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Regardless of what you might think about the campers being evicted from in front of City Hall during daylight hours, it’s easy to understand why they might be confused by the decision. Portland officials keep sending mixed signals about public camping.

Police have long tolerated small groups of campers in out-of-the-way settings, like under freeway overpasses. But then Mayor Sam Adams allowed hundreds of Occupy Portland protesters and others to camp for months in Chapman and Lownsdale squares in 2011, saying they were exercising their free-speech rights. Police prevented some of the same people from camping in Jamison Square and the South Park Blocks, however.

More recently, before the campers were evicted from outside City Hall, police prevented people from expressing their free-speech rights by camping in Mount Tabor Park to protest city plans to replace the open-water reservoirs there. One person was even arrested for posting signs.

The Occupy Portland and City Hall campers were evicted after the city declared their presence to be a threat to public health and safety. No such excuses were offered to rouse the Mount Tabor protesters, however.

No celebs among Oregon politicos

Apparently, there are no heavyweight or even potentially heavyweight political figures in Oregon.

That’s the obvious conclusion to be drawn by the recent release of the annual 50 Politicos to Watch list by Politico, the liberal inside-the-beltway website. You’d think someone from here would qualify for the list described as including “players, challengers, rainmakers, money people, up-and-comers, veterans in new jobs, tweeters, jumpers, pundits, celebrities, unknowns, data gurus, pro stars and hipsters.”

Especially hipsters, of course. What’s hipper than a governor in cowboy boots or a congressman with a bow tie, after all? But, no. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden also was ignored, despite his early opposition to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. And so was U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, despite his frequent news releases touting his leadership on liberal issues.

Watching the watchers watch our emails

Despite the snub, Wyden is continuing to raise questions about the extent of the government’s overt surveillance programs, both now and in the past. Wyden wrote a letter to James Comey, the U.S. deputy attorney general nominated to head the FBI, seeking his views on warrantless wiretapping, bulk phone records collection, and the government’s authority to obtain geolocation data.

Wyden also is seeking information about a program Comey reportedly challenged a few years ago. In his July 22 letter, Wyden asks whether it was the NSA’s bulk email collection program that was recently revealed and, if so, whether his concerns were satisfied.

“One of the FBI director’s most important responsibilities is to ensure that the bureau’s investigative and surveillance authorities are managed in a way that protects both public safety and the privacy and civil liberties of ordinary Americans,” Wyden wrote. “I would therefore like to clarify your views on several aspects of government surveillance authorities, so that I can properly evaluate your nomination.”

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