Monday News Roundup: checkpoints today at OWS, Hedges, and the border-industrial complex

Today is the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street today and PrivacySOS reports the NYPD will Set Up Checkpoints Around OWS Anniversary Events.  As you’re waiting in line to show an ID before being allowed to speak freely, peaceably assemble, and/or petition the Government for a redress of grievances, read Occupy Your Victories, where Rebecca Solnit takes the long (and hopeful) view.

If you get clear the checkpoint but get arrested, don’t count on Twitter to be on your side when the gub’ment goes looking for any incriminating tweets.  Twitter lost its white hat status last week when it gave up its fight against a subpoena: Twitter Gives Occupy Protester’s Tweets to U.S. Judge.

More in protest news, database integration came to life for James Ian Tyson when the Charlotte, NC man was slapped with a $10,000 cash only bond after being stopped for driving without a license during the DNC convention. Turns out, his name is on a terrorist watch list.  Papers, Please’s Secret “Watchlist” Used as Basis for Preventive Detention includes links to police and news reports.  Meanwhile, at the other convention, Police Outnumber Convention Protesters by 4-1 in Tampa.

Can the government hold you in indefinite detention for “substantially” or “directly” providing “support” to forces such as al-Qaida or the Taliban? “That is no small question bandied about amongst lawyers and a judge steeped in arcane questions of constitutional law;” wrote U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest this past Wednesday, “It is a question of defining an individual’s core liberties.”  Judge Forrest in Hedges vs. Obama reaffirmed an earlier ruling where she had already said no, the prohibition in Section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act on providing material support to terrorist groups is so vague that it violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.  The gub’ment immediately appealed.

Sidenote: the lead plaintiff is Chris Hedges, former NYTimes Middle East bureau chief who, along with Joe Sacco, produced the fantastic illustrated book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.  Democracy Now featured Chris Hedges on 9/11, Touring U.S. Economic Disaster Zones on its 9/11 show this past week.

Keep this name in mind – hard-right Republican Ted Poe is the Texas Congressman Pushing Restrictions on Law Enforcement’s Use of Drones Without Warrant The bill would limit FAA approvals of drone use to instances “pursuant to warrant and in the investigation of a felony.”  In other news from droneworld, the GAO took a look and concluded this past week that Measuring Progress and Addressing Potential Privacy Concerns Would Facilitate Integration into the National Airspace System.  The gub’ment’s least popular agency gets a bit of a drubbing, with the GAO noting that four years after recommending the TSA get off its duff about drones buzzing around national airspace, “TSA has not provided information on specific steps it has taken to mitigate the potential threats, but believes its current practices are sufficient to address UAS security.”

The Constitution Project, which has been digging into national security issues recently, has some Recommendations for Fusion Centers. Twenty-five of them, in fact, regarding data collection, storage and use.  See also, TCP’s Principles for Government Data Mining.  While (or perhaps because) there’s nothing particularly surprising in these reports, what’s interesting about TCP’s reports is their carefully bipartisan list of endorsers.

Bipartisanship when it comes to national security may not that big a deal, though, according to this very good piece in Commonweal on Two Parties, One Policy: Washington’s New Consensus on Terrorism.  Ritika Singh, a regular on, breaks down how “the two major political parties have converged on the substance of many of the key questions [regarding the law around terrorism] while continuing to speak in the public domain as though a great gulf separates them.”

After 22 hearings, 15 Member briefings, 7 site visits, the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation Security had a few things to say about the federal gub’ment’s least popular (and the competition is stiff) agency. The majority staff report Rebuilding TSA Into a Smarter, Leaner Organization recommends minimizing pat-downs by expanding the PreCheck program, reducing the TSA workforce by expanding opportunities for the private sector, and both increasing (for flight schools) and decreasing (for truck drivers) oversight.

Remember the riot at the private prison in Natchez, MS this spring? Justice Strategies released Privately Operated Federal Prisons for Immigrants: Expensive. Unsafe. Unnecessary this past Thursday, putting the uprising into economic and historical perspective.

A great NPR story on the “ hundreds of billions of dollars [spent] on fences, aircraft, detention centers and agents” as the U.S. Grows an Industrial Complex Along The Border.  The reporter is Ted Robbins, who a few months ago attended the Border Security Expo and filed this excellent report on how Defense Contractors See Hope In Homeland Security. For more on the border, TruthOut’s ten part (!) Mexican Border series concluded earlier this month with Mark Karlin’s piece on How the Militarized War on Drugs in Latin America Benefits Transnational Corporations and Undermines Democracy

And finally, respect to the poor bureaucrat assigned to write a press release announcing something too secret to announce. NRO’s Secret NROL-36 Payload Launches is a very short press release because what’s in that National Reconnaissance Office payload launched into space last Thursday is, well, secret.

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