Thursday, July 24, 2008

More on MD Spying

Last Friday we posted an article about Maryland police spying on death penaly opponents and peace activists. Now one of the persons concered talks about this himself:

Spying on a Sportswriter
by Dave Zirin

Finally, at long last, I have something in common with Muhammad Ali.

No, I'm not the heavyweight champion of the world, but, like "the Greatest," I have been a target of state police surveillance for activities--in my case, against the death penalty--that were legal, nonviolent and, so I assumed, constitutionally protected.

In classified reports compiled by the Maryland State Police and the Department of Homeland Security, I am "Dave Z." This nickname was given by an undercover agent known to us as "Lucy." She sat in our meetings of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, smiling and engaged, taking copious notes about actions deemed threatening by the former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich. Our seditious crimes, as Lucy reported, involved such acts as planning to set up a table at the local farmers market and writing up a petition. Adding a dash of farce to this outrage, she was monitoring us in the liberal enclave of Takoma Park, Maryland, a place known more for tie-dyeing than terrorism. Incidentally, current Governor Martin O'Malley says he opposes this kind of surveillance. He also opposes the death penalty. No word yet on whether he, too, is being spied upon. [...]

My friend Mike Stark, a board member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, is at times referred to in Lucy's report as a "socialist" and an "anarchist." One can only assume this is the pathetic, time-honored tradition of reducing people to simple caricatures, all the better to garner Homeland Security grant money.

Veteran Baltimore peace activist Max Obuszewski, who has initiated a lawsuit against the Maryland State Police, has also consistently been shadowed by authories. His "primary crime" (their terminology) was entered into the homeland security database as "terrorism-anti govern[ment]." His "secondary crime" was listed as "terrorism-antiwar protestors." The database is known as the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). A respected peace organizer of many decades is identified as a terrorist, his actions listed as criminal, for doing nothing more than exercising his rights.

Former police superintendent Tim Hutchins defended these totalitarian practices in the Washington Post saying, "You do what you think is best to protect the general populace of the state." [...]

But "protect the general populace" from what? The surveillance continued even after it was determined that we were planning nothing more dangerous than carrying clipboards in a public place. [...]

Please read the complete article in The Nation

People who want to express their outrage can contact the office Governor Martin O'Malley. We should demand a full investigation of the MSP, public release of all documents obtained through this illegal activity, and a specific commitment that the antideath penalty and anti-war movement will not be targeted. Call the office of the governor at 1-800-811-8336, or submit a comment online at

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