Attorney General Bill Barr is defending his use of an unmarked, unidentified, black-clad heavily-armed paramilitary federal secret police force brandishing riot gear, on the streets of the nation’s capital. Apparently they have been deployed to, as he put it Sunday, “reestablish law and order.”
Many across DC have taken to social media, posting photos and video of these mysterious “soldiers” seemingly charged not with protecting the citizenry, but with protecting the federal government from the citizenry.
They wear no identifying labels: No one can see their name or rank, what agency they work for, what their job is, why they are there. They wear no badges. They just showed up and the Attorney General did not even ask the Mayor of Washington DC or anyone else if it was OK.
They are heavily armed, wear different uniforms, have most of their face covered, and refuse to say who they are.
When asked, they say they work for the Dept. of Justice. None will be more explicit than that – so clearly they were instructed to not tell anyone who they work for.
Even though the people asking pay their salaries – and have every legal right to know.
The Attorney General thinks his secret police force is a great idea and on Thursday defended their silence.
“I could understand why some of these individuals simply wouldn’t want to talk to people about who they were if that in fact was the case,” Barr told reporters asking on Thursday.
Here’s what they looked like this week as they “reestablished law and order” at the Lincoln Memorial Tuesday evening:
If these guys don’t wear identifying markers and won’t say who they are, they are secret police, right? pic.twitter.com/WIPfcPfwqm
— Helen Kennedy (@HelenKennedy) June 4, 2020
Here what they looked like on Wednesday:
The crowd of hundreds is incredulous. They’re shaking their heads at the line of officers.
“It’s incredibly disappointing & un American,” said Tamon George, 32, a Maryland resident. “I think there’s something metaphorical about the White House hiding behind military vehicles.” https://t.co/tzg2A1u0yI pic.twitter.com/BAd4UKFuJ2
— Hannah Natanson (@hannah_natanson) June 3, 2020
We cannot tolerate an American secret police.
I will be introducing legislation to require uniformed federal officers performing any domestic security duties to clearly identify what military branch or agency they represent. pic.twitter.com/2kaFAlWUow
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 4, 2020
Secret police. https://t.co/OcehPW3qWS
— Stonekettle (@Stonekettle) June 4, 2020
A secret police has assembled in DC https://t.co/hhQ6DYz5Iu
— Alexis Goldstein (@alexisgoldstein) June 3, 2020
No American should ever face law enforcement personnel, at any level, who do not identify themselves or wear insignia. This is atrocious. https://t.co/X960mfa83a
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) June 3, 2020
5PM WHITE HOUSE — These are the unidentified DOJ officers holding the perimeter at 15th and H Streets.
They won’t tell the public to whom they report exactly…
It’s generating HUGE frustration here #GeorgeFloyd @WUSA9 pic.twitter.com/GOSbeyplLb
— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) June 3, 2020
The official story?
“Barr and Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal said at a Thursday press conference that the officers were from the Bureau of Prisons Special Operations Response Team (SORT),” Yahoo News reports.
“We normally operate within the confines of our institution and we don’t need to identify ourselves. Most of our identification is institution specific and probably wouldn’t mean a whole lot to people in D.C.,” Carvajal said.
“I probably should have done a better job of marking them nationally as the agency. Point is well taken. But I assure you that no one was specifically told in my knowledge not to identify themselves.”
If they weren’t told not to identify themselves why do they all deliver the same response, that they work for DOJ?
Why are they there, how long will they stay? What is a citizen supposed to do if one of Barr’s secret police force attacks them?
Something’s not adding up.
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