Mikulski, Feingold ask Homeland Security to Come Clean on MSP Spying - Southern Maryland Headline News

Mikulski, Feingold ask Homeland Security to Come Clean on MSP Spying


Senators Demand Answers, Call on DHS to Reexamine Files on Whether They Shared Information on Peaceful Protesters with Maryland State Police

WASHINGTON (Feb. 24, 2009) – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), in response to news reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shared information about nonviolent protest groups with Maryland State Police (MSP), sent a follow-up letter to the DHS asking them to reexamine their files on this matter.

Dozens of nonviolent activists were added to state and federal terrorist databases by the MSP, according to news reports that led the Senators to send letters to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, and other senior federal law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence officials to find out why this occurred and what steps were being taken to ensure it never happened again.

DHS’s written response on January 29, 2009 stated that they “found no indication of ever receiving information from the subject efforts of the Maryland State Police (MSP).” More recent news reports, however, indicate that DHS was able to track 2005 protest plans of the peaceful Washington area anti-war group, DAWN, and passed that information along to the MSP.

The full text of the letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano follows:

Dear Secretary Napolitano:

Thank you for your January 29, 2009 response to our request for information regarding what the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) knew about Maryland State Police (MSP) surveillance efforts targeting 53 nonviolent activists improperly characterized as terrorists. We were pleased to learn that the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) was proactive in questioning whether DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) personnel assigned to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC) were involved in this misguided effort when it was revealed in the media last summer. Your letter indicates that the CRCL inquiry, and a subsequent “exhaustive review” of DHS records and databases in response to our request for information, “found no indication of ever receiving information from the subject efforts of the MSP.”

This response is troubling for two reasons. First, both the Maryland State Police and the Department of Homeland Security are participants in multi-jurisdictional task forces and terrorism information sharing programs, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC).

These programs are specifically designed to seamlessly share terrorism and threat-related intelligence between agencies. That the Maryland State Police could engage in such widespread and intensive surveillance of purported security threats (including a14-month undercover operation) without their partner agencies being informed strains credibility and, if true, raises serious questions regarding the effectiveness of these information sharing programs. What other security or terrorism-related intelligence collected by the MSP might not be getting to DHS analysts working at the MCAC or JTTF?

Second, and more problematic, an MSP investigative file released to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (attached) indicates that the MSP received information from DHS regarding their investigation of the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN). An entry dated June 21, 2005 says:

“The US Department of Homeland Security, Atlanta, recently forwarded two emails from [REDACTED] an affiliate of the DC DAWN Network and the [REDACTED]. Activists from DAWN, [REDACTED] and other groups working under the banner of [REDACTED] are going to stage several small (12-15) weekly demonstrations at the Silver Spring Armed Forces Recruitment Center (AFRC). If there is enough support these will become weekly vigils.” (page 13)

This passage seems to indicate not only that DHS was aware of MSP’s investigation of DAWN, but that DHS itself was monitoring communications of DAWN affiliates and passing the information to MSP. Nothing in the entry regarding information provided by DHS, nor in the entire MSP investigative file, suggests DAWN or its affiliates were involved in criminal activity. In fact, the information reportedly received from DHS describes only First Amendment-protected activity. This evidence raisesseveral questions, particularly in light of your inability to locate records in response to our previous inquiry.

We request that you research this issue to answer the following questions:

-- How did DHS obtain the e-mails from a DAWN affiliate, and under what authority was this evidence collected? Does DHS have a record of this collection?

-- Were these e-mails obtained by an undercover agent or informant that had infiltrated the group, or through the use of a covert e-mail address? If so, under what authority was this investigative activity taking place?

-- Under what authority were the e-mails disseminated to the MSP? Does DHS have a record of this dissemination?

-- Was there a reasonable suspicion of criminality to justify collecting the e-mails? What was the specified criminal activity?

-- Was there a legitimate law enforcement purpose in disseminating the e-mails? If the MSP did not have a legitimate law enforcement purpose in investigating DAWN, how would DHS have a legitimate purpose in disseminating these e-mails?

-- Did DHS open a criminal investigation of the DAWN affiliate? If so, was DAWN referenced in the DHS investigation?

-- Did DHS ever bring criminal charges as a result of this investigation?

-- How did the DHS official in Atlanta transmit the e-mails to the MSP? Was the information passed through a JTTF? Was the information passed through MCAC? Was the DHS official in Atlanta aware that MSP was investigating DAWN? How did this official know to distribute the e-mails to MSP, and what was the intended result except to have MSP investigate the matter? Did the DHS official receive any response from MSP regarding the information received? Does DHS have any record of these communications?

-- Was the DHS I&A analyst at the MCAC aware that a DHS official in Atlanta distributed this information to MSP? Was the DHS representative at the JTTF aware that a DHS official in Atlanta distributed this information to MSP?

-- How is it possible that an “exhaustive review” of DHS records and databases did not locate records of this episode?

We also request that you re-examine your files in light of this information, to determine if DHS has records regarding any other of the 53 activists improperly investigated by the MSP which were not located in your previous review. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Source: Office of Sen. Barbara Mikulski

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