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Tag: protests

Watch 13-Minute Axios Interview Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf’s interview with Axios.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf discussed Portland protests, systemic racism, domestic terrorism and other issues in this 13-minute interview with Axios.

Wolf pushed back against “this idea that we have systemic racism.”

“That means that we have designed a system that every law enforcement officer that goes through a law enforcement academy, a training facility, is somehow installed with racist views,” Wolf says.

He adds, “Again, I’m not saying that there’s not racist tendencies in some law enforcement officers. I think I wanna be clear about that. But again, what people mean by systemic racism is that we have designed an institution, a law enforcement institution, to be racist from the get-go. And I just — I don’t subscribe to that. I don’t believe in that.”

Other members of Trump’s administration who have denied systemic racism are White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Government Accountability Office said last week that Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official performing deputy secretary duties, were not appointed through a valid process and therefore aren’t legally qualified to hold their positions. The Trump administration rejected the findings, saying the were “erroneous.”

Watch the full interview here:

House Committee Launches Investigation into Homeland Security’s Actions in Portland

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee is investigating Homeland Security’s involvement in protests in Portland and other cities.

The investigation, launched Monday, also will review the dissemination of intelligence reporters on journalists and protesters.

“Let me be clear: the reporting regarding the monitoring of peaceful protesters, creating and disseminating intelligence reports about journalists and protesters, and potential exploitation of electronic devices is deeply troubling, Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to top DHS officials.

“The revelations thus far require a full accounting, and, if substantiated, must never be allowed to occur again,” Schiff added. “The Committee is therefore initiating, pursuant to its unique oversight and legislative authority, an investigation of I&A’s activities in Portland and in support of the Department’s response to protests nationwide.”

Homeland Security has drawn intense criticism for clashing with protesters and compiling intelligence reports on journalists covering protests in Portland.

The panel is calling at least nine DHS officials to testify in August.

Schiff ended his letter, saying the committee will consider “all options necessary to obtain compliance—including compulsory process.”

On Monday, Janet Napolitano, the former head of Homeland Security, criticized the department’s role in policing protests in Oregon, calling it “an abuse of authority” in a Washington Post op-ed.

Napolitano: DHS Must Return to Its Mission of Protecting Americans, Not Attacking Them

Janet Napolitano, former head of Homeland Security.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Janet Napolitano, the former head of Homeland Security, criticized the department’s role in policing protests in Oregon, calling it “an abuse of authority.”

“This is not why DHS was created, it is not what it is supposed to do, and I’m confident that most DHS officers who have been directed to run patrols against U.S. citizens are troubled by this operation,” Napolitano says in a Washington Post op-ed. “DHS has a broad and important public safety mission, but nowhere in its foundational documents, in law or in policy, is the department authorized to target the American people who have assembled to protest the actions of their government.”

Napolitano says the “egregious misuse” of DHS has prompted renewed calls to dismantle the department, which she says would be a mistake because its task is “to protect our nation against any number of hazards and threats.”

“It defends against terrorism, cyberattacks, threats to U.S. borders, waterways, public infrastructure and aviation systems, and helps the country prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters while providing support, capacity, capability and intelligence to state and local officials,” Napolitano writes. “Since 9/11, zero planes have been weaponized as instruments of terrorism.”

DHS is now in the news “not because of the harm it is preventing but because of the harm it is doing,” citing border policies of placing “children in cages.”

Napolitano says DHS must return to its original mission.

“We were there solely for the purpose of protecting the American people. Not to attack them.”

Government Watchdogs Investigating Use of Force by Federal Officers in Portland, Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The inspectors general of the Justice Department and Homeland Security have launched investigations into how federal agents have used force and detained protesters during demonstrations in Portland and Washington D.C.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is reviewing the use of force by U.S. Marshals in Portland and the FBI, DEA and ATF in Washington D.C., The Washington Post reports.

Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari is investigating allegations that CBP agents “improperly detained and transported protesters” in Portland, where protesters and federal officers have clashed over the past week.

In a joint statement, Democratic leaders in the U.S. House said the investigations are “critically important” as the Trump administration plans to deploy federal agents to additional cities, including Detroit, Chicago and Kansas City.

“Many of these federal agents are dressed as soldiers, driving unmarked vehicles and refusing to identify themselves or their agencies,” they wrote. “Nearly everywhere they have deployed, their presence has increased tensions and caused more confrontation between demonstrators and police.”

On Thursday night, a federal judge in Oregon issued a temporary restraining order barring federal agents in Portland from arresting or using force against journalists and legal observers.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security’s first secretary, Republican Tom Ridge, criticized the use of federal officers in cities without the consent of state and local officials.

“It would be a cold day in hell before I would consent or agree to the unsolicited, uninvited intervention in any of my cities,” Ridge told KDKA . “I certainly don’t favor that kind of action, and certainly don’t think DHS was designed for that purpose to start with.”

CBP Sent 3 Paramilitary-Style Units to Crackdown on Protests in Portland

Border Patrol Tactic Unit via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Customs and Border Protection has sent three specially trained, paramilitary-style units to help crackdown on protests Portland, Reuters confirms.

“We have agents and officers from our special operations groups deployed,” a CBP official said in an email.

A lot of questions have been raised since videos began circulating on social media last week that showed camouflage-clad officers in tactical gear and no insignia clashing with protesters in Portland. State and local leaders have criticized the deployment, and civil-rights advocates argue the officers are violating protesters’ free speech rights.

One of the units identified by Reuters is the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), which “provides an immediate response capability to emergent and high-risk incidents requiring specialized skills and tactics,” according to CBP’s website.

The other units are the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue and Special Response teams.

Democrats and some Republicans are questioning the wisdom of sending federal agents to quell protests in American cities.

“Donald Trump has no justification for deploying paramilitary troops to the streets of Portland or any other American city,” Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said. “These occupying forces are creating conflict, attacking peaceful protesters and making my hometown more dangerous. For Portland to find peace, Trump needs to pull unwanted federal agents out of our city immediately.”

Comey: Sending Uninvited Federal Officers to Cities Is ‘Dumb And Self-Defeating’

James Comey via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The presence of camouflage-clad federal officers in cities like Portland, against the wishes of local and state authorities, threatens to sever the longstanding relationships between federal law enforcement and communities.

So says former FBI Director James Comey in a column for The Washington Post.

“‘The FBI does nothing alone’ is how I often explained our dependence upon partnerships with local and state law enforcement,” Comey wrote. “The willingness of cities, counties and states to contribute their resources — most importantly, their people — to our task forces was at the heart of the FBI’s and DEA’s success. Town councils and mayors around the country supported those relationships because they trusted us.”

He added, “The costs to federal law enforcement will be enormous.”

President Trump has pledged to send federal law enforcement officers to cities where protests have broken out. In Portland, images of federal officers in full tactical gear clashing with protesters have enraged protesters and local and state officials, raising serious questions about Trump’s motives.

“So it’s dumb and self-defeating on many levels for the feds to engage the way they have in Portland,” Comey wrote. “No sensible law enforcement leader would approach it this way. Which begs a question: Is televised conflict the goal?”

Comey warned that the consequences could be long-lasting and devastating.

“The only thing damaged in the process will be the United States and the federal law enforcement agencies our country needs,” Comey wrote. “Yet again, the craving of our president for reelection seems to override everything.”

Memo: Federal Agents in Portland Not Adequately Trained in Riot Control Or Mass Demonstrations

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal agents who were sent to Portland to quell protests were not adequately trained in riot control or mass demonstrations, Homeland Security warned in an internal memo.

The memo, dated Thursday, was written for acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who criticized local officials’ handling of protests that resulted in property damage at federal buildings, The New York Times reports.

The presence of federal officers has drawn widespread criticism and lawsuits after videos circulated on social media showing the officers in camouflage grabbing protesters from the streets and loading them into unmarked minivans.

“Moving forward, if this type of response is going to be the norm, specialized training and standardized equipment should be deployed to responding agencies,” the memo warns.

Among those sent to Portland were tactical agents from a group known as BORTAC, a SWAT-type team that typically investigates drug smuggling organizations, not protests.

Homeland Security spokesman Alexei Woltornist said the federal agents received “additional training for their deployment in the city” to help the Federal Protective Service.

The sight of federal officers shooting tear gas and non-lethal projectiles at protesters appears to have escalated “fear and violence” in the city, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosemblum argued in a lawsuit filed Friday against Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, and CBP.

White Supremacist, Racist Groups Pose Greatest Threat of Protest-Related Violence, Intelligence Briefing Warns

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

White supremacists and other domestic racist groups pose the greatest threat of protest-related violence, a new federal intelligence bulletins warns.

The document, issued by the FBI, Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center, undermines President Trump’s rhetoric that antifa and anarchists groups are the primary threats, ABC News reports.

“Based upon current information, we assess the greatest threat of lethal violence continues to emanate from lone offenders with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist ideologies and [domestic violent extremists] with personalized ideologies,” the bulletin states.

The bulletin, titled “Domestic Violent Extremists Could Exploit Current Events to Incite or Justify Attacks on Law Enforcement or Civilians Engaged in First Amendment-Protected Activities,” was sent to law enforcement across the country.

The bulletin asserts that would-be domestic terrorists “including militia extremists and [groups] who advocate a belief in the superiority of the white race have sought to bring about a second civil war, often referred to as a ‘Boogaloo’ by intentionally instigating violence at First Amendment-protected activities. Racially charged events, coupled with the accompanying widespread media attention, and the rapid dissemination of violent online rhetoric by [extremists], are likely to remain contributing factors to potentially ideologically motivated violence.”