Frederick News-Post Oct 14, 2008;
Front Page A-1
STATE POLICE SURVEILLANCE INCLUDED
At least four
Those four residents, all part of the Frederick Progressive Action Coalition, received letters last week from the MSP stating they had been wrongly classified as suspected terrorists in an MSP database. They believe the group was targeted for its nonviolent opposition to the expansion of biodefense facilities at
Kissin received his letter last week. It stated he had been recorded in the
FredPAC members suspect their Fort Detrick protests drew police attention, because those were the group’s most visible activities during the surveillance period.
“We have been listed as terrorists only for challenging the powers that be in ways that are essential to a real democracy,” Kissin said.
The right to their records
Kissin and the others have not examined the records yet because they were told they could not obtain copies or take with them legal counsel or a representative of the American Civil Liberties
The ACLU brought the state police spying to light earlier this year.
Kissin is not sure yet if the entry in the Case Explorer database was the only place where FredPAC members were identified; according to a report by former Attorney General Steven Sachs, some activists’ names were included in a database maintained by Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, a federally funded initiative.
Those who received letters met last weekend and decided to approach the MSP as a group in concert with the ACLU. They will not examine the records until they are allowed copies and ACLU involvement, Kissin said.
David Rocah, staff attorney for the ACLU, wrote a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, asking him to intervene with the MSP and let those the state police wrongly classified as terrorists — 53 people — have copies of the records.
Rocah has not yet heard back from O’Malley.
“The state’s position is beyond untenable,” Rocah said. “If cooler heads do not prevail, then we will take appropriate legal action.”
Members of FredPAC do not know the extent of police surveillance or if more members or other local groups were watched.
The loosely knit group has been involved in bicycle awareness, protesting the Ku Klux Klan, and attending anti-war protests, in addition to its Detrick work.
Kissin said their opposition to Fort Detrick’s “so-called biodefense” expansion has been vindicated by the Frederick County Commissioners’ and members of Congress’ recent calls for more study of safety risks there, and also by the news earlier this year that the FBI believes Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks.
“Our opposition has been vindicated by the recent official acknowledgment that the only bio-attack in our history, namely the anthrax letters, came from within our own ‘biodefense’ program,” Kissin said.
Schmidt, Kissin’s wife who was also labeled a terrorist suspect by MSP, is a Polish immigrant who came to the
She was arrested in 1983 for her involvement in the nonviolent anti-Communist Solidarity movement in
She faced up to seven years in jail for trying to convince Polish military members not to stand with the Communist regime, but was released after 48 hours for lack of evidence.
She immediately applied for a Fulbright scholarship and came to the
She is disappointed to learn her civil liberties have not been protected, she said.
“That was my reason for coming here," Schmidt said.
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