If You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong

You don’t have anything to hide:

The Maryland State Police surveillance of advocacy groups was far more extensive than previously acknowledged, with records showing that troopers monitored — and labeled as terrorists — activists devoted to such wide-ranging causes as promoting human rights and establishing bike lanes.

Intelligence officers created a voluminous file on Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, calling the group a “security threat” because of concerns that members would disrupt the circus. Angry consumers fighting a 72 percent electricity rate increase in 2006 were targeted. The DC Anti-War Network, which opposes the Iraq war, was designated a white supremacist group, without explanation.

One of the possible “crimes” in the file police opened on Amnesty International, a world-renowned human rights group: “civil rights.”

According to hundreds of pages of newly obtained police documents, the groups were swept into a broad surveillance operation that started in 2005 with routine preparations for the scheduled executions of two men on death row.

The operation has been called a “waste of resources” by the current police superintendent and “undemocratic” by the governor.

People need to be fired, people need to go to jail, and those spied on illegally deserve redress.

(via)

48 replies
  1. 1
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    I wonder if those peace activists in Fresno got any redress.

    Salon

  2. 2
    GSD says:

    We’re not going to focus on the past.

    -Jumpin’ Joe Biden

  3. 3
    El Cid says:

    And Authoritarian-Americans learn from this once again that their noble fight against government record-keeping must go on, since surely the problem here is that evidence of the government’s illegal activities was allowed to exist & accumulate.

  4. 4
    Fr33d0m says:

    It seems pretty clear that similar activities occurred in large and small communities across the country.

  5. 5
    Jay C says:

    C’mon, John, once you get a bunch of disgruntled folks all fired up to get more bike lanes, where does it end? First, they’ll be grabbing public property like roadways, and then, once they’ve got their land-grabbing precedents set up, they’ll go after private property, and once that’s established, no one’s property, anywhere, will be safe! And once property rights are extinguished, the rest are likely to follow (given these "activists’" disdain for the public) , and we’ll have a totalitarian dictatorship like North Korea’s in no time! The Maryland State Police are right to keep tabs on these dangerous radicals – one can never be too careful where this nation’s precious freedoms are concerned! Bike lanes today – the Red Terror tomorrow!!

    People need to be fired, people need to go to jail, and those spied on illegally deserve redress.

    Good fucking luck with that. They’ll probably get commendations.

  6. 6
    MattF says:

    Point to bear in mind: Maryland is one of the most liberal states in the union. One can only surmise what’s going on in places where the powers-that-be think that having the state police ‘look into’ what liberal groups are up to is probably a good idea.

    OT comment: MD had a Republican governor (Ehrlich) at the time because a Kennedy wanna-be-politician ran an awful campaign and managed to lose. In Maryland! Dems in NY should consider themselves warned.

  7. 7
    Tom Quinn says:

    Wasn’t she an Actual Kennedy? As in Kathleen Kennedy Townsend? Unless I’m thinking of a different election….

  8. 8

    People need to be fired, people need to go to jail, and those spied on illegally deserve redress.

    Totally, absolutely agree.

    But this isn’t just a MD problem. It probably comes down to every single jurisdiction (local, county, state) in the country. Just what some of us screamed would happen if the feds put this "security" bullshit thing in at the national level. There are probably over a million individuals who should be fired or locked up.

    I don’t know how the existing databases can be cleaned up. This stuff is so evil. Maybe we should look at what the Germans did once they had their hands on all the East German security records — although being Germans, I’ll bet they KEPT them…

    I doubt anything can "fix" it except a) a gigantic solar flare that wipes out all our hard drives, or b) a rogue asteroid landing in the Chesapeake Bay.

  9. 9
    MattF says:

    Yeah– an actual Kennedy, Daughter of the Bobby, I think. She was Lt. Gov., then ran for Gov., unsuccessfully.

  10. 10
    bago says:

    @Jay C: Actually, one of the infiltrators got 2 promotions.

  11. 11
    wilfred the shoe throwing Norwegian says:

    People need to be fired, people need to go to jail, and those spied on illegally deserve redress

    How are you going to do that? Not a rhetorical question: What’s the first step? Can it be done from within the system that creates abuses like this? Do people understand how unthinkable this sort of thing was even just a few years ago?

    What was the last genuine movement towards reform and curtailment of government abuse against citizens or non-citizens? I can’t remember anything since the Church Commission, nearly all of whose reforms have fallen by the wayside.

    Empire.

  12. 12
    El Cid says:

    By the way, this is yet another verification of Michael Parenti’s news path predictor (paraphrase from memory):

    "You know, it’s always amazing to me how certain news stories go from being dismissed as ‘crazy leftist conspiracy theory’ to ‘old news that we don’t need to be bringing up now’ without ever really making the front page."

  13. 13
    ComradeDread says:

    People need to be fired, people need to go to jail, and those spied on illegally deserve redress.

    Right. That’ll happen.

    A few grunts may get paid leave during the investigation which will ultimately conclude by saying that all procedures were followed correctly.

  14. 14
    Bootlegger says:

    When the "snoop" shows up at your progressive group’s potluck, take the advice of Kurt Vonnegut and Abbie Hoffman as cited in Vonnegut’s Man Without a Country, drop some really fun disinformation on ’em. In Hoffman’s case it was to let the FBI know that people were getting high by stuffing banana skins up their asses. Wonder what the agent’s rank was that got try that one out?

  15. 15
    Bootlegger says:

    @El Cid: Parenti rocks.

  16. 16
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    people were getting high by stuffing banana skins up their asses

    Protip: Don’t peel ’em first.

  17. 17
    Reverend Dennis says:

    Seems that this is a lesson that never stays learned: protest and dissent are very American. They are neither terrorism nor unpatriotic.
    If a group is an actual threat then the local police, untrained and unsophisticated where terrorists are concerned, aren’t the ones who should be dealing with them. If a group isn’t an actual threat then they should be left the hell alone.
    I wonder how many innocent people wound up on the No-Fly list because of these shenanigans.

  18. 18
    Ruth says:

    The governor is head of the MD police force, and can see that action is taken, wilfred of the shoe, and in this case, it is a Democrat so something might just happen.

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    @Bootlegger: His lectures in 1990-1991 really opened my eyes to a great deal. But that era in U.S. intellectual history has basically been buried and no one remembers anything but the more desirable re-write.

  20. 20
    kay says:

    No arrests were made for sedition. That’s what the article says. But if they find evidence of any illegal activity with a legal wiretap they can make a referral to whatever police agency controls that area of illegality.

    That’s the real chilling effect, as far as I’m concerned. The possible deleterious collateral effect of political speech.

    That’s effective.

  21. 21
    Don K says:

    People need to be fired, people need to go to jail, and those spied on illegally deserve redress.

    John, I can see you haven’t lived long enough yet to be properly cynical. Just as the cops who bust into the wrong houses with guns blazing most often get promotions and commendations, these clowns will now be on the fast track to the top. And those spied on probably will be on the no-fly list, because they once were the subjects of official surveillance.

  22. 22
    El Cid says:

    @Ruth: Ah, good point — the rewrite will be ‘this is clearly evidence of how Democrats abuse our rights’.

  23. 23
    ppcli says:

    What was the last genuine movement towards reform and curtailment of government abuse against citizens or non-citizens?

    Well, the NRA regards most attempts by law enforcement to get hold of information about gun owners as "government abuse", and at least for the last eight years, they’ve been pretty good at preventing anything they don’t like. So it can be done, if people are determined enough.
    .
    Also, Bill O’Reilly’s crusade against the War on Christmas has successfully curtailed the coordinated government/large business plot to quash the usual Dec. 25th holiday. We celebrated as usual this year. (… *but for how many more?*)

  24. 24
    charmcity says:

    @Ruth: I wish that were true. But I live in Maryland, and our "rising Democratic star" governor hasn’t really done anything since he was elected. I don’t think he’s going to start now.

  25. 25
    Tara the antisocial social worker says:

    Just imagine if they’d taken all the resources wasted on spying on law-abiding dissenters and political opponents, and instead used that money/time/energy to follow up on tips related to actual terrorism. Or any actual crime.

  26. 26
    Zifnab25 says:

    This is classic "who watches the watchmen" territory. So let’s say you do move on these guys. Who leads the prosecution? I only know one Patrick Fitzgerald. Who arrests half the police? How many people get busted for actually breaking the law and how many were "just following orders"? You could start at the bottom and force little fish to rat out their superiors, but that pond is huge and loyalty runs deep. You could set an example with the head clowns but they have the biggest defenses and investigation alone could take years.

    This is a huge job. You’d practically need a new cabinet officer to handle it. And then you still end up asking – if Obama gets ousted in 4 years – who watches over the new guy’s shoulder. At the end of the day, I think the only way to get justice in this country is at the ballot box.

  27. 27
    R-Jud says:

    Bleagh, you think that’s bad, try tracking everyone in the country:

    The private sector will be asked to manage and run a communications database that will keep track of everyone’s calls, emails, texts and internet use under a key option contained in a consultation paper to be published next month by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary.

    This, from a government whose private contractors have left important classified data lying around on the Tube or in airport lobbies.

  28. 28

    Maryland is one of the most liberal states in the union. One can only surmise what’s going on in places where the powers-that-be think that having the state police ‘look into’ what liberal groups are up to is probably a good idea.

    Many of our cops would be right at home in the reddest of red states. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Texas sends us the schmucks who are too nasty for its police forces.

    MD had a Republican governor (Ehrlich) at the time because a Kennedy wanna-be-politician ran an awful campaign and managed to lose.

    Oh God. Her entire schtick was "I’m a Kennedy, vote for me!" rEarlick ran as a Maryland Republican, which is to say he would have been labeled a pinko DFH anywhere further south of the Mason-Dixon line. Still a dick though, just not as big a dick as some of the other dicks.

  29. 29
    garyb50 says:

    I will consider Homeland Security an epic FAIL if I’m not spying on myself within 2 years.

  30. 30
    kay says:

    @Tara the antisocial social worker:

    I hate how it’s treated as "no harm, no foul". They entered the info into a database. They passed it along to 7 local agencies, and the feds. They designated most as "terrorists" and one as an "anarchist". The information can’t be accessed directly, but is instead used as a "pointer" if any one of them is picked up or implicated for something, even unrelated.

    What does all that trigger, even inadvertently, and what kind of message does that send to those who might, oh, JOIN one of these activist groups? Do we even know what designation as a terrorist triggers, at the federal level? The no-fly list, but what else?

  31. 31
    Duke of Earl says:

    @garyb50:

    I will consider Homeland Security an epic FAIL if I’m not spying on myself within 2 years.

    But you will not be able to tell yourself about spying on yourself, unless of course you kill yourself immediately afterward.

  32. 32
    Rick Massimo says:

    No one could have predicted that government investigators, given the power to spy on anyone for any reason, would use that power for political witch-hunting and general librul-smacking.

    Except us dirty fucking hippies.

    Who were proved right.

    Again.

  33. 33
    Duke of Earl says:

    @Rick Massimo:

    Except us dirty fucking hippies.

    Who were proved right.

    Again.

    As Glenn Greenwald has so cogently pointed out so many times now, it isn’t a matter of who is correct and who is incorrect, it’s a matter of who is Serious and who is not Serious.

    And you do not become Serious by listening to the DFHs, other than if you are listening to them in order to bash a distorted version of what they have to say.

  34. 34
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    One of the possible “crimes” in the file police opened on Amnesty International, a world-renowned human rights group: “civil rights.”

    Says it all, doesn’t it.

    But there really is only one crime, post-9/11, isn’t there? Defying the Will of the Leader. And belonging to any group that might criticize Him, or any group that might advocate actions that might be construed as criticism, or that tries to feed poor people because that might in some way decrease the rate of tax cuts for rich people, counts as such.

    At least until the leader isn’t a Republican.

  35. 35
    Duke of Earl says:

    @Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist:

    But there really is only one crime, post-9/11, isn’t there? Defying the Will of the Leader.

    Don’t worry, we only have about two more weeks of that particular mindset.

  36. 36
    burnspbesq says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    There is no redress that can properly compensate anyone for having to live in Fresno.

  37. 37
    scarshapedstar says:

    @Duke of Earl:

    Don’t worry, we only have about two more weeks of that particular mindset.

    Indeed, except perhaps the ultimate crime will become "Obeying the Will of the Leader" and they won’t miss a beat. The only problem is that there’s no clear leader for them to follow in the anti-Obama jihad, no official boots to lick. They may end up running amok, like the Zerg swarm after the Overmind was defeated.

  38. 38
    burnspbesq says:

    @Jay C:

    Good fucking luck with that. They’ll probably get commendations.

    They’ll get the cushiest duty that the Maryland State Police can offer: working security at the Comcast Center for Maryland men’s basketball games, where they will allow the idiot Twerp fans to lob all kinds of shit at the parents of visiting players.

  39. 39
    Bootlegger says:

    But you will not be able to tell yourself about spying on yourself, unless of course you kill yourself immediately afterward.

    You’ll have to torture yourself first in a foreign country. I suggest rum and blunts on a Jamaican beach…that’ll loosen you up.

  40. 40
    Duke of Earl says:

    @Bootlegger:

    You’ll have to torture yourself first in a foreign country. I suggest rum and blunts on a Jamaican beach…that’ll loosen you up.

    Painful experience has taught me that getting way fucked up on subtropical beaches is not generally a Good Idea.

    Sunburn and a rubdown with pimentade would make me confess to just about anything..

    Pimentade is a sauce consisting of lime juice, salt and mashed jabanero peppers.

  41. 41
    Bootlegger says:

    @Duke of Earl: My point exactly ;-)

  42. 42
    D-Chance. says:

    By that logic, Bill Richardson is guilty as shit, since he quit before anyone even began formal hearings.

    Adios, amigo.

  43. 43
    Poopyman says:

    Yep! That was during the Ehrlich administration. And yep! Governor Marty is doing a bang-up job of sitting on his ass.

    Look for Ehrlich to run again next time ’round. We may not end up with as bad a Dem candidate as K. Kennedy, but the field of potentials is kinda sparse.

    Keep an eye on the race in 2010. Just sayin’.

  44. 44
    mclaren says:

    This is a horrible tragic situation. That doesn’t change the fact that Hamas consists of murderers who are firing rockets at Israeli women and children and killing them.

    If a group of murderers in Mexico was firing rockets at your family in Arizona and killing them, I’m guessing the United States would launch air strikes.

    People will talk about indiscriminate Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza strip, they’ll bring up the use of huge blockbuster bombs to take out one terrorist, creating many additional casualties. That’s all true. It’s a horrible brutal mess. That doesn’t change the fact that Hamas deliberately located its rocket launchers in civilian areas.

    What are the Israelis supposed to do? Sit around while their familes are murdered with Katyusha rockets?

    There are no good guys here. It’s a brutal cruel monstrous situation. But terrorists deliberately firing rocket after rocket to murder innocent civilian women and children and old men have got to expect that someone, somewhere will relaliate, sooner or later.

  45. 45
    sparky says:

    @mclaren: mmmmm….i love the smell of astroturf in the morning. also.

    incidentally, it’s good to see that everyone has finally mastered the craft of cut and paste. maybe these folks pay higher wages. or give more points.

  46. 46
    Bootlegger says:

    @mclaren: And if Mexico wouldn’t let your family leave San Diego and cut off fuel, food and medical supplies you’d be launching rockets at them. You are at least correct that there is plenty of blame to go around but the Israelis do not occupy the moral high ground here.

  47. 47
    jenniebee says:

    @kay:

    I hate how it’s treated as "no harm, no foul". They entered the info into a database. They passed it along to 7 local agencies, and the feds. They designated most as "terrorists" and one as an "anarchist". The information can’t be accessed directly, but is instead used as a "pointer" if any one of them is picked up or implicated for something, even unrelated.

    The key here isn’t whether the information was entered into a database (which is a loaded word on these sorts of things – there’s really no practical difference in terms of data transmission or privacy between entering information into a database and entering it a spreadsheet, in fact a database is easier to secure, but it sounds much more organized and sinister when it’s a "database.")

    From the article, it sounds like they may have offered bits of info to other local departments, but the quote about the database being a "dead end" suggests to me that they didn’t have anybody who put together any real data transference or data sharing, which would really have been dangerous. It’s not terribly common for a database design to cover not just the data, but also to collect and store information on the source for all their data, so if the nonsense these MD cops collected was actually sent out into the wild, extracting the parts supplied by MD in another system and destroying them would be problematic. But, as I said, the article suggests to me that that didn’t happen. Hooray for people who don’t know how to use the technology they’ve got.

  48. 48
    lou says:

    Many of our cops would be right at home in the reddest of red states. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Texas sends us the schmucks who are too nasty for its police forces.

    Word. Same cops who mowed down a couple of labrador retrievers because some marijuana was delivered to the wrong house. and the guy whose dogs were killed was the mayor.

    I’ve been following this surveillance story since it first appeared on the front page of the Wash. Post. What’s really scary is the head cop genuinely doesn’t seem to understand what the big deal was. He shrugs his shoulders and says ‘well, we had to label them terrorists because we had no category for peaceful protesters. ‘

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