Breaking Story: NSA Tracked "Threat" of Local Peace Group
January 13, 2006
The Baltimore Sun reports today: "The National Security Agency used law enforcement agencies, including the Baltimore Police Department, to track members of a city anti-war group as they prepared for protests outside the sprawling Fort Meade facility, internal NSA documents show.
"The target of the clandestine surveillance was the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance, a group loosely affiliated with the local chapter of the American Friends Service Committee, whose members include many veteran city peace activists with a history of nonviolent civil disobedience."
Mark Goldstone, chair of the D.C. Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Demonstration Support Committee, said: "This surveillance is completely unrelated to even an expansive definition of 'national security.' People should not be afraid to speak out, and unfortunately evidence of domestic spying tends to chill people's interest in speaking out -- thus chilling and limiting our precious First Amendment rights."
Members of the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance are available for interviews:
A founding member of the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, Obuszewski said today: "The NSA documents describe the Pledge of Resistance as a 'threat.' The only threat that the Pledge of Resistance poses is that it speaks truth to power, which may contribute to ending the Bush administration's war and occupation of Iraq.
"Besides challenging the NSA, the Pledge has been lobbying local senators and representatives to speak out against the war. On January 13, Pledge members intend to go to Congressperson Ben Cardin's Baltimore office and read Martin Luther King's Riverside Church speech, April 4, 1967, when he came out against the Vietnam War."
Allwine, also a member of the Pledge of Resistance, said today: "Once we have exhausted all avenues of petitioning, such as faxes, emails and face to face meetings with our representatives, what are we supposed to do next? Go home and be quiet? Once we do that, we are no longer a free society.
"Surveillance of peaceful, constitutionally protected activities has a chilling effect, as it is designed to do. There were a couple of people in our group who were here on Green Cards who were concerned that they could be deported. They expressed fear and no longer participate with us, although they wanted to continue."