ACLU Files Information Request Demanding Leopold "Enemies List"

March 7, 2012

CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland, 410-889-8555; media@aclu-md.org

 

 

 

BALTIMORE - Concerned that the "enemies list" revealed in the State's March 2 criminal indictment of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold violates both the political freedoms of the list's targets and the 2009 "no spying" law enacted in the wake of the Maryland State Police surveillance scandal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is serving the Anne Arundel executive and police departments with requests demanding full details of the activities.  The request - lodged under the Maryland Public Information Act - was prepared on behalf of both the ACLU and reported Leopold target Carl O. Snowden, Director of Civil Rights for the Maryland Attorney General. The request seeks information related to all those alleged "enemies" on whom "dossiers" were compiled. The ACLU and Snowden are also sending a letter to the County Council requesting a full investigation today. 

 

"We find it shocking that despite the firestorm generated by the ACLU's exposure of Maryland State Police spying on peaceful protestors just three years ago, another prominent government official is now alleged to have enlisted police to spy on his perceived political rivals," said Deborah Jeon, Legal Director for the ACLU of Maryland. "If this could happen to a public-minded official like Carl Snowden - the State's appointed guardian of civil rights - who else might be caught up in Mr. Leopold's political dragnet?"

 

"I believe it is vital that the full ‘enemies list' and the contents of the dossiers be revealed," said Carl O. Snowden. "The public has a right to know how many people were included on Leopold's list, what information was placed in the dossiers, as well as who in the county administration knew about this list."

 

Ironically, this is not the first time that now-Civil Rights Director Snowden has had a dossier created to track him. In 1976, Snowden discovered that the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover tracked him - when he was only 16 years old - as part of the illegal COINTELPRO surveillance program, based on his activism for civil rights and against Vietnam War. After discovering this, the file became public, and Snowden filed a lawsuit in federal district court. The late federal Judge Frank Kaufman ruled against the FBI, ordered the files expunged, and awarded attorneys' fees and damages to Snowden. Of course, it was discovered that Snowden was one of many Americans who was subject to this illegal government surveillance program.

 

On March 2, 2012, Leopold was indicted by the State of Maryland on charges of political corruption and misuse of his police security to arrange sexual liaisons and to investigate and defeat political adversaries. The indictment also exposed an "enemies list", at paragraph 24:

 

Leopold directed on-duty executive protection officers to create dossiers on persons he viewed as political challengers, including but not limited to, Joanna Conti and Carl Snowden. The EPOs did not consider these people to be security risks.

 

The ACLU believes that the conduct alleged in the indictment may violate the Freedom of Association and Assembly Protection Act of 2009, which restricts police from conducting investigations into activities protected by the First Amendment, unless conducted for a legitimate law enforcement purpose. The law was enacted after the ACLU uncovered that the Maryland State Police had engaged in far-reaching covert surveillance of a wide range of peaceful activists and advocacy groups for over a year from 2005-2006. The state police maintained criminal intelligence files on the targets' political beliefs and activities, labeling them as suspected terrorists and security threats, even though there was no evidence or suspicion that any identified target was engaged in criminal activity of any kind.