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    ACLU of Maryland Files Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit Against State Police

    Disclosure: I have worked with the ACLU-Md. on civil liberty issues.

    The ACLU of Maryland has filed suit (pdf) against the Maryland State Police alleging the agency is withholding documents that should be turned over under Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the ACLU-Md. According to the civil liberty group:

    Documents disclosed during a prosecution for disorderly conduct and trespass against two individuals arrested at a protest at the National Security Agency (NSA) in October 2003 indicated that a “Baltimore Intel Unit” had been monitoring protestors from these groups as they assembled and traveled to the NSA for a protest in July 2004.

    In order to discover the identity of this “intel unit,” and why the unit was monitoring their peaceful protest activities, the groups filed requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with several federal agencies, including the NSA, in August of 2006. Identical requests were also filed under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) with six state agencies, including the MSP. The requests sought any documents relating to “any monitoring, surveillance, questioning, interrogation, investigation, infiltration, and/or collection of information relating to these organizations or their members,” among other things.


    In January 2007, the MSP acknowledged that it had a responsive record which “was compiled as part of a law enforcement investigation.” However, the MSP has refused to disclose the record, claiming, without any explanation, that its release “would disclose the identity of a confidential source and would also disclose investigative techniques and procedures of the Maryland State Police.” The MSP has also refused a request to provide an appropriately redacted version of the record, or any details that would justify any of the claimed exemptions to the MPIA’s duty to disclose.

    The suit is brought on behalf of several individuals, the American Friends Service Committee, Jonah House, Baltimore Pledge of Resistance, and Baltimore Emergency Response Network. The Baltimore Sun has more coverage.

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