Friday, January 23, 2009

Interested in signing on to a letter to Gov. O'Malley about the spy scandal?


We are ready to send the letter to the governor.  Let me know if your organization wants to sign on, if you have not contacted me before.  If you told me you were signing on in the past, there is no need to respond unless you have changed your mind.  Let us hope the governor responds affirmatively.  If not, I will see you at the governor’s mansion on February 7 at noon.  Best wishes.



January 24, 2009

Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore

325 East 25th Street

Baltimore, MD 21218


Governor Martin O'Malley

Officer of the Governor

State House

Annapolis, Maryland 21401


Dear Governor O'Malley:


            The public and the activist community of Maryland were startled to discover, as the result of an ACLU lawsuit and request for public documents, that the Maryland State Police conducted covert surveillance of numerous activists and groups for reasons as yet unknown.  Unfortunately, the MSP has been extremely reluctant to provide all relevant documents to the victims of this surveillance.  In fact members of the activist community, who were labeled “terrorists,” have received heavily-redacted files.  Since the MSP has not been totally forthcoming in responding to the ACLU requests, we are not sure that we have received all of the files.


            Thus we are appealing to you to instruct the MSP to release all relevant documents immediately to the ACLU as required by the Maryland Public Information Act.  We would welcome a meeting with you or members of your staff to discuss this request in detail.  This scandal has received national attention, and should be resolved as quickly as possible. But this is not going to happen until the MSP is completely in compliance with the MPIA request.  Once all the documents are released, we can begin to assess the situation, resolve to be sure that it never happens again and then bring it to closure.  We do not think this is possible unless the victims are part of the process


            We condemn the surveillance as an utterly gross violation of the First Amendment rights of freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and freedom of legitimate and nonviolent protest. Representatives of the State Police claim the surveillance has stopped.  But we were told, as well, that the surveillance was limited to the years of 2005-06.  Later we learned that the surveillance continued into at least 2007. 


           You appointed Stephen H. Sachs, former United States Attorney for Maryland and former Attorney General, to conduct an investigation into these surveillance revelations. While Mr. Sachs performed his task with vigor, he was limited in scope to the 14-month time period revealed in the original documents obtained by the ACLU.  And the report was completed in a mere 60 days when more time was obviously needed. Moreover, Sachs had no subpoena power, so he was rebuffed by a former governor and former superintendent of the State Police.  The result was a report which was incomplete, as today we do not know who authorized the surveillance, why it was done, when did it begin and end and what was done with the information.


          Because of these unanswered questions, we have contacted our legislators in both Annapolis and Washington, D.C. We

are working with the ACLU to obtain all relevant documents from the various police and federal agencies and to get

comprehensive legislation passed during the 2009 legislative session in Annapolis.  Many of us will attend and testify

whenever hearings are held.


         A similar scandal in Maryland was exposed in the 1970s.  Police agencies violated the rights of dissident groups and

individuals starting in the 1960s.  As a result of the revelations, the Maryland legislature passed the Public Information Act. 

Unfortunately, legislation was not passed to prevent misuse of police resources to spy on people engaged in Constitutionally

protected behavior.  This time, it is imperative that legislation is passed which will protect the First Amendment rights of



     Appropriate legislation in Maryland could serve as a model.  What has taken place in our state is not unique. Unlawful

surveillance of dissident activity has been exposed in numerous states across the country.  


        We are still seeking an apology from the State Police, from any official of the State government involved in initiating and maintaining this surveillance, and from members of any other police or federal agency involved.  There must be public accountability and a thorough investigation.


      We look forward to your response, so that a meeting can be set up with a small group of us to discuss our concerns.  Please contact me at 410-366-1637 or  


In peace,


Max Obuszewski



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