The Washington Post ran a stellar report yesterday about illegal surveillance by the Maryland Police, which stooped to investigating people advocating for bicycle lanes in cities. Oh, the HORROR! Bicycle lanes. A coincidence that the Maryland government at the time was run by Robert Ehrlich and Michael Steele, both Republicans? No.
Commentary By: Steven Reynolds
In Maryland that was evidently the case, according to an article by Lisa Rein and Josh White in yesterday’s Washington Post. More complete details are now out about the suveillance program conducted by the Maryland State Police, and it is shocking the kinds of citizens groups that agency decided to infiltrate and report on, on the slim rationalization that the groups might be harboring terrorists. This is a mighty report, that’s for sure. Here’s the lead, from the Washington Post:
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.
I’m willing to bet, based on the fearmongering inherent in these actions, and the incompetence the officers showed in choosing who to monitor, that every single one of the officers who hatched this illegal and unconstitutional surveillance program were Republicans. Though he was not implicated in any of this wrongdoing, the Governor of Maryland at the time, Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., is a Republican. Micheal Steele, current GOPAC Chair and candidate for the Chair of the RNC, was Lietenant Governor of Maryland when these ugly crimes took place. Alas, Republicans will counter that they are not crimes since no charges have been filed, but I value the constitution far more highly than they do.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a bicycle enthusist, and log ten to forty mile trips quite often throughout the spring and summer. I have even joined an advocacy group here in PA, the Friends of Schuylkill River Park. Thankfully I live in Pennsylvania, and there is no evidence, as yet, that police or others gone wild in their zeal to perform Homeland Security tasks have targeted that organization.