Provision Added To Defense Bill That Would Make Federal Officers Policing Protests Identify Themselves

from the accountability-increases! dept

We've heard a lot about the latest defense authorization bill in recent days, thanks mainly to President Trump's (empty) threats to withhold funding for the military (the guys he says he loves!) if it doesn't include a Section 230-stripping poison pill (aimed at the guys he hates!). Congress has belatedly developed a backbone and is threatening to override the President's promised veto -- something Trump is promising to do because, apparently, funding the military is less important than making sure people on Twitter don't treat him like the idiot he is.

Trump's tantrum notwithstanding, the bill will pass with or without his support. No other mildly rational legislator actually believes preventing social media platforms from being sued over third-party content is a "national security" issue. Plus, the sitting president will soon be forced to stand, pack his shit into file boxes, and make his way towards the exit.

There's some good stuff in the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), even if you believe America isn't obligated to protect the world from everyone. Yes, America's war machine is a trillion dollar industry that shows little sign of slowing down. Its excesses allow cops to avail themselves of war gear and the nastiest end of its spectrum sends legislator-blessed death from above to perform extrajudicial killings.

But, as Dan Friedman reports for Mother Jones, there's an addition to the latest NDAA that would prevent Gestapo-esque bullshit from being carried out by federal agents sent to quell anti-government protests in American cities. If this bill passes as written, there will be no more disappearing of protesters by unidentified federal cops. Going forward in 2021, federal law enforcement agents will have to be clearly identified while tossing protesters into unmarked vehicles.

Congress is set to approve a defense policy bill that bars unidentified federal law enforcement officers from policing protests. The bill responds to a phenomenon that Mother Jones flagged in June: Unidentified federal law enforcement officers with no identifying insignia joined in the Trump administration’s coordinated crackdown on protests against police violence in several cities earlier this summer.

This would also allow people whose rights have been violated to figure out who they need to sue. Officers who fail to identify themselves make it difficult to name defendants. A lack of identifiable defendants allows the government to sidestep a lot of litigation and prevents plaintiffs from shoring up their allegations. This NDAA provision makes it easier for citizens to hold the government accountable for its abuses and rights violations.

On top of that, it makes it easier for citizens everywhere to see who's doing what in their name. Taxpayers are paying for this "protection." The least the government can do is make it clear to everyone who's providing this "protection" and which officers are overstepping their bounds.

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Filed Under: accountability, federal police, ndaa, police, police identities, transparency


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 1:42pm

    A horrifying need

    The fact that it needs to be made explicitly clear in the form of a law that if you're working in 'law enforcement' you aren't allowed to do so anonymously is all sorts of horrifying, and indicative of just how ugly and corrupt things have gotten.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 1:46pm

      Re: A horrifying need

      horrifying need is correct, but at least something is being done about it, and in the right direction.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re: A horrifying need

        The only problem is, assuming this measure is adopted, it is only as good as the work of the chief executive who is sworn to uphold it. Trump ignored - and had his people ignore - house subpeonas with disdain and impunity. A future Trump (and there will, I fear, be one, be he or she republican or democrat)j will likely just ignore this provision. What then? WIll state police arrest federal LEOs? It is easy to imagine a scenario where that would lead a gun fight between the two, followed by the army being sent in (legality be damned) and, worst case, federal versus state national guard fights leading to a civil war that (almost) noone wants.

        There is a desperate need to reduce the power of the presidency, mostly by congress reclaiming some of the powers they have abdicated to the president and actually doing their collective job.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Mike, 7 Dec 2020 @ 2:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: A horrifying need

          It is easy to imagine a scenario where that would lead a gun fight between the two, followed by the army being sent in (legality be damned) and, worst case, federal versus state national guard fights leading to a civil war that (almost) noone wants.

          1. State and local police are not going to fire on federal agents who are breaking this law anymore than federal agents are going to arrest any local cop who violates a similar ordinance.

          2. State and local cops who do fire on federal agents for violating this rule will be charged with second degree murder by their own agency.

          3. If God forbid your scenario does happen, Posse Comitatus actually allows the US Army to be deployed to arrest the local and state cops.

          4. If the National Guard "rises up" in such a case, every officer and NCO will be executed for mutiny if they are forced to surrender by the Army and its allied militias (and there will be a lot of militias siding with it)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 2:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A horrifying need

            Just on point 4, aren't most militia members more likely to National Guard members and siding against the Army/Gov?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Mike, 8 Dec 2020 @ 2:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A horrifying need

              aren't most militia members more likely

              Nope. All of those groups that actively train and scare the hell out of the left? They're literally militias too. As is the "unorganized militia" that is all able-bodied men 17-45. The feds can accept volunteer outfits to serve with them during war operations and can also solicit volunteers to raise new militia units to help them. Teddy Roosevelt even lead one such unit in combat operations during the Spanish-American war.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2020 @ 4:09am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A horrifying need

                Arguing about whether BillyBob Bozos wandering around in public with loaded weapons are to be referred to as Militia, is amusing.

                Reminds me of the old cartoon Spike and Chester.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Dec 2020 @ 5:43am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A horrifying need

                  "Arguing about whether BillyBob Bozos wandering around in public with loaded weapons are to be referred to as Militia, is amusing."

                  Less amusing when you consider that among the extreme right/white supremacy-oriented groups and organizations a very worrying proportion are, in fact, trained law enforcement personnel. An FBI agent named Mike German went undercover in such groups and later wrote a book on what he found - with the most shocking and disgusting discovery being that there is a high overlap between white supremacist militiamen and the local police.

                  That BillyBob Bozo wandering around in public with a loaded weapon is less amusing when you consider the only cops on the scene looking sharp are BillyBob Bozos pals and drinking buddies.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2020 @ 7:25am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A horrifying need

                    Yes, this is true.

                    Hopefully those with combat training on any "side" use their brains a bit more than the juvenile delinquents causing most of the trouble,
                    like that Kyle Rittenhouse.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Dec 2020 @ 12:25am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A horrifying need

                      "Hopefully those with combat training on any "side" use their brains a bit more than the juvenile delinquents causing most of the trouble..."

                      Problem with that is that the white supremacy militias and no small number of other alt-right affiliated militias have formed their militia and train explicitly in preparation for when the time comes to finally rid the USA of "liberals and leftists". And brown people. LGBTQ. And of course any traitorous fifth-columnist white straight men who side with any of the above.

                      It's a matter of when, not if, some cadre of Proud Boys decide the time has come to storm Fort Sumter again.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Mike, 8 Dec 2020 @ 10:30am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A horrifying need

                  Arguing about whether BillyBob Bozos wandering around in public with loaded weapons are to be referred to as Militia, is amusing.

                  You could say the same thing about Hezbollah, but I would strongly not recommend flying to Lebanon and mocking them to their faces.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Dec 2020 @ 10:48am

                    Hezbollah

                    Hezbollah actually engages in crisis response actions such as distributing food and care. They're also hired by NGOs such as Red Cross to provide defense and monopoly of force to preserve order.

                    When volunteer militias in the US engage in this sort of service-oriented behavior, I have much more respect for them.

                    Sadly, many of them are siding with law enforcement and boogaloos to accelerate tensions between establishment and the oppressed and underserved.

                    Rittenhouse was there to help the police and guard property, not respond hurt protestors. He took a side.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:06pm

    innocuous leader

    because can't get into this "Free Speech" -- as leftists use the term -- site

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:08pm

    You are flat LYING about the cause!

    It's because "private" corporations CENSOR Trump's messages.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:11pm

      Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

      Being BLOCKED with no obvious "keyword" cause...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:13pm

      Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

      A dozen more attempts in there...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:13pm

      Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

      Preventing the American Public from seeing

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:14pm

        Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

        the President's views IS a national security matter.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

          WEIRD. Had to piece that up!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:16pm

      Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

      Tell ya, I've experimented enough now to say there's NO pattern to Techdirt's blocking.

      I'll try if this goes in whole now:

      Preventing the American Public from seeing the President's views IS a national security matter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:19pm

        Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

        Yes, it did, so I conclude that a switch was flipped after an Admin saw about thirty experiments this time.

        Some go in after repeated Resend.

        Some only go in after piecing up.

        So, it's Techdirt's fault for this sprawl. I don't mind as makes any first glance at site look what it is, a walled garden that censors even mild opposition.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

          And when this happens, I go on rambling a bit in protest. Neither argument nor other methods will change the inflexible intolerance of this alleged "Free Speech" site, though.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

            To be accurate, Techdirt is:

            A) NOT a "private" site, but OFFERS a plain HTML box to anyone

            B) Violates its Form Contract especially its stated principles by not just the initial blocking after one comment, but the subsequent EDITING with warning that means Techdirt actually chooses to be the Publisher of all comments here, not immune under Section 230. -- Though it'll hide behind false claims of that mere statute while ranting how loves the First Amendment and "open arena", brag of this being a discussion forum...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              JMT (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

              You know the difference between 'private' and 'privately owned', but trolling asshole has to troll assholishly.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Dec 2020 @ 6:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

              "NOT a "private" site, but OFFERS a plain HTML box to anyone"

              The same way a pub offers every bypasser the right to sit at the bar. Your argument would mean the bouncer does something unlawful as they evict you for pissing on the floor or screaming at the other patrons.

              " Violates its Form Contract especially its stated principles..."

              Obviously not true since the Form Contract doesn't mean what you think it means.

              Did you have any arguments other than "Hey, I'm an idiot and I shall now prove it to you!", Baghdad Bob? Private property does not cease to be private property just because it offers open access.
              Nor does the owner of that property give up his or her right to evict or bar people from their premises who can not abide by the rules.

              I'm not sure whether your argument is rooted in the ideas of a truculent five year old or in old-style communism where the concept of property is suspect in itself, but no matter which it is it's not a good look for you to metaphorically sit in the streets outside the pub you were just evicted from bellowing, across the city block, about how the bar owner silenced you by throwing you out.

              I'd tell you to grow the fuck up but given that some ten years haunting this site has failed to show you growing any more mature it's probably a lost cause.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              bhull242 (profile), 8 Dec 2020 @ 11:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

              You clearly don’t understand what it means to be private under the law and a publisher under §230. For the record, no editing of your comments is taking place.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 8 Dec 2020 @ 11:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

          Dude, we saw that multiple times. There’s no pattern because algorithms are finicky. Stop spamming and just wait. If you send the same thing thirty times, why would they allow the thirtieth time but not the first twenty-nine?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 8 Dec 2020 @ 11:08pm

      Re: You are flat LYING about the cause!

      Uh, dude, I can’t stop hearing Trump’s messages they’re all over the news and in my email inbox. He’s definitely not being silenced or censored.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:09pm

    Sidestepped by PSCs

    Right now a fuckton of police work (read goon work) is being done by private security contractors and private prison companies who are not under the same accountability provisions.

    Does this change that?

    If not, it may drive more law enforcement duties to goon-squad companies who don't have to reveal themselves because technically they're not in the state employ.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:12pm

      Position Clarification

      This is not to say I think we shouldn't old law enforcement fully accountable, but we should also hold company men performing law-enforcement duties just as accountable, if not more so.

      Maybe fine the companies 3% of their gross worth for each act of brutality.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:21pm

        Re: Position Clarification

        Maybe fine the companies 3% of their gross worth for each act of brutality.

        Then they'll just price the losses into the budget, same as any other company.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:45pm

          If a small stick doesn't work break out the redwood

          Assuming just shutting down the companies isn't on the table you can compensate for that by making the fines cumulative or multiplicative. Starts out at 3%(I'd probably go 10% or more myself), and double it with each incident, as a company might be able to account for a 3% hit but get a few more and they'd be looking at losing a quarter if not half of their gross worth.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:38pm

      Re: Sidestepped by PSCs

      I think use of private security forces has to be approved by the local government before said security force is allowed to carry weapons within city limits.

      For example:
      2 companies cited for licensing violation in connection to security guard shooting at Denver protest

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:10pm

    2nd innocuous leader...

    Because BLOCKED after got the above in...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:14pm

    Facts NOT at all has your LYING diversion has it:

    No other mildly rational legislator actually believes preventing social media platforms from being sued over third-party content is a "national security" issue.

    Twitter at very least prevented Trump's messages and those of other persons from even being seen. It's the new corporate censorship, getting around the First Amendment by reversing it into control of all speech by a handful of boy billionaires. For instance, the NYPost story about Hunter Biden's crimes. Vastly different from your LIE.

    Leftists only win by lying and everyone else being stifled. Seen every day here at Techdirt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 11:26pm

      Re: Facts NOT at all has your LYING diversion has it:

      Seen every day here at Techdirt.

      Only through the use of prodigious amounts of hallucinogens, though.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2020 @ 8:21am

      Re: Facts NOT at all has your LYING diversion has it:

      Twitter at very least prevented Trump's messages and those of other persons from even being seen.

      Why doesn't he fuck off over to Parler instead of having you morons whine like bitches for him?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:15pm

    Until recent was a crime to be masked in public!

    So your "antifa" thug fellow travelers should ALL be arrested just on that basis, their violent assemblies broken up by any means necessary.

    Of course, leftists -- like Portland mayor -- actually encourage violence / rioting and prevent the police from taking obvious measures.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 4:16pm

      Yeah, except not.

      Turns out it's not Antifa or BLM burning precincts but Boogaloo Bois. You're taking up arms against the wrong side, my friend.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Dec 2020 @ 6:14am

        Re: Yeah, except not.

        "You're taking up arms against the wrong side, my friend."

        Not really. From his point of view persistently levying the accusation on the opposition is the right thing to do since that deflects from the fact that it's his own side planning and executing violence.

        Every accusation, a confession when it comes from the alt-right, remember? The revelations of that white supremacist militia getting arrested for planning kidnapping and murder must be shouted down, after all.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:27pm

    Of course Techdirt is for this NON-"NDAA provision",

    after ranting last week that Trump and Pelosi put in non-defense items.

    Techdirt's principles are so flexible as need to advance its leftist agenda.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:36pm

    Sorry, can't approve of this

    I approve of requiring (federal) officers to identify themselves when asked (and not in the middle of combat). I don't approve of the Case act, or changing section 230 to appease The Donald, nor the indefinite detention rider added to the NDAA in 2011.

    But: because I disapprove of the method, I have to disapprove of this too, despite my approval of the cause.

    Withholding your vote to ensure your own hogs get slopped, or to spite someone else (I'm looking at you, <political party>. You too, <other political party>.) is venal. Blackmailing voters (in this case Senators and Representatives) with "the consequences if this bill doesn't pass" is the same thing. Call it "realpolitik" if that makes you more comfortable, but it is corruption just the same. Are you voting because you think it is in the best interests of the nation, or so you have a trophy to show your constituents when it comes election time? (Or even a trophy that 'incidentally' lines your own pocket?)

    This episode of Old Man Shouts at Cloud brought to you courtesy of the Too Much Time On My Hands institute, and the Looked At the Sausage Machine Group.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 4:04pm

      Re: Sorry, can't approve of this

      A fair point, if it's a good idea then it can stand on it's own, there's no need to tie it to something else to get it passed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      mcherm (profile), 7 Dec 2020 @ 5:14pm

      Re: Sorry, can't approve of this

      I agree, and I am disappointed with Tim Cushing for not pointing this out. In the same article, he manages to decry the attempt to insert changes to section 230 of the copyright act into this unrelated defense bill, yet fails to even point out the connection when he discusses an attempt to include this rider about policing (which is also unrelated to defense).

      I agree that the proposed changes to section 230 are undesirable and the proposed changes to policing are desirable. But that doesn't justify complaining about the procedure for one and not the other.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Dec 2020 @ 6:16am

      Re: Sorry, can't approve of this

      "This episode of Old Man Shouts at Cloud brought to you courtesy of the Too Much Time On My Hands institute, and the Looked At the Sausage Machine Group."

      Otto von Bismarck approves of this message.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 3:40pm

    Wow, who let the meth heads out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2020 @ 5:53pm

    Section 230-stripping poison pill (aimed at the guys he hates!).

    But with an infinite AoE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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