Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I've often joked that somewhere, someone has a file on me: the FBI, the CIA, or some other shadowy initial group we've never even heard of. We liberal, anti-war, anti-Bush, pro-criminal types are such threats to national security, you know. At least, I thought it was a joke.

Turns out, it wasn't such a joke, as the anti-war, anti-death penalty crowd in Maryland found out the hard way. Turns out some undercover state police officers in Maryland "infiltrated" a peace group and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. They conducted surveillance on these groups for a year. They stealthily joined these groups, attended their meetings, and took meticulous minutes.

To what end? Seriously, what the heck did the Maryland State Police think they were going to uncover? Did they think they would catch the peaceniks not recycling? Serving pre-packaged, non-organic foods at their meetings?

No, the Maryland State Police apparently thought the anti-war, anti-death penalty crowd was likely to cause a disturbance. Their activist events and protests were likely to lead to scuffles, violence, and general mayhem. Ok, say that's true. Did that really necessitate "infiltrating" these groups, posing as members and gathering "intelligence" on the legitimate members? These groups generally advertise their public events, so it shouldn't require undercover surveillance to make sure no riots break out at them. Go to the bookstore and check the bulletin board for flyers. And if the Maryland State Police's true interest was in protecting the people of Maryland from protest activities leading to public disturbances, well then I assume they also infiltrated the pro-life groups and the anti-illegal immigration crowds, right? Because those two hot-button issues are sure to draw big crowds on both sides at public events.

But, no, the Maryland State Police were not investigating all issue-driven organizations: only the subversive, anti-establishment ones. The ones that protest against things the government does, like wage war and kill people. The ones that exercise their constitutional rights to assemble and petition their government. The ones who aren't with us, so they must be against us. Because by opposing policies of their government, these groups posed a threat to the people of Maryland.

It still seems like it has to be a joke.

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