Friday, July 18, 2008

Police Spied On Local Activists, ACLU Says----ACLU Says Police Spied On Anti-War, Anti-Death Penalty Groups

State police documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that undercover police officers infiltrated local groups opposed to the death penalty and the war.

The ACLU released the documents Thursday and argued that what police did during 2005 and 2006 is no different than the days of the FBI under J.Edgar Hoover and the targeting of activist groups during the 1960s.

The internal documents show that nearly three dozen times, undercover state police officers covertly took part in protests and in the meetings groups set up to organize them. The documents included the reports the officers wrote on the meetings detailing how many people attended, what they discussed and the protests they planned to do next, WBAL TV 11 News I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller said.

"What these documents reveal is beyond shocking," said David Rocha of the ACLU.

Much of the covert spying focused on the activities of anti-death penalty groups. The officers' reports made no mention of suspected illegal activity, Miller reported.

"Every single activity is lawful. Every single thing noted in these logs was lawful, First Amendment protected activity," Rocha said.

The documents show the undercover officers kept close tabs on long-time peace activist Max Obuszewski and anti-war protests. It appeared that Obuszewski's name was entered in a database of possible terrorists.

"You can't get any more insulting than that, to call me a terrorist and to label our group a security threat. Unbelievable," Obuszewski told Miller.

Obuszewski said he fears the affect the undercover spying will have on citizen participation.

"It's also scaring people away from our gatherings," he said.

The ACLU is currently looking for more information about the state police program. The documents covered 14 months throughout 2005 and 2006.

"I'm just sort of speechless, to comprehend that the Maryland State Police for 14 months thought this was acceptable," Rocha said.

The ACLU sued the state police to get access to the internal documents, Miller reported. State police did not respond to 11 News questions on Thursday.

A spokesman for the governor said he's reviewing the issues raised by the ACLU and will respond when appropriate.

(source: WBAL TV News)

Please read more about this matter on the homepage of the ACLU

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