Trump Is Actually Hurting Legitimate Efforts to Stop MS-13 -  He Just Uses the Gang to Score Political Points

Former FBI Special Agent Clint Watts said that President Donald Trump’s attacks on the Department of Justice are hindering the federal government’s ability to fight the MS-13 gang.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump reiterated his view that members of MS-13 are “animals” during a media event in New York.

“I think you’re being kind,” the acting director of ICE, Thomas Homan, told Trump. “Animals kill for survival. MS-13 kills for sport.”

The White House has also been warning of the “animals” of the MS-13 gang.

Watts, the former FBI special agent, said the president’s attacks on the Department of Justice were actually harming the administration’s fight against MS-13.

“I think the biggest part is how can you as the FBI — or really even the Department of Justice — really enforce the law at this point?” he wondered.

“Imagine, the key aspects by which you do these investigations are through confidential informants or undercover agents or by going out and delivering subpoenas. So if you were in Trump country and trying to do the work of law enforcement and enforce these laws or go after MS-13, which the president was really playing up here an hour or so ago, how do you do that when you are being undercut by your own president?” he asked.

Watts is the author of the soon-to-be released book Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News.

“It makes it very difficult, not just in terms of morale, but you are supposed to be cultivating trusted sources,” he explained. “If you can’t guarantee that a source is going to be protected against all political actors in Washington, D.C., you are in a very tough position and it makes it’s hard to do your job.”


Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.