that are in no way implicated in the attack other than that they don't like you exploiting their state's natural resources? You'd expect to be privy to private information and e-mails and web traffic? Well...if you're connected politically you can evidently have those expectations fulfilled.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Its a fast slope down to
        It starts out with chats, then a closer working relationship, a two way flow of information on people of interest.
        Soon the flow is one way as the local issues are solved - permanently.
  • Should be Fired (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JackSpratts ( 660957 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:30PM (#33582264) Homepage
    and pronto. Hydraulic fracturing of shale is an absolutely legitimate health and environmental concern. There is no place for his behavior in Penn or any other state. The Justice Dept should get on this and him.
  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:57PM (#33582372)
    For many years now I've been calling the agency in question 'DFS', for 'Department of Fatherland Security'. I guess it was only a matter of time before they demonstrated their fascism in a public, step-on-your-own-dick manner. Now their pretense of righteousness has fallen away; DFS is obviously all about money and power, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the safety and security of America and her citizens. These clowns are simply organized criminals with a government mandate, and they run the biggest protection and extortion rackets in the whole country. Given a choice, I'd rather deal with the Mafia - they seem more honorable and more competent, and at least they don't pretend to hold the moral high ground.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re Department of Fatherland Security' Anyone with photoshop or gimp skills like to make some fitting artwork for slashdot?
  • "Homeland Security" was sold as a defense of the "Homeland" against external enemies. Now we're seeing Homeland Security being used to investigate political activities of U.S. Citizens.

    This is making me think of Flint in 1933. That's not good.

  • I was getting worried when the hubbub over the school spying on its students through webcams died off. Good to see we're maintaining our position as the fifth worst state in the Union.

  • Full Circle (Score:5, Informative)

    by Voline ( 207517 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:34PM (#33582540)

    This is apropos because the Pennsylvania State Police began in the early 19th century as the private Iron and Coal Police of the mine and mill owners. The owners tired of paying for their muscle all by themselves and recruited the taxpayers of Pennsylvania to chip in by getting the State of Pennsylvania to ... what's the opposite of "privatize"? Publicize? Anyway, the State adopted the bosses' private security apparatus as a whole, changed its name to the State Police, and started to pay their salaries to do what they had been doing anyway: fighting the unions and communities that were struggling to improve wages and working conditions in the coal mines and steel mills of Pennsylvania.

    This is all detailed in Kristian Williams's excellent history of the police in America Our Enemies in Blue [amazon.com] .

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra