By Liz F. Kay | firstname.lastname@example.org
3:51 PM EST, November 19, 2008
State police spying went on longer than previously reported, continuing into
2007, according to documents released today by the ACLU.
The American Civil Liberties
activists who appear never to have stepped foot in
databases that list them as terrorists.
The documents of 53 people identified as possible terrorists were redacted
significantly to eliminate references to covert operations.
Activists say they still aren't getting complete information from state
police, despite an investigative report commissioned by Gov. Martin
O'Malley, and they say they'll keep demanding documents and possibly pursue
"We are nowhere near full disclosure of what they did, why they did it and
who they did it to," said ACLU attorney David Rocah.
A state police spokesman said that the department has released files in
compliance with the investigative report and denied that groups other than
death penalty activists were monitored.
Spokesman Greg Shipley said that information about activists gathered
outside of the 14-month period beginning in 2005 was "incident-based."
"It is intelligence information and actions that are in response to proposed
events or actions that led to concern on the part of police for issues of
public safety," Shipley said.
Some members of national groups that were included on the list were
surprised because they have never attended events in this state.
"I've never been to
extremist," Nancy Kricorian, a coordinator for the
CODEPINK, an organization of women advocating for peace, said. "I've never
been arrested. The whole thing is completely bizarre," she said in a
Copyright © 2008, The
Published on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 by The
Many Groups Spied Upon In
Police files released to the activists reveal that the governor's security detail alerted the state police's Homeland Security and Intelligence Division to what troopers guarding Ehrlich described as "aggressive protesting" by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network  in 2005.
A review by The Washington Post of those and other files given in recent days to many of the 53 Maryland activists who were wrongly labeled as terrorists in state and federal databases shows an intelligence operation eager to collect information on the protest plans of a broad swath of nonviolent groups from 2005 to at least early 2007.
Those groups included not only death penalty and
The intelligence officers were particularly interested in determining the groups' intentions ahead of specific rallies scheduled in the
The files, whose release and eventual purge were urged in an independent review of the undercover surveillance operation, are heavily redacted in black ink. Many contain about five pages, consisting largely of tidbits of information about each person and his or her protest group. Some list what they call "monikers" for the activists, which are also blacked out.
The individuals are listed under headings for "terrorism" with such labels as "anti-war protestors," "threats," "environmental extremists" and "anarchists," although there is no explanation why any of the groups or individuals would be considered terror threats or extremist groups.
The ACLU  of
State police spokesman Greg Shipley  said yesterday that he could not discuss the contents of the files. He said redactions were made to protect confidential "methods, techniques, procedures and other individuals who may be named" in the documents.
Shipley said that a group or an individual's inclusion in state police files does not mean it was the target of long-term surveillance. "These actions were incident-based in response to intelligence information and in response to proposed events or actions that led to concern on the part of police for issues of public safety," he said. "Checks were made based on information, and they moved on."
The police appear to have discovered some of the activists on the Internet. In the case of the Takoma Park-based
A dozen members of the climate group showed up at Walt Whitman High School  on Nov. 17, 2005, to protest as Ehrlich announced his support for tighter rules to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants. The network and other environmental groups criticized the rules for not going far enough.
The protesters held up banners and chanted, "Governor -- What about global warming? What about carbon?" as Ehrlich and his staff entered the school, several recalled in interviews. They asked several students to hold up signs during the news conference inside the school.
No arrests were made. Eleven days later, the detail alerted the police intelligence division to the group.
"One of the protestors 'aggressively' tried to approach the Governor, others tried to get into the school and some of the protestors tried to recruit students to carry signs inside of the event," according to Executive Director Mike Tidwell 's file. Tidwell's photo, taken from his group's Web site, was included in the database. He did not attend the protest.
Josh Tulkin, the group's deputy director at the time, recalled that when he walked into the school, security guards grabbed his shoulder and wrist, led him into an empty classroom and questioned him.
After the undercover surveillance was revealed in July, the group reviewed its own records. It appeared that a trooper working for the program had used an alias to join the group's e-mail list.
"I believe this was political retribution," Tidwell said yesterday.
Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell, who was a press secretary in 2005, said yesterday that Ehrlich had no role in the security detail's day-to-day judgments.
"He's not in the business of telling Executive Protection how to do their job," Fawell said. He said he did not recall Ehrlich "ever expressing any opinions" about Tidwell's group.
Other files appear to have been created just days before expected protests.
They include those on leaders of such national antiwar groups as Code Pink , three of whom landed in the database. One, Nancy Krecorian of
Attorney Steven Tiederman, who represents Perticone and DeCesare, said the police seem to have put peaceful protesters in the same category as violent ones who bombed abortion clinics.
Files were also compiled on two Catholic nuns from
Ten days before Medea Benjamin was scheduled to speak at the 20th Annual Peace, Justice and Environmental Conference in
When Code Pink was scheduled to appear at another
"It shows the ridiculous connection they're trying to make between peace activism and terrorism," Benjamin said. "Two of these events I was never at."
Benjamin's file lists two potential terrorism "crimes": a primary one as an environmental extremist and a secondary one as an anarchist and animal rights activist.
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