Saturday, Aug 9, 2008
Undercover Maryland state troopers infiltrated three groups advocating peace and protesting the death penalty — attending meetings and sending reports on their activities to U.S. intelligence and military agencies, according to documents released Thursday.
The documents show the activities occurred from at least March 2005 to May 2006 and that officers used false names, which the documents referred to as “covert identities” – to open e-mail accounts to receive messages from the groups.
Also included in the 46 pages of documents, obtained by the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, is an account of an activist’s name being entered into a federally funded database designed to share information among state, local and federal law-enforcement agencies on terrorist and drug trafficking suspects.
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ACLU attorney David Rocah said state police violated federal laws prohibiting departments that receive federal funds from maintaining databases with information about political activities and affiliations.
The activist was identified as Max Obuszewski. His “primary crime” was entered into the database as “terrorism – anti govern(ment).” His “secondary crime” was listed as “terrorism – anti-war protestors.” The database is known as the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA.
“This is not supposed to happen in America,” said Mr. Rocah. “In a free society, which relies on the engagement of citizens in debate and protest and political activity to maintain that freedom … you should be able to attend a meeting about an issue you care about without having to worry that government spies are entering your name into a database used to track alleged terrorists and drug traffickers.”
This article was posted: Saturday, August 9, 2008 at 4:18 am