Statement and Resources Re: the Secret Federal Police in Portland

It’s come to this: unidentified federal law enforcement officers were deployed by President Trump to an American city to crackdown on protesters whose trace levels of violence are well within the ability of city authorities to manage. The scenes coming out of Portland are evocative of the atrocities committed by the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile whose violent secret police roundups of leftists resulted in the death and disappearance of thousands. And Trump has made no secret of his plans to expand these efforts to other cities, from Chicago to Albuquerque. 

Unable to once again summon the military for the same purposes following the widespread condemnation of his actions that resulted most publicly in a showdown in Lafayette Park in June, Trump has instead resorted to activating those units he can control. This loose assemblage of federal law enforcement entities under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security are being led (in an acting capacity) by Chad Wolf, a man previously best known for his support to former DHS Secretary Nielsen’s child separation policies.

As Congress embarks on its August recess, now is the time to demand Congress hold the president accountable for his abuse of executive powers. Consider how efforts in Portland today might be used by Trump on election day to intimidate voters at the polls or worse. This pattern of permission-seeking is all too clear- it’s a familiar tactic used by this president to see what the public and the courts will tolerate, and it’s got to stop.

There are a number of opportunities to get involved, both as a Truman member and as a concerned citizen to demand action and accountability. Here’s some information about what we’re doing and helpful resources to become engaged.

Get Smart

There are a number of helpful articles out there on this rapidly evolving story. Here are a few resources we found particularly useful.

  • Carrie Cordero from CNAS on what transpired in The Bulwark.
  • Steve Vladeck and Ben Wittes on the legal considerations in Lawfare.
  • Guide on rules governing the use of the National Guard and other U.S. military forces domestically
  • Rational Security Podcast: The Not So Secret Police Edition
  • Newsweek: Homeland Security’s Mission Is to Defend America, Not a Partisan Agenda

Legislative Resources

Relevant FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Amendments:

Other Relevant Legislation:

(*a few highlights, not an exhaustive list)

Protest Resources

Resource Guide provided here.