Can’t speak for you, but this is a day I never thought I would see in America, the land of the free...
 
I don’t know how many of you used to watch the TV series, The Lone Ranger. I never caught it in primetime (I am not that old) but used to watch it in syndication. It came on after school in the afternoons when I was a kid and sometimes on Saturday mornings, immediately following the cartoons.
 
There was always a poignant moment at the end of every episode when the “Lone Ranger” was riding off into the sunset. Someone would say to another person viewing the same scene, “Who was that masked man?”
I don’t know about you but I have been wondering about the “masked men or women” showing up in cities like Portland, Oregon known as either President Trump’s paramilitary force or, perhaps, his “secret police.” They show up in paramilitary camouflaged garb, wearing masks to conceal their identities, drive unmarked rented vans, and don’t have on anything to denote for which agency they even work. 
 
They fire rubber bullets into crowds, bombard them with canisters of tear gas, and beat them back with batons. Even scarier, they grab people off the street for nothing more than their protesting, throw them in an unmarked van, never announce whether the person is under arrest, why the person is being taken into custody, or even where the protester is being taken. For all the protester knows, he or she has just been kidnapped off the streets of Portland, Oregon to be sold into sex-slavery down in some third-world country. 
 
What a wonderfully descriptive moniker, “third-world” is. It is generally used to describe the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. 
 
It is coming to be used to describe the way in which America is being run. It is beginning to appear particularly descriptive of the country’s national pandemic response and in how America is deploying its “secret police” or paramilitary force to shut down the exercise of citizens seeking to avail themselves of their civil liberties. 
 
Apparently, we have learned the identity of Trump’s “secret police.” The US Department of Homeland Security has confirmed to news agencies recently the paramilitary force which has descended on Portland, Oregon and being threatened to be sent to other cities run by democratic mayors like Philadelphia and Chicago, is from its “Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”
 
An official from the CBP has been quoted as saying, “We have agents and officers from our special operations groups deployed.” Meanwhile, multiple videos posted online show camouflage-clad officers, sans clear identification badges, using force and unmarked vehicles to transport arrested protesters.
Civil rights advocates believe these tactics violate the protesters’ rights to free speech. The Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law at Harvard University believes it goes even way farther than that. 
 
Laurence Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb Professor at Harvard Law School, authored a piece I read online entitled, ‘A Profoundly Un-American Attack On Civil Society’: Why Trump’s Paramilitary Force is Unconstitutional. In this piece, Professor Tribe sets the table concerning the present issue the following way. “We are being confronted in city after city with a nationwide paramilitary force, its troops unidentifiable and its vehicles unmarked, directed in deliberately vague terms to protect property and preserve domestic order.”
 
This paramilitary force is being likened to a “secret police,” like the force on which President Vladimir Putin served for decades before coming to be Russia’s President for Life (or until the year 2036) a post to which our own president aspires. The fact this paramilitary force is being likened to a “secret police” should chill you to the bone. If it doesn’t, you have no idea what a “secret police” force is and what the presence of one indicates.
 
“Secret police” forces are defined as intelligence security or police agencies which engage in covert operations against a government’s political opponents and dissidents (another word for “protester”). “Secret police” are characteristic of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Juan José Linz, Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes (Lynne Rienner, 2000), p. 65. 
 
Used to protect the regime it serves, those forces operate outside the law. They are used, as they have been used in Portland, Oregon, to repress dissidents (again, “protesters”) and weaken a leader’s political opposition, frequently with violence (like tear gas and rubber bullets being shot into crowds and protesters kidnapped off the street, detained, and even “roughed-up”). “Secret Police,” Cambridge Dictionary
 
Widespread criticism hasn’t done a single thing to cow the president. Instead, Trump plans to expand his paramilitary police force. There are reports Trump has mobilized an additional 2,000 agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), CBP, and even the United States Coast Guard. This expanded force, according to reports, are on standby to deploy domestically to Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, among other cities run by Trump dissidents. 
 
Professor Tribe wrote, in his piece above referenced, that the administration “…has also trained its cyber weapons on American citizens. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently directed its analysts to collect the information - including scrubbing the social media accounts - of anyone who they believe might deface a statue or monument.”
 
This clandestine force answers only to the president. This clandestine force, according to one of America’s foremost experts on Constitutional Law, Laurence Tribe, is “…manifestly unconstitutional.” 
 
Protesters are being arrested without warrants or probable cause they either have or are about to violate the law. The “secret police” are detaining these protestors in violation of their rights to not be unlawfully held under Habeas Corpus. The “secret police” are violating the protester’s rights to political expression under the First Amendment which guarantees American citizens the right to freely speak, assemble, and petition its government about grievances. 
Trump’s “secret police” are arresting and beating his political critics. When did you ever think that would be said about this or any American president? As Tribe writes, “…Our federalist system prohibits the federal government from policing the streets where, as here, state and local authorities are equipped to preserved domestic tranquility and have not been demonstrably overwhelmed. Trump’s forces are usurping state prerogatives.” 
 
These mayors have not petitioned the government for help policing their city’s streets. These mayors haven’t indicated to the federal government they are ill-equipped to preserve domestic tranquility or that the protesters have overwhelmed local law enforcement. Portland’s mayor, who joined the protest and was tear-gassed (Sorry, Your Honor), doesn’t even want them there. He has asked them, many times, to leave. 
 
They won’t. They don’t work for the mayor of Portland. They aren’t going anywhere. Think about that a moment, the force out policing the streets of Portland, Oregon doesn’t answer to that city’s highest elected official. He has no authority over them at all.
 
Professor Tribe didn’t go this far but I will. Trump is, by-golly, taking over. If this doesn’t bother you, regardless of the name or party affiliation of the president doing it, then perhaps we are truly lost.
 
You can take this for whatever you find it worth, but THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!
We need your support

We’ve been there for you, now we’re asking that you be there for us. While we will continue to share COVID-19 and urgent health news for free, we will be requiring a subscription for most of our news and sports content. Please click on SUBSCRIBE or call your local newspaper office.

Recommended for you