Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some Dem Convention News

A couple items:

The police and Secret Service are bracing -

The Secret Service is wary of discussing threats against the people they protect, but with Obama poised to become the first black presidential nominee, there are special worries. While law enforcement officials say there are no specific, credible threats against Obama, they expressed concern about low-level chatter on Web sites frequented by white separatists who spew hate about Obama's race and what they perceive as his liberal agenda.

One recent scheduling change caused a major shift in security plans. When Obama announced last month that he would accept his party's nomination not at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, where the convention is being held, but at Invesco Field, home of the Denver Broncos, the Secret Service scrambled to work out plans with local authorities to secure the open-air stadium, which seats more than 75,000 people. Invesco is also adjacent to Interstate 25, a major corridor through the Northern Rockies that will most likely be closed for at least part of Obama's acceptance speech.

"The magnitude of the event has expanded," said John W.

Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver and a Democrat. "It's bigger and more profound than we expected." Officials acknowledge that their projections for the number of protesters are based more on a worst-case chain of events than specific information about who will show up, but they say they cannot take any chances.

As a result, the Secret Service, the Pentagon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and scores of police departments are moving thousands of agents, analysts, officers and employees to Denver for the Aug. 25-28 convention. They will operate through a complex hierarchy of command centers, steering committees and protocols to respond to disruptions.

National political conventions are a chance for federal agencies to test their latest and most sophisticated technology, and this year is no different. There was a brief flare-up recently between the FBI and the Secret Service, when each wanted to patrol the skies over the convention with their surveillance aircraft, packed with infrared cameras and other electronics. The issue was resolved in favor of the Secret Service, according to people briefed on the matter.

And speaking of the acceptance speech complicating the security issue, yesterday afternoon the DNC released details about how to get tickets, called Community Credentials for Obama's speech.

Q: What is the deadline for applying for Community Credentials?

A: The deadline for applying is August 12. After that, people will start to be notified that they were selected to receive Community Credentials. Starting August 20, unused credentials will be cycled back through the system and offered to people signed up on the waiting list.

Q: Who will receive Community Credentials? Have individuals who would have
otherwise been at the Pepsi Center already been assigned credentials for INVESCO Field at Mile High?

A: More than half of the seats at INVESCO Field at Mile High will go to Colorado residents. Nearly two-thirds of seats will go to residents of the Mountain West and Southwest regions – both areas of growth for the Democratic Party. Each state, the District of Columbia, Democrats Abroad, and the four territories will receive an allocation of Community Credentials. Colorado and states in the neighboring Mountain West region will receive a larger share of these credentials. Delegates, alternate delegates, pages or guests credentialed for the Pepsi Center will also be seated for events at INVESCO Field at Mile High.

And lastly, it appears that Security trumps Free Speech. Like that wasn't damn obvious.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends Service Committee
and others argued that the rules would keep them too far away from delegates to
get their message across during the convention, which is scheduled for Aug 25-28
at the city's downtown Pepsi Center.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger agreed that the protesters would suffer
some infringement on their freedom of expression but said those interests had to
be balanced with security concerns.

"The restrictions inhibit the plaintiffs' ability to engage in some forms of expressive conduct, (but) ... the plaintiffs have a wide variety of alternative means of expression that will allow them to effectively communicate their messages," Krieger wrote in her 71-page ruling.

Oh well.