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Harah!: Israeli Company Hired by State Government to Spy on Pennsylvanians

The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, which only lists a post-box address in Philadelphia (though in its report on the scandal the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to ITRR as a “Philadelphia-based company with offices in Philadelphia and Jerusalem”), also advertises a subsidiary operation it calls a Targeted Action Monitoring Center (TAM-C), which it claims is “world renowned” and which it says supplies “factual, actionable intelligence to subscribers.” All information gathered by the firm’s staff of “former law enforcement, military and intelligence professionals” is sent to the Israeli headquarters of the TAM-C for processing--a move which effectively insulates it from discovery by any surveillance victims who might seek disclosure under federal or state Freedom of Information laws, or who might sue in court for violation of their civil liberties.

While ITRR, founded in 2004, doesn’t name any of its clients, it says they range from Fortune 100 companies, including the power industry, maritime companies, US infrastructure companies, “the company company charged with protecting oil production facilities,” missionary organizations and pharmaceutical firms, to law enforcement agencies and joint terrorism task forces.

A search on Google for references to ITRR doesn’t turn up much, but there is a report in July 2008 by a Washington-based right-wing site called National Terror Alert, which attributes a warning of a “possible large-scale terror attack” to ITRR. Claiming that it had “intercepted communications from an organization closely associated with international terrorists, to include al Qaeda,” the National Terror Alert organization says TIRR reports that, “Available intelligence and recent events indicate that terrorists have an established capability and current intent to mount an attack on the target and there is some additional information on the nature of the threat. It is assessed that an attack on the target is a priority for the terrorists and is likely to be mounted.”

Nothing came of this "alert," but it should be noted that a year later, the first head of the new federal Department of Homeland Security, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge, admitted that the color-coded terror alerts issued by his office had been manipulated to serve Republican political interests. It should also be recalled that the 2008 TIRR “warning” came during the height of the election season, just before the two national party conventions. As the Philadelphia Daily News commented at the time in a headline, “GOP kicks off fall campaign with heightened terror alert.”

But ITRR does much more than just monitor terrorists. Indeed, it seems to be far too busy monitoring legitimate, non-violent and completely legal protest organizations and other political groups to do much real anti-terror work. According to news reports on ITRR’s work for the Pennsylvania Homeland Security Agency and also the Pittsburgh Police Department, it would appear that ITRR was spying on and providing Pennsylvania State Police and Homeland Security with reports on everything from anti-war groups and anti-oil-shale-fracking groups to gay rights groups, animal rights groups, environmental organizations and even Good Schools Pennsylvania, a citizens association formed to back Gov. Ed Rendell’s school reform initiatives. Even a Harrisburg, PA man who likes to bring a 25-foot inflatable pig to demonstrations to symbolize government waste was targeted.



story | by Dr. Radut