Documents: DHS Passed Protest Info to Md. Police
February 17, 2009 - 4:35 PMThe U.S. Department of Homeland Security tracked an anti-war group's plans for peaceful protests and passed the information on to the Maryland State Police, according to documents released to The Washington Post and reported in Tuesday's editions.
The documents are the first indication that the state police had federal partners during their widely condemned spying on activist groups, which went on in 2005 and 2006. The revelation has alarmed Maryland's U.S. senators, who are asking DHS for more details about how it obtained the information it shared.
State police have apologized for spying on peaceful activists and for classifying 53 people as terrorists in an internal database. Police have said the names were not put on federal anti-terrorism lists.
The DHS link was found in the state police file on the DC Anti-War Network, or DAWN, which The Post obtained under Maryland's public information law. According to the file, the federal agency obtained two e-mails about plans for demonstrations by the group at a military recruiting center in Silver Spring and forwarded the e-mails to state police. The protests were peaceful, the file noted.
Andrew Lluberes, a DHS spokesman, said the agency was passing on "normal information that is exchanged between law-enforcement agencies," particularly because the protests involved a federal building. "It happens every day," he said.
Lluberes said the information about the protest plans was likely taken off the Internet.
But Pat Elder, the organizer of the protests, said federal agents could not have accessed the e-mails without infiltrating the group's e-mail lists.
Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., have sent a follow-up letter to Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano demanding that the agency "re-examine" its files to determine how the e-mails were obtained and whether they were sent to Maryland authorities for a "legitimate law-enforcement purpose."
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