Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

The former senior legislative aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who was arrested last week on theft charges may have more problems in his past than just employment issues.

TPM revealed earlier on Wednesday that Javier Sanchez, who was recently accused of stealing cash from Bachmann's office, was fired in 2007 from a charity that worked with military veterans. The conflict involved accusations that he had been publicly misrepresenting his title with the organization.

Now, TPM has discovered conflicts between Sanchez's own military service record and the way it was represented during various public appearances, including claims about where he served and his rank.

Read More →

A former aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who was arrested Thursday and charged with thefts that allegedly occurred in a House office building also got into trouble at a previous place of employment.

A spokesman for a charity known as the Armed Forces Foundation told TPM on Tuesday that Javier Sanchez was fired from there in 2007 for making unauthorized public appearances and "for misrepresenting his role within the Foundation."

Read More →

A video posted online purportedly shows one of the clashes with environmental activists that a company has claimed forced it to bring heavily armed private security guards to the location of a proposed iron mine in northern Wisconsin. In the clip, which was posted on Facebook Wednesday, masked protesters can be seen running through the woods to a drilling site, where they curse at workers and climb on their equipment. At one point in the footage, which seems to have been filmed by one of the activists, a worker and a protestor struggle over what appears to be the worker's camera.

Read More →

A bipartisan group of senators announced Wednesday they are introducing the Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement (SCORE) to reform the security clearance procedure in the wake of the leaks made by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. According to a statement from the senators, the bill "improves oversight of the security clearance process, calls for the government to fire background check investigators and suspend others – including contractors – who falsify reports, and forces the government to update its policy determining which positions require a security clearance." 

The SCORE Act was introduced by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Ron Johnson (R-WI). Additionally, the senators also sent a letter to Government Accountability Office Comptroller General Gene Dodaro asking the GAO to examine the security clearance process and provide a report. 

"Recent events force us to take a close look at what the federal government is doing in the name of national security and how well we are protecting classified information," Tester said in a statement. “Taxpayers are footing the bill for these programs and we need to make sure they are meeting the expectations of the American people.  This bill gives investigators the tools they need to hold folks accountable and protect our national security.”

Read More →

"They did a great job out there," Seitz said. "We have a safe work site." 

Gogebic Taconite has said the guards, who have worn masks and carried assault rifles, are necessary to keep the mining sites safe because of protesters have staged demonstrations against the mine. The guards have proved controversial and on Monday a pair of local politicians sent a letter to Gogebic Taconite asking them to use a less heavily armed security force and saying the guards "intimidate local citizens." 

The guards have been linked to an Arizona company, Bulletproof Securities. However, Gogebic Taconite has not confirmed what contractor they used to provide the guards. 

Read More →

A spokesman for the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office said gun rights activist Adam Kokesh remains in custody after he was arrested Tuesday night at his northern Virginia home on gun and drug charges. 

"Adam Kokesh is incarcerated in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. He is charged with 'Possession Schedule I or II Drug' and 'Possess Sched. I/II Drug While Possessing Firearm,'" Lt. Steve Elbert wrote in an email to TPM. "He has refused to be LiveScanned( this is electronic fingerprinting w/photo) so we do not have a booking photo at this time. He is being held without bond at this time and his next scheduled court date is 10/02/2013."

Elbert said the charges were placed on Kokesh by a detective with the U.S. Parks Police, which served a warrant on his home. Court documents showed the drug charges involved possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms, according to the Washington Post. 

"A search warrant was executed at the residence of Adam Kokesh on last evening and pursuant to the investigation he was arrested and charged with narcotics and weapons charges in Virginia," U.S. Parks Police Lt. Pamela Smith said. 

Smith confirmed the warrant was related to the investigation into a video Kokesh posted to YouTube that he said showed him loading a shotgun in Washington, D.C.'s Freedom Plaza, which is overseen by the Parks Police. Laws in Washington, D.C. prohibit the open carrying of firearms and the possession of guns not registered in the district. Kokesh has described the video as a deliberate act of civil disobedience

Read More →

Tom Donilon, formerly President Barack Obama's top national security advisor, is joining the Council On Foreign Relations as a distinguished fellow this month. 

"Tom Donilon has been at the center of consequential national security decisions over the last four and a half years, including winding down U.S. military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, increasing the U.S. profile in the Asia-Pacific region, and balancing the requirement for intelligence with the need to protect privacy," Council On Foreign Relations President Richard N. Haass said in a statement.  "We are thrilled to have someone with his experience and record of service to the country at the Council on Foreign Relations."

Donilon, who resigned from his White House post last month, was replaced by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. The Council On Foreign Relations' statement about Donilon's new position said he became a member of the group "nearly two decades ago" and will be based out of its Washington, D.C. office. 

Read More →

Adam Vs. The Man Studios, the media operation headed by gun rights activist Adam Kokesh, released a statement Wednesday morning claiming his arrest at his northern Virginia home Tuesday night on charges related to gun and drug violations was preceded by an "aggressive" police raid.

The statement said U.S. Parks Police and local Herndon, Va. police came to Kokesh's home with "numerous police vehicles, including a light armored vehicle and two low-flying helicopters" and "more than 20 armored SWAT team members ... as well as a number of detectives, and plainclothes officers."

According to the Washington Post, the search warrant on Kokesh's home was served by the U.S. Parks Police, which confirmed last week it was investigating Kokesh for a video that he said showed him loading a shotgun in Washington, D.C.'s Freedom Plaza. The parks police oversees the plaza, and local laws in Washington, D.C. prohibit the open carrying of firearms and the possession of guns not registered in the district. Kokesh has described the video as a deliberate act of civil disobedience. The parks police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM.

Read the full statement from Adam Vs. The Man Studios below.

"AVTM Official Press Release

RE: Raid on ADAM VS THE MAN Studios

10JUL13 (HERNDON, VA 10 JULY 2013)--- On the evening of Tuesday, 09JUL13, at approximately 7:45 PM, a combination of US Parks Police (an arm of the DHS) raided Adam Kokesh's residence. Local Herndon police assisted in the armed invasion. The officers used a battering ram to knock in the door after two knocks, and did not announce that they had a warrant. Immediately after breaking down the door, a flash bang grenade was deployed in the foyer.

Numerous police vehicles, including a light armored vehicle and two low-flying helicopters barricaded Adam's street. More than 20 armored SWAT team members surrounded the house, as well as a number of detectives, and plainclothes officers. Assault rifles were aimed on all members of the team as they were handcuffed without being told why they were detained. Masked and armored police in full “Storm Trooper” gear flooded in and ransacked the residence. The team was cordoned in a front room, while Adam was pulled aside for questioning.

Over the course of the next five hours, the police searched every corner of the house with canine units and blueprints to the house obtained prior to the search. All officers refused to speak to the crew while they we being detained. They confiscated cell phones and personal items with force. Throughout the ordeal, the police repeatedly showed a volatile desire to initiate aggressive, forceful conduct with detainees. At one point, Adam politely requested to use the restroom and was kicked by the officer forcing him to sit handcuffed on the floor. After hours of determined attempts, the safe was forced open and all items inside were confiscated. Adam was arrested and his crew were told he was being brought to the Herndon Police department overnight. Well after midnight, police officers cleared the house.

Fairfax County Adult Detention Center has stated that it has Adam in custody.

The ADAM VS THE MAN Team will be continuing production on the podcast and the Youtube channel as long as Adam remains imprisoned for an act of civil disobedience. We will continue to spread the message of liberty, self ownership, and the non-aggression principle regardless of the government's relentless attacks on our operation. We will continue to combat its desperate attempts to crush a worldwide, revolutionary shift in the people's understanding of the state's illegitimacy—after all, good ideas don't require force."

Read More →

Tom Parrella is an Arizona-based businessman who dabbles in a mix of real estate, high risk loans and paramilitary security operations. One of Parrella's companies, Bulletproof Securities, is now at the center of a controversy over heavily armed, masked security guards who have upset some locals by patrolling the site of a proposed mine in northern Wisconsin.

Read More →

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is featured in a new video produced by Uriminzokkiri, a China-based website that provides news and propaganda from North Korea's central news agency and has been described by Reuters as being "ultimately controlled from Pyongyang." The Uriminzokkiri video includes photos of Snowden alongside Guardian coverage of his leaked NSA documents, an ominous soundtrack, footage of Washington, D.C. landmarks, and falling bits of computer code in the style of the movie "The Matrix" 

According to a translation from NK News, the narrator in the video claims, "recent news on America’s illegal spying activity has angered countries around the world." The narrator also slams South Korea for its close relationship with the U.S. 

"The funny thing is that South Korea is taking sides with its master by rationalizing the idea that any country’s intelligence agencies can collect clandestine information for its own national security. Regardless of whether or not the story can be confirmed, South Korea has to consider the United State’s situation, they say, " the narrator says. "How humiliating and servile! Only a puppet government would welcome American activities with open arms and applaud, even when they commit murder, wage war, or plunder wiretap." 

Watch the video below. 

Read More →