Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Homeland Security Helped Maryland Spy on Activists

We've know since the Summer of 2008 that the Maryland State Police spied on activists and their lawful political activities from 2005 to 2007.  Troopers entered citizens into a database in which they labeled 53 individuals as "terrorists."  Now we know that federal agencies assisted state police in spying.

Since the investigation into this outrageous misconduct began, law enforcement has insisted that other agencies were not involved.  The ACLU and community groups have long suspected otherwise.  After all, the state's Intelligence Fusion Center is located in the same building as the State Police.  Now, we know that at least one federal agencies was gathering and sharing intelligence with Maryland troopers.

The groups targeted by an undercover police detective included:  Coalition To End the Death Penalty, Veterans for Peace, Baltimore United for Peace and Justice, Baltimore Pledge of Resistance, Amnesty International, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  For the ACLU's report on this, go here.

The undercover trooper who spied on these groups has been promoted twice.  She has not been reprimanded.  Using a false name, she infiltrated organizations, took names, and made regular reports to superiors that were sent to at least seven federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the NSA.  Logs of the surveillance do not contain any reports of illegal activity.

On February 17, 2009, it was revealed to the Washington Post that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) joined in this wasteful witch hunt.  The DHS office in Atlanta forwarded two emails from an affiliate of the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) to the Maryland State Police concerning upcoming demonstrations at a military recruiting center in Silver Spring, MD in June 2005.  The information received from DHS described only lawful First Amendment activity.

The presence of these DHS emails in the Maryland State Police file on DAWN indicates that federal agencies were part of Maryland's intelligence gathering.  It also shows that the Homeland Security is wasting taxpayer money monitoring lawful anti-war activism, rather than keeping the country safe from Al-Qaeda.  

If the First Amendment is not sacred to government officials, it begs County Joe's question, ". . . And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?"