A 2008 story from the Washington Post regarding the terror watch list and death penalty opponents illustrates the danger of taking names on that list at face value. The Maryland State Police acknowledged before a Maryland Senate Judicial committee that they had added 53 non-violent activists to both state and Federal terror watch lists.
The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.
Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.
The department started sending letters of notification Saturday to the activists, inviting them to review their files before they are purged from the databases, Sheridan said.
“The names don’t belong in there,” he told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. “It’s as simple as that.”
The surveillance took place over 14 months in 2005 and 2006, under the administration of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). The former state police superintendent who authorized the operation, Thomas E. Hutchins, defended the program in testimony yesterday. Hutchins said the program was a bulwark against potential violence and called the activists “fringe people.”
The people singled out in this case were death penalty opponents and anti-war protesters. According to logs obtained by the ACLU, the “primary crime” of some of these activists was “terrorism – anti-government.” MD Police Superintendent Sheridan said these names were added to the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area database (which tracks terrorists and that they may have been shared with the National Security Agency and other Federal agencies. He added, however, that they were not on the Federal terrorist watch list which is a statement that I seriously doubt.
People considered anti-government terrorists during a Republican administration were peace activists and death penalty opponents. You have to wonder who the Obama Administration would consider anti-government terrorists today. We know that neither of the San Bernadino killers were on the list and they were actual terrorists. Could it be that gun rights activists, Tea Party activists, anti-ObamaCare activists, and anti-Common Core activists are considered anti-government terrorists?
I would hope more rational minds would reject this but gun rights activists have certainly been labeled that by Media Matters, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (sic). This is all the more reason to fight the inclusion of names on some ephemeral government “terrorist” list into the NICS system.