Rendell cuts off Israeli-American security firm

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell terminated a contract with an Israeli-American agency that tracked peaceful protests and reported them as potential terrorist threats.

Rendell said Tuesday that he was "deeply embarrassed" by revelations of a $125,000 contract with the Philadelphia-based Institute of Terrorism Research and Response.

The state’s Office of Homeland Security contracted the institute to track threats, and then relayed its reports to a large number of law enforcement and private groups.

Its "alerts" included an animal rights protest, a natural gas drilling protest, a gay and lesbian festival and a rally to support a Rendell-backed campaign for boosted education funding.

"Good Lord, and to think that we spent $125,000 on this at a time when every penny is dire for us is a further embarrassment," Rendell said.

The institute, which claims to have a Jerusalem office, is run by directors who among other claims list experience in Israel’s security services. It also runs training programs in Israel.

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