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Maryland State Police Put Nonviolent Activists on Terror Lists

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The Washington Post reports that the Maryland State Police had "classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects." The Post goes on to specify that the surveillance operation had targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war. In other words, people who fight for life and for peace. These were the "terrorists" that Maryland was spending its time on. These were the "threats" that distracted law enforcement personnel from the real terrorists who might actually do us harm. If you live in Maryland, this is where your state tax dollars were going. God bless you. Fortunately, it appears that the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee raised hell when they learned about it, so now the affected activists are being contacted and given the opportunity to review their files before they are purged from the databases. If I were one of those 53, I would definitely want to review my file. Who wouldn't? But the admission and the file sharing and the purging do not undo the original wrong. If this had happened in Pennsylvania (and who's to say that it hasn't?), I might well be on that list, as I am a highly vocal opponent to the death penalty and the Iraq War. And I write almost daily about the sins of the Bush administration, Congress, and all the other powers that be. But, you see, the point is, I have done nothing to be ashamed of. I merely routinely practice my Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association and assembly to protest the bad and proclaim the good in this country. And, in the past eight years of the Bush administration, there has been much to protest. This is America, where we once believed that only in a dictatorship or a police state would our right to dissent be stifled. After all, as the great (Republican) president Teddy Roosevelt once said:
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
There you go. But apparently the Maryland State Police disagree.


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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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