The Washington Times - October 24, 2008, 11:48AM

Environmental activists this week said they are shocked to have been targeted by a police spying program, given state law enforcement’s explanation that their surveillance was crafted to deai with anti-death penalty groups.

Readers of The Washington Times, however, will probably find this to be no surprise, as the state police have already admitted to labelling nuns as “terrorists” and Baltimore police have long been engaged in surveillance of Quakers in coordination with the NSA.

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The Maryland ACLU uncovered in July that Maryland State Police had inifiltrated non-violent activist groups from 2005 to 2006. The ACLU tangled with the administrations of both former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Gov. Martin O’Malley to release the records detailing the spying.

At first state police said the spying was limited to anti-death penalty groups, in preparation of the planned execution of two death row inmates. But over the last few months it has become apparent that the scope of the spying, and the different groups police labelled “terrorists” was more expansive - reaching beyond the state’s borders and including people with no apparent connection to the death penalty protests.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, who was Mayor of Baltimore while the spying by state and Baltimore police was going on, commissioned a study of the problem, but limited the study to spying which occurred during the tenure of his predecessor, and political adversary, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The underlying battle between the current and former chief executives has played out

Count on this story to continue well through the beginning of next year as lawmakers debate legislation to ban spying on non-violent groups.

Tom LoBianco, Maryland political reporter, The Washington Times