Baltimore Protestors Arrested at National Security Agency

While Occupy Wall Street (and

and about 300 other places) made headlines last week, more than two dozen anti-war activists made one of their regular appearances at the


, trying again to meet with its commander to discuss the agency's ongoing domestic spying operations and other alleged violations of U.S. law. On Sunday, Oct. 9, 14 of the 29 people who went to the NSA's Fort Meade headquarters were arrested and charged with causing a "disturbance on protected property" and other similar crimes (laws on military bases are different from those governing civilian spaces). The defendants face up to six months in jail. As of today, no court date had been set, says Max Obuszewski, who does media for the group calling itself the Pledge of Resistance Baltimore. "They've been good-copping us for a number of years," Obuszewski says of the NSA brass and  police. "This time when we headed toward the guard station they got very upset, brought in the muscle." The Pledge of Resistance, part of a National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the oversized military budget, and the NSA's secret and largely unaccountable world-wide spying operations, has been visiting the NSA regularly since 1996. In 2004 several members of the group were arrested and went to trial in Baltimore,

Since then protestors had regularly stood outside the gates with signs along Route 32, Obuszewski says, as information about the agency's massive effort to vacuum up every e-mail, tweet, phone conversation, and other data passing through U.S. fiber optic, satellite and other lines of communication has slowly been exposed, in

, the

New York Times

, and later, and with more detail,

"They hoped we were going to go out on 32 with our signs," Obuszewski says. "Instead we went toward the guard station" to try to deliver a letter to Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA's director. "We never made it . . . someone had to make a decision on what to charge us with. People are wondering what these charges are." The NSA's statement on the incident is spare:

Asked to confirm that the agency does, in fact, examine all electronic communications in the United States, an NSA spokesperson ignored the question and referred

City Paper

to Deputy Director Chris Inglis's new video about NSA's core values, where he states, in part, "Our core values, I hope you wouldn't be surprised, are respect for the law, honesty, integrity, and transparency." It's findable

. There's stuff in there too about the right to privacy and free speech. No direct denials, though, about the NSA's alleged U.S. spying operations.