ACLU's Unapologetic Attack on Law Enforcement Is Wrong | Opinion

Americans across the country have watched in horror as lawless criminals sack city after city looting businesses, attempting to burn down government buildings and assaulting law enforcement officers. Chicago has literally raised the bridges to stop rioters, while Portland has seen over 75 nights of violence targeting law enforcement. Rational Americans see this attempted anarchy and are grateful to the men and women of law enforcement facing down the chaos and performing their duties to restore law and order.

Enter the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Its director became the latest voice among a fringe element calling for the abolishment of law enforcement—specifically, the dismantling of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Every day, DHS guards Americans' civil rights and maintains law and order while protecting and supporting Americans through a myriad of threats facing the homeland: terrorist attacks, violent gangs, pandemics, cyber attacks, illegal entries into the country, destruction of federal properties and attacks on law enforcement officers—at times, all at once.

Americans have a keen sense for political stunts, and the ACLU's push to dismantle DHS is as close as it gets. To be clear: The ACLU sees violence on our streets and its first instinct is to criticize law enforcement and call for the dismantling of the very institution established to protect the homeland, the American people and our values. In 865 words calling to dismantle DHS, it is telling the ACLU found space to condemn our law enforcement officers, but absolutely none to condemn violent criminals.

With its head in the sand, the ACLU claims "people from across the political spectrum watched in disbelief as federal agents were deployed to American escalate violence against protesters...[and] abduct people exercising their constitutional rights." In reality, the only scenes Americans watched in disbelief were those of violent criminals, violent opportunists and violent anarchists attempting to burn down a federal courthouse for over 60 consecutive nights. That disbelief was only matched by Americans' shock at local officials failing, from the onset of violence, to take responsible action. For those several long weeks, the only thing standing between defending the rule of law—and the liberty it ensures—from violent criminals were the law enforcement officers of DHS.

The ACLU's falsehoods do not stop there. Instead, the group doubles down and slanders DHS law enforcement by labeling our efforts toward peace in Portland as "paramilitary." This tired myth has been debunked time and again. Every DHS official sent to Portland is a civil law enforcement officer who has proper training and adheres to proper procedures. DHS's service in Portland was compelled by our congressional mandate to protect a federal courthouse. The executive branch fulfilling laws passed by Congress is no violation of civil liberties—it is exactly how our constitutional system is designed to function.

The ACLU is not alone in peddling inaccurate information about the Department. There have been a number of "experts" opining about DHS's role in Portland. I have talked to many of them regarding their criticisms. I can tell you unequivocally that, despite their expertise and background, they were not aware of the full facts on the ground or the level of violence being perpetrated night after night in Portland. It's clear many of them are no fans of President Trump, and that they are using the men and women of DHS to attack this administration. That is wrong.

DHS logo
DHS logo Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Given that the ACLU's complaints rely so heavily on misinformation, it comes as no surprise that the organization offers no real solutions. Instead, the organization advocates rewinding the clock to September 10, 2001, when critical intelligence was stovepiped and federal agencies were fragmented. These politically driven demands are beyond reckless—they are dangerous. They ignore the reason DHS was founded in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, when the American people and their representatives re-evaluated the mechanisms meant to keep our country safe. Congress acted with overwhelming bipartisan majorities to consolidate the federal government's efforts to protect the American homeland. Recall that 9/11 hijackers exploited the very gaps in our immigration enforcement and national security systems that DHS was ultimately created to address.

Willfully ignoring DHS's duty, the ACLU permits its all-consuming political disdain for this administration to eclipse these facts. Readers will note the ACLU's cry to dismantle was conspicuously absent during DHS actions under the Obama administration. While the ACLU's supposed principles may shift with the political winds, facts do not. They cannot. Those who care about truth know that empowering and encouraging those who support rioters is the wrong course of action.

The ACLU concluded by mentioning "the added benefit that breaking up DHS will provide a larger number of Cabinet posts to reflect our country's diversity." This factually ignorant premise neglects that the DHS workforce is already diverse, and that past DHS secretaries included women, military veterans, Black Americans and Jewish Americans. But on a deeper level, the implication that national security decisions should take a back seat to identity politics is ridiculous.

"Dismantle DHS" is merely an echo of "Abolish ICE" and "Defund the Police." Fortunately, the American people know better. They recognize that the 240,000 men and women who make up our Department are dedicated professionals answering the call to defend our country with excellence amidst a constantly evolving threat landscape. Like in Portland, DHS will continue to unapologetically defend courthouses from destruction, because courthouses uphold everyone's rights—including the ACLU's First Amendment right to be wrong.

Chad Wolf is acting U.S. secretary of homeland security.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.