Sunday, July 20, 2008

Doesn't surprise me one bit

The Maryland State Police has been caught red-handed illegally infiltrating and spying on local peace and anti-death penalty advocacy groups, and in at least one instance the agency is accused of submitting the name of a member of one of the groups to a national database of suspected drug traffickers and terrorists.

"One well-known peace activist, Max Obuszewski, was entered into the "Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area" (HIDTA) database. The database, originally intended to fight drug trafficking, was modified by Congress in 2006 to assist in terrorism investigations as well."

The agency's actions were apparently done in an attempt to intimidate the organizations' members, and to scare them into stopping their peaceful, First Amendment-protected protests outside the National Security Agency. After all, who's going to publicly demonstrate for a cause they believe in if it's going to cause them no end of grief by making them suddenly appear on Big Brother's radar screen? Next thing you know, they're on the no-fly list, prevented from entering Federal buildings and many other such inconveniences, all for no reason except that they showed up to a meeting to discuss things.

"ACLU attorney David Rocah said documents released Thursday show state police violated federal laws prohibiting departments that receive federal funds from maintaining databases with information about political activities and affiliations."

No group member was ever suspected of committing a crime, or even planning to commit a crime. In fact, the agents' own reports noted the completely innocent behavior of the groups:

"'No intelligence has been gathered at this point that there are any illegal or disruptive actions planned," says one document dated March 16, 2005.'

'No one advocated any kind of violence or civil disobedience," says another dated April 7, 2005.'

'No problems were observed," says one on June 10, 2005."

Of course, the chucklehead agents saw no problem in asking to keep the monitoring train a'rolling, despite the utter lack of evidence of criminal wrongdoing:

"'Nevertheless, the agents kept recommending that "this case remain open and updated as events warrant.'"

The head of the MSP, Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan, is vigorously denying the accusations, but then again he forced the ACLU to sue to get the documents that they released and he's currently fighting the release of more records related to the case, so he's got to be hiding something.

The official Enemies List is alive and well, at least in Maryland. I am really, really glad that I moved out of that dysfunctional socialist paradise years ago.

No comments: