Tag Archives: Homeland Security

I Guess It Can Happen Here–In Fact, It’s Beginning

The reports from Portland have been more than frightening.

Armed men in unmarked camouflage uniforms have been jumping out of unmarked vans and arresting–kidnapping might be a more accurate word–peaceful protesters.  Thus far, they have subsequently been letting them go, but only after a demonstration evidently intended to terrify and disorient.

Trump insists that he is sending “troops” to Portland to “help” local officials quell violence. Presumably, he is signaling to his cultish base that he’s a “strong leader”able to take on (nonexistent) violence in America’s cities, perpetrated by “those people”–and not so incidentally, distracting from the mounting death toll caused by his mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There has been considerable blowback.

Local officials insist that they can handle any incidents arising from the protests–and note that the activities were subsiding until the appearance of these storm troopers. Portland’s mayor has demanded that he withdraw these forces, evidently part of Homeland Security. The Governor of Oregon has demanded that he withdraw them. The Oregon Attorney General and the ACLU have sued. 

The House Judiciary Committee issued a statement questioning the legal basis for this use of force.

Frankly, it is not at all clear that the Attorney General and the Acting Secretary are authorized to deploy federal law enforcement officers in this manner. The Attorney General of the United States does not have unfettered authority to direct thousands of federal law enforcement personnel to arrest and detain American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. The Acting Secretary appears to be relying on an ill-conceived executive order meant to protect historic statues and monuments as justification for arresting American citizens in the dead of night. The Administration’s insistence on deploying these forces over the objections of state and local authorities suggest that these tactics have little to do with public safety, but more to do with political gamesmanship.

The blowback has even included self-identified moms, wearing yellow shirts, helmets and masks. Reportedly, several hundred women, calling themselves the Wall of Moms, formed chains between the officers and the protesters. 

This resistance–and the very negative press coverage–has evidently not deterred the administration. According to Huffington Post, 

The Trump administration is preparing to roll out a plan this week to send military-style federal assault squads already in Portland, Oregon, into other cities, warned White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who only named locations with Democratic mayors.

Attorney General William Barr is “weighing in on that” with acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, Meadows said Sunday on Fox News.

“You’ll see something rolled out this week, as we start to go in and make sure that the communities — whether it’s Chicago or Portland or Milwaukee or someplace across the heartland — we need to make sure their communities are safe,” he added.

All three cities named are run by Democrats.

President Donald Trump also indicated that federal squads would likely target cities run by the party that opposes him. He said on “Fox News Sunday” that “violence” was on the increase in “Democrat-run cities.”

Yesterday, there were reports of similar activities in Columbus, Ohio.

This is eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s SA.

The SA — Sturmabteilung, meaning ‘assault division’ — also known as the Brownshirts or Storm Troopers, was a violent paramilitary group attached to the Nazi Party in pre-World War Two Germany.the SA functioned as a ‘security’ force at Nazi rallies and meetings, using threats and outright violence to secure votes and overcome Hitler’s political enemies.

The Germans who objected were obviously unable to mount an effective resistance to the use of extra-legal thugs to subdue Hitler’s political enemies. 

 Americans have long believed “it can’t happen here.” We’re now testing that belief.

Domestic Terrorists? What Domestic Terrorists?

One of the biggest problems facing sane Americans living through the Trump disaster is that the President’s bizarre behaviors continue to suck all the oxygen out of the room–the one thing he is demonstrably good at is grabbing media attention. As a result, we can easily miss the day-to-day mayhem being wreaked on the federal government, and the persistent undermining of that government’s capacity to discharge its responsibilities.

It’s like a roof leak that goes undiscovered until the damage causes your ceiling to collapse.

Not long ago, I came across this particular leak in America’s roof.

With the frequency of domestic terrorism rising, Trump has apparently decided that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t need its primary intelligence unit that investigates and analyzes that problem and has disbanded it. Virtually all domestic terrorism in recent years has been committed by right-wing extremists.

The Department of Homeland Security has disbanded a group of intelligence analysts who focused on domestic terrorism, The Daily Beast has learned. Numerous current and former DHS officials say they find the development concerning, as the threat of homegrown terrorism—including white supremacist terrorism—is growing.

There have been a growing number of articles focused upon the growing threat posed by white nationalists, and reports have documented that rightwing extremists have been responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in the U.S.

According to Bloomberg,

Right-wing extremist violence is a major domestic threat. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s database, it has accounted for about 73 percent of terrorist-related murders in the U.S. in the last 10 years.

 An article in the New York Times in the wake of the New Zealand mosque attack traced the connections between white supremacists  around the globe, and the growth of their movement.

Given the reality of the threat, and the obvious need to confront it, why would the Trump administration disband the effort to understand and contain these dangerous radicals?  Why is Trump so unwilling to call them out, even in the wake of horrific attacks? Why does he encourage them by minimizing the harm done by white supremacists and focusing instead on Muslims?

I think we all know–or can guess– the answers to those questions.

Let’s face it; these particular terrorists are a significant–and clearly welcome– part of Trump’s base. They are also increasingly open about the connection: Recently, a couple sporting both swastikas and a MAGA hat were spotted taking photos in front of a Holocaust Memorial in Rhode Island.

Even more troubling, large numbers of neo-Nazis and other White Supremacists–who already have several apologists among the Republican members of Congress–are running for office.

According to an article in Vox,

In 2018, an astonishing number of self-described white nationalists (including a former president of the American Nazi Party) ran for local, state, and national office in states from California to North Carolina — with the vast majority running as Republicans.

Most who candidly described themselves as Nazis or neo-Nazis lost–but several candidates with ties to white nationalists, including but not limited to Steve King (R-IA) and Matt Gaetz, won their races. A number of avowed white supremacists have declared their intent to take over the GOP, and even a superficial review of Republican officeholders makes it clear that they have already made significant inroads.

No wonder Trump disbanded the DHS unit.