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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 2/17/09

DHS Spies on Maryland Peace Activists: It's Worse Than We Thought

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Jesselyn Radack
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Today's Washington Post has an article opaquely titled "Federal Agency Aided Md. Spying": http://www.washingtonpost.com/...  I wrote about this a month ago, http://www.dailykos.com/..., but it's worse than originally reported.  Initial reports were that Maryland police classified nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names into state and federal terrorist watch lists for opposing the death penalty and Iraq war.  But it's the other way around: DHS spied on peaceful protest groups and gave the information to state police.  Come with me below the fold to hear more about why this is even more troubling than we first thought

It's one thing for overzealous state police to give the feds information on protest groups that they somehow think could have a terrorist streak.  But it's quite another to have a federal agency infiltrating and spying on peaceful groups, labeling these groups as "terrorists," and turning that information over to the state.

What groups are we talking about?  We're talking about the human rights group Amnesty International, DAWN (the D.C. Anti-War Network), anti-death penalty groups, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a program that ensures that judges are making the best possible decisions about the lives of abused and neglected children.

In 2005 and 2006, DHS tracked the plans of these groups and passed the information on to the Maryland State Police, which had misguidedly labeled the activists as terrorists in an intelligence file.  This is where the federal agency should have stepped in and said:

You made a mistake.  These groups are engaging in protected First Amendment activity.  The First Amendment guarantees basic freedoms of speech and assembly, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.  See, e.g. the Constitution.

Instead, the DHS office in Atlanta forwarded 2 e-mails from an affiliate of the peaceful antiwar group, which 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.

Not only are your taxpayer dollars being spent on these wasteful witch-hunts, but your money has also been used to target 53 innocent individuals and some 24 innocent protest groups in violation of the First Amendment.

To add insult to injury, here is what DHS spokesmak Andrew Lluberes had to say:

[DHS was passing on] normal information that is exchanged between law-enforcement agencies . . .It happens every day.

Jeprinted from Jesselyn Radack's diary on DailyKos 

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My name is Jesselyn Radack and I am the former Justice Department ethics attorney and whistleblower in the case of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. In today's issue of The National Law Journal (Feb. 19, 2007), I have an Op-Ed entitled (more...)
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