WASHINGTON COUNTY -- If they're investigating possible crimes, state police can monitor advocacy groups, some members of Washington County's Maryland General Assembly delegation said Thursday.
But the distinction needs to be clear, elected officials said; tracking and infiltrating groups because of their opinions isn't acceptable.
"There's no question that has a chilling effect on democratic principles," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.
He added, though, "if in fact they're terrorist groups, I have no problem with it."
The actions of the Maryland State Police are being scrutinized now because of information that recently came out about their surveillance in 2005 and 2006. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland says it has documents showing that state police spied on a local peace group and two groups opposed to the death penalty during a 14-month period.
There's been talk of state hearings in Annapolis, and members of Congress have expressed interest in finding out more, such as whether federal Department of Homeland Security funding was involved.