- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2008

EXCLUSIVE:

BALTIMORE | For decades, Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Ardeth Platte have practiced their Roman Catholic faith with an unwavering focus on world peace. Their antiwar activities even landed them in federal prison earlier this decade for trespassing onto a military base and pouring blood onto a nuclear missile silo.

Now they face fresh infamy as two nuns secretly branded by Maryland State Police as terrorists and placed on a national watch list.

“This term terrorist is a really serious accusation,” Sister Ardeth, a nun for 54 years, told The Washington Times on Thursday in the first interview that the women have given since being informed they were among 53 people added to a terrorist watch list in conjunction with an extensive Maryland surveillance effort of antiwar activists.

“There is no way that we ever want to be identified as terrorists. We are nonviolent. We are faith-based,” she said.

The women freely acknowledge their participation in antiwar activities.

On Oct. 6, 2002, the two sisters and another nun - armed with bolt cutters, a hammer and baby bottles filled with their own blood - broke into an unmanned Minuteman III missile site in northeastern Colorado and painted bloody crosses on the silo. It was the day before the one-year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

Sister Carol was sentenced to 30 months and Sister Ardeth to 41 months in federal prison for the action.

“I learned to make it a meditation, almost a prayer,” Sister Carol told the Baltimore Sun upon her release in 2005.

But they say being tagged as terrorists in a federal database is false and a blow to their commitment to a pursuit of peace.

“We’re Dominicans; our mission is ‘veritas,’ which is truth,” Sister Carol said.

State police have said their surveillance was limited to the period of March 2005 to May 2006, during planning for security related to the executions of two death row inmates.

But activists have long said they think the state police and local law-enforcement agencies cast a broader net across Maryland’s protest community.

The nuns said they were not involved in the protests state police say they targeted. And other activists who were labeled terrorists, including a member of the antiwar group Code Pink, have said they were not active in Maryland protests during the state police’s time period.

E-mails released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland show that Baltimore police were coordinating with the National Security Agency in 2003 and 2004 to spy on Quakers, who routinely protested outside the security agency’s headquarters. And a member of the American National Socialist Workers Party, or Nazis, told lawmakers Wednesday that he was among the 53 to receive a letter from the state police informing him that he was on the list.

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