You may remember that this past summer the Maryland State Police Department was caught conducting illegal surveillance on non-violent, anti-war protesters. Thanks to some intrepid activists and the ACLU of Maryland, the department’s abuses came to light through a Freedom of Information Act request. You may also remember that the ACLU testified at a hearing in front of Maryland state legislators on this very topic last month.
Well, look who’s actually doing something about it! Maryland’s Senators (Senator Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin — both Democrats) and my very own civil liberties husband, Senator Russell Feingold (D-Wis.). The trio sent a letter today to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and the heads of both the National Security Agency and the National Counterterrorism Center asking that non-violent protestors be purged from all federal terrorism databases. As Suzanne said, “How reasonable!” A taste:
“While appropriate information sharing between federal counter-terrorism agencies and state and local law enforcement is critical to our national security, we trust you agree that Americans should not end up in federal terrorism databases as a result of participating in nonviolent anti-war, anti-death penalty, or pro-environment demonstrations. Such activities by the government could have a chilling effect of groups and individuals to ‘peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.’”
Right?! Here’s hoping that the 111th Congress will be able to make progress on this issue under a new and, fingers-crossed, more cooperative administration. A girl can dream, right?