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Baltimore Denies Tracking Activists Despite Evidence; Anti-War Activists Seek Expanded Investigation

Antiwar activists seek expanded police probe
Tom LoBianco |

Antiwar activists who were targeted by an undercover state police operation from 2005 to 2006 will ask state investigators Tuesday to expand their probe to learn whether other law enforcement agencies took part in the spying.

Members of Pledge of Resistance Baltimore plan to rally in front of the Maryland State Police headquarters in Baltimore County Tuesday afternoon. The agency's surveillance of the group for 14 months in 2005 and 2006 is being investigated by the state. The group also was tracked by the Baltimore City Police Department in 2003, according to an e-mail obtained by The Washington Times.

"We just want to know: Who ordered it? Who was involved? Who paid for it? Has it stopped? What are you going to do to make sure it never happens again?" said group member Maria Allwine.

A state police spokeswoman declined to comment Monday, citing the pending results of the state probe. A Baltimore police spokesman said any expansion of the probe "would be a huge waste of money."

Baltimore police and Gov. Martin O'Malley, who served as mayor at the time, have denied city officers were involved in tracking protest groups, though the 2003 e-mail is the second document that shows Baltimore police have tracked protesters since the start of the war in Iraq.

Protesters who were targets of the surveillance by state and Baltimore police say the city is withholding information.

"We believe other agencies [than the state police] have documents and we'd like to see all of the documents," said Max Obuszewski, an antiwar activist whose name was entered into a federal terrorist-tracking database.

In responding to a 2006 public records request filed by the ACLU on behalf of Mr. Obuszewski and other protestors, the Baltimore police department said it had no relevant documents.

Mr. Obuszewski protests regularly in front of the National Security Agency headquarters,at Fort Meade, and said Baltimore police, under Mr. O'Malley, cooperated with the NSA in tracking his antiwar group.

"Balto City Intell is working from her end ... [redacted] advised they will have someone working this weekend who will scope out their departure from the American Friends Service Committee," an unknown sender wrote in an e-mail to NSA Police Maj. Michael Talbert, dated September 29, 2003. "The Baltimore City PD counterpart will give [redacted] a heads up as to the numbers departing from the Govans location."

Mrs. Allwine said she suspects a Baltimore police officer infiltrated her group around the start of the Iraq war in 2003. "We may be peaceful, but we're not stupid," she said last week.

Mr. O'Malley appointed former Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs to lead the state investigation of the spying by state police, which occurred under former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The Maryland ACLU uncovered the spying by state police last month after filing a lawsuit against the state in June. The state police released 44 pages of documents detailing its surveillance of antiwar and anti-death-penalty groups.

Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, has attacked Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, since the spying became public last month. Mr. Ehrlich has said he was previously unaware of the spying.

Mr. O'Malley has denied any involvement by the city police, though the ACLU documents show two undercover Baltimore police officers supported undercover state officers at a December 2005 rally.

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