An official resigns from the Trump administration after witnessing the president's 'slide toward authoritarianism'

An official resigns from the Trump administration after witnessing the president's 'slide toward authoritarianism'
President Donald J. Trump listens as Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India addresses his remarks on stage Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, at a rally in honor of Prime Minister Modi at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

During his years in the federal government, Kyle Murphy was heavily focused on security and foreign affairs: Murphy, now a senior associate for Center for Strategic and International Studies, served with the Defense Intelligence Agency and was a National Security Council director for West Africa. But recently, Murphy resigned from his position as a DIA senior analyst — and he did so to speak out against the injustice that nonviolent George Floyd protesters suffered in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. on June 1.


“I was among the thousands of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters teargassed in Lafayette Square and nearly knocked to the ground by the downdraft from a military helicopter hovering over Pennsylvania Avenue,” Murphy explains in a piece for Just Security. “In the course of my work, I have watched autocratic leaders around the world employ similar tactics — actions that often precede broader uses of violence against domestic opposition.”

The June 1 events in Lafayette Square, Murphy argues, were not an “anomaly,” but a pattern typical of President Donald Trump’s “authoritarian approach to dissent.”

“I left government service after more than a decade because I lost faith in the courage of the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to refuse unlawful orders from the president,” Murphy notes. “They effectively labeled me and other Americans expressing our views in a peaceful assembly as enemies. They authorized troops to use overwhelming force and set a dangerous precedent by enabling the president to ignore state and local officials’ objections and deploy federal forces in response to popular protests.”

Murphy cites Gambia and Burkina Faso as two examples of African countries where he has seen “authoritarian leaders attempt but ultimately fail to subdue populations deeply committed to advancing democratic values” — and he compares Trump to authoritarians in parts of Africa. The use of force against nonviolent protesters in Lafayette Square on June 1, according to Murphy, underscores “the president’s disdain for democratic values” and “should be put in the context of a continuous slide toward authoritarianism.”

“I see grave similarities between events in our country and the processes by which autocratic leaders have brought their countries to the brink of civil conflict and beyond,” Murphy laments. “Each day, Trump’s approach looks more like the autocrats I warned about as an analyst. I am alarmed by the decision to send federal forces to Portland and additional cities over local objections — as well as the abusive approach of those forces to protesters in operations well beyond their normal jurisdiction.”

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.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

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