Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Homeland Security Dept. Gave Information to State Police



Federal Agency Aided Md. Spying

Homeland Security Dept. Gave Information to State Police


By Lisa Rein

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 17, 2009; B01


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security tracked the protest plans of a

peaceful Washington area antiwar group and passed the information to the

Maryland State Police, which had previously labeled the activists as

terrorists in an intelligence file.


The federal agency obtained two e-mails containing plans for upcoming

demonstrations at a military recruiting center in Silver Spring in 2005,

the first indication that DHS might have worked with the police to

monitor advocacy groups. The notification by DHS appears in a state

police file on the DC Anti-War Network, or DAWN, provided to The

Washington Post under the Public Information Act.


The file is one of five created by the state police on the antiwar

group in 2005 and 2006. Along with 53 individuals and about two dozen

other protest groups, including Amnesty International and CASA of

Maryland, the network was labeled a terrorist group in an internal

police database. Police have said the names were not put on federal

anti-terrorism lists.


An entry in the D.C. network's file dated June 21, 2005, notes that the

DHS office in Atlanta forwarded two e-mails from an affiliate of the

group, the name of which was redacted from the document provided to The

Post. The state police file states: "Activists [from DAWN] are going to

stage several small (12-15) weekly demonstrations at the Silver Spring

Armed Forces Recruitment Center. If there is enough support these will

become weekly vigils." According to the file, the protests were



The DHS intelligence work has alarmed civil liberties groups and

Maryland's U.S. senators, who are concerned that police shared with

federal authorities personal details about the activists swept into

their widely criticized spying operation. In a letter two weeks ago

responding to their inquiry about the spying, DHS told Maryland Sens.

Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and Barbara A. Mikulski (D) and Sen. Russell

Feingold (D-Wis.) that an "exhaustive review" of the agency's records

and databases found that none of the activists' names were shared with

Maryland's intelligence fusion center.


But Cardin, who last week was named chairman of a Senate subcommittee

on terrorism and homeland security, said he has not received "all the

direct answers I need." He said DHS might have violated federal rules by

forwarding information about a peaceful group that showed no intention

of breaking the law. "They exercised their right to petition their

government in a lawful manner," Cardin said in an interview.


In a letter to Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano to be

released today, Mikulski and Feingold demand that the agency "reexamine"

its files to determine how the e-mails on DAWN were obtained and whether

they were sent to the Maryland State Police for a "legitimate

law-enforcement purpose."


"The information reportedly received from DHS describes only

First-Amendment protected activity," the letter states. "This evidence

raises several questions, particularly in light of your inability to

locate records in response to our previous inquiry."


DHS spokesman Andrew Lluberes said the agency was passing on "normal

information that is exchanged between law-enforcement agencies,"

particularly because the Silver Spring protests involved a federal

building. "It happens every day," he said. The information was most

likely taken off the Internet, he said, although he did not know why the

Atlanta office was involved.


But the organizer of the protests said federal agents would have had to

infiltrate DAWN e-mail lists to gain access to the messages.


"They would have had to join our group as a member,'' said Pat Elder of

Bethesda, the leader of a national network that opposes military

recruitment in high schools. He said he was in contact in 2005 with an

activist in Atlanta about how to build the cardboard coffins frequently

used by protesters against the Iraq war as a symbol of what activists

have called needless military deaths. The antiwar group was dissolved

about 18 months ago, the result of "the natural ebb and flow of the

peace movement," Elder said.


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