More reasons to SUNSET the Patriot Act...and stop the NSA spying on U.S. citizens
NSA Spying on Baltimore Peace Group - Zeese
May our anti-war efforts grow so large, so strong, and so
powerful that Big Brother is simply UNable to watch us all!
PS - This fellow, Kevin Zeese, is running for US Senate. He is one
of those rare people who tells it like it is and does precisely what we
need our Senators to do... tell the truth about our government. Let's
do what we can to help him. His site is http://www.kevinzeese.com/.
Below is an article concerning spying on a Baltimore peace group as
well as an interview I conducted with Maria Allwine, one of the members
of that group. The Raw Story article includes a link to the documents
that show the NSA intelligence operation against the Pledge of
Resistance-Baltimore. This news story has not been covered by the non-web media
in Maryland yet. Hopefully, now that these documents have been made
public this NSA domestic spying activity will receive more attention. I
would be happy to put the media in contact with members of the Pledge
of Resistance. They are planning a major event focused on a Member of
Congress this week regarding the Iraq War.
It is really quite impressive how a small group of dedicated activists
are able to take on the largest and most well-funded spy agency in the
world. And, that they can scare them sufficiently that they dedicate a
great deal of resources to monitor them and try to minimize their
impact. This is a story deserving of attention by the Maryland media --
indeed the national media. Indeed, it is inspiring for other activists as
it demonstrates that a small group of people can make a difference.
National Security Agency mounted massive spy op on Baltimore peace
group, documents show Kevin Zeese
Published: January 10, 2006
Click here to see NSA documents
The National Security Agency has been spying on a Baltimore anti-war
group, according to documents released during litigation, going so far
as to document the inflating of protesters' balloons, and intended to
deploy units trained to detect weapons of mass destruction, RAW STORY
According to the documents, the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, a
Quaker-linked peace group, has been monitored by the NSA working with the
Baltimore Intelligence Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department.
The documents came as a result of litigation in the August 2003 trial
of Marilyn Carlisle and Cindy Farquhar. An NSA security official
provided the defendants with a redacted Action Plan and a redacted copy of a
Joint Terrorism Task Force email about the activities of the Pledge of
The NSA, established in 1952 by President Truman, is the largest and
most secret of U.S. intelligence agencies. Headquartered between
Baltimore and Washington, DC, the agency has two principal functions: to
protect U.S. government communications and intercept foreign transmissions.
However, the NSA's United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18
strictly prohibits the interception or collection of information about
"U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations" without explicit
written permission from the Attorney General.
The revelation that a Baltimore peace group was spied upon comes in
the wake of a news reports that the agency has also been eavesdropping
on Americans' international calls and raises new questions about the
legality of NSA activities. The agency did not immediately return a
request for comment.
The Baltimore Pledge of Resistance is part of the national Iraq
Pledge of Resistance, which works with the Baltimore Emergency Response
Network and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) -- part of a
national group committed to nonviolent civil resistance to stop the war in
Iraq. The Pledge lobbies Maryland congressmembers via letters, phone
calls, faxes, emails and face-to-face meetings; members of the group are
periodically arrested for peaceable protests.
Documents turned over by the NSA indicate that the group was closely
monitored. In one instance, the agency filed reports approximately
every 15 minutes from 9:30 AM to 3:18 PM on the day of a demonstration at
the National Vigilance Airplane Memorial on the NSA Campus in Maryland.
According to an NSA email dated July 4, 2004, the agency collected
license numbers and descriptions and the number of people in each car and
filed a report about them gathering in a church parking lot for the
demonstration. NSA agents also logged their travel to the demonstration,
including stopping as a gas station along the way. A canine dog unit was
used to search a minivan when it was stopped on the way to the
demonstration - nothing was found.
NSA officials even reported on the balloons being inflated for the
demonstration and the content of their signs.
An entry made at 1300 hours on July 4. reads, "The Soc. was advised
the protestors were proceeding to the airplane memorial with three
helium balloons attached to a banner that stated, 'Those Who Exchange
Freedom for Security Deserve Neither, Will Ultimately Lose Both.'"
On the day of the demonstration three protesters were cited for
"disturbances on government property" and released. A federal judge
eventually dismissed the case before trial.
Two of those demonstrators, Max Obuszewiski and Ellen Barfield, are
still scheduled for trial in Baltimore federal court Jan. 25. The
defendants have filed a motion for discovery and included the letter from the
NSA acknowledging spying on the Pledge. The prosecutor has refused to
release this information as part of discovery. The defendants plan to
argue that the information is necessary for their defense.
"The NSA confirmed, because of a FOIA request I filed, that indeed it
has files on peace and justice groups," Obuszewiski said. "However, the
Agency is refusing to release the information unless I pay $1,915. What
might be in these files?"
A second NSA document on the letterhead of the National Security
Agency Police and authored by NSA Police Major Michael E. Talbert is dated
Oct. 3, 2004. It is an action plan for the "threat of a demonstration
hosted by a group known as Pledge of Resistance - Baltimore." They note
the demonstration is part of the "Keep Space for Peace Week." The NSA
action plan includes plans for four days, but six activities being
planned by the NSA before the day of the demonstration have been redacted.
Extensive plans are described for the day of the Oct. 4, 2004
demonstration. The letter shows that the NSA planned to have their Weapons of
Mass Destruction Rapid Response Team on site, an officer with a
shotgun, an increase in the number of officers, mobile units monitoring the
highway and parking lot, roving patrols on bicycles in various areas,
four K9 handlers, agents to provide counter-surveillance, aerial
observations by the Anne Arundel, Maryland police and photography/video
surveillance of the activities.
"The NSA Weapons of Mass Destruction Rapid Response Team will have a
limited staffing on hand to support the event," Talbert's memo reads.
"...Anne Arundel County Police will be requested to provide aerial
"Shocking appalling and unnecessary," is how the Chair of the DC
Chapter of the National Lawyer's Guild Demonstration Support Committee Mark
Goldstone describes the NSA actions. Goldstone, who often represents
activists who engage in non-violent civil disobedience, is not counsel in
this litigation. "This surveillance is completely unrelated to even an
expansive definition of 'national security.'"
Maria Allwine, a protester arrested Oct. 4, 2004, recently described
the events in an interview on Democracy Rising.
"The NSA must be spying on us from the federal post office right
across a small street from the AFSC," Allwine said. "It's the only place
that gives them enough of a view to see our cars/license plate numbers."
Allwine also discussed how the Pledge has been infiltrated. She
described a March 20, 2003 demonstration in downtown Baltimore where "a
provocateur (whom we had identified at our planning meeting the previous
night) joined us. We'd never seen him before. . . during the die-in at
the federal courthouse, he was taunting the police in a violent manner.
We had to quiet him down, he then disappeared and we never saw him again
- and, of course, he wasn't arrested with the other 49 of us."
The monitoring is ongoing. Allwine says that at demonstrations the
police "have had cookies and drinks set up for us (we don't partake!) and
tell us they knew we were coming."
Goldstone says the impact of NSA surveillance is worrisome.
"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," he told
RAW STORY. "Nothing that the Pledge does, either by their public
advocacy against the war or their non-violent civil disobedience/resistance
to war can be plausibly seen as a threat to United States national
security, as the group is pledged to non-violence and non-property
David Rocah, a staff attorney with the Maryland ACLU, adds, "There is
obviously a well-founded concern of law enforcement monitoring of First
Amendment activities. The ACLU and others have exposed such activities
all over the country resulting in law suits."
Goldstone says Congress must rein in the NSA.
"Congress must investigate this, and get a handle on the issue of
domestic spying by the NSA and other agencies against people exercising
political speech," he said.
# Kevin Zeese is director of Democracy Rising and a candidate for
the U.S. Senate in Maryland.
Anti-War Group Has Documents Proving NSA Spied on Them
PDF | Print | E-mail Written by Kevin Zeese
Tuesday, 10 January 2006 Interview with Maria Allwine of
Iraq Pledge of Resistance The Baltimore-based chapter of the national
Iraq Pledge of Resistance is an anti-war organization working for peace
by challenging people in power, educating the public and getting
citizens to take action. In the interview below, Maria Allwine of the Pledge,
describes how the National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on them.
These allegations, which have not been reported in the media despite
attempts to get coverage, are based on documents received by the pledge in
litigation with the government.
Kevin Zeese: Describe your background, history and current work.
Maria Allwine: I've engaged in nonviolent civil resistance since 2002,
grew up in Baltimore City, have been a city resident since 1985, have
lived in many places in the
US as well as in Japan. I am 52, a wife, mother and legal secretary.
KZ:What is the "Pledge of Resistance?"
MA: The Pledge is a national group committed to nonviolent civil
resistance to stop the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. We are often arrested
in the exercise of our First Amendment rights. We are dedicated to
educating the American public about what our government is doing to Iraq
and to petitioning our government and Congresspersons to take action to
stop the occupation. The Pledge lobbies Maryland Congresspersons and
Senators via letters, phone calls, faxes, emails, and face-to-face
KZ: What type of activities has the Pledge organized and participated
The Pledge has sponsored and participated in many demonstrations and
actions since 2002, including the January 19, 2003 action at Lafayette
Park in DC, the March 1, 2003
mall leafleting event in Baltimore County (which resulted in arrests),
the marches prior to the invasion, the actions, resulting in arrests,
the day prior to and of the invasion, the Dover to DC Memorial March in
March 2004, several other memorial marches, including attempts to
deliver the names of US and Iraqi dead to the White House, the October 2,
2004 attempt to deliver names again to the White House, also resulting in
arrests, and too many other actions to describe here. The latest was
the September 26 action at the White House - where names of the dead were
hung on the White House fence and which resulted in 374 arrests,
including Cindy Sheehan. The Pledge also demonstrates every July at the NSA,
which usually result in arrests as well.
As mentioned above, the Pledge is heavily involved in ongoing
lobbying, including meetings with Sens. Mikulski and Sarbanes, including a
sit-in in Sen. Mikulski's office in November 2003 resulting in arrests,
meetings with Rep. Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Ruppersberger (R-MD). The
Pledge is currently involved in the National Campaign for Nonviolent
Resistance (NCNR) - a national campaign from January 16, 2006 through March
20, 2006 - focusing on lobbying Congress to stop war funding and
occupation as well as many other actions and events. If any readers would like
information on this campaign, go to www.iraqpledge.org.
KZ: Do you have any indications that the federal government has been
monitoring the meetings and other activities of the Pledge?
MA: During a trial for arrests at NSA on October 4, 2003, an internal
NSA email was given to the defendants from the Pledge by an NSA witness.
The email showed that the NSA had been physically spying on the Pledge
as it prepared to depart on July 3, 2004 (the trial for the 10/04/03
arrest was in 8/04) from the American Friends Service Committee on York
Rd. in Baltimore to the NSA. The email is time chronological and details
the Pledge's activities as it assembled in the parking lot of the AFSC,
number of people, who is going in which vehicles, what vehicles were
being used, their make and license plate numbers, what signs we were
carrying, the helium tanks (for balloons) we were bringing and also
recognizes and names Max Obuszewski as one of the protesters. The email then
details, with specific times, our progress on the road from Baltimore to
the NSA. It goes on to describe our demonstration and subsequent
arrests. The email begins at 9:40am, prior to our arrival at the NSA at
around 12 noon, and proceeds through the day.
We were also given during the same trial, an "NSA Police Action Plan"
to "effectively respond to the threat of a demonstration hosted by a
group known as Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore on October 4, 2003. It goes
on in GREAT detail to outline the NSA response to the protest. It
mentions counter-surveillance by the NSA during the demo, obviously
different from being spying upon at the AFSC in Baltimore.
The Pledge believes the NSA must be spying on us from the federal
post office right across a small street from the AFSC. It's the only place
that gives them enough of a view to see our cars/license plate numbers.
They are, no doubt, using sophisticated equipment to do so. It's
entirely possible this spying occurs via satellite or some other such
instrument. But spying on us they are.
Also - during the March 20, 2003 demonstration in downtown Baltimore, a
provocateur (whom we had identified at our planning meeting the
previous night) joined us. We'd never seen him before. He was obviously
talking, meeting really, with the police across the street and then later
during the die-in at the federal courthouse, taunting the police in a
violent manner. We had to quiet him down, he then disappeared and we never
saw him again - and, of course, he wasn't arrested with the other 49 of
KZ: Have you told the media about this? Has it been reported anywhere?
If not, have you been told why not?
I have twice called the Marc Steiner Show on WYPR to discuss - Mr.
Steiner indicated some interest in this as a news story so I promptly
hand-delivered the email and plan to one of the producers at WYPR, but have
had no response. I wrote a letter to the Sun. The letters editor called
me and said he couldn't just publish my "allegations" without proof. I
hand-delivered the items to him as well but have had no response. I
have followed up with both with no success. The New York Times called Max
Obuszewski of the Pledge, after hearing what I said on my call to the
Steiner show - but indicated it was not interested because it's not
wiretapping. I called in to Steiner again on 1/5/06 to discuss this during
his show on the NSA spying and FISA. One of his guests, a government
apologist, told me that if I had proof of this spying, I should contact
the media as she was sure they would be interested! I was unable to
reply as the producer had already disconnected me.
More information about the Iraq Pledge of Resistance can be found at
More details about NSA spying on Baltimore peace groups can be found
on www.RawStory.com on January 10, 2006.
Kevin Zeese is Director of Democracy Rising and a candidate for U.S.
Senate in Maryland.
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