In times of economic exigency, the ACLU of Maryland, like other nonprofits, must work strategically to get the job done. We increased our cadre of ACLU volunteers, worked more closely with the National ACLU to protect all Americans’ privacy rights, and combined our programs—litigation, legislation and public outreach—in synergistic ways.

Our usual core of volunteers was amplified by Maryland ACLU’s Constituent Action Network (CAN)—members who, along with ACLU’s National Legislative staff lobbied the state’s powerful Congressional delegation about the government’s unconstitutional surveillance of innocent Americans. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer as well as Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin all have key roles in correcting the Bush Administration’s post 9/11 abuses of power.

Maryland was in a unique position to help move this national dialogue forward because we combine litigation with legislative efforts while educating the public. Last year, Maryland ACLU’s lawsuit against the Maryland State Police revealed they had been spying and compiling dossiers on activists across the state. Thanks to our communication efforts, including hundreds of media stories and blog posts, our case turned eyes all across the nation, and even the world, to Maryland as we fought to gain full disclosure of police records, justice for the activists, and legislation to finally make such covert infiltration and dossier collecting on innocent Marylanders illegal. Then this past summer our lawsuit became “Exhibit A” in the National ACLU’s testimony before Congress about abuses in law enforcement intelligence collection and sharing practices.

The ACLU of Maryland also takes seriously our role as educators of the general public on the most important civil liberties issues of our time. That’s why, for instance, we placed several newspaper opinion pieces calling for reform of the Patriot Act, a halt to the U.S.’s unconstitutional indefinite detention and torture programs, and accountability for those who designed and implemented such un-American violations of civil liberties. We also brought National ACLU Legal Director Steve Shapiro to the Free State to discuss how the ACLU is challenging these programs and ensuring that our most basic due process and privacy rights are secure for the future.

We are honored to be part of such a vibrant and necessary cause as the ACLU’s fight for liberty in a time that demands our highest vigilance. And we are particularly grateful for your partnership in the many endeavors the ACLU undertook this past year. As we enter a new year, we look forward to guarding freedom with you again, knowing that no fight for civil liberties ever stays won