Panel to question officials about surveillance allegations

Panel to question officials about surveillance allegations

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A legislative committee needs to question state law enforcement officials about allegations of illegal surveillance that were raised in a federal whistleblower lawsuit, one of its leaders said. “We can’t ignore these allegations. We need to have a full and transparent hearing with the commissioner,” Warren said. Sauschuck and the state police chief, Col. John Cote, defended the practices of the so-called “fusion center” that was created to collect, analyze and share intelligence between the state and federal government. Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey also disputed the allegations. The Maine ACLU last week called for a state police internal investigation, legislative oversight and an independent investigation. The allegations have the potential to bring together libertarians, gun rights activists and protest groups, all of whom are concerned about the surveillance allegations against the fusion center. The legislative committee’s questions would center around "what kind of data they are collecting, and what kind of data they are holding, and why,” Warren said. “I have a lot of questions.” The committee’s Senate chairwoman, Democrat Susan Deschambault, agreed there are questions that need to be asked. But she was noncommittal on a hearing while the litigation is pending. The Legislature’s Labor Committee already had a hearing via video conferencing, so the precedent is set for a hearing even though the Legislature remains adjourned because of the pandemic, Warren said. There also could be an investigations by the Government Oversight Committee and a legislative watchdog, the Office of Program Evaluation […]

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