CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell says he is appalled that the state's Office of Homeland Security, unbeknownst to him, had been compiling and circulating information about protesters at peaceful gatherings.
Banging his fist on the podium Tuesday evening, a visibly angry Rendell called the practice "absolutely ludicrous."
"Let me make this as clear as I can make it. Protesting against an idea, a principle, a process, is not a real threat against infrastructure," he said at a news conference. "Protesting is a God-given American right, a right that is in our Constitution, a right that is fundamental to all we believe in as Americans."
The governor said he only recently learned that the state homeland security office had been paying a Pennsylvania firm to compile lists of rallies - which were then passed to law enforcement agencies and other entities as possible security threats. The contract cost the state $125,000 and will not be renewed, he said.
"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," he said.
Among the rallies that were mentioned in the lists were a candle light vigil against the oil company BP, a gay pride festival and protests against natural gas drilling.
Filed under: 360° Radar
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with